From Pemmican Trails
Length: 25.8 km
Effort: ~7 hrs (2 days)
The Birdtail trail is located in the north-west corner of Riding Mountain National Park. It begins at the end of a small service road near Bob Hill Lake and forms a loop that dips down into a valley and past some lakes. The southern half of the loop forms the western-most end of the Central Trail; the west side of the loop is narrower and has a couple of steep hills.
Highlights along this trail include a serene forest setting, several clearings with opportunities for wildlife sightings, and a full-blown horse camp at Kays Lake with plenty of room for large groups.
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.
There is one backcountry campsite on this trail. It is well equipped to handle large groups and even horses. The site has stocked firewood, two fire-pits with iron grills, a corral, hitching post, and a water pump (boil before drinking).
It is possible to hike this trail any time of the year; however, during winter and early spring the road from the warden’s station (near the park boundary) to Bob Hill Lake is covered with snow. During these periods, you will need to make an additional 7 km trek just to reach the trailhead. If you are planning to snowshoe, ski, or sleigh this trail during the winter it would be wise to contact park staff at (204) 848-7275 prior to your departure, in order to plan your stay and learn about conditions on this trail.
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.
Trailhead (Bob Hill Lake)
This trail begins at a trailhead near Bob Hill Lake on the western side of the park. This point also forms the western trailhead for the 66-km Central Trail that runs half the length of the park. There is a picnic area nearby at Bob Hill Lake.
This horse camp is located in a valley and is actually quite large. There’s plenty of room for tents, a privy, picnic tables, fire-pits with grills, a corral, hitching posts, and even a water pump (boil this water before drinking!)
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.
The following photograph was taken from the sign at the trailhead, it is missing the top half of the Birdtail loop.
Trailhead (Bob Hill Lake)
Getting to this trailhead from Winnipeg takes around 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 #12 (at the town of Shoal Lake). Head north on Highway #12, passing through the town of Oakburn, and then turn left (west) at Highway #45. When you come near the town of Rossburn turn right (north) onto Provincial Road #264 (gravel), stay on this road as it veers left (west) for 1.6 km and then right (north) for 3.2 km. Here the road will make another sharp turn to the left, but keep driving straight onto another gravel road. After only a few kilometres you will reach a warden’s station, turn right onto another gravel road and follow it to its end near Bob Hill Lake where you are sure to spot the trailhead sign.
Please see Photos of the Birdtail Loop 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.