Winter Hike Pinawa to Seven Sisters

Along the Ironwood Trail in Pinawa

Take your honey to lunch this Valentine’s Day – or any day, and enjoy one of the best walks in the area to get there. The temperatures are predicted to soar above zero this week – the perfect time for your first hike of the year to Seven Sisters.  Add to that a new Italian Restaurant, Little Maria’s – and you’ve got the perfect date.

Along the Ironwood Trail in Pinawa

For us the hike from our home in Pinawa to Seven Sisters is an annual affair. Last Friday the sun was shining, the wind was down and the temperatures mild. We called some friends to meet us (it’s best as a one-way walk) and headed off to try out the new restaurant in town – Little Maria’s.

We had a dinner date with friends arranged for 5 o’clock so we left  home at 1:30. We figured we might arrive early.


The hike was completely on the Trans Canada Trail. We started on the Ironwood Trail at the end of Alexander Avenue in Pinawa. The entire Ironwood Trail, all the way to the sewage lagoon, has been packed down by the ski club and is an absolute pleasure to walk on. Just one word of caution, there are some deep foot holes formed from people hiking when the trail was soft and these have been filled with soft snow. I could see some ankle – twisting happening if you’re not careful. Hiking poles may help.  We followed the river to Pioneer Bay campground, and then turned into the forest at the hydro cut line. Except for a short stretch before the campground, this entire stretch is foot traffic only – no snowmobiles to worry about.

Following the wolf tracks

Past the Sewage lagoons, the Trans Canada Trail – or the Great Trail as it is being rebranded –  is shared with snowmobiles. Caution should be used but we were hiking on a Friday afternoon and we didn’t see any sleds at all.  At first the snowmobile trail is one-way traffic, which makes it much safer to hike on. We hiked on the section that would be facing any sled traffic and presumably this should cut the traffic in half.  The trail is now well-packed by a different groomer but still a very easy walk.

The two-way stretch does run out eventually, but not until you get close to the Hydro dam. Once we left the forest and walked out onto the Hydro berm, the trail degraded somewhat. With still 3 or 4 k to go, the snow was soft and plodding up here. It looks as though the snowmobiles use the ditch here, or don’t use this area much at all. The wind picked up, in our faces of course.

The Hydro Dam

As we hiked this section we followed other tracks in the soft snow and watched the story they told. The most dominant tracks were those of two wolves. Their tracks were fresh, none of the light snow that was falling had filled into them yet. Two wolves walked in front of us somewhere almost the entire berm, just like us, side-by-side. At one point they’d caught something – smaller – maybe a rabbit? There were tracks, followed by a skirmish in the snow, and then finally the rabbit getting away. We felt happy for the rabbit, but the wolves must be as hungry as we’re starting to feel. We saw fox tracks and something smaller – a grouse maybe. After a while we got that feeling of being watched.

Yeah – dinner

If you’ve never seen the Seven Sisters dam in the winter, you should make the trip. Big ice formations freeze over the spillway and it’s really pretty dramatic scenery. We stopped for some photos and then headed into the picturesque village of Seven Sisters.

We thought we might be early but we arrived with only minutes to spare. We did stop to say Hi to some of Ray’s colleagues from work at the Tourist Hotel, but we didn’t have time for a beer break. We got to Little Maria’s just minutes before our friends.

Little Maria’s is the regions newest restaurant. It’s taken over Jennifer’s location. It’s a great little Italian place – nothing better than pasta after a long hike. We made reservations and that’s probably a good idea if you’re walking – you really don’t need to be turned away.

Trail Information:

  • From home to restaurant is 16.5 k
  • Time: 3.5 hrs
  • Difficulty: easy to moderate depending on the snow conditions.
Preparing for Africa
and we're off

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