Spirit Sands & Devil's Punch Bowl

MODERATE 118 reviews

Spirit Sands & Devil's Punch Bowl is a 10.0 kilometer lightly trafficked loop trail located near Glenboro-South Cypress, Manitoba, Canada that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 10.0 km Elevation Gain: 130 m Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

The Spirit Sands Trail is located about two hours west of Winnipeg in Spruce Woods National Park, just off Highway 5 south of Carberry. There is a spacious parking lot at the trailhead with a clean outhouse-style toilet and a water pump. There are more water pumps along the trail but the water in them is not treated. There are outhouse toilets along the trail as well, shortly after the sand dunes and near the Punch Bowl. The trail passes through varied landscapes and ecosystems including grassland prairies, forest, parkland and sand dunes. The sand dunes are a unique environment and it is known as Manitoba's desert. This area is also home to all the different types of snakes in Manitoba and the Prairie Skink, Manitoba's only lizard. The trail starts off along the sandy trail and leads through a forested area before arriving at a fork in the trail. There is a slightly longer 0.6 km (versus the 0.5 km shorter and easier trail) trail to a viewpoint overlooking the surrounding landscape and sand dunes in the distance. From here, the trail continued on to the sand dunes and widen open desert. Before reaching the sand dunes, you have to climb a wooden ladder placed along the first steep sand dune where you arrive to the vast desert. It definitely does not feel like you're in the middle of the Prairies! There are lots of rolling sand dunes and flat sections of sand which the hike continues crossing. The sand is somewhat challenging to walk on as it was difficult to get a firm footing and traction, especially when going uphill. It is a good leg workout and definitely requires some stamina and strength. The Devil's Punch Bowl is another beautiful sight to admire along the trail. There is a viewpoint overlooking this crater-shaped small lake with vibrant green-coloured water for some great views. It is formed by an underground stream from the Assiniboine River. From here, take the sandy trail leading down to the Punch Bowl where there are wooden viewpoint areas with benches - perfect places to stop for a picnic lunch. The trail then continues along boardwalks with steps leading down to cross another pretty lake (with great photo opportunities of the tree reflections on the calm water) and then back up more stairs to connect with the main trail again. After the Punch Bowl, the trail continues through mostly forested sections and loops back around to the trailhead. There are fewer sandy sections along the final portion of the hike and the terrain was flatter and easier. This trail takes me around 4 hours to complete (including a stop for lunch and lots of photo taking along the way) if you are somewhat in shape. There are unique environments, fantastic views, beautiful scenery, and interesting trees and plants along the trail. Some tips: When it is hot, we recommend starting the trail in the morning as it can get really hot in the sand dunes around midday in the summer. Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots (not flip flops - you are not going to the beach!). Come prepared with the essentials (water, map, rain jacket, extra food, etc.). Bring at least 2 litres of water with you (there are a few water pumps along the way if you need more).

hiking
1 month ago

loved it great views fun to hike

Great trail! I would rate this as hard. The soft sand makes the ups and downs extremely challenging. We’ve hiked up Arizona hills, band lands, hunt lake hikes marked hard and this would be equally challenging in a walking through soft collapsing sand kind of way. Very gorgeous scenery. You will see everything on the combined trails. Worth all 12km and almost 4 hours for all of our kids. (Youngest was 8).

hiking
1 month ago

Greatest view with different landforms in one trail, amazing!

hiking
2 months ago

We started with the sands and were so glad we did so that the rest of the hike was a little easier when we had less energy. Will definitely be back.

hiking
2 months ago

Started about 9:30 in the morning. Did the Spirit Sands and the Oasis Loop before proceeding to the Devils Punchbowl. A wonderful hike with an amazing variety of terrain and landscape. The portion through the Spirit Sands was a tougher hike due to the sand and hills, but worth every step. Glad we did this section first while we were fresh and before it got too warm. The section to the Devils Punchbowl was easier and cooler. Trails were well looked after and easy to follow. Loved the hike and highly recommend. As stated in other reviews, bring water and make sure you have proper footwear.

