It’s time for a walk in the woods.
Autumn has arrived with falling leaves and a plunging mosquito count – what better time to explore a new Manitoba trail.
You could just go to Beaudry or Birds Hill Parks. But if you’re thinking of a day trip further afield, try Tinker Creek – part of the Trans-Canada Trail.
The Trans-Canada Trail meanders some 1300 kilometers through Manitoba, still a work in progress. Tinker Creek is in the Munipality of Stanley, tucked into the edge of the Escarpment south of Morden.
Tinker Creek is a scenic stretch of trail running approximately 16 kilometers between the trailhead at bottom centre of the map (where the route turns northwest away from the border) to the trail junction with Provincial Road 432.
It’s an “I can’t believe I’m in Southern Manitoba” moment.The southern half is especially attractive as it climbs the escarpment by following the deep gullies carved by creeks. You’re in the woods much of the time until you reach 29West.
If you’re a casual stroller, start at the southern entry point at 2North/27West and double back when you’ve had enough. This is the best part of the trail.
If you want to do the entire 16 kilometer stretch, this will likely be an all day hike one way with a vehicle cached at the other end. It is advisable to have a detailed map that labels all mile roads (I found the south trailhead is easy to miss).
One option is to approach from Highway 32 south of Winkler, turning right just north of the U.S. border. If you can find your way onto Road 2 North, it essentially dead-ends about 10 kilometers west when it turns due north. Look up the hill to your left and you will see the trail entry signage.
Heading up the creek from the southern entry point: a nice path but occasional drop-offs to keep you alert if you’re on a bike. Serious mountain bikers can manage most of the trail and then return to their starting point via gravel mile roads, eliminating the need for a second vehicle.
On the second half of the trail heading north you step out of the woods and have some long segments on gravel mile roads. The signage was a bit less clear on my last visit, in contrast to the southern portion where you can’t really go wrong.
As you head north, there is a brief interlude on a gravel road (29W) where my bike seemed to spook the cattle – they’re more used to pick-up trucks. After this break, there is a scenic stretch through another dramatic creek “canyon” with lots of switchbacks. Less bike-friendly with less signage and no bridge in sight – but then I was off track for a bit.
The finale: Heartbreak Hill. I ran into an unpleasant headwind while climbing the hill, which is in the final mile before the 432 trailhead at the north end of our jaunt. Prairie Pathfinders recommend hiking north to south (downhill) if you’re doing the entire 16 kilometer segment.
IF YOU GO:
Morden is only about an hour from the perimeter and a pleasant stopover – with historic homes and a Tim Horton’s!
If biking, this is a dry weather trail since even some of the farm roads are essentially dirt. Be forewarned there are no facilities on the trail and it is also not suitable for most cyclists.
Tell someone where you are going or take some company – I have hiked the segment three times and never met another hiker, only deer.
All photos by Greg Petzold