Hiking the Iconic Rail Trails of Manitoba Canada


Rossburn Subdivision Trail, West Central Manitoba 

Opportunities for Exploration and Birding in the Prairies  

Rail Trails of Manitoba Canada - The Rossburn Subdivision Rail Trail is a multiuse pathway that connects the charming town of Neepawa at its southern terminus to the bustling community of Russell, Manitoba at its northern end. Therefore, this 174.43 km route is one of the longest sections of Trans Canada Trail in Manitoba, alongside the Crow Wing Trail / Chemin St. Paul and the amazing pathways of south Whiteshell Provincial Park, Pinawa, North Crocus, and the beautiful City of Winnipeg.

Rossburn Subdivision Trail. Photo credit: Sean Morton.

Tracks to Rail Trails of Manitoba

The Rossburn Subdivision  of the Trans Canada Trail is a striking example of the 'Tracks to Trails' initiative, following the abandoned railbed of the Rossburn Subdivision branch line of the Canadian Northern Railway. For this reason it passes through the communities of Clanwilliam, Erickson, Sandy Lake, Oakburn, Rossburn, Angusville, Silverton and the Waywayseecappo and Keeseekowenin First Nations. Along the way, it takes trail users through the beautiful western uplands, mixed grass prairie, pristine farmland, and boreal regions of west central Manitoba, and provides access to the famous Riding Mountain National Park via the Elk Link Trail near Erikson

Hiking the Rossburn Subdivision Trail

Trans Canada Trail 

During our #hike4birds across Manitoba on the Trans Canada Trail we particularly enjoyed the 48 km section between Bethany and Sandy Lake, and the 10 km stretch from Silverton to Russell, which were both beautifully maintained for hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders in summer, and groomed for snowmobiles in winter. Although much of the trail is used by and maintained for use by ATVs or ORVs in summer, these two beautifully maintained sections offer amazing opportunities for hikers and cyclists to view wildlife, go bird watching, camp, explore local history, and enjoy tasty food.

Hiking from Bethany to Erickson

The section of the Rail Trails of Manitoba Canada between Bethany and Erickson begins with a beautiful trestle bridge, and continues through pristine farmland. During our hike the smell of fresh cut hay hung in the air as we watched the lush greens and brilliant yellows of the fields unfold around us on a misty July morning. We stopped at the 100-year-old Clanwilliam General Store for hot coffee, delicious homemade butter tarts, and interesting conversation. Later, in the  afternoon we were amazed by panoramic views of the soft, round, undulating hills that stretched out around us under a blanket of yellow canola blossoms. Furthermore, deep blue prairie pothole lakes were scattered among the hills, each one filled with an abundance of waterfowl. We ended our day in a beautifully treed and well-equipped campsite at the Erickson Campground, near the shores of Lake Leda, just outside the bustling and welcoming of Erickson which offered a full range of amenities.

Erickson to Sandy Lake Hiking Trails

The trail heading west out of Erickson is bordered by trees, transporting hikers and cyclists through a magical green corridor dappled with sunlight. To add to the excitement, we spotted a mother black bear with two playful cubs frolicking on the pathway. In addition, just as we passed the turnoff for the Elk Link Trail - which offers trekkers the opportunity to venture north to the epic Rocky Mountain National Park- we watched two white-tailed deer foraging quietly among the trees. Furthermore, a particular highlight was stopping to visit Proven Lake Wildlife Management area, and taking a break at the beautiful Proven Lake warm-up shelter. Down the pathway the small town of Oakburn offers trail users a nice picnic area to take a break beside its iconic grain elevator. As we approached the bustling resort town of Sandy Lake we passed a busy nine-hole golf course, and ATV traffic along the trail picked up. Regardless, this community offers holiday makers a full range of amenities, as well as opportunities for camping, swimming, sailing, and golfing during the summer months.

Silverton to Russell Trans Canada Trail

The most northerly and perhaps most well-manicured section of the Rossburn Subdivision Rail Trail can be found between the communities of Silverton and Russell. After leaving the picturesque grain elevators of Silverton behind, trail users find themselves traversing gently rolling agricultural fields. As the Rail Trails of Manitoba Canada crosses the Russell Golf Course it becomes a 2 m wide, flat, crushed stone dust trail that is a joy to hike or cycle. In particular this 8 km section to Russell is lined with colorfully decorated bird houses, interpretive signs, and places to take a break while enjoying a view of several small lakes. Therefore this superbly maintained pathway provides great opportunities for friends and family alike to immerse themselves in nature, get some fresh air and exercise, play a round of golf, and easily return to town for lunch or dinner in Russell.

Hiking the Iconic Rail Trails of Manitoba Canada

 Trans Canada Trail Birdwatching

Location (Map)

Rossburn Subdivision Trail, Main St, Rossburn, MB R0J 1V0, Canada
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Thursday, 11 August 2022