Grand Beach Provincial Park, Grand Marais, MB, Canada
Driving time from Winnipeg
1 (big and near the beach)
3km of fine silica sand
Before you hit the trail
Between the sand, the sun and the climbs, plenty of water is a must on the trails of Grand Beach; set out with a pack that has a hydration bladder in it. A multi-tool for small adjustments and tools to fix a flat are other good things to bring, and they’ll help prevent an unfortunate hike out. Riding with friends is always more fun (and the safest option), but if you’re going solo, attach a bell to your bike to alert wildlife of your presence, and be aware that this is black bear country.
One last tip? Make sure your vehicle is displaying a valid provincial park pass from Victoria Day until Labour Day.
Finding your trail
Once you’ve entered the park via the gate on Road 38E, stay to the right and turn off at the signage for hiking and cross-country ski trails. Follow the gravel road and take the left fork to the end where you’ll find a small parking area beside a small field. Take either of the wide double track paths on the right side of the clearing, or the singletrack off to the left to ride in the opposite direction. The trail covers about 7km to 10km depending on which sections you ride, and will take about 1 to 1.5 hours to complete. From beginner to expert, there’s a trail suited to every rider.
Rock and roll
In contrast to some patches of soft, sluggish sand there are some challenging rock gardens. Depending on which direction you head, you’ll either end up climbing or descending a few of these on your ride. Momentum, pedalling technique, proper body position and bike handling skills are key for navigating these sections successfully – along with a little luck when you pick your line. Give them a try, but remember to ride within your limits.
That’s a nice boulder
After negotiating some rocky descents you’ll come across a boulder in a thinly treed section of the trail. Three ladders offer paths up onto and down off of the relatively flat surface of the rock. Momentum is your friend, and proper body position is important in making it up and over successfully. While it is a fairly straightforward feature to ride if you have mountain bike experience, it’s always good to “look before you leap” to know what’s on the other side. Get your smile out – this spot is a favourite for photo ops.