This article was originally featured as part of the 2022 Summer Wellness Guide and was written by Ashlyn George of @thelostgirlsguide! Learn more about Ashlyn here.
I am a serial adventurer. Without realizing where it would lead in the beginning, I’ve made a life and career by chasing the high of outdoor experiences. What stemmed from a passion for travelling after university, turned into a passion for pursuing novelty, excitement and a challenge in the outdoors – regardless of the destination.
While I’ve travelled across all 7 continents and through more than 60 countries, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring here at home in Saskatchewan. There’s so much to see and do between our provincial borders.
I consider myself a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to the outdoors. I’m not an expert in any one activity as I love the diversity of them all. The excitement of researching gear, learning skills needed for new activities, and pushing the limits of what my body is capable of – it’s addicting. But it’s also good for my mental health and helps me relieve stress.
The hardest part is deciding to try something unfamiliar. Every year or two, I pick a new-to-me activity. It started with running when I was in university. That lead me to completing several half marathons and even a 30-kilometre race. (I’m still eyeing up a full marathon – one day). Then I became interested in backcountry hiking and camping. I bought a backpack and lightweight tent and wandered the province exploring every trail and backcountry campground I could. In 2016, I hiked the 135-kilometre Boreal Trail solo. In 2020, I went back and did it in the reverse direction.
Next, I started taking courses for white water canoeing in our northern rivers. Not many realize it, but we have some of the best white water in Canada. I bought a paddleboard and started overnight tripping in the south. One of my favourite weekend adventures is paddling from Outlook to Saskatoon on the South Saskatchewan River. The sandbars are large enough you can pitch a tent and have your own private island in the middle of the river.
Last year, I purchased a gravel bike and have been touring the province on two wheels, riding into the world of bikepacking. This year, I’m dabbling in triathlons. It seems my love for outdoor adventures and activities has come full circle as I combine running and biking with a new challenge: swimming. While I’m intimidated by long-distance swims, I’ve started lessons and joined a club for encouragement. That seems to be the secret to all of these activities I love to do. Every time I start something new, I encounter warm and welcoming communities. People are always willing to offer advice, swap gear, and share their knowledge about the best ways and places to adventure.
After years of exploring, I am still inspired and awed by the geographical destinations and access to nature we have in Saskatchewan.
Read on for a few of my favourites you might want to add to your own bucket list this summer.
For able-bodied individuals, hiking is the most affordable and easiest activity you can participate in. It’s why I started with it years ago.
Easy: For those just beginning, the 2-kilometre Boundary Bog boardwalk loop in Prince Albert National Park goes through a black spruce forest and carnivorous fen. It is easy yet highly rewarding – especially when the larches turn golden later in the year.
Intermediate: For those looking to add elevation, head to Grasslands National Park West Block. The connected 4.5-kilometre Eagle Butte and 70 Mile Butte trails have some of the best big sky views in Saskatchewan, especially at sunset.
Expert: For the adventurous, consider tackling the 135-kilometre Boreal Trail in Meadow Lake Provincial Park. I prefer through-hiking it from east to west but it’s also a great trail to hike in sections on weekend or day trips.
It doesn’t matter whether you camp in a tent, a van, a trailer or an RV, Saskatchewan has incredible regional, provincial, and national parks with campgrounds for everyone.
Easy: While many head to the Centre Block of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, a favourite camping spot of mine is along Battle Creek in the West Block.
Intermediate: Pine Cree Regional Park is tucked into a coulee in the hills near the Frenchman River Valley. The campsite across the wooden bridge is a top choice.
Expert: One of the best backcountry camping experiences is pitching a tent at the end of the Valley of 1000 Devils 6-kilometre one-way trail in Grasslands National Park East Block.
Biking is an excellent form of low-impact exercise! It stimulates your heart and lungs, which can improve circulation and reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Easy: If you’re headed to Grasslands National Park East Block on the hunt for dinosaur bones, make sure to pack a bike and your camera. The 22-kilometre roundtrip single-lane paved parkway is an easy but stunning ride as it follows the escarpment overlooking the badlands.
Intermediate: While I haven’t ridden it yet, the 60-kilometre loop from Lumsden along the 7 Bridges Road is on my bucket list. It’s a popular day ride, especially for those who live close to Regina.
Expert: For an epic 250 kilometre, 3-day ride, bike from Outlook to Douglas Provincial Park for the night. Cross the Riverhurst Ferry the next day and camp in Birsay. Finish the ride with a tour along the canals near Gardiner Dam before returning to Outlook.
Paddling can help to improve core strength and stability – which can prevent or reduce back pain and enhance your mobility.
Easy: The Gem Lakes Trail in Narrow Hills Provincial Park is popular for hikers and campers but the view from on the water on these 7 crystalline kettle lakes is just as lovely. While you’ll have to portage the short trails between the lakes, the peace and tranquility of the surrounding Boreal Forest is worth it.
Intermediate: The South Saskatchewan River from Poplar Bluffs (12 kilometres), Chief Whitecap Dakota First Nation (50 kilometres) or the Gardiner Dam (100 kilometres) offers options for a paddle trip for all levels and abilities.
Expert: For serious paddlers, the most affordable float plane flight from Missinipe in the north is out on the Paull River. White water skills are necessary as this is a true backcountry experience. This route has numerous rapids to run, a waterfall, and is full of island filled lakes in the Precambrian Shield.
Whether you’re just starting out or years into your own adventures and looking for new ideas, these destinations provide a great overview of some of the best spots to explore here in Saskatchewan this summer.
As for me, what will I get up to next? Well, winter’s a pretty great season to adventure in too.
Meet Ashlyn George, B.A, B.Ed
Ashlyn George (B.A, B.Ed) is an award-winning travel writer, photographer and the content creator behind The Lost Girl’s Guide to Finding the World. She is the go-to adventure travel expert in Saskatchewan but is no stranger to trips abroad. Having travelled solo through more than 60 countries on all 7 continents, she’s a passionate storyteller in pursuit of adventure, learning and discovery. Find her online @thelostgirlsguide.