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Ya'Gotta: Follow the Hanson Lake Road to family vacation adventures

By: Jeannie Armstrong
Source: Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, Creative Features Editor
Narrow Hills Saskatchewan
Photo: Narrow Hills Provincial Park
Source: Tourism SaskatchewanTourism Saskatchewan/Douglas E. Walker

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Saskatchewan's Hanson Lake Road is the direct route to summer fun and adventure for the entire family.

The paved highway, which spans much of the northeastern section of the province, provides easy access to many of Saskatchewan's best destinations for fishing, canoeing, hiking, wildlife viewing, historic sites and cultural activities.

The highway was constructed in the 1950s and 1960s, and named in honour of Olaf Hanson, a legendary prospector and trapper in the region. Mile zero of the Hanson Lake highway begins at the friendly community of Smeaton. As you begin your journey down the Hanson Lake Road, fascinating milestones include Zeden Lake, was named after a 'flying boat' with the call letters CFZN which crashed and sank into the lake during the 1930s while conducting aerial photography mapping.

The Torch River Bridge provides a crossing over its namesake river, which in the past provided passage for sturgeon into Candle Lake. The lake yielded its last known sturgeon in the 1930s.

Narrow Hills Provincial Park provides an excellent opportunity to explore the unique geography of the area. The 335-square mile natural environment park is known for its lakes, forests and esker hills formed by glaciers. Park activities include camping with electrical and non-electrical sites available, fishing, backpacking, cycling and boating.

Blueberry picking is very popular in this area. Previous forest fires in the area have created a favourable habitat for the wild berries.

At the junction of Highways 106 and 120, within the Narrow Hills park, is one of the entrances to Candle Lake, renowned for its crystal clear waters, numerous beaches and resort amenities. Close by are the Gem Lakes, a cluster of deep sand-bottomed lakes reflecting vivid shades of emerald, jade and aqua blue. Three wilderness campgrounds are available at Jade, Diamond and Opal Lakes. Scenic driving tours are a great way to explore the Gem Lakes; call (306) 426-2622 for more information.

At the junction at Highways 106 and 913, you can head west to Piprell, White Swan and Candle Lakes. This route was actually part of an old wagon trail which provided access from Candle Lake to Little Bear Lake.

As you continue to travel northeast along the Hanson Lake Road, you'll begin to notice the topography of the land beginning to change as the altitude rises to a height of 2,290 feet at the north end of Little Bear Lake.

Traveling east, the Hanson Lake Road continues to Big Sandy Lake, one of the province's oldest commercial fishing sites, originally established by Olaf Hanson.Turning off onto Highway 165 will take you to one of Saskatchewan's premier wild mushroom harvesting grounds. During the mushroom season, a small community of harvesters covers the area, picking the mushrooms and selling them to mobile buyers.

The next stop on the Hanson Lake Road is Deschambault Lake, home to resorts, beaches, campgrounds, restaurants, explorable crevices, hiking and biking trails. Nearby, Deschambault Lake Village is home to one of the province's premiere fisheries, and offers access to some of the region's finest forest stands. Check out the architecture of the local First Nations' office at the village; the building utilizes indigenous limestone, similar to the stonework which graces the new U of S College of Agriculture Building in Saskatoon.

Highway 135, north of the Hanson Lake Road, takes you to the resort community of Jan Lake. Jan Lake is a popular family-oriented resort area; a variety of cabins, campgrounds and outfitters provide accommodations.

Highway 135 provides access to Pelican Narrows and Sandy Bay. Across from Sandy Bay is Island Falls, the oldest operating hydroelectric dam in Saskatchewan, completed in 1929.

The paved Hanson Lake Road culminates at Creighton, a vibrant town with an intriguing past and a promising future. Tom Creighton discovered gold on Amisk Lake in 1913. Eager prospectors quickly set up camp at 'Beaver City'; five years later, the site was an abandoned ghost town. Tom went on to discover copper at Flin Flon Lake in 1915 and the nearby town of Creighton was named in his honour.

Today, Creighton is home to 1,500 residents, who welcome visitors to experience the area's many recreational and historic sites. Providing fascinating glimpses into the town's history is the replica of 'Beaver City' and the newly opened reconstruction of the North West Mounted Police Post at the Creighton Museum. The Creighton Tourist Bureau offers maps for self-guided tours through the historic region; guided tours are available by special request.

Just a hop, skip and a jump away is Denare Beach on beautiful Amisk Lake, a popular destination for topnotch fishing, hiking and water sports. Denare Beach is home to the oldest museum in northern Saskatchewan - the Northern Gateway Museum, built in 1955.

Free tours of the wild rice processing plant at Denare Beach are available on request. Contact Pre- Cambrian Wild Rice for more details. Accommodations at Denare Beach include numerous campgrounds as well as the magnificent lodges overlooking Amisk Lake. Houseboat and historic tours are offered by some lodges and are an excellent way to explore Amisk Lake with friends and family.

For more information about the many tourism destinations along the Hanson Lake Road, contact the Creighton Economic Development and Tourism office at (306) 688-3538 or check the website at www.townofcreighton.ca.

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