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
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
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.
this guide will help
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.
made brief mention of
historical and geographical details that I have explored in much more
detail in other places.
included here are
quite basic. I've included Google Earth clips, and
recommend this amazing resource.
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