There are several reasons I hike solo.
Sometimes it’s to be by myself in nature. Sometimes no one else is free to hike with me. Sometimes it’s to challenge myself without having to depend on anyone else.
A perfect place to get comfortable with heading out on the trail solo is the Wascana Valley Nature Recreation Site, only 10 kilometres northwest of Regina.
I had heard a lot about the Wascana Trails – they’re perfect in nearly any season. Spring, summer and fall are ideal for hiking, bird watching and mountain biking (it was the location of the Canada Games in 2005). In winter, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, downhill tobogganing and fatbiking are quite popular.
So it was on one of those hot and sunny autumn days that I finally convinced myself to pull off the highway on my way back to Saskatoon and go find this popular hiking area.
Thankfully, I always carry a variety of gear in my car (you never know when an adventure will pop up!) so I was prepared with runners, comfortable clothes, a backpack, snacks and lots of water.
I checked the trail map in advance and snapped a photo of it on my cellphone for reference. There are 15 kilometres of trails in the area and three loops to explore: the novice Creekside Loop, the intermediate Screaming Mosquito and the advanced Disc-O-Tech. I planned to hop trail to trail where they intersected and make up my own route through the Qu’Appelle Valley.
The most challenging sections of the trails are when descending and ascending to and from the valley rim. But the bottom flattens out for easy hiking alongside the creek (some of the trails are even accessible to strollers).
From the top I eyed a few areas I knew I wanted to hike down to. I wanted to cross over the beautiful green bridge over Wascana Creek and hike into the trees along the southwest side. Planning my route from the map and what I could see of the trails from the top, I headed down into the valley.
Although I was hiking solo, I wasn’t actually alone (as is often the case). There were several other people enjoying the trails with me – both on foot and on bikes.
I had timed my hike perfectly with the reddish glow of golden hour. The light splashed throughout the valley, illuminating the oranges, reds and yellows of autumn leaves on the trees. I took my time while walking – setting up my tripod to snap a few photos and Instastory on my social media channels. For me, hiking is relaxing. Being around nature recharges me and the best moments are ones where I get to sit and enjoy the sunlight and beautiful views.
3 Quick Tips for Hiking Solo
1. Carry all the necessary gear you’ll need – but pack a few extra items (without overpacking)
It’s only you out there (which is the beautiful part of it) so be sure to carry all the necessary gear you’ll need for a hike – from extra water and snacks to clothing layers and maps. But be practical in the items you choose as over-packing can make the hike more difficult than expected.
2. Tell someone where you’re going
Cell service is not guaranteed and neither is battery power. Let someone know where you’re hiking and how long you plan to be away.
3. Pick an easy trail
Start off solo hiking on easier or shorter trails. Build up your experience and comfort levels overtime rather than starting with a challenging or more technical trail.
How to Get to the Wascana Valley Recreation Site:
Take Highway 11 north out of Regina. Travel for 10 kilometres and turn onto Grid 734 (a sign marks the turnoff). Head west on the grid for another 10 kilometres. When you reach a point with the road splits (one section curves to the north) keep going straight. Then turn south at the sign towards the trails. Parking is available at the entrance.