Spruce Woods Provincial Park

Trek to dunes and a natural oasis

Trail / Hike

A little tougher

Full day

For your next adventure, explore the Spirit Sands, a surprising stretch of desert-like dunes that lies in the middle of Spruce Woods Provincial Park. At the heart of the trails you’ll find the Devil’s Punch Bowl, a natural spring-fed oasis.

Spruce Woods Provincial Park

Spruce Woods Provincial Park, Manitoba 5, Glenboro, MB, Canada

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Driving time from Winnipeg

2 hours

Trails to explore

7

Campsites

200+

Planning your route

Top tips for this desert-like hike

Where to start

There’s a big gravel parking lot at the Spirit Sands trailhead in Spruce Woods Provincial Park. It’s a great place to prepare for your hike, as it’s complete with water, picnic tables and outhouses. Worth noting: the water is non-potable, and must be hand-pumped from a well and treated before consuming.

Choose your route

There are two main routes to reach the Devil’s Punch Bowl. The first option is to head directly to the spring itself, an intermediate 8km return hike, mostly shaded through rolling grass-covered dunes and forest. The second option is a more difficult 10km loop through the Spirit Sands, recommended only for those looking for a more scenic, yet challenging, full day of hiking. The many add-on loops and detours on this trail are rewarding, but remember to conserve your time and energy, as hiking in the sand is slow and tiring.

What to wear

Pack a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and UPF protective clothing. The area in the Spirit Sands can feel much warmer than the forecast, so it’s a great destination for cooler times of the year. Try avoiding the heat of the day by leaving early in the morning, or rest under the shade during the peak hours of the afternoon. Although the sand may be tempting for bare feet, it’s wise to keep your shoes on when hiking; there’s cacti afoot and poison ivy around.

What to bring

A camera, snacks and plenty of water are essential on this trail. If you have binoculars, bring them along to try to spot bluebirds and indigo buntings. Bring your own water, or water treatment option, as the sandy setting can stir up quite a thirst. Make sure you have your 10 essentials in your daypack, too.

Unusual creatures

Hognose snakes, northern prairie skinks (Manitoba’s only lizard) and wolf spiders are all unusual creatures who call the Spirit Sands home. Other animals you might spot while you’re hiking in the area include white-tailed deer, elk, coyotes and black bears. Watch the sands carefully throughout your hike to see if you can spot their tracks along the trail, and remember to leave no trace (expect for sandy footprints) while you’re there).

Essential gear

Stay cool in the dunes with these top picks.

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