Oak Hammock Marsh

Oak Hammock Marsh: Winnipeg’s Natural Sanctuary for Wildlife and Wanderers

Just a short drive north of Winnipeg lies a hidden gem of natural wonder and excitement: Oak Hammock Marsh.

As a kid, I remember the sheer joy and excitement of exploring this enchanting marshland filled with vibrant wildlife and endless adventures. From birdwatching to hiking along winding trails, there was never a dull moment for me at the marsh.

One of my fondest memories was getting up close and personal with the diverse bird species that call this marsh home. Armed with binoculars and a keen eye, I would embark on expeditions that left me eternally curious and in awe of nature’s beauty.

Of course, the fun just started there! Canoeing through peaceful waterways, spotting turtles basking in the sun, and learning about the marsh’s rich biodiversity through interactive exhibits were just a few of the countless adventures that awaited.

This place is just a little outside of Winnipeg, but it’s so worth the drive. If you’re now feeling inspired to take a trip to this fascinating destination, here’s all you need to know about Oak Hammock Marsh near Winnipeg.

Best Time to Visit Oak Hammock Marsh

For birdwatchers, the ideal time to visit Oak Hammock Marsh is around fall, from September to October, as this is when the highest number of birds appear during the migration season.

If you prefer a quiet walk in nature or paddling a canoe on the water trails, July and August are your best bet.

I’m not a birdwatching expert but I still very much enjoy dabbling in it from time to time. I don’t wait for fall just to see a high concentration of bird species, though.

There are still plenty of birds to see outside the migration season, and since I like doing other outdoor activities at the marsh, I often visit in the summer.

There were also instances when I visited in the winter, but that’s mostly because it’s fun to search for animal tracks in the snow. It really depends on what you want to get out of your visit.

How to Get to Oak Hammock Marsh from Winnipeg

Oak Hammock Marsh is located in Stonewall and is approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of downtown Winnipeg. Unfortunately, no buses are servicing this route.

By car, the journey typically takes around 45 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. The routes below are the most common and it might be handy to have your own GPS/navigator in case of detours and other traffic conditions.

From Winnipeg Airport

Exit the airport and head north on Route 90. After approximately 8 kilometers, take the exit onto Inkster Boulevard/Route 52 West. Continue that route for about 6 kilometers, then merge onto Highway 7 North via the ramp on the left.

Stay on Highway 7 North for approximately 10 kilometers, then take the exit onto Highway 67 towards Stonewall. Continue on Highway 67 for about 12 kilometers until you reach the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre, which will be on your right.

From Downtown Winnipeg

To get from The Forks to Oak Hammock Marsh by car, start by heading north on Main Street towards Inkster Boulevard/Route 52 West and follow the remaining instructions above.

Things to Know About Oak Hammock Marsh

Location1 Snow Goose Bay, Stonewall, MB R0C 2Z0, Canada
Contact +1 204-467-3300

One of the most captivating aspects of Oak Hammock Marsh is its incredible biodiversity. This marsh located just north of Winnipeg is home to over 300 species of birds.

During migration seasons, the marsh becomes a bustling hub with tens of thousands of waterfowl stopping by daily. Some say the number even upped to 100,000 at one point!

Bird enthusiasts can spot a wide variety of species, including ducks, geese, swans, and even rare or endangered birds like the piping plover or the burrowing owl.

In addition to its avian residents, Oak Hammock Marsh is also teeming with other wildlife. Visitors might catch glimpses of mammals such as deer, muskrats, and foxes, as well as various amphibians, reptiles, and fish.

Wetlands like this one play a vital role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. They act as natural filters, purifying water and improving water quality.

Wetlands also help prevent flooding by absorbing excess water during heavy rainfall or snowmelt, which is really essential to Winnipeg and nearby cities, especially after winter.

Inside Oak Hammock Marsh is the Harry J. Enns Wetland Discovery Centre, which features interactive exhibits highlighting the importance of wetlands and their resident wildlife and environmental conservation efforts.

For outdoor enthusiasts, the marsh provides ample opportunities for exploration. There are 30 kilometers of trails winding through diverse habitats, allowing visitors to observe wildlife up close while enjoying a leisurely hike or bike ride.

Guided tours and educational programs are also available from time to time.

Things to Do in Oak Hammock Marsh

1. Go on a canoeing excursion.

The marsh has a gentle canoe trail that visitors can explore on their own.

Small canoes are available for rent at the site, at $25 an hour. Two adults can sit comfortably in the canoe, and up to two small children can also be accommodated, provided that they sit on the foam squares at the bottom.

If you have your own canoe, you’re welcome to bring it to the marsh, but you have to ensure that you follow the AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) regulations in Manitoba. You can call ahead or check with the staff before launching your gear into the water.

There’s also a $10 fee (for non-members) for launching your canoe in the courtyard.

2. Explore the marsh on a bicycle.

Visitors can cycle around the marsh on their own if preferred, but there’s also a self-guided trail that you can follow. You can rent a bike for $10 (non-member) an hour; this includes a safety helmet, but you can also bring your own!

3. Have some winter snowshoeing fun.

In the wintertime, one of my favorite activities at the marsh is snowshoeing. I enjoy looking for animal tracks and witnessing jackrabbits and owls going about their business.

Snowshoe rentals are available on-site for $10 an hour. If you’re not keen on exploring on your own, there’s a self-guided trail available too!

4. See hundreds upon hundreds of different bird species.

For birdwatching enthusiasts, there are about 300 bird species that you can see throughout the year, and about 193 of those visit or live in the marsh regularly.

The migration season is, of course, the most ideal time for this activity, but you can visit any time you please! There’s even a downloadable checklist where you can tick off every species you meet.

5. Join guided walks or seasonal events.

Whenever the marsh is open for the season, there usually are several events scheduled throughout.

It’s typically a guided snowshoe walk or marsh walk, but other times, there are holiday events like the Easter Weekend and Egg Hunt for the little ones or a birding event with experts.

If this is right up your alley, I’d recommend checking out their calendar to see what’s happening on your visit!

6. Check out the exhibits at Harry J. Enns Wetland Discovery Centre.

You can’t visit Oak Hammock Marsh without going to the Discovery Centre.

It’s got all these cool interactive exhibits that teach you why wetlands are important in our ecosystem, show you the wildlife that lives there, and dive into fascinating topics like migration, science, and research.

If you’ve got little ones with you, or you are just simply curious, this is a great place to learn and have fun!

  • Fascination Station – Here, you’ll get to meet the many, many underwater creatures that live in the marsh and see their day-to-day life.
  • Nature Nook – You can discover and learn about all the birds living in Oak Hammock’s wetlands. This section of the Discovery Centre is fun because you get to use spotting scopes!
  • Live Animals – You’ll learn more about wetland animals and help the staff feed their resident snakes, turtles, salamanders, and more!
  • Feature Hall – This is the section where you can enjoy various exhibits throughout the year.