Meadow Lake Provincial Park Highlights that will Keep You Coming Back
Pristine lakes, beautiful sandy beaches, forested campgrounds and hiking trails abound. Spanning over 1,600 sq. km, Meadow Lake Provincial Park is one of the largest provincial parks in Canada. Even when the campgrounds are full, there are many places to escape into nature and explore on your own.
Situated in the northern boreal forest, Meadow Lake Provincial Park is filled with untouched wilderness and a healthy wildlife population. The sounds and sights of nature are alive and abundant. In quiet moments, listen for the call of the loons as you look out across the water. Watch for pelicans as they search for fish in the sparkling lakes. Keep an eye out for black bears that are often spotted scurrying into the forest to hide from cars driving along the dirt roads.
The 135-km Boreal Trail is the longest destination backpacking trail in Saskatchewan and a popular backcountry adventure for hikers.
Canada’s boreal forest covers almost 60 per cent of the land, making it an essential part of the ecosystem. Another name for the boreal forest is taiga, and these types of forests are known to withstand extreme temperatures. They can be found in Canada, the U.S., Russia, Sweden, Finland and Norway.
Numerous access points along the Boreal Trail allow hikers to enjoy a variety of day hikes or short backcountry experiences. Volunteers are adding new trails each year that branch off to various lakes in the area. Hiking trails can be found at each of the campgrounds and near the surrounding lakes. The trails around Gold Creek and Murray Doell campground offer various hiking options, ranging from a 1.5-km interpretive trail to a 6-km short loop to an 8-km longer trail. This area also features two different backcountry campsites – BT4 and BT5. They give families, or those looking for a shorter backcountry trip, an option to experience the wilderness area without completing the full 135-km trek.
Backpackers will be happy to hear that there is a new shuttle service that provides access to the Boreal Trail at any prearranged location. It runs until October 31, weather permitting, and is available Monday to Friday after 4 p.m. and all day on Saturday and Sunday. Bookings must be made at least one day in advance by calling 306-227-6641 or emailing email@example.com. A maximum of four passengers can ride in the white Honda Ridgeline and the cost is 60 cents/kilometre.
Bear spray is essential for safety when hiking in Meadow Lake Provincial Park. While the bears are skittish and often scurry up a tree to hide or run away into the forest, it is always important to be prepared.
Spending a day at the beach is a must-do activity. Campgrounds have access to different lakes in the park, allowing families to easily enjoy a fun day swimming in the fresh, clear water. Most of the beaches have prime areas for constructing the next great sandcastle or digging the biggest hole on the beach. Next to each main campground beach is a playground that provides hours of fun for kids.
Meadow Lake Provincial Park has more than 20 lakes. A variety of fish species can be found, including walleye, pike, and trout. Boating in a motorized or non-motorized vessel is a wonderful way to explore the pristine water from offshore.
Camping, glamping, cabins
There are over 12 campgrounds, with five main ones that have a greater number of amenities. These boast beach access, free firewood, a playground, water, bathrooms and shower house.
The west side of the park, roughly a 45-minute drive from the east side, is ideal for those who prefer to leave the beaten path. The hiking trails are rugged and there are few privately owned cabins in the area.
Sandy Beach campground and Murray Doell campground allow visitors to access the west side while still enjoying amenities, such as a shower house and flushable toilets. Sandy Beach provides large treed-in sites. Hit by a devastating storm in 2019, Murray Doell lacks tree coverage; however, new trees are being planted and the sites have been cleaned up.
Aside from the main campgrounds on the west side, Cold River campground offers a truly rustic experience and happens to be located across the road from the start of the Boreal Trail. There are no showers, water or flush toilets at this location, but you can look forward to spectacular views of Cold Lake right from the entrance of your tent. Occasionally, purple sand can be found along the rocky beach. There is a single outhouse near the entrance and, like most campgrounds in Saskatchewan provincial parks, free wood comes with the sites.
Matheson Lake, Kimball Lake and Greig Lake campgrounds are found closer to the east side of Meadow Lake Provincial Park. This area has a few more privately owned cabins, and camp stores are located at most of the campgrounds. The campsites are large, with dense forest creating a secluded atmosphere. Each campground borders one of the beautiful lakes in the park, allowing easy access to swimming and fishing.
Park wildlife typically avoids human contact but can be tempted. It is important to pack away food in the evenings or when leaving the campsite.
Waters Edge Eco Lodge
A luxurious lodge sits on the edge of Greig Lake on the east side of the park. Waters Edge Eco Lodge was created as a sanctuary for visitors looking to unwind from the busyness of life. It offers eight guestrooms and three different cabins.
Ensuring visitors have an opportunity to enjoy the tranquilities of nature is a priority, but adventurers can still fill their cup with complimentary access to canoes, kayaks, paddle boards and paddle boats. Sunrise with coffee can be enjoyed from the privacy of your deck. if you are lucky, the northern lights will put on a show across the night’s sky.
The pristine natural beauty and calm of Meadow Lake Provincial Park lures visitors to return year after year. There is no shortage of activities in the park, and it is easy to spend a week or two exploring the area. Plan a visit but do yourself a favour and make sure to stay awhile!
Author and Photographer: Annika Mang
Annika Mang is a writer and photographer based in Regina, Saskatchewan with a focus on family adventure.