Doing the Ingraham Trail Parks

The Ingraham Trail is the playground of the North Slave region. Starting in Yellowknife, this partially paved route winds some 69 kilometres eastward, rambling over jackpine-studded outcrops, crossing both the Yellowknife River and Cameron River, and linking together more than a dozen lakes glittering in the midnight sun.

Out here, you’ll find a summer’s worth of fun. Wakeboard on the warm waves of Long Lake. Fly-fish at Tartan Rapids. Hike the Big Hill Lake Trail. Roast marshmallows on a promontory above Prelude Lake. Paddle the idyllic Jennejohn canoe route. And picnic at Cameron Falls.

Doing all this is easy, because there are three great territorial parks here to serve as your home base. The first, Fred Henne Territorial Park, offers sun, sand – and easy access to Yellowknife. The middle one, Prelude Lake Territorial Park, provides big thrills and big wilderness on the Ingraham Trail’s biggest lake. Finally, placid Reid Lake Territorial Park, near the literal end of the road, offers a remote and relaxing refuge from modern world.  

beach at fred henne in yellowknife

Tucked between urban attractions and the call of the wild, this park appeals to both cityslickers and backcountry campers. For those keen to explore our territorial capital, a moderate hike through the forest will bring you to downtown Yellowknife, bustling with shops, restaurants, museums and more. Meanwhile, if you’re more nature-oriented, this park is on the cusp of the hinterland. (Indeed, if you were to walk north from the campground, you wouldn’t cross a single road clear to the Arctic Ocean!)

beach at fred henne

For many campers at Fred Henne Territorial Park, the biggest appeal is the adjacent Long Lake, with the most popular beach in the Northwest Territories. The summer sun heats up the shimmering sand and shallow waters, making swimming a delight and attracting waterskiers, SeaDooers, kayakers and more.

prospectors trail hike fred henne yellowknife

Fred Henne also offers great hiking: Looping east from the park is the Prospector’s Trail, where interpretive signage provides walkers with a short-course on local geology and mining.

young family camping at fred henne park yellowknife

Finally, within the campground itself, you’ll find a full slate of facilities. Amid the outcrops and evergreens are more than 100 campsites (ranging from powered RV sites to remote, walk-in tent platforms), plus washrooms and showers, firewood, kitchen shelters, and even a laundromat. 

camping at prelude lake park with dog

Setting out from Yellowknife on the Ingraham Trail, you’ll quickly experience the Precambrian frontier in all its glory. The road bends around the north tip of Yellowknife Bay, crossing the scenic Yellowknife River, and then angles east, weaving over and around the pink outcrops as it passes the access road to the village of Dettah and the placid day-use parks at Prosperous, Madeline and Pontoon lakes.

campsite at prelude lake

Approximately half an hour from town you’ll arrive at Prelude Lake, a 16-kilometre-long, island-dotted, Trout-filled paradise. At the lake’s western tip, Prelude Lake Territorial Park offers entertainment for a day, a week, or more. There’s a sandy beach here, ideal for swimming and picnicking, a boat ramp from which to launch your own vessel, and a marina where you can rent a pontoon boat or motorboat.

prelude lake panoramic trail

If you’re more of a landlubber, you can explore two great trails. The Panoramic Trail offers an easy half-kilometre walk, much of it on boardwalks, to two lookouts with splendid views high above Prelude Lake. The Prelude Nature Trail, meanwhile, forms a three-kilometre loop, passing through sand barrens, across flowing waves of smooth bedrock, and over spruce bogs bustling with boreal birds and mammals.

At the campground, you’ll find 44 campsites (ranging from powered RV spots to scenic walk-in tent sites overlooking the lake), plus washrooms and drinking water, firewood, picnic and kitchen facilities, a playground, and more. 

Once you’ve had your fill of fun at Prelude, you can continue even further out the Ingraham Trail. You’ll soon encounter the Powder Point Day-Use Area, great for boating and fishing. Then you’ll arrive at the Cameron Falls Day-Use Area, where the region’s most popular trail leads one kilometre over scenic outcrops to a powerful, splashy cascade. Next up is the Cameron River Crossing Day-Use Area, with more hiking trails, more fishing, and more waterfalls.

casting into reid lake

Finally, near the end of the Ingraham Trail, you’ll come to Reid Lake. This sprawling, spruce-lined lake is the gateway to various backcountry adventures – paddling trips down the upper Cameron River, to Jennejohn Lake, or even upstream to Tibbitt Lake. Reid Lake itself is an anglers’ and birdwatchers’ mecca – and, for hot summer days, there’s even a little swimming beach beside the boat launch. 

At the campground you’ll find 65 non-powered campsites and 11 tent pads, washrooms and drinking water, firewood, a playground, and helpful staff. 

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On the flats at the southwestern end of Fort Simpson Island, for centuries Dene gathered at this site during their seasonal rounds to allocate land use, arrange marriages, resolve disputes, hold puberty rites, undertake ceremonies of healing and thanksgiving...

