Classified as a Natural Park, the Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park comprises of a number of islands between the east and west shores of Lake Winnipeg. With regions of coniferous and mixed forests, limestone cliffs and silica sand beaches, as well as marshes, bogs, fens, and wet meadows, there are many landscapes to explore in the park. One of the main features of the provincial park is the Grassy Narrows Marsh, an important nesting area for Canada Geese. Park Map
Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park has a total area of 1,084 km2. The provincial park was designated in 1969 and officially opened on July 26, 1975. The Park has been influenced by Icelandic (yes, Icelandic. In fact, Hecla is named after Mount Hekla in Iceland), Anishinabe, and Ukrainian cultures. Early inhabitants of the Black Island were the Anishinabe (Ojibwe), and one can see several ceremonial sites and other evidence of early occupation.
Top Things to Do at Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park
There are a number of hiking trails in Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park, totalling 60 kilometres. Of those, the most popular ones are the Grassy Narrows Marsh Trail and the Lighthouse trail.
Grassy Narrows Marsh Hiking and Cycling Trails
Located at the south end of the Hecla Island is a rehabilitated and managed marsh. The water level in the marsh is controlled by a system of dykes developed by Ducks Unlimited and Manitoba Conservation. The dykes also help to maintain good marsh conditions. These marshes are frequented by waterfowl, pelicans, hawks, terns, rare western grebes and Hecla’s largest mammal, the moose. This marsh is an important nesting area for Canada geese.
Hikers and cyclists can use the trails and boardwalks to explore the marsh. Animal sightings are more likely to occur at dawn and dusk. Spring and fall migration are good times to view birds.
Details and Trail Map (PDF link)
Wildlife Viewing Tower Trail
The wildlife viewing Tower trailhead is located just inside the park entrance. The trail to the viewing tower near the Grassy Narrows Marsh is a return distance of 1 km(30-minute hike). The on-site signs describe details on the life of a moose. There is also a spotting scope for close observation of moose habitat as well as moose.
The Gull Harbour Trail system
This trail system connects the major recreational facilities of the Gull Harbour area including the campground, swimming beaches, golf course, picnic areas, tennis courts, amphitheatre, marina, and the Gull Harbour Resort and Conference Centre. Climb the viewing tower for views ofthe nearby Black Island. Gulf Harbour Map (PDF)
Lighthouse trail – This is a 1.5 hour return hike that leads out along a thin peninsula with Gull Harbour on one side and the Lake Winnipeg narrows on the other.
Hecla Village Self-guiding Trail
Hecla Village is a group of six buildings – a church, school, community hall, a period home, fish station, and the partially completed boarding house -as well as several other buildings. You can get a glimpse of the island’s past on the Hecla Village self-guiding trail (1-km, 1 h) while entering the restored buildings. If you want to fully explore the village, you can avail of the Special interpreter-led tours.
Black Wolf Trail
Black Wolf Trail (19 km) is accessed from the Grassy Narrows Marsh and passes through some of the more undeveloped sections of the island. The interpretive signs along the trails give details on the wolf packs and also about the Icelandic families that lived here.
Black’s Point Self-Guiding Trail
This is a 1.5 km hiking trail that passes through a rare and intricate ecosystem, the Old Growth Boreal Mixedwood Forest, where one can find many rare species. The trailhead is located at Beach Parking Lot in Black’s Point Subdivision, Grindstone Provincial Park. GPS Coordinates: GPS-N51 14.319 W96 44.793
Other Hiking Trails
- Willow Trail at the Grindstone Recreation Area
- Wolf Kill Trail at the Grindstone Recreation Area
There are two quarry sites. The west quarry is near the family vacation cabins. The rock units, here, are spread out over a distance of several hundred metres, near the lakeshore. This quarry, operated by the Lake Winnipeg Shipping Company, was the source of flagstone for ornamental walls in buildings constructed in the park in the 1970s.
Situated north of Hecla Village is the East Quarry picnic site. The lime from the quarry was used in the settlement. Here one can see beds of grey and buff limestone of the Red River Formation.
West Quarry Trail
The trail leads to an abandoned quarry and fish camp. You can opt for the longer 10.6-km return hike or the shorter 3.5-km. The trailhead of the longer hike is located near the Gulf Harbour campground office, while the shorter hike is accessible from the end of the north shore subdivision road.
Along the trail, you can see a wildlife viewing blind overlooking the lagoon, and old Fishing Camp, the abandoned limestone quarry.
