After several weeks being near big cities we needed some time in the Great Outdoors. We therefore made our way to Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan. Some 56km north of the town of Prince Albert we found a fully serviced RV and golf resort just five minutes from the Park's entrance. We were the only mad campers on the campground so it was lovely and peaceful with the occasional deer wandering by!
Prince Albert National Park is on the edge of the Canadian Shield as it stretches away to the north. The gently undulating landscape is a mixture of spruce swamp, large deep lakes, rivers and creeks and aspen-dotted uplands, the legacy of the ice that retreated from here about 10,000 year. The park is an interesting transition area where the aspen parkland of the south meets the boreal forest of the north which is mirrored by the wildlife in the park. This was the 14th Canadian national park and was established in 1927.
There are three roads in the park which have numerous walking trails off them to explore the wilderness and to get an understanding of the history of the park.
On our first day we took the Narrows Drive which took us up the south side of Waskesiu Lake the major lake within the park.On this road there was four trails the longest being a 2km loop and we did all four mostly in the pouring rain! However the trails were well worth doing. The first one the Amiskowan Trail took us through aspen forest to the edge of Amiskowan Lake, whose name in Cree means "home of the beaver".
The second trail was the Mud Creek Trail which provided an example of where the southern aspen parkland changes to northern spruce hinterland.
At the Ice Push Ridge we were able to see the evidence of the force of winter ice on the lakeshore of Waskesiu Lake which results in a ridge or a small sand dune being formed.
Our final walk on the Narrow Drive was the Treebeard Trail which took us through a white spruce and balsam fir forest where the trees are amongst the oldest and largest in the park.
There was a very unusual tree trunk on the trail which Heather had to take a photo of!
The final highlight of the day was coming across a buck elk sitting quietly in campsite 80!
Our second day was spent exploring the Kingsmere Drive which followed the north side of Waskesiu Lake. The day was sunny but cold. Our first stop on this road was the Waskesiu River where we walked the beautiful river trail along the side of the river through aspen and spruce forests and a sedge meadow.
Half way along the drive was the Hanging Hearts Lakes where there is a chain of three small lakes. The Hanging Heart Lakes were named by the Woodland Cree and Dene people who lived in this area. Often after a successful hunt portions of the animals-sometimes the tip of the heart-were suspended from tree branches to show honor and respect. Hence the name.
Our final stop on the road was the Kingsmere River where we walked the river trail following the railway portage for canoes to Kingsmere Lake from Waskesiu Lake. Again a lovely walk and the local wildlife of a Spruce Grouse was most accommodating!
Our final exploration of the Park came by driving the third road called the Scenic Drive Highway 263. To us this was the least scenic and really only gave you views over the forest from a number of lookouts which was most disappointing.
Overall we really enjoyed our time in the Prince Albert National Park and are now much fitter from all the trails we have walked! Also we think its time to start heading south a little!