RRSB Afforestation Area

 Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area Map

Not a big fan of Saskatchewan winters? Join us –a Winter Enthusiast, a Winter Sceptic and a Winter Avoider–as we explore one of Saskatoon’s wildest places.

One sunny winter day, two women and one man ventured into the forest at Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area (RSBBAA): one with a fondness for winter, the other…not so much…. the man not at all. With Winter Enthusiast in the lead, we chose an entry point kitty corner from Chappell Marsh and followed a deer track through a small aspen thicket toward a clearing. From there we were careful to stay on whatever trails we could find in order not to sink knee deep into the snow.  Once we reached the row of powerlines, we headed north into the woods.

This originally man-made forest is thick with pine, spruce, poplar, Manitoba maple, and willow trees with caragana and dogwood shrubs, which make it a perfect haven for deer and rabbits. We had fun testing our wildlife tracking skills to see how many species we could add to our list.  Based on tracks, scat, and other evidence, our tally included deer, rabbit, coyote, squirrel, mouse, and a small weasel! We also heard a few elusive chickadees and saw a blue jay. Even our Winter Sceptic and Winter Avoider had to agree that it had been a good outing.

Note: The blue dot indicates our adventure entry point. The yellow dots are other possible entry points, both yellow dots have small parking areas.

Reflecting on our adventure each person came up with recommendations for future trips to RSBBAA:

Winter Enthusiast recommends checking the weather forecast and dressing in layers so you can adapt to cooler mornings/evenings and the warmth of the sun at mid-day, enabling you to stay at the site longer. Consider bringing your skis or snowshoes to explore (off the trails) in and around the forest and frozen marsh. By eliminating the sound of crunching of snow from boots, it would be easier to patiently track and view wildlife, too. Don’t forget snacks and water for a longer adventure.

Winter Sceptic, who is slowly growing to enjoy winter trips, recommends first-time visitors plan to arrive earlier in the day than you would think, to ensure you have ample daylight hours. Once you enter the forested area (periodically crossed by look-alike rows of powerlines) your surroundings can seem pretty similar, and even a fairly experienced hiker could get turned around as it gets dark. Try to keep your basic directions in mind as you navigate through the woods (ie. where are the train yards, the highway, and the marsh? Where are in relation to where you came in?)

In the NW corner of RSBBAA there are trails intended for fat bike (snow bike) riders, as well as walkers. Anyone can utilize these trails, which have signs to help you navigate and choose the length of your trip.  To directly access these trails, drive to the parking lot near highway 7 and the train tracks. The trails are just over the tracks running north/south.

Our Winter Avoider recommends dressing warmer than you would expect and bringing extra mitts, a toque, and a warm scarf. They also noted that there are no benches to sit on, so you may wish to plan a shorter trip on the maintained trails. Another tip would be to bring small snacks to amuse yourself and provide periodic bursts of energy.

The Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is unique place in Saskatoon that allows you to choose the level of your adventure based on where you enter, how long you spend there, and whether you venture off the trails. Winter enthusiasts of all levels can enjoy this area together!


Sara Bryson and Erin Lang

Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area Entrance
 Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area Map
Animal tracks

Things to do at RSBBA

  • Walking/hiking
  • Skiing & Snowshoeing
  • Fat bike trails
  • Birdwatching
  • Wildlife tracking
  • Dog walking (South West off leash dog park)
  • Botany walks – winter tree ID
 Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area Map
 Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area Map

How to get there

Access: by road driving west on Valley Road, pass the City Landfill on the left, and turn right onto Cedar Villa Estates Road in front of the City of Saskatoon Maintenance Yards. Enter the afforestation area outside the fence at the southeast corner of the parking lot.

Facilities: Informal trails, follow old vehicle paths, or walk through areas in the trees.

For more information: Check out the Saskatoon Nature Society’s A Guide to Nature Viewing Sites In and Around Saskatoon, available on loan from the Saskatoon Public Library and for purchase at Turning the Tide and McNally Robinson bookstores and directly from the Saskatoon Nature Society, purchase the book here.