Just after a fresh snowfall and a few days before Christmas, my dad and I went hiking near the south end of Betula Lake. The trail carries on towards a lookout point over Twin Falls, which was described to me as arguably the best view in Manitoba.
This particular route will not be marked with signs until the spring, and the current lack of signage makes the trail a tad difficult to find if you don’t know what to look for. So, I’ll just take a moment to break off into an agonizingly detailed description of how to find it and avoid getting lost. Like most places in the Whiteshell it’s about a two hour drive to get to Betula Lake from Winnipeg. Driving along Highway 307, you come across signs for the Betula Lake cottage roads, which are all on the lefthand side of the highway. To get to the trail, take the third and last of these, which is marked “Blocks 5-7.” The cottage road passes the beach (somewhat difficult to recognize under the snow), and about three quarters of the way down the road, just after an uphill there is a clearing on the right hand side that veers off of the cottage road at about a 2:00 clock position.
I want to mention again that the trail is unmarked, so it’s not hard to go astray. (The trail will be equipped with signs come spring, but in the meantime it’s helpful to have some directions. The trail is wide at the beginning, and winds into the forest shortly after it begins. At the first fork, you should turn left; we didn’t.
If you follow the trail to the right, it’s a pleasant hike that continues on for quite a while before forking again; we thoroughly explored the two options, both of which eventually lead to dead-ends. While it was clear where the trail was, we had to use our footprints in the snow to find the way back at some points while returning, so I would recommend taking some flagging tape along to mark your route just to be extra cautious.
Once we found our way back to the original fork a little over an hour later, we tried taking the path that leads to the left. This trail is wide and fairly even until you come across a second fork, where the righthand path leading to a steep uphill will take you to the lookout point.
We saw a few snowmobiles en route, which suggests that the trail should be hike-able all winter because the snowmobiles would keep the snow packed down – bad news for snowshoeing, but it makes for better footing as well as a handy clue that you’re on the right path.
The trail continues mostly upwards until you come across a couple of little inukshuk on the left hand side of the trail, and if you look to the left you can see a stone bench. Walking towards this bench, you come across the breathtaking view of Twin Falls.
It’s about an hour-long hike to the lookout point and back, which is a nice length for a family outing, and the trail continues beyond the lookout for more energetic or ambitious folks.
This spot is a great destination to pack up a picnic lunch and head out on a day trip to take advantage of an unseasonably warm Manitoba winter!