It’s a lot of sand

hiking
2 months ago

Did the full loop and loved it. Middle of the day, so the sun was burning over head but you do this trail and most others will seem like a breeze. Bring plenty of water but something that was super helpful was bringing Gatorade (or any electrolyte replenisher).

bugs
3 months ago

Honestly loved this trail. Brought my mom and my sister for a hiking trip but we had to return after reaching the wooden log ladder because our mom was feeling very dizzy. We arrived there in the evening because we thought it'd be less hot, but it WAS still hot AND humid. The trail is full of steep sandy inclines so it's very easy to get tired especially underneath the scorching sun. Personally, the trail was doable but don't bring your mom when it's super hot because you're going to find yourself stopping at every shade you find.

hiking
3 months ago

Arguably the best trail in manitoba!!! My husband and i loved the sand dunes.

hiking
4 months ago

Love this trail. I go back to it many times every year. It is well marked and very well maintained. It has amazing views and lots of different scenery.

hiking
4 months ago

This is one of my favourite trails to hike in Manitoba. I have hiked the Spirit Sands and Devil's Punch Bowl Trail many times during my life and in more recent years, have done this hike once every summer. The Spirit Sands Trail is located about two hours west of Winnipeg in Spruce Woods National Park, just off Highway 5 south of Carberry. There is a spacious parking lot at the trailhead with a clean outhouse-style toilet and a water pump. There are more water pumps along the trail to fill up with. Although they have signs indicating that the water is non-potable and do not drink, it is safe to drink and comes from the water table. The signs have to be posted as the water is not technically treated, however, I have confirmed with a park interpreter that it can be consumed. There are outhouse toilets along the trail as well, shortly after the sand dunes and near the Punch Bowl. The trail passes through varied landscapes and ecosystems including grassland prairies, forest, parkland and sand dunes. The sand dunes are a unique environment and it is known as Manitoba's desert. This area is also home to all the different types of snakes in Manitoba and the Prairie Skink, Manitoba's only lizard. The trail starts off along the sandy trail and leads through a forested area before arriving at a fork in the trail. I took the slightly longer 0.6 km (versus the 0.5 km shorter and easier trail) trail to a viewpoint overlooking the surrounding landscape and sand dunes in the distance. From here, the trail continued on to the sand dunes and widen open desert. Before reaching the sand dunes, you have to climb a wooden ladder placed along the first steep sand dune where you arrive to the vast desert. It definitely does not feel like you're in the middle of the Prairies! There are lots of rolling sand dunes and flat sections of sand which the hike continues crossing. The sand was somewhat challenging to walk on as it was difficult to get a firm footing and traction, especially when going uphill. It was a good leg and butt workout and definitely required some stamina and strength. The Devil's Punch Bowl is another beautiful sight to admire along the trail. There is a viewpoint overlooking this crater-shaped small lake with vibrant green-coloured water for some great views. It is formed by an underground stream from the Assiniboine River. From here, I took the sandy trail leading down to the Punch Bowl where there are wooden viewpoint areas with benches - perfect places to stop for a picnic lunch. The trail then continues along boardwalks with steps leading down to cross another pretty lake (with great photo opportunities of the tree reflections on the calm water) and then back up more stairs to connect with the main trail again. After the Punch Bowl, the trail continued through mostly forested sections and looped back around to the trailhead. There were much less sandy sections along the final portion of the hike and the terrain was flatter and easier. As someone who is in good physical shape, this trail takes me around 4 hours to complete (including a stop for lunch and lots of photo taking along the way). I love the unique environments, fantastic views and beautiful scenery, and interesting trees and plants along the trail (I even found some pincushion cacti!). I recently hiked this trail with a park interpreter and it was fascinating to learn about the medicinal properties of some of the flora and about some edible plants. The entire hike is around 8.5 km and is moderately challenging. It is a loop trail. Some tips: I recommend starting the trail in the morning as it can get really hot in the sand dunes around midday in the summer. Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots (not flip flops - you are not going to the beach!). Come prepared with the essentials (water, map, rain jacket, extra food, etc.). Bring at least 2 litres of water with you (there are a few water pumps along the way if you need more). I definitely recommend this hike to those looking for a slight challenge, beautiful views and to experience a unique area of Manitoba. Just for clarification, this website says this trail is rated "easy" however, I would say this is incorrect. It should be rated at least "moderate," based on the somewhat challenging hiking conditions through soft sand, exposure to the elements in wide open areas and some ups and downs.

hiking
4 months ago

well marked, lots of poison ivy. beauty of a trail

bring lots of water, shoes with mesh will gather lots of sand (when I say lots I mean lots). all in all, a decent trail maybe a medium rating would be better.

hiking
blowdown
5 months ago

This trail was absolutely stunning! Sand dunes in Manitoba, what!? Seriously this trail was a lot of fun, running up and down the sand dunes, and beautiful scenery in the devil's punch bowl. Trail conditions were perfect!

