1. Dune Discovery Interpretive Trail, Canora
If your kid's idea of Saskatchewan is flat prairie land, you have to take them to these sand dunes, some of which are five storeys high. To get to them, hike the easy three-kilometre trail that winds along the south shore of Good Spirit Lake and into the dunes (there are benches along the way for a rest or snack). Explore this hiking trail as a family, checking out the signs that explain the fragile ecosystem, or, if your kids are older, meet up with a park staff member for a guided tour.
Go hiking: Good Spirit Lake Provincial Park Hwy 229, Canora 306-792-4750 $7 per vehicle saskparks.net> 2. Beaver Creek Conservation Area, Saskatoon
Just south of Saskatoon you’ll find a pocket of protected wilderness where a creek meets a river. Here, four easy trails (ranging from 0.9 to 3.2 kilometres) loop around the beaver ponds, creek and grasslands that are home to a huge variety of wildlife, such as deer, foxes, beavers and water birds. Visit the interpretive centre (if only to use the bathroom) and don’t forget your camera and your bug spray.
Go hiking: Lorne Ave/Hwy 219 13 km south of Saskatoon 306-374-2474 Free, donations welcome meewasin.com>
3. Rings, Ruts and Remnants Trail, north of Swift Current
This is more than a hike—it’s a trip through history. On this two-and-a-half-kilometre trail around Lake Diefenbaker your kids will be on the lookout for trace remains of teepee rings (circles of stones left by Aboriginal Peoples), ruts made by the wagons of the area’s early settlers and remnants of prairie homesteaders, like survey markers, homes and even gravesites.
And why not mix a little technology with your history? Geocaching (searching for small hidden boxes that contain items like stickers or pins, using a Global Positioning System, or GPS) is popular in Saskatchewan and there is a cache on this trail. Visit geocaching.com and search for “Rings, Ruts and Remnants.” Tip: This trail is out in the open, so bring a hat.
Go hiking: Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park Hwy 4 306-375-5525 $7 per vehicle saskparks.net>
4. Meewasin Trail, Saskatoon
Running for 60 kilometres on the east and west sides of the South Saskatchewan River, the Meewasin Trail is a scenic way (“Meewasin” is the Cree word for “beautiful”) to see the city of Saskatoon. For an urban walk, start at the south downtown River Landing area, which has a kids’ water play area, plenty of trees and benches, and paved walkways suitable for strollers. Walk about one-and-a-half kilometres west along the river, over the colourful pedestrian footbridge and under the Senator Sid Buckwold Bridge to get to the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, where you can refuel with Saskatoon berry tarts.
Go hiking: 20th and 3rd Avenue, Saskatoon, or park at the Farmers’ Market, 414 Avenue B South. 306-665-6887 Free meewasin.com>
5. Gem Lakes Trail, Smeaton
If you’ve got a brood of outdoor adventurers, try the stunning Gem Lakes Trail. This hike circles around seven small but deep lakes with bright blue-green hues (their names include Sapphire, Jade and Opal), and you’ll get great views of the lakes from the hills that surround them. The entire trail is five-and-a-half kilometres, and while it’s easy to shorten it into smaller loops of a kilometre or two each, some sections are considered challenging. It’s also a great place to go fishing.
Go hiking: Narrow Hills Provincial Park Hwy 106 north of Smeaton 306-426-2622 $7 per vehicle saskparks.net>