Tent? Check. Sleeping bag? Check. Water? Check. Cooler full of food? Check. Fire supplies? Check. Hiking boots and/or Nikes? Check. Good friends and a dog? Check. Prosecco? Check. More Prosecco? Well, I mean, not if you want to get a good hike in the next day – let’s not fool ourselves!
Jokes aside, these items are pretty much the core essentials for the making of an epic hiking/camping trip. Anything else can be found in a post we wrote awhile back here for Solo Camping Made Easy; of course, this list is complimentary for group camping trips as well.
If you have time to make a weekend out of hiking/camping, we are going to suggest you head southwest on Highway 2 until the Highway 5 junction, which will take you south to Highway 253 (west), then to Highway 18 (south), through Killarney to Highway 3 (west), and one more zigzag to gravel Highway 444 (south) leading you to a magical place called William Lake Provincial Park (east of PTH 10).
William Lake Provincial Park is approximately a 3-hour drive from Winnipeg and is located in the province’s southwest corner, near the U.S. boarder and Turtle Mountain Provincial Park. Upon arrival, K and I noticed the family friendly atmosphere of the campground immediately: kids splashing in the water, a playground, horseshoe pits, and small group amenities area (for reunions that include cake and BBQ, of course).
Although this campground was not our final destination for the day (we stayed in Adam Lake), the campground offers 52 basic campsites, and onsite amenities include a water supply, firewood, and showers.
The park is home to the Turtle’s Back Trail and Turtle’s Back Summit and the real reason we decided to stop in. The entire trail is 8 kilometers in length which includes the area around the lake and up the summit. It took our group 2 hours to complete but we stopped for muchas photos and moments to absorb the scenery around us.
The Turtle’s Back Summit is a must-see. K and I have an affinity for the mountains and their breathtaking views, but this trail may very well be the closest this prairie province will get to an elevated view. The summit leads to a lookout tower and once on top, the views are stunning: lush greenery, infinite sky, and a blazing sun that reminds us of the importance of balance.
The top of the lookout tower was closed when we hiked through for obvious reasons – the structure felt unsound and shaky. We may have broken the rules and climbed over the closed sign anyway (we do not recommend… kind of, sort of, maybe). BE CAREFUL. There is a reason that sign is there and one definitely does not feel safe at the top (insert dramatic music here). But the views were simply stunning and we could not have asked for a better day.
The Turtle’s Back Trail itself is unique in that it treks through a communal pasture! At one point, I heard rustling in the bushes and saw an enormous black thing through the foliage and literally screamed thinking it was a bear (I knew I should have brought the bear spray – sorry mom) but it was not a bear; it was a cow! And you will hear the distant and not-so-distant sounds of mooooooooo throughout your journey. It was honestly really neat! And something K and I had never really experienced before.
As we looped back around the lake, almost concluding our hike for the day we stumbled upon a family relaxing at their campsite. A friendly man, who we believe was the supervisor of the campground, took a polaroid of us and we exchanged some laughs with him and his family. It’s these moments that make it worth it – connecting with nature and people. Connecting with life.
All in all, K and I really enjoyed this hike. The summit portion of the trail is challenging, but short. The majority of the trail is of medium difficulty, as it is a decent distance and the terrain does offer some spots of elevation. We would most certainly come back and do it again – maybe after the lookout tower structure has been officially fixed and safety approved, that is!