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Perched on a pillar near the entrance to town, the yellow and blue Bristol Freighter airplane greets visitors to Yellowknife, reminding them of the region's vital aviation history. Bush planes such as this one fed the development of the town, bringing...

Direclty across HIghway 3 from the Northern Frontier Visitor Centre, this easy two-kilometre loop explores the shoreline of a small marshy lake in the heart of a Yellowknife residential neighbourhood. Despite its urban location, Niven Lake is rich in...

One of the most diverse, historic, offbeat neighbourhoods in Canada, Old Town is the beating heart of Yellowknife. Here, where the Precambrain Shield juts into Great Slave Lake, goldseekers 80 years ago pioneered what was to become the North's greatest settlement....

On the shores of Frame Lake in front of City Hall, this grassy park is Yellowknife's favourite gathering place. In summer, musical performances are common at the waterfront ampitheatre, and various attractions – the museum, the visitor centre, Firewood Studio, a...

The closest thing to whitewater on the mighty Mackenzie River, this fast-flowing section occurs a few kilometres upstream from Fort Good Hope where the river is choked between 40-metre-high limestone cliffs.

Legendary prospector Albert Faille spent his life hutning for gold in the Nahanni Mountains. Each spring from the 1950s until his death in 1973 he journeyed up the Liard and Nahanni rivers from his home in Fort Simpson, portaging around the...

This municipal campground is located about four kilometres along the access road to Fort Liard. It's next to a small lake, and offers a kitchen shelter and several campsites.

On September 20, 1987, on the flats where the Mackenzie and Liard Rivers flow together above Fort Simpson, as many as 4,000 people – mostly Dene – gathered to welcome Pope John Paul II. It was the first time any pope had ever visited an Aboriginal community. His...

The oldest and certainly the most ornate place of worship in the North, this tiny cathedral crowns a bluff overlooking the Mackenzie River in Fort Good Hope. Built starting in 1865 by Oblate missionaries – including the famed Father Émile Petitot –­ the church from the...

In the depths of December, 1931, an enigmatic loner calling himself Albert Johnson shot and injured a policeman near the Rat River, not far from Aklavik. He then led authorities on a two-month goose-chase that was broadcast via radio around the world. As the sign...

Towering 400 metres above Tulita, sacred Bear Rock is said to be where Yamoria, the great law-giver of Dene lore, confronted a gang of giant beavers that had been drowning hunters. Yamoria killed three of the beavers and draped their vast pelts on Bear Rock – forming...

Here, on this rectangular peninsula jutting northward into Great Slave Lake, the Northern fur-trade got its foothold. Parks Canada has designated this 8.8-hectare expanse – long the site of a Hudson Bay Company post – as a national historic site. It and other trading...

Midway between Fort Simpson and Fort Liard on the Liard Trail, Blackstone Territorial Park boasts stunning mountain views and a prime location on the Liard River, downstream from its confluence with the South Nahanni. This is an excellent starting...

Swim at Long Lake’s sandy beach. Camp, picnic, canoe or enjoy the amenities and attractions of nearby Yellowknife. Hike the four-kilometre Prospector’s Trail, highlighting the gold-bearing geology of the area. Or follow the Jackfish and Frame Lake trail system, leading...

This popular park and campground are located at the junction of Highway 1 and the Trout River (Sambaa Deh in the Slavey language). The river was a traditional transportation route before and during the fur trade. The falls forced travellers to portage around...

Just outside Inuvik, this park features an observation tower with excellent views of the surrounding scenery and prime bird-watching. Watch for falcons, eagles and ducks, our summer residents. There is an abundance of cranberries, blueberries and cloudberries that...

Located on Vale Island in Hay River, (follow the signs; it’s about 10 kilometres past the information centre), this park offers fantastic swimming on the sandy shores of Great Slave Lake, unique views of barges and fishing vessels plying the waters, and great...

This park is perched on a cliff overlooking the Peel River and surrounded by stands of white birch and white spruce trees. It's an ideal place to unwind for a few nights on the long journey up or down the Dempster. The visitor centre offers a fascinating glimpse of the...

On the banks of the Mackenzie River in Norman Wells, MacKinnon Territorial Park offers a great view of the Mackenzie Mountains and is a perfect stop for river-trippers. There are eight non-powered campsites, washrooms, firewood, a picnic area and a playground...

Located in the heart of Inuvik, this park offers 19 powered and eight non-powered sites, and convenient access to the town’s attractions. The park is situated on a bluff overlooking the east branch of the Mackenzie River, with a view of the Richardson Mountains....

Join us for an unforgettable experience on the mighty Mackenzie River. Day trips are available for a full or half day. Exceptional nature and wildlife viewing, fishing, hiking and historical tours are available. We will stop at Green Island and Ghost Island to hear...