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One of southeastern Manitoba's best vacation hideaways is Falcon Lake. This 3,700-acre lake offers a bit of everything-except crowded cities. Nestled in the far south of Whiteshell Provincial Park, Falcon Lake is home to hundreds of cottagers, two provincial campgrounds, two villages, resorts, bed & breakfasts, a marina and a ski area. Every season at Falcon Lake is filled with outdoor recreation and adventure. Located just off the Trans-Canada Highway, it is less than two hours from Winnipeg and the perfect starting point for exploring Whiteshell Provincial Park - that is, if visitors can actually tear themselves away from the water.
Long and narrow, Falcon Lake lies east to west near the Manitoba-Ontario border. Several generations of families have kept cottages at the lake, now surrounded by the provincial park. The cottages are joined by several resorts and a hotel where vacationers can stay to experience lake living for a week or two. Nearly 550 campsites are spread between two provincial park campgrounds near the west end of the lake and the village of Falcon Beach. The campsites offer a range of amenities, with some providing electricity and water. An RV dump station is available. Falcon Creek flows into the lake nearby after meandering through an 18-hole golf course open to the pubic. Less than a mile from town a guest ranch with equestrian cabins and horseback riding offers lodgings for those who wish to bring their own horses, or rentals and trail rides for those who need to be outfitted.
Public boat ramps are located at the campgrounds and other places along the shoreline. All types of watercraft are permitted, and the single small marina rents fishing boats, ski boats, pontoons, paddle boards, kayaks, canoes and tow-ables. The marina also has a boat ramp, along with leasable dock space and land-based storage for those who wish to leave their boats at the lake year-round. The marina sells boat gas and has a bar and restaurant along with a store that sells boating and fishing supplies. The village of Falcon Beach also offers several restaurants, a grocery store and many basic services. A small water control dam is located near the marina,. Outflow to the Falcon River is regulated by Manitoba Water Stewardship. Falcon Lake Yacht Club near the village of Toniata gives sailing lessons to children and adults and sponsors sailboat races on weekends and holidays.
Fishing is great at Falcon Lake. The water holds rainbow trout, brown trout, walleye, lake trout, yellow perch, northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and whitefish. In winter, most of these varieties can also be caught through the ice. All Manitoba fishing regulations are in effect, and all anglers must be licensed. Because the size of the lake, first-time fishermen often engage the services of a local guide to find the best places to cast. Although there are many cottages along the western end of the lake, there are still vast stretches of shoreline that hold emergent vegetation and the kinds of shelter where big lunkers lurk.
Whiteshell Provincial Park offers plenty of hiking and mountain biking trails for visitors to enjoy. The area has lots of wildlife, including black bear, moose, white-tailed deer, martin, beaver and many small mammals. Birds and waterfowl are plentiful, with cormorant, white pelican, red-tail hawk, bald eagle, Canada goose, ruffed grouse, loon, ducks and grebes inhabiting the water's edge and the shallow marshy areas.
Although summer is the season most people usually choose to visit Falcon Lake, the area is becoming a four-season favorite. The many trails near the lake are favored by cross-country skiers and snowshoe trekkers. The ski area on the southeastern end of the lake has over 15 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails available. The ski area, operated by a concession, does double-duty winter and summer, with downhill skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and sledding in winter being replaced with concerts, special events and other recreational activities in summer. Snowmobiling is a favored pastime in the area, with groomed snowmobile trails linking to other trails both inside and outside Whiteshell Provincial Park. Detailed maps of these trails are available from local snowmobile clubs and park rangers. Many of the lodgings are available year-round so visitors always have a place to stay.
Falcon Lake water quality is very good. The lake receives water from Falcon Creek, other small inlets and likely ground water. Several marshy areas around the shoreline sometimes give the lake the typical rusty tinge of the muskeg swamp, which does not impair water quality. The outflow to the Falcon River eventually joins the outflow from High Lake and enters larger Shoal Lake. Shoal Lake and the entire watershed provide all of the City of Winnipeg's municipal water. Therefore, keeping Falcon Lake's water quality high is the utmost importance to Manitoba. Several organizations share water monitoring responsibility for Falcon Lake. As Falcon Lake's smaller watershed is part of the larger Shoal Lake watershed, Ontario, Manitoba, the Canadian government and the United States are all involved in planning and monitoring efforts (the waters from Shoal Lake and its connected lakes outflow across the international border).
Falcon Lake visitors can choose from housekeeping cottages, resorts, hotel, bed & breakfasts and a guest ranch. A few private owners rent their lakefront homes on a short-term basis, sometimes with a boat or canoe. With grocery stores, bait shops, farmers' markets and artisans' shops throughout the area, lake visitors can easily find all necessary supplies and services. So, head east from Winnipeg along the Trans-Canada Highway for Falcon Lake.
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