From Pemmican Trails
Length: 16.5 km (roundtrip 33 km) km
Effort: ~8 hrs (2 days)
The Baldy-Gunn Lake Trail is a multi-use trail located in Riding Mountain National Park that follows a series of old roads to a nice campsite beside Gunn Lake. The trail starts in a parking lot by an old warden’s station and then follows Baldy Lake trail through rolling hills to the Central Trail. The last few kilometers along the trail leading to Gunn Lake are a little more rugged, as the trail climbs a small ridge and provides views over a creek. Highlights along this trail include frequent wildlife sightings and camping at Gunn Lake, which is easily one of the nicest backcountry campsites in the park.
There are no blazes or signs at frequent intervals along this trail; however, it would be very difficult to lose your way. The trail is wide and surrounded on both sides by thick bush, there are no side trails and all junctions are clearly marked by large green signs.
The campsite at Gunn Lake is well equipped with a privy, fire-pit, food storage bins, and an ample supply of dry firewood. Additionally, there is a corral at this site, hitching posts, and even a water trough for your horses.
This trail can be used at anytime of the year. During the warmer months the trail is used by hikers, horseback riders, and bikers. During the winter, persons on snowshoes can make a trip to one of the campsites along unpacked trails. Keep in mind that the parking lot at the trailhead may not be clear of snowfall -- call the park at (204) 848-7275 to find out for sure.
Dangers and Annoyances
Many wild animals live near or on this trail. Be sure to use the food storage bins provided at the campsites and don’t be overly alarmed if you hear or see animals dart off the trail ahead of you.
At the time of writing, entry into the park costs 7.80$ per day. Youths can get in for half that price. A backcountry camping permit is required for each night you stay on the trail and costs 9.80$ per night. For permits call (204) 848-7275. Cairn’s Cabin costs 24.50$ per person to rent for the night. Be sure to check with Riding Mountain National Park for the most recent price scheme.
- Gunn Lake supposedly has good swimming and fishing during the summer.
The trailhead is located at a large parking lot beside an old Warden’s station. There is enough parking here for dozens of cars and trailers. The beginning of the Baldy Lake Trail is clearly marked by a green park sign.
Gunn Lake Campsite
This fantastic campsite is situated on a sheltered hill overlooking Gunn Lake. There are three picnic tables, three fire pits, a privy, several food storage bins, and stocked firewood. Nearby, there is also a corral for horses, hitching posts, and even a water trough. There is enough space at this campsite for at least a dozen tents.
A short trail leads out of the campsite and down to the lake’s shore where there is an old water pump. There is a sign here indicating that the water from this pump is not safe for consumption; water should be collected directly from the lake instead.
A free visitors guide is available upon entering Riding Mountain National Park. This guide contains a small map of the park which is quite sufficient for hiking this trail. Larger water-resistant versions of this map are available from the Visitors Center (open Spring to Fall) in the town of Wasagaming.
The following is a print-quality image of the freely available park map. Click on the image below to view a larger version of the map and then click on "Full Resolution" to view the full-sized image. You can right-click the full-sized image and select "Save Image As" to save the map to your hard drive.
Getting to this trailhead from Winnipeg is a bit tricky and takes about 4 hrs. Take the Trans-Canada Highway (#1) west out of Winnipeg towards Brandon. After passing Portage la Prairie, turn north onto Highway #16 and follow it until the junction with Highway #21 by Shoal Lake. Make a right turn (North) onto Highway #21 and follow it through the town of Oakburn. This road will turn into PR #577 just past Oakburn after crossing Highway #45.
Follow PR #577 north as it makes a few sharp turns and switches to gravel. Passing through the small town of Olha, make the required left turn to stay on PR #577. You will come to a large, rounded, left bend several kilometers past Olha. About 3 km past this bend, keep your eyes peeled for a partially obscured Parks Canada sign up on the right side of the road that shows the turnoff to the Baldy Lake trailhead. Turn North onto this unnamed road and follow it straight, around a right bend, and then turn left (North) onto another unnamed road. (There should be another Parks Canada sign at this junction directing you left.) Follow this gravel road to its end at a large parking lot by an old Warden’s station.
Please see Photos of the Baldy \ Gunn Lake Trail for a gallery of images taken along this trail.
You can find up-to-date trail conditions online at the web site for Riding Mountain National Park.