Canada has 47 National Parks. Manitoba houses two of them: Riding Mountain and Wapusk. I try to get to Riding Mountain National Park at least once per year. Each visit quickly reminds me that Manitoba is so much more than endless prairies.
A trip to Riding Mountain is most often an overnight trip. When I realized that my home is only two hours from the East Gate of Riding Mountain, I immediately began planning my next adventure. I had recently seen an incredible picture of Bald Hill and knew I wanted to hike to it. The park's newest trail, Reeve's Ravine, opened in 2013 as a mountain bike and hiking trail, and provides two of the three routes to the fork leading to Bald Hill.
Reeve's Ravine shares it's trail head with the better marked self guiding trail, Burls and Bittersweet. It is just past the Gorge Creek trail head. Follow the signage to there, but keep going past it until you find the next trail head. The route I took was Reeve's Ravine directly to Bald Hill, out and back. The trails are very well marked, worn and easy to follow with frequent signage.
The beginning of the trail takes you over a creek via a bridge. This is where you decide to turn left on Reeve's Ravine or right on Burls and Bittersweet. You will find bear scat every few hundred meters so don't be too shocked if you come across a bear. We actually saw two on our hike! So, be sure you are bear safe. Talk loudly, clap, stay alert.
There are multiple board walks that you will pass over. Shorts are okay to wear. You won't be going through much brush. You can get away with runners, I even think the trail would be excellent for trail running. There are plenty of rocks and roots, so if you have a tendency to drag your feet like me, hiking boots are appropriate. I was glad I was wearing mine.
After 2.5km, you'll reach Reeve's Fork. Go left if you want to head directly to Bald Hill. If you want the scenic route, you can go right and you'll hit the J.E.T. junction before heading toward Bald Hill. The scenic route is about 1.5km longer. If you go left, like I did, you'll continue for 2.6km. On the way you'll pass breathtaking escarpments, miles and miles of views and a lot more bear scat. As we continued, I could feel the weather changing. The warm, humid air was quickly becoming cool and windy. I was a little taken aback because I had diligently been watching the weather and my (obviously not very reliable) weather app told me it was supposed to be 27 and sunny all day.
40 minutes later, we made it to the next fork. This is where Reeve's Ravine and the North Escarpment trail meet. The sign says to turn left to get to Bald Hill. THIS IS WRONG. Someone took the initiative to scratch the sign out and directing you elsewhere and you should believe them. There is a place to lock your bike up at the fork, if you mountain biked your way and want to walk to Bald Hill (which I would recommend). Bald Hill is a simple 10 minute jaunt directly past the sign.
Once you get to Bald Hill, you will do a bit of a ridge walk. It's fairly wide so I wouldn't consider it too scary, but, walk with caution. When we arrive the storm was rolling in and it was dangerously windy. Windier than most summits I've done in the mountains. I was with King and he was clearly uncomfortable. We walked to the top and had to stay low to prevent being blown over. Luckily, I was able to stabilize my tripod just enough to get a few pictures.
This was King's longest hike to date and he was exhausted. With stops for pictures and a few breaks for King to gather himself, we finished it all in about 3 hours. We got back to the vehicle just in time for it to start pouring.
This is an absolutely excellent hike. I would highly recommend it on a beautiful fall day. I might even try to get back there again this year just to see the leaves changing even more!
A longer, alternative route to Bald Hill is Gorge Creek to the North Escarpment to Bald Hill and Reeve's Ravine back to the trail head. That route ends up being just under 20km. Here is a map so you can create your own adventure!