Eastern Manitoba : Bird's Hill Provincial Park : Esker Trail
From the main park entrance on Highway 59, take the north park drive to Nimowin Road. Turn left on Nimowin Road and take the first road to the left until reaching the large parking area. The trail starts behind the restaurant
Latitude and Longitude in this table are derived from GPS measurements taken on the trail. Elevations are from Google Earth.
In this section, the bold numbers indicate total distance in kilometers from the start of the hike, while the numbers in brackets refer to a GPS waypoint in the table above.
While the trail surface is easy for walking, there are many areas that are often muddy or flooded, so waterproof hiking boats are a must. Insect repellent is also a good idea, particularly for the return portion of the trail.
0.0 Walk past the front entrance of the restaurant at (1). The trail starts at (2). This area is riddled with lots of trails, many of which are predominantly used for cross-country skiing. There are two marked hiking trails that start here, the Esker Trail and the Lime Kiln Trail. Both follow the same path initially. While there are many trail intersections, the Esker Trail is easy to follow, with a distinctive yellow sign pointing you in the right direction at every junction.
After a short portion of grassy trail which may require dodging around some parked horse-drawn sleds, the trail joins a wide dirt horse trail. Watch where you step. After 0.6, at (3), the trail branches left and becomes grassy again. At (4) 0.8, the esker and lime kiln trails split, with the esker trail veering left. As with all junctions, this one is well marked.
At 2.5 you reach a clearing. There is an outhouse (5) and a warming hut used by skiers in the winter. The trail continues to the right, but first, take the path past the warming hut to a lookout tower (6) at 2.6. Interpretive signs at the base of the tower and at the top explain the geology of the area and point out sights that may be visible from the top. It appears that the surrounding trees have grown up substantially since the tower was constructed, and much of the view is now obscured. Bird's Hill is the highest point within 30 km, rising 30 metres above the surrounding prairie.
Return to (5) and take the trail to the left. The trail descends steeply and enters darker, denser forest where insects are more likely. At (8), 4.1 from the start, you find yourself proceding parallel to the outbound trail. At 4.8 you reach a 5-way intersection (9). Bear slightly right. You will pass an equestrian arena at (10). The trail rejoins the outbound trail at (3), 5.1 from the start. Retrace your steps along the first part of the trail, reaching the parking lot after a total of 5.7 km.