What you need to know to hike Kwasitchewan Falls

Have Kwasitchewan Falls on your bucket list? If so, you’re in for a treat! Get ready to check off that dream adventure as we embark on an unforgettable journey through Pisew Falls Provincial Park, exploring its natural wonders and highlighting the spectacular Kwasitchewan Falls backcountry trail nestled within the park’s breathtaking landscapes. Additionally, I’ll be sharing some valuable backcountry camping tips to ensure you have a safe and unforgettable experience while immersing yourself in the beauty of Manitoba’s wilderness. Here’s everything you need to know to hike Kwasitchewan Falls!

Pisew Falls Provincial Park

Pisew Falls Provincial Park, located off Highway 6 in Manitoba is a charming destination with scenic beauty and recreational opportunities. The park features amenities like bathrooms, parking spots, picnic tables and fire pits. A Manitoba Parks Pass is required for your vehicle. Make sure to check out Pisew Falls, the second tallest waterfall in Manitoba, either before or after hiking Kwasitchewan Falls. Here the Grass River drops 13m and jets down through a gorge. There is a short boardwalk that leads you to a couple observation platforms. This park is still a lovely place to explore even if you don’t plan on hiking to Kwasitchewan Falls.

Pisew Falls

Trail Information – Kwasitchewan Falls

Kwasitchewan Falls trail is located in Pisew Falls Provincial Park, Manitoba. It is located a 7-hour drive from Winnipeg and just 45 minutes from Thompson. This trail is rated difficult due to its several challenges, including the rugged terrain, tangled roots, dense overgrown vegetation, constant need for bushwhacking, and an abundance of fallen trees and debris, making for a trail that demands great skill and determination. These obstacles contribute to its well-deserved rating as a difficult trail, testing the endurance and agility of even the most experienced hikers. However, once you lay your eyes upon the majestic and awe-inspiring sight of Kwasitchewan Falls, Manitoba’s tallest waterfall (14m), all the challenges faced along the trail become insignificant, for the sheer beauty and grandeur of the waterfall make every step taken well worth the effort. Per Manitoba Parks, the trail is 22km – take that distance with a grain of salt, as this trail is known for its incorrect distance of 22km. We opted to hike out and back the Grass River side, due to hearing reports of even more fallen trees on the Phillips Lake side. We ended up clocking in nearly 30km. You can also canoe and portage on this trail.

After walking around 200 meters from the trailhead, you will reach the impressive Rotary Suspension Bridge that stretches 153 feet across the Grass River. Constructed between 1996 and 1997, this remarkable bridge stands as a testament to the collective efforts of numerous individuals, businesses, and groups. It is definitely worth visiting, even if you don’t plan on hiking the entire Kwasitchewan trail.

This trail traces the path of the Grass River, which played a pivotal role as the main waterway in the fur trade route known as the Upper Track during the late 1700s. Generations of Indigenous people had already traversed this route for thousands of years, demonstrating to Hudson Bay traders that they could access the Saskatchewan River and the vast interior of western Canada. The competition between the traders of the Hudson Bay Company and the North West Company was fierce along the Grass River during the 1790s and early 1800s, as both sought to gain dominance in acquiring the most valuable furs.

Following this historic waterway, the trail takes adventurers along the river until they reach Kwasitchewan Falls. Prior to reaching the falls, two rapids add to the exhilarating journey. Along most of the trail, the serene waters of the Grass River remain in sight, while the surrounding landscape boasts stands of spruce, pine, tamarack, and poplar trees that provide shade and serve as a thriving habitat for numerous birds and animals indigenous to the area.

Limited water access is available along the trail to the campsites, but fortunately, right at the junction where the trail separates towards Phillips Lake and Grass River, there exists a delightful spot where you can take a break, have a snack, and conveniently refill your water supply. I highly recommend considering this location as a designated resting point. The campsites are all right by the water, providing convenient access to water.

The terrain presents a rugged and challenging environment, with numerous obstacles such as deadfall, overgrown vegetation, and roots. These elements add to the difficulty of the trail, so it’s important to proceed cautiously and be mindful of your footing. It is crucial to be prepared for all weather conditions when embarking on the hike. Despite the chance of rain during our trip, we were fortunate enough to not have to use our rain gear, avoiding the added challenge of slippery terrain. Depending on the season, it is important to pack accordingly for warm or cool temperatures and be ready to combat bugs along the way. Be sure to also keep an eye out for natural treasures along the trail, as we had the delightful opportunity to savour raspberries and strawberries during our journey.

On the north side of the trail, where the Grass River eventually meets Kwasitchewan Falls to then Phillips Lake, you will notice a makeshift helicopter pad. This is where hikers or those canoeing can be rescued if needed. We also noticed 2 bear boxes in this area. We did not use these as they were quite far away from the campsites. Perhaps Manitoba Parks has plans to bring these closer to the campsites, which would be helpful. There are several designated spots to camp at, and they will be quite obvious when you see them as they all have a fire pit. All campsites are above Kwasitchewan Falls, located on the north loop of the trail.

Now the main attraction, Kwasitchewan Falls. Witnessing it firsthand was an indescribable and immensely gratifying experience—the view was simply unreal. Even before setting eyes on it, the resounding roar of the waterfall reached our ears, creating a profound sense of anticipation. After a demanding day of hiking, the sight of the waterfall was nothing short of breathtaking and incredibly fulfilling, evoking an overwhelming surge of excitement we couldn’t contain. Per Manitoba Parks: Please stay on the trail for your own safety, do not approach the waterfalls. Falls from height, slippery rocks and strong current poses real danger.

Backcountry Camping Tips

  • Use a portable stove or one of the fire pits provided at each campsite. Open fires are prohibited and check for fire bans.
  • There are open air backcountry toilets near the campsites. If you don’t use the outdoor toilets provided, dispose of human waste by digging a cat hole at least 100 metres away from water sources and the trail. Pack out your toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • Carry enough food and water for overnight, even if you don’t plan on staying overnight.
  • Black bears are common in the area, we did not spot any during our hike. Remember to bring bear spray and make your presence known on the trail by being loud. Personally, I prefer to clap and loudly call out “Hey, bear!” to alert them. Additionally, it is crucial not to leave any food scraps or litter behind, as doing so could create problems for future hikers. Ensure you either have a bear canister or properly hang your food and scented items.
  • It is important to note that cell service is not dependable on this trail, so I highly recommend bringing a satellite messenger. We chose to rent a SPOT device from Wilderness Supply, which not only allowed us to keep our families informed about our location and well-being but also provided us with the option of sending an SOS signal in case of an emergency.
  • Bring the 10 essentials: Navigation; Flashlight; Sun/Bug Protection; first Aid; Knife: Fire Kit; Shelter; Food; Water; Clothes.
  • Do share your plans with a friend or family member.
  • Pack out what you pack in.

Kwasitchewan Falls is a true marvel that should be experienced by every adventurous soul. With its awe-inspiring beauty nestled within Pisew Falls Provincial Park, this backcountry trail offers a journey of a lifetime. As you prepare to embark on this unforgettable adventure, armed with valuable backcountry camping tips, get ready to tick off that bucket list item and create cherished memories amidst the untamed wilderness of Manitoba. So, lace up your hiking boots, embrace the enchantment of nature, and let the splendour of Kwasitchewan Falls leave an indelible mark on your heart.

Happy Adventuring!

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