The Loop: a 2.5K little adventure

Posted on Jul 17, 2019 by Lindsay Somers

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For years I’ve been running, walking and biking a downtown loop at The Forks.

It is my favourite four season outdoor experience at the Forks. The loop winds its way around the rivers telling the history and story of the land. Even though I’ve probably completed it hundreds of times, it always feels new and different because there is just so much to see. 

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The 2.5K loop takes 10 minutes to bike and about 25 minutes to walk. It’s a great little adventure, I recently took a stroll and captured my favourite sites to share with you.

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We started our journey at the new Common patio. (Please note you'll have to add some time to your loop for running into friends!) As the new summer hot spot in Winnipeg it seems everybody is here hanging out and enjoying the views of the river.

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We start our loop by walking through the Nature Conservancy of Canada's Prairie Garden. The 20,000-square-foot garden features various native tall grass prairie grasses and wildflowers such as prairie crocus, wild iris, bergamot, purple prairie clover and wild columbine, providing a glimpse into Manitoba's natural history. 

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From the Prairie Garden we make our way toward the historic rail bridge. This bridge literally crosses the actual confluence of the two rivers: the Assiniboine River and the Red River. It offers a beautiful view of The Forks on one side and St Boniface on the other.

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Crossing the rail bridge we move toward Niimaamaa. Niimaamaa is a word recognized by Cree, Ojibaway, and Metis speakers as "my mother". Niimaamaa is a stylized sculpture of a pregnant woman that represents motherhood, Mother Earth and new beginnings. 

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From Niimaamaa, we cross over the Norwood Bridge toward St. Boniface. I love this little sneaky view of Niimaamaa.

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Tucked behind St Boniface hospital, the trail continues surrounded by a tree canopy offering new beautiful views of The Forks and The Canadian Museum for Human Rights. 

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The Promenade Taché brings us to Saint-Boniface Belvédère, a walkway suspended extending over the riverbank offering new vistas of The Forks and downtown Winnipeg. 

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The Promenade Taché and Saint-Boniface Belvédère are also great places to also take advantage of the views of St. Boniface architecture and history. Opposing the beautiful downtown views, if you turn around toward the St Boniface side you'll see Cathédrale Saint-Boniface and Le Musée de Saint-Boniface.

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Following the riverbank, the towering Esplanade Riel connects us back to The Forks. Walking on this iconic structure you'll find many opportunities to snap that perfect Winnipeg selfie. But also! Did you know you can also enjoy a delicious authentic French crepes on the bridge? Creperie Ker Breizh offers sweet and savoury crepes made fresh right before your eyes.

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We were so fortunate to cross paths and meet this sweet family taking a celebatory stroll across the bridge who (just moments before!) successfully completed their Canadian citizenship test. 

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On the other side of the bridge we met a group of folks helping to keep The Forks clean. We stopped for a quick chat and learned that their work experience program is faciliated by New Directions  to provide equitable employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. 

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Beside the bridge we see one of many downtown 2019 Cool Gardens public art pieces. This blue string-like installation called Keep Your Cool was designed by ft3 Architecture Landscape Interior Design.

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Free snacks! Winding our way back toward The Forks Market we pass by The Forks Public Orchard. It's quite amazing to see a thriving orchard right in the middle of downtown Winnipeg. The orchard has 61 fruit trees including apple, apricot, cherry, pear and plum, and as many as 75 fruit bearing shrubs.  

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We complete our Forks loop tour at the magnificent Oodena Celebration Circle. It pays homage to the 6,000 years of Aboriginal peoples in the area. Oodena, Ojibwe for “heart of the community”, features ethereal sculptures, a sundial, interpretive signage, a naked eye observatory and a ceremonial fire pit.  

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As you can see the loop offers so much to see! Every trip around the loop offers a new perspective to the history, architecture, public art and people of Winnipeg. I hope you're inspired to take a stroll or bike ride on your next visit!

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