Mantario Day 5 – Marion Lake to South Trailhead

Today will be a 12.3 km day ending at the south trail head and burgers at Hawk Lake Junction.  We cross 2 railway tracks (CNR and CP) today, and will actually veer into Ontario (the tario part of Mantario) today to get around Caribou Lake.   Without that I guess this would just be the Manitoba trail.

The trail from Marion Lake heading south continues uphill pretty much all the way to the junction of the Marion Lake / Ann Lake portage trail.  Shortly after that we come to the first train track

and a short way south we come to the survey marker buried into the rock

the trail continues through some nice pine woods (that apparently blew down the summer of 2010 and 2011)

pine forest

the walking through the pine forest was a nice break – and we made good time

and then we came to Caribou Lake – the east campsite is quite nice although dirty and even though a bit early we stopped for lunch (soup today) which was quite good even though it is hot out.  There really is no place to stop after this until the Whiteshell River.  The worst thing about this campsite is that it is the closest to the south trail head and people have hauled stuff in and just left it – the bear box is even full.  Not impressed.

caribou lake

caribou lake

so we worked our way around the lake after lunch

and one more

and then we came to the Ontario border – not much of a welcome – first we came to a creek with a swamp on the east side

and then the crossing

the crossing


and then some interesting rock climbing

a good workout for the legs

followed by some good walking through the pine forest again

which brings us to the junction of Mantario trail and the west Caribou Lake campsite trail

this junciton used to be an old tower (now only the footings exist) alongside the abandoned airstrip and beyond that there is nothing else around.  A good place to sit at least.  So we continue south on the last leg.  The trail is quite windy in many places and in a few spots is hard to keep track of where it actually is.

a view from a high spot over the Whiteshell River valley

a few more rocks to climb over

another set of tracks - CPR this time

and then a bit more rock

and then we come to the Whiteshell River

whiteshell river bridge

which is a good place for a view

a dip

and to fill the water bottles once again

and a view the other way

before we head out on the last short piece of trail.  The next part of the trail is criss-crossed by other trails in the Hawk Lake area so paying attention is a good idea (couldn’t get lost anyway as you can hear the traffic now).   We come out onto an old road

where we find the south trailhead sign

and then the parking lot where a small non-descript sign sits

and with that we take our end of hike photo – all accounted for, no missing parts, no missing gear and no injuries – still smiling – another good hike

and then we went and ate our hamburgers, fries and sodas/milkshakes.  I would show you a picture except we either didn’t take a camera in with us, or we ate it so fast we didn’t have time to get a picture

BUT WAIT – we aren’t done yet – just fed.  We still have to drive all the way back to the North trailhead to get the other vehicle – in fact we need to take 2 vehicles back as we met a couple by Caribou Lake who were trying to decide if they should keep going or go back – they dropped their car at the north trailhead, then came back to the south trailhead to start, and one of them locked the keys in the glovebox for safety, not thinking they needed them to get into the car at the other end.   So we offered to take it up with us and leave it there with the keys in the gas tank cover so they could work their way home when they finished.  That will be out good duty for the day.

And with that, our hike is finished, and we head back to Beausejour to sort the gear out before we all head home.

I would certainly hike this trail again, and maybe next time it won’t be +35 every day.  Never drank so much water in my life, and we were still dehydrated when we finished.

This trail would certainly be a very different trail if it was raining out.  The rocks are quite smooth and would be slippery to navigate at times.

About trailsandtrips

I am a consultant in the forestry and environmental fields and spend my recreational time in a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
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4 Responses to Mantario Day 5 – Marion Lake to South Trailhead

  1. Erica Smith says:

    Thanks so much for taking the time to document your hike. I plan to do this with friends mid September. However we expect to do it in 3 full days plus travel. In your opinion are we joking ourselves to want to hike it so quickly? We are beginner to intermediate hikers in good physical condition. But unfortunately have limited vacation time.

    Thanks again, your blog has been very informative.

    • Hi Erica

      you could do the trail in three days but they will be a bit long. It takes about 25 hours to do the trail. We take lots of pictures so we spread the hike over 4 days which gives us plenty of time each day. The real determining factor on how far to hike is location of camp sites (so that you have access to the bear boxes to put your food in) and the weather. If the weather is real hot, the granite gets quite hot so that can affect your feet. If it is raining, some of the rocks you need to climb up can get slippery and rushing will just lead to injuries. If you are a beginner, make sure you break your boots in well beforehand or they will cause you grief. Also pack as light as possible and make sure the pack is well fitted and you have at least walked with it before going on the hike.

      if you can get started early the first day you should be able to make it in the 3 days you have.

      to do this it is better to get the vehicles in place the evening before and camp near one end. Get up early and get on the trail.

      We plan on going back on the trail over the Sept long weekend ourselves.

  2. Andre Hiebert says:

    I enjoyed reading your account of the trip! My buddies and I are going to do this one sometime in September. If you could do the hike again would you hike the trail north to south or south to north? And what equipment were you using to purify your water supply?

    • Hi Andre

      thanks for your comment

      Not sure if i have a preference actually. you pretty much need 2 vehicles as you need to leave one at the end of the trail so you can get back to the start, unless you have someone picking you up. If we do shorter hikes we start and come back out to the trail head we started at, but more often when doing the whole trail we leave a vehicle at the south end, drive up to the north end then start hiking. this is better when you are starting your hike in the morning as you can get to the first or even second site. to leave a vehicle at the north end, then come south would use up time, unless you overnighted at the Provincial campground that is close by. an early start has been our aim. the first time we walked the trail it was over the Sept long weekend and temps were at mid-30’s. the bare rock in the centre part of the trail gets very warm in the afternoon.

      for water purification, we have a pump with a filter in it, and then we put a water tablet in each bottle. we each carry two 1 Litre bottles so we always have enough on hand. we know many that drink right out of the lake, but for the little extra weight i would rather not have issues associated with bad drinking water. it would make the hike miserable. water is for the most part quite clean, and some lakes have a bit of color due to tannins. Have a good hike.

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