Enjoying winter fun along a new groomed trail in Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park
I always enjoy visiting Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park anytime of the year, even during winter!
Although the park is closed during the winter months, people are still welcome to visit the park and use the trails, at their own risk.
Samuel de Champlain is beautiful during winter! It’s rugged landscapes are covered in a thick blanket of snow, the lakes and marshes are frozen, and it’s rivers flow along icy shorelines, all creating an entirely different world to explore, and to photograph!
It’s a quiet and peaceful place to visit, with excellent opportunities to witness wildlife such as birds, small mammals, deer, and even wolves! During the winter months wolves travel and hunt throughout the park quite often. I’ve been lucky to have had the chance to see them or hear them howl several times there.
The Canadian Ecology Centre (CEC), an outdoor educational facility located within the park, maintains and plows the 2.2 km road between the park entrance and CEC during the winter months, which allows people to drive in and have easier access into the park.
During winter I, and friends and family who come with me, often visit Samuel de Champlain to go winter hiking or cross country skiing. After finding a safe place to park off of the road, we’ll head out on foot or on skis, along the trails or snow covered park roads. As the park is not open during winter, only the road to the CEC is plowed and there are no groomed trails.
Many people from the surrounding area also visit the park during the winter, either for day use or those who are staying overnight at the CEC cabins, so it’s not uncommon to find a packed down trail you can follow, along one of the hiking trails or along the park and campground roads. If we can’t find a trail to follow, we simply make our own through the snow.
Although I don’t mind visiting the park during winter whether I have a packed down trail to follow or not, I was pleasantly surprised to learn recently that the CEC and Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park had been working together to create new a groomed Multi-Use Trail through the park this winter!
The new Multi-Use Trail is a pilot project for Winter 2021 between the CEC and the park. The idea for a groomed Multi-Use Trail was brought forward to Samuel de Champlain staff by Bill Steer, General Manager, and founder of the Canadian Ecology Centre. The two groups decided that it was a great idea to try it out and started working together on the project.
I was really excited to hear all this! I had actually had the same idea for many years, I thought it would be nice if the park had some groomed trails that would make it easier to explore the park during winter, and easier to access some areas further away from the main road.
The new Multi-Use Trail is open to walkers, snoeshoers, fatbikers, and cross country skiers. It’s a wide trail, over two metres wide, that allows lots of space for all visitors.
It starts at the CEC and follows along the snow covered main park road to the Jingwakoki Campground. From there it follows along the road to the Group Camping area where it dead ends.
There are also two loops of the trail through the Jingwakoki Campground, and a side loop from the CEC around to Campion Rapids, along the Mattawa River.
We first tried cross country skiing along the new trail early this January and were really impressed! It’s so nice to be able to access different areas of the park with ease, particularly the west side of the park which is usually not visited as much during winter.
We’ve skied along sections of the trail a few times now and during our last day skiing there we followed around each loop through the Jingwakoki Campground. While there, one of the park staff stopped while out on a snowmobile grooming, to talk to us about the new trail.
Now that we have experienced more of the trail and are quite happy with it, we plan to visit the park often to ski along the new trail, and to hike along it as well some days.
While we were skiing one day we passed by someone who was walking, and the trail was packed hard enough that the person was hardly sinking into the snow at all with just boots on. For those who maybe can’t participate in more strenuous winter activities or travel through deep snow, they can now enjoy an easier walk through the park along the groomed trail.
Along with the new Multi-Use Trail, the other trails throughout the park seem to be packed down really well this winter from regular use, and are suitable for snowshoers or people who don’t mind hiking more rugged snowy trails.
All of the park trails and the new Multi-Use Trail are available for people to use at no cost, and parking is available at the CEC. There is also an outdoor privy open near Campion Rapids for people to use.
For those who are not familiar with the park and it’s trails, there is a winter trail map you can view or download on the CEC website at https://www.canadianecology.ca/mut/ .
As this is only a pilot project for Winter 2021, there are no set plans yet to continue making this trail next winter. The CEC and Samuel de Champlain staff will need to first see how well used the trail is this winter and hear how people enjoy using it.
If there is enough interest and use of the new groomed Multi-Use Trail during
it’s pilot project first winter season, then there is a possibility that the trail might
be built and maintained again next winter, and even extended.
Bill Steer would appreciate it if the Multi-Use Trail users could leave a comment in the sign in book set up in the CEC parking area or they can also contact him by email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or by sending a message to the CEC on their Facebook page.
I’m really looking forward to spending the next couple months winter hiking and cross country skiing at Samuel de Champlain this winter as usual, but even more so now with this great new groomed Multi-Use Trail!
See you out on the trails!
I also recently uploaded a short video on my YouTube channel that I filmed while cross country skiing along the new Multi-Use Trail, and along some of the other trails in the park, one snowy day this January! You can check out that video at the link below.