Quiet Voices delivers impressive display

Bill Stilwell, Submitted article

The cacti bloom in the Carberry sandhills. The delicate yellow blossom of the plains prickly-pear cactus is in sharp contrast with the prickly stems of this brittle plant.

One of the best places to view the prickly-pear cactus in full blossom is along the Quiet Voices Trail in Spruce Woods Provincial Park. These yellow flowers are plentiful and easily spotted among the mixed-grass prairie here. The pincushion cactus, with its characteristic violet-pink flower, is far less abundant.

Cactus flowers are one of the many natural treasures awaiting visitors to this region and other sandhill areas throughout Manitoba. The prairie landscape is constantly changing as different plants blossom throughout the growing season.

Quiet Voices Trail is one of the best kept secrets in Spruce Woods Provincial Park. It is located near the north end of the park on the east side of Provincial Highway 5, where it shares a parking area and trail-head with the Epinette Creek Hiking Trail System.

The 1.6-km trail was a joint undertaking of The Seton Centre and the park, according to the Seton Centre website. The Seton Centre is located in Carberry.

"The mixed-grass prairie found in the Carberry sandhills formed over thousands of years and was shaped by natural forces," according to information on the trailhead sign. "These forces will be the voices that tell you the story of the prairie. Wind, fire, sun, water, plants, trees and animals each tell of their role in the cycle of life on the prairie. Stop, look and listen carefully at each site on the trial to hear the message of each quiet voice."

With an area of 269 square kilometres, Spruce Woods Provincial Park is characterized by spruce parkland, upland deciduous forest, mixed-grass prairie, open and stabilized sand dunes and riverbottom forest.

Visitors to the area should also consider visiting other "less publicized" features. One example described in the best-selling book "Manitoba Naturally," is the Hogsback. It is a unique, natural feature located adjacent to the Assiniboine South segment of the Trans-Canada Trail, north of Cypress River.

This well-illustrated nature book is filled with interesting, but not well known places and is available online at

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