Hecla Village Scenic Drive
Hecla Village Scenic Drive is a 7-km route starting south of Hecla Village. As you travel along the shoreline, you will be treated to views of Lake Winnipeg with Black Island to the east. Barges, fishing boats can be seen on the water. Pelicans are also a common sight at the park. If you are visiting during spring or the fall migration, you will be able to see Canada Geese. To see Bald Eagles, plan your trip in October. Details and Map (PDF link)
Camping and Accommodation:
The park offers basic, electrical and electric/water serviced sites, and group campsites. On Hecla Island, camping is only permitted at the established campgrounds at the Gull Harbour. Visitors can also rent one of the 20 Family vacation cabins. There is also a wheelchair accessible central washroom/shower building.
You may also choose to camp at the Grindstone cottages.
Visitors can also camp on any of the other islands in the Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park. However, they should pre-register, with a Natural Resource Officer before setting out. This is an important safety precaution.
For a unique experience check out the Solmundson Gesta Hús, a comfortably furnished bed and breakfast, overlooking Lake Winnipeg. It is located next to the church at the north end of the historic Hecla village.
You can also rent rooms and holiday cottages at the Gull Harbour Marina and Lighthouse Inn. Another great option you can check out is the upscale Lakeview Hecla Resort at the northern tip of Hecla Island.
Other Summer activities:
- Swimming – The park has beautiful, white silica sand beaches (eroded from the sandstone). The Sunset Beach is located on the northwest shore of Hecla Island just north of the campground. This is a dog-friendly swim area. The Gull Harbour beach is on the south shore of the bay within walking distance of both the campground and the resort.
- Fishing – Fishing is a popular recreational activity at the park. Pickerel, perch, pike, freshwater drum (silver bass) and catfish can be found here. The popular locations are the docks at Gull Harbour and Hecla Village, and the old ferry dock on the west side of the causeway.
- Picnic Sites can be found at the North Point, Gull Harbour Marina and East Quarry in Hecla and the boat-launching site in Grindstone.
- Playgrounds – Children’s playgrounds are located at the Lagoon Beach and Gull Harbour Campground, There is also one at the Parking lot near the Grindstone Recreation Area.
- Boating – Boating is a popular activity here with several boat launches. Near the North cliff and Blacks Point at the Grindstone Recreation Area, Gull Harbour, Hecla Village
- Interpretive Programs – Summer months is a busy month here at Hecla with a number of interpreter led programs including outdoor evening amphitheatre programs, guided walks in the village and marsh, traditional campfire talks, and other special events. A commercial fishing demonstration and fish fry are held twice every summer.
- 18-hole Hecla Golf Course
- Tennis and Pickleball
- Celebrate the migration of Bald Eagle during Eaglefest held every October.
- Park Explorer Activities Booklets (appropriate for children between the ages of 10 and 12 years)
- Junior Naturalist Activities booklets (appropriate for children between the ages of 6 and 9)
There are many cross-country ski trails as well as snowmobile trails that can be enjoyed here. These trails are designed for novice to intermediate skiers. If you aren’t into these activities, you can snowshoe along one of the trails in the Gull Harbour area. Cattail and Lighthouse are groomed solely for hiking or snowshoeing.
During winter, you can try ice-fishing at one of the several fishing huts on the lake. A fishing license is required- check the Angler’s Guide for details and regulations.
Tobogganing can be enjoyed near the Resort and Conference Centre. Winter Trail map (PDF link)
Near the Park
Venture out to Grindstone Park located 20 minutes away by boat.
When to Visit Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park
The park is open year-round, with camping from May to September.
Check the trail conditions before travelling.
How to Get to Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park
Leaving Winnipeg, follow PTH 8, 165 km/102.5 mi. north along the west shore of Lake Winnipeg to Gull Harbour. The northern end of Hecla Island is about 175 km from downtown Winnipeg-an easy 2 1/4-hour drive.
How much to visit
Starting Spring 2020, you can purchase and print your vehicle permits online at manitobaelicensing.ca.
2020 Entrance Fees
Base permit fees remain unchanged from last year. An additional $4.50 administration fee has been added to all permits to provide the new elicensing service.
- Annual $44.50 (valid until April 30, 2021)
- Casual $16.50 (valid for three consecutive days)
- Daily $9.50 (valid until midnight on the date of purchase)
Free Park Entry Dates for 2020 (Vehicle permits are not required)
- February 1-29, free for the entire month
- Family Fishing Weekend (June 12-14)
- Canada’s Parks Day Weekend (July 17-19)
- Labour Day Weekend (September 4-7)
Nightly Camping Fees
- Basic Services $11.55 to $23.10
- Electrical Services $15.75 to $27.30
- Electrical/Water Services $18.90 to $26.25
- Full Service $23.10 to $28.35
- Yurts $56.50
Parks Reservation Service: 1-888-4U2-CAMP (1-888-482-2267); in Winnipeg call 948-3333