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The Mantario Hiking Trail
The Mantario Hiking Trail is located in the Whiteshell Provincial Park in eastern Manitoba and is bordered by Ontario. Part of the trail crosses through the Mantario Wilderness Zone, an area protected from motorized access, hunting, resource extraction or development.
Mantario Hiking Trail extends 60 kilometres between the south trailhead off Provincial Road 312 east of Caddy Lake and the north trailhead on the north shore of Big Whiteshell Lake at the end of the Block 2 road off Provincial Road 309.
The Manitoba Naturalists Society created the trail in cooperation with the Manitoba Parks Branch the early 1970's. It is the longest such trail in the Canadian Shield in Western Canada.
The trail is used year-round by hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers, skiers, snowshoers and runners, the activity being pertinent to trail conditions. In October a group of marathoners runs the whole length of the trail in about 18 hours total over 2 days, whereas the typical backpacker takes about 30 hours over 3 or 4 days to complete the trail.
Outcrops of precambrian shield surrounded by lakes, streams and peat bogs typify the trail. The trail climbs up and along granite ridges with awesome panoramic views of lakes and bogs surrounded by undulating boreal forest. Then it descends into gullies and ravines of those mixed boreal forests to cross over streams and bogs using beaver dams and logs. There are many steep ascents and descents between the ridges and the bogs and there are numerous bog or stream crossings to negotiate.
The south part of the trail rambles along an abandoned airfield and an old logging road, crosses two sets of railway tracks and a set of power transmission lines which marks the southern limit of the Mantario Wilderness Zone.
The trail is characterized by granite and granitoid gneiss: the south half of the trail features tonalitic gneiss and minor amphibolite; the north part of the trail is characterized by tonalite-granodiorite. Glacial swirl holes can be found in the granite outcrops near Doreen Lake and a few paces east of the trail under the power transmission lines. They were caused by stones spinning around in the rock.
Mantario Trial is an excellent preparatory trip for longer trips elsewhere, for the experienced hiker. If you, your clothing or your gear can't make it on this trail, then you better reconsider hiking more demanding trails such as those found in the Rockies, or the West Coast Trail!
Black spruce and tamarack thrive in the wetter areas including creek beds. Aspen and balsam fir are associated with those areas throughout. Other species found along the trail include mountain maple, jack pine, saskatoon, alder, chokecherry, blueberry, pincherry, wild plum and a variety of wild flowers. Various species of plants indigenous to or found in the area have been noted in Charles Burchill's Mantario Plant Species List.
Animal species include black bear, white tailed deer, moose, beaver, muskrat, river otter, fisher, mink, garter snakes, tree frogs, leopard frogs, bald eagle, turkey vulture, spruce grouse, human, ruffed grouse, red fox, weasel, coyote, wolf, red squirrel and many other species depending on the season. Walleye and northern pike can be caught at Peggy Lake, Olive Lake, Mantario Lake and Caribou Lake. There are 25 lakes within 1 kilometre of the trail and 32 lakes within 1.5 km.
Campsites are located along the trail at Caribou Lake, Marion Lake, Olive Lake, Moosehead Lake, Mantario Lake, Ritchey Lake, Hemenway Lake and Big Whiteshell Lake. These are all primitive campsites with limited amenities. Sites include picnic tables, steel fire pits, and bear-resistant food storage boxes.