A river for all seasons
Start your exploration at the Riverbank Discovery Centre - pick up a riverbank trail map and the city-wide Brandon Bike & Trail Map. Tour the Eco-Dome and learn about its potential role in natural disasters. Stroll along the self-guiding pond trail celebrating wetlands and the important habitat they provide. Look for wood ducks, Canada geese, pied-billed grebes or the American coot (mudhen). Spot a beaver chiselling the base of a poplar.
Hike or bike the trails on the extending 17 km through riverbottom forest, along sports fields and roadways, connecting with historic downtown Brandon. Stick to paved surfaces or veer into the woods on dirt paths close to the water's edge. Rent a canoe or kayak and laze away the day paddling the Assiniboine.
After enjoying a performance at the prestigious School of Music at Brandon University, explore the birds and mammals of Manitoba in their natural setting at the B.J. Hales Museum of Natural History, housed in McMaster Hall.
In winter, glide around the landscaped and festively lit iceskating oval next to the river. Cross-country ski the classic and skate trails any time of day at the Rec Centre Golf Course, with its lit tracks.
No park too far
With Brandon ideally located in the centre of southwestern Manitoba, choose from one of several natural parks and wildlife management areas within a short drive. Just 10 minutes south of the city find the Brandon Hills Wildlife Management Area, a key year-round destination for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing.
Make the 45-minute jaunt to Spruce Woods Provincial Park for a myriad of activities on year-round trails with the added bonus of camping and swimming at Kiche Manitou and paddling the Assiniboine River that wends its way from Brandon down through the park. Explore the gentle, familyfriendly terrain of Turtle Mountain Provincial Park next to the U.S. border, just 60 minutes south of the city. Or head north of Brandon for the hour's drive to Riding Mountain National Park, which will satisfy the desires of every outdoor enthusiast in your group, no matter the time of year.
May we suggest a day trip?
Set your heart racing paddling the Souris River amidst dramatic cliffs and deep ravines. Stretch your legs on hiking trails along the water's edge and scan for warblers, vireos and sapsuckers in the riverbottom forest of the Souris River Bend Wildlife Management Area. Amble through the Victoria Park bird sanctuary in the nearby town of Souris, home of the historic swinging bridge - the longest of its kind in Canada. Give wide space to the peacocks that wander at will!
Go beyond Spruce Woods Provincial Park's splendid trail systems to hike or bike the 22 km Glenboro/South Cypress Trail, part of the Trans Canada Trail located within the park. Afterwards, rest your legs and rent a canoe to paddle the Assiniboine River alongside steep sandy cliffs. On the return to Brandon, stop at the Criddle/Vane Homestead Provincial Heritage Park to learn about this pioneering and somewhat eccentric family known for their scientific contributions, particularly entomological research.
Listen and look for the elusive yellow rail at Douglas Marsh, designated an Important Bird Area (IBA). Pick up a pamphlet and newsletter at the general store in the town of Douglas. Head further southwest to explore a birder's paradise at Whitewater Lake, near Turtle Mountain Provincial Park. Take to the trail, boardwalk system or viewing mound to witness thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds that visit this staging area. Return in late fall to see tundra swans, when as many as 20,000 have been recorded in one month.