Saskatchewan abounds with great scenic drives during fall colour season, but if we had to pick one it would be the aptly named Narrow Hills Scenic Drive in Narrow Hills Provincial Park. The hills are named for the enormous masses of rocks, soil, and debris pushed into ridges by moving glaciers. The forest diversity of spruce, jack pine, aspen, birch, willow, and tamarack combine in a kaleidoscope of colours in autumn. We’ve never been disappointed coming here in the fall, including our most recent trip just a few days ago.
Accessing the Drive
To get there follow the signs to Lower Fishing Lake off Hwy 106, the Hanson Lake Road. The scenic drive is well signed, with the turnoff just before you reach the core area of Narrow Hills Provincial Park. Only 10 km long, it climbs to a panoramic lookout point over the beautiful Grace Lakes. But half the fun is the drive itself as the route winds along sandy roads climbing a push moraine, a huge ridge left behind by glaciers some 10,000 years ago.
To the Top of the Narrow Hills Scenic Drive
The road starts fairly smoothly, then turns into a one-lane track with a few ruts the higher you go. Most vehicles should be able to make the trip, although you have to be careful in places if your car has low clearance.
For much of the way thick forest lines the road. It isn’t until you come to a break in the trees that you realize that you are travelling along the tops of the hills with drops on both sides.
There are several places to pull off which are excellent for photos: looking over the expanse of forest, small ponds, or Mackie Lake where a steep trail leads down to the trout-stocked lake. Interpretive panels provide the lowdown on the natural surrounding and history of the area. Another stop is the trailhead for the Old P.A. Hiking Trail where you can venture even deeper into the wooded lakelands.
At the top of the ridge at the end of the route the forest opens up; here you’ll find a picnic site and cross-country ski warmup shelter, and washrooms. From the open clearing, you can enjoy unobstructed views overlooking the picture-perfect Grace Lakes below.
The Road to Love
Before you get too excited about finding romance, keep in mind that this refers to the village of Love, south of the park. In the early days before modern roads were built, people from the area would follow this route to get to the lakes.
The Grace Lakes mark the end of the officially designated Narrow Hills Scenic Drive. However, a minor road continues south, connecting to the roads south of the park. This road is not maintained and the park does not recommend taking it. We did not drive it on this trip but have taken it in the past. It is very rough and should only be attempted in a vehicle with high clearance and preferably with four-wheel drive.
Depending on weather conditions, the road is sometimes impassible, so it is not a good idea to venture out before you check current information on conditions. Cell phone coverage is not good or non-existent, so if you were to get into trouble, it would be a long walk to find help.