5 months ago

We went on the Friday of the Easter weekend in April. The weather was warm and sunny. There were 5 of us and we each carried two bottles of water and it was barely enough. The hike was easy, it's only sand that one has to deal with. Be prepared to empty your shoes of sand at the end! The scenery was beautiful!

hiking
5 months ago

Great trail! On a hot day, it took our family (children aged 8 & 4 who walked most of the way) 4.5 hours to complete both Spirit Sands and Devils Punch Bowl. Lots of water breaks, a picnic lunch and playing in the bowl helped sustain the little ones. Be prepared to empty your shoes from sand. There is a water pump at the trailhead which is not potable so bring tablets or filter if planning to refill there.

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful day for a hike! Wood ticks are out, had 1 extra passenger for the ride home!

hiking
5 months ago

Great first hike out this year. Trail conditions were great and lots of people out enjoying this great weather! Happy Easter!

hiking
6 months ago

Highly recommend this trail! A little heads up, I know that it says this trail is “easy”, but its really not. I only say this because most of the trail is sand & hills. Bring tons of water, and prepare for your shoes to get sandy! Overall we took about 2.5hrs to finish the whole hike, including stopping to rest & take pictures. Towards the end of our hike during sunset, we did hear a few coyotes howl so please just be alert.

hiking
6 months ago

There is no potable water on this trail so make sure you bring lots of water!!! And remember, it’s all sand so there will be sand in your shoes unless you wear hiking sandals!

walking
Monday, September 10, 2018

Go on a cool day and bring lots of water. The trail heats up pretty quickly as the day progresses.

hiking
Sunday, September 09, 2018

Fun hike, sandy areas make the hike slightly challenging, grassy trails are nice and wide. The dunes and the punch bowl make for great scenery.

hiking
Saturday, August 25, 2018

love this trail! neat that Manitoba has it's own little desert. the Spirit Sands part can be difficult, lots of steep hills with loose dry sand. The Punch Bowl is beautiful as well. worth doing the entire thing! it's nice that there are lots of paths to take, you can do it in sections. we did the whole 13kms in one hike, took us about 4 hours. highly recommend it!

hiking
Saturday, August 25, 2018

It was very beautiful. Would not consider this trail an easy trail as there was a lot of uphill climbing on loose dry sand. Had a great time otherwise.

Monday, August 06, 2018

About 3 hours with many breaks to hydrate my dog and ourselves under the hot sun. We took a quick dip in the bowl which was absolutely freezing, dog loved it though. The view was beautiful at the top overlooking the bowl. Walking in the sand added a touch more of a challenge which we embraced! I recommend bringing 2 water bottles. Enjoy!!! Ps did this last weekend!

hiking
Wednesday, July 11, 2018

This was my first hike ever. I went by myself and it was a great experience. I did a little bit of the Spirit Sands trail, it was a great challenge. Luckily it was an overcast day because I don’t know if I would’ve survived if I did it full sun. After a bit of the sand trail I went to do the Devils Punchbowl... it was breathtaking. The fact that something like this exists in Manitoba blows my mind! I’m definitely doing it again and bringing everyone I know.

hiking
Saturday, June 09, 2018

Went with my family here recently. The weather is cloudy and it was raining just slightly which was a blessing in disguise, can't imagine how hard this path is in +30 weather. I find that this trail isn't exactly "easy" since it's all sand. You have to climb sand dunes which is very hard on the legs after a while. The punch bowl was beautiful, can only imagine how blue the water is when it's nice out. I'll do the punch bowl portion of the walk again for sure.

hiking
Saturday, June 09, 2018

I can for sure say this trail really tested me. I ended up splitting it into 2 because 1 water bottle was just not enough. Day 1 was the spirit sands and that was exactly what you would expect - sand. It was amazing seeing sand dunes in Manitoba like that. Also gave myself a solid pat on the back for making it up. Day 2 was devils punch bowl. The hike itself was great, but the destination was a let down. The water that is so supposedly so amazing to see looked like a swamp. Maybe the water is to low right now but it just wasn’t exciting. But the trail itself was great through the rolling hills. The destination is why I rated this trail a 4 instead of a 5. For sure bring lots of water - especially through the sand dunes. 1 water bottle (24oz for me) will not cut it (at least for me it didn’t).

hiking
Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Did the Spirit Sands trail on Sunday in +30 weather. Amazing trail. Maybe too hot to do it at 1pm but we had our dog too and as long as we kept hydrated and kept him wet too, we were good!

hiking
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

This was a great hike! My boyfriend and I accomplished this hike in about 3 hours with a couple of breaks here and there (30 min altogether). I would not call this an easy hike, the devils punch bowl is much much much easier than the spirit sands section. The sand dunes were MASSIVE! We will definitely do this again!

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