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Grey Owl’s Cabin is in the northern part of Prince Albert National Park, north of Waskesiu and Kingsmere Lakes. This is a beautiful, challenging hike that starts at the south end of Kingsmere Lake. The hike follows the east shoreline for 20km to another smaller lake called Ajawaan Lake where lies Grey Owl’s Cabin.
“Far enough away to gain seclusion, yet within reach of those whose genuine interest prompts them to make the trip, Beaver Lodge extends a welcome to you if your heart is right.”
– Grey Owl
Time Required: 2 days minimum
Location: 3 hours north of Saskatoon
Distance: 40km round trip
Elevation Gain: minimal
Difficulty: 7/10 – Very long
Season: May to September
Additional Requirements: Camping Permit
From Prince Albert: Take Hwy 2 North for 75km until you see signs for Hwy 264/Waskesiu. Turn left here and follow Hwy 264 for 46km until the road dead ends. It will be gravel for the last 18km and there will be a parking lot and boat launch at the end.
WHAT TO BRING
- Comfortable Footwear: Hiking shoes. Make sure your shoes are broken in prior to tackling this hike to prevent unexpected blisters.
- Water: This hike is very long so it’s important to stay hydrated. If you have a small water filter, or purification tablets, they will come in handy as you won’t have to carry as much water.
- Meals: This hike is a minimum 2-day hike, so you’ll have to plan some meals. Smokies, sandwiches, oatmeal, veggies, and fruit are easy to pack and full of nutrients.
- Weather appropriate clothing: You will be exposed to the elements throughout this hike. Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. We would recommend a raincoat just in case…
- Extra shoes and socks: Depending on the time of year, the trail can be wet and mucky. A warm pair of socks and shoes at the end of your hike will feel better than you think.
- Sunscreen: If it is sunny and you’re like Mattson, who easily burns, bring sunscreen!
- Insect Repellent: This area has a ton of mosquitoes. Don’t forget to bring bug spray!
- Bear Spray: You are in bear country. Always hike with bear spray that is easily accessible.
- Camera: There are numerous photo opportunities you won’t want to miss.
- This Guide: Print a copy of this guide to reference throughout the hike
- Camping Equipment: Tent, Sleeping bag, hammock, pots, pans, plates, and utensils. Anything you think you’ll need for an overnight hike.
- Camping permit: This can be purchased at the national park Visitor Center.
Wildlife: You will be hiking in bear country. It is always advisable to check in at the local Visitor Information Center to learn of any trail closures due to wildlife. Carry bear spray in an easily accessible location. Travel in groups of multiple hikers and make lots of noise to avoid an unexpected encounter.
Canoe: Reaching Grey Owl’s Cabin can be done by canoe. There is a boat launch at the trailhead, a rail cart that helps you portage into Kingsmere Lake, and big signs on the shore of Kingsmere Lake to use as landmarks for trails and campsites. This guide will stick to the hike instead of the canoe route, but paddling is an option.
Leave No Trace: It is important that we enjoy the outdoors responsibly and sustainably. Some key principles to consider when hiking to “Leave No Trace” are:
- Plan ahead and prepare: Proper planning allows adventurers to hike safely while minimizing damage to the land.
- Travel on durable surfaces: Stick to the trail when possible. If there is no trail, or you must travel off trail, stay on durable surfaces to reduce your impact.
- Dispose of waste properly: Pack it in, pack it out.
- Leave what you find: Leave rocks, plants, archaeological artifacts and other objects of interest as you find them.
- Respect wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance. Never feed wild animals.
- Be considerate of other visitors: Be courteous to others to allow everyone to enjoy their outdoor experience.
To learn more about “Leave No Trace” visit http://www.leavenotrace.ca
Summary: The trail heads north from the parking lot along Kingsmere River then follows the east side of Kingsmere Lake for 20km passing different campsites along the way. From the north end of the lake, you will hike another 1.5km to Ajawaan Lake where you will find Grey Owl’s Cabin.
In the northwest corner of the parking lot (Route marker #1 on the map) and will see a big sign marking the trailhead. Follow the trail north for a few hundred meters and you will see the Kingsmere River down below. There is a rail cart portage track for canoers.
Roughly 300 meters from the trailhead is a branch off to the left to reach the first campsite, Southend Campground. This campground is another 1.2km from the fork. To get to Grey Owl’s Cabin stick to the right and continue following the trail. 3km from that fork, you’ll arrive at Westwind Group Campground (Route marker #2 on the map).
At 6.7km there is another campsite called Chipewyan Portage Campground (Route marker #3 on the map). This is where we stopped for snacks and a break.
6km past Chipewyan Portage Campground is Sandy Beach Campground (Route marker #4 on the map). This is where we spent the night. There are no campsites at Grey Owl’s Cabin. We’d recommend camping at either Sandy Beach Campground or North End Campground and doing a day hike from there to the Cabin without heavy gear.
There are a couple sections of the hike where you walk along the beach. It’s a nice change of scenery and the views of the lake are beautiful.
The last campground before Grey Owl’s Cabin is Northend Campground (Route marker #5 on the map). It is 16.8km from the trailhead. It includes two double sites and two single sites. Here you will also find a large sheltered area with picnic tables and a wood stove. I wish we would have known about this shelter when we did the hike as we could have taken shelter from the rain.
The last leg of the journey is relatively easy, and most people do it without their packs and gear. 3km north of the Northend Campground the trail will jag to the left and take you along the west shore of Ajawaan Lake to the Cabins. The lower cabin was Grey Owl’s, and the upper cabin was built for his wife, daughter, and visitors. There is a lot of history in these cabins about Grey Owl’s journeys and his message about nature conservation. There are postcards, pictures and books telling stories about Grey Owl inside his cabin. Respect the cabin, respect the site, and have fun!
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Have fun out there!