Adventures With Dixie, Bear Lake Hiking Trail

A few days ago, with unusually warm weather in the forecast, I decided to take Dixie out and explore Bear Lake Hiking Trail. Bear Lake is a small lake in the Whiteshell Provincial Park. There is a hiking trail that takes you from a small parking area to the south shore of the lake. One way is about 3km, a nice easy distance for a day trip. Bear Lake is also a stocked trout lake, meaning that fishing is open year round on it.

Why Visit Bear Lake?

Bear Lake Hiking Trail is about an hour drive from my house, which makes it easily accessible. Having a destination that I can get to, spend an afternoon, and get back home is wonderful. Being a stocked trout lake, Bear Lake is open to fishing year round. This means that I can go fishing even though there is a general season closure on right now. For me this is huge, and was my primary motivation to go to this location. This past ice season was pretty depressing thanks to the pandemic. We were restricted from having other people in the fishing shelter with us for most of the winter. This meant that I couldn’t fish with Uncle Randy, or if I did, it was from separate shelters, no fun at all.

So Bear Lake checked off a few important boxes for me. Not to mention that I had never been there before and always heard good things. It was an easy decision to pack up and head out, especially since we had a freakishly warm day to do so. I stuffed my pack full, made a lunch, said goodbye to the wife and hit the road with my faithful co-pilot.

Co-Pilot on the way to Bear Lake
Though not much for conversation

Hitting the Trail

The Bear Lake trailhead is a nice open area right off the highway that goes through the park. There is plenty of parking, a few picnic tables, outhouses, and a trail information sign. I was pleasantly surprised, and I could imagine people making use of this area for a lunch stop if they are just out for a nice drive through the park. The sign informs you that the trail is just under 3km one way, and warns that you should be bear safe. Standard practice in this area, and I had my walking stick handy and music playing for that reason.

Only this curious deer, thankfully

On the trail itself, I immediately encountered mud, followed quickly by water. There is a low area about 5 minutes into the hike that had water up to my ankles, with some visible channels that were substantially deeper. Luckily, between the old boardwalks, and some creative detours, I was able to bypass the deeper channels quite easily. Once I passed that first wet area, I didn’t have to step into any noteworthy standing water for the rest of the way. However, there were several spots with wet mud or water an inch or two deep. Not a problem for me with my amphibious sandals, and being able to just trudge through any difficult terrain is why I love wearing them.

I save so much time by not having to go around any wet spots

By far, the highlight of the Bear Lake trail was the amount of rock to climb up and down. I love a good mixed trail with a variety of terrain and a variety of levels to it. This trail had it all. Dixie and I quickly went from mud, to grass, to moss, to bare rock, and back again. My favorite parts were the high rock shelves that we had to climb up one side, and down the other. Some of these rock shelves were reached by taking the trail up in a switchback pattern. Others required scrambling straight up the steep slopes. In fact, the final rock shelf before you reach the lake has old ropes hanging down to assist with the near vertical climb. It was a blast.

Not a problem for this little mountain goat

Fishing Bear Lake

Fishing Bear Lake is where my day took a turn. The lake is stocked with brown trout by Manitoba Conservation every couple years. Knowing this, I filled my tackle tray with a variety of spinners, spoons, and small crankbaits that I thought might attract them. I’ve had a nice 4 piece travel rod with a carry case for awhile now and packed that also. As well as I prepared, it wasn’t enough, however, and I went the whole day without a single bite.

Dixie chasing turtles at Bear Lake
She kept herself entertained while I cried to myself

Dixie chased chipmunks, turtles, and butterflies while I worked the entire perimeter of the point we set up on. Eventually she got bored and laid in the grass for a nap while I kept casting, and casting, and casting. Several hours after we got there, I accepted the fact that I was not going to catch a fish. Although I know there are a lot of factors that go into it, I was honestly shocked to see that I couldn’t even catch a pike. In the shield its extremely rare to have any body of water without pike, yet there I was. Such is life, I suppose.

Conclusion

While I thoroughly enjoyed the Bear Lake Hiking Trail, I was obviously disappointed by not catching any fish. Being somewhat out in the middle of nowhere, I was surprised to see many other groups hiking in that day as well. Not only were Dixie and I out for the day, but 6 other pairs of hikers came through in the 4 hours I was there. After making the trip in and out, I can definitely see why. The hike was incredibly fun for the length, the shield is always scenic and full of interesting wildlife. Having Dixie along with me makes any activity more enjoyable. I definitely want to head back into this area again soon, both to enjoy the hiking trail and to attempt to redeem myself with the fishing. Of course Dixie loved it and I’ll be sure to take her with me when I do.

Me and Derpy at Bear Lake
Everything is better with this Derp tagging along

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