Hunt Lake Trail is one of Manitoba’s most popular hikes. It’s a 12.6 kilometer out and back hike that goes past Hunt Lake, and then follows along the shores of West Hawk Lake. It’s a challenging hike that will require some endurance and willpower to complete. The elevation goes up and down, the terrain is rocky and root covered, but the scenery makes up for it.
From the tall cliffs, to boreal forest, to the meteor made lake, the hike is a perfect representation of the Canadian Shield landscape.
If you think that this sounds great, it gets even better. Hunt Lake Trail wasn’t always just an out and back hike. There was a time when it was actually a full loop. The full loop takes you past multiple ponds, creeks and has you traverse across multiple beaver dams!
While the loop is no longer maintained, it is still possible to do, though it should be done with an abundance of caution.
I’ve hiked the abandoned part of the trail twice now. Most of the trail is easy to find. However there is one part where you have to hike through an area that has been logged. Both times I hiked through here I ended up needing GPS to find the trail again.
While the trail is definitely doable if you’re wiling to brave the unknown and don’t mind bushwhacking, you should heed the following warnings.
- Obviously, it’s unmaintained. It’s not marked out properly and is tough to see at some spots. There is a good chance you will end up getting lost at at least once.
- Bring a device with GPS and offline maps. Google Maps satellite view can be useful, but it won’t help if you lose cell service. Mobile apps like the Pro version of All Trails let you download maps so they work without cell service.
- Tell someone where you are going. That way if you do get lost, they will know where to look.
- The trail has some flags along it that are very helpful. However there are some spots where logging has been done. Not only is the trail not visible at all here, but the loggers have also put up flags to mark the logging zones. Do not get confused and start following the logging flags. You will end up going in a circle. I know this because I made this mistake. At this part of the trail the GPS will come in handy.
- The majority of the unmaintained portion of the trail is actually in Ontario. If you get lost and need help, I have no idea how that will impact Search and Rescue and medical services. So travel at your own risk.
- The Hunt Lake Trail out and back portion is 12.6 kilometers, but if you do the entire loop, the actually distance is closer to 15 kilometers.
- Bring good footwear. You will be walking a lot. There are also portions of the trail that are wet, so waterproof hiking shoes would be an asset.
If you are brave enough to attempt the trail, the adventure is worth it. You have a better chance of seeing wildlife, and less of a chance of encountering other hikers. It makes for a great solitude adventure.
Here is the GPS tracking from when I did the entire loop.
Images are in chronological order. If you plan on doing the entire hike, these are some of the landmarks you will encounter.