An Introduction

I like taking the back roads.  Highways are great if you are in a hurry, but they seldom offer the opportunity to really see, and to get close to, the country through which you pass. But a narrow gravel road, stretching off over some unexplored hillside - that gets my attention.  Trees grow right to the edges of the narrow ditch.  Cows, with their necks stretched over barbed wire fences, watch you pass with their constant but casual interest.  Wild flowers might draw your attention,  forcing you to stop and examine them.  And if a racoon should scurry cross the road in front of you, you are probably driving slowly enough to avoid it.

These roads still take you from point A to point B, but they offer more in-flight entertainment.  There is, however, a subspecies of the back road that I have even more trouble resisting. That would be the ones marked “No Through Road”, or, more ominously,  “No Exit”. Now that’s a back road.  Its road that goes somewhere... not just past somewhere. It’s these sorts of roads that really take you off the beaten path.

You see, a drive in the country is a pleasant thing, but it is no match for a walk in the counrtry, if you really want to see what’s out there. It offers a whole new meaning to the expression “seeing the world.”  And at the end of the trail marked “No Through Road”, you just might find something interesting. That’s because when our province was settled they allowed for road allowances in a grid pattern one mile square. But some road allowances were never needed, and some of the original roads were abandoned when no longer needed. That leaved us with miles of unused, publicly owned, road allowances. And some of them are great places to take a walk.

It’s interesting how walking has made a comeback.  What an activity!  It takes very little training. It’s inexpensive (No you don’t need brand-name hiking boots!). It’s healthy. Its a great way to visit. (Most people can walk and talk at the same time!). You can take the whole family,  spend the day, have a picnic, have a great time, learn something, and feel great.. All for less than the price of staying at home and watching television.

Finding a place to walk is easy. Civic and municpal governments may have been a bit slow to provide urban walkways, but they’re working on it.  But our parks have devloped extensive hiking trails, and the new Trans-Canada Trail has sparked interest nation-wide.

These developed trails in parks are fine, but there is so much else to see.  Many of the most exciting scenery, and the most historically significant locations in our province, go largely unnoticed in the tourist brochures.  These are the places you can find only by exploring good maps, reading a bit of history and geography,  and, most importantly,  roaming the back roads.

With that in mind, I’ve attempted to gather some information that will help others find what I’ve found.  Withing an easy afternoon’s drive from Brandon are several interesting places to hike and to explore. Some are in Wildlife Management Areas. Some are along old unused road allowances. I have been careful to avoid private property. They have two things in common. They tend to be along or near rivers and river valleys - often along old cart trails and early routes dating from pioneer times, and they tend to be “Off the Beaten Path

This guide is more about exploring our province than it is about hiking. A walk around an attractive small town, or an attractive rural cemetery is time well spent.

I hope this guide will help people get acquainted with parts of our province that are just a bit out of the way. It is random, in that there is no plan or system to it. It's just places I like.

I have made brief mention of certain historical and geographical details that I have explored in much more detail in other places.

The maps included here are quite basic. I've included Google Earth clips, and recommend this amazing resource.


Southwest | Southeast | Northwest | Northeast