Hidden Swinging Bridge
We've wanted to head out to this mysterious bridge for the last year as we had heard of other friends going and were intrigued by this well constructed, wooden swinging bridge in seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
With this early spring (or perhaps decoy spring) and the snow being virtually gone and all roads pretty dry we decided it'd make for a fun Friday evening adventure. It was a correct assumption.
Tip: These types of locations are best explored when wood tick population is low/zero. Because the road here is not maintained over winter it might be tricky to get to when there is snow on the ground. This early March thaw with still partially frozen ground made for perfect timing.
I'll post more detailed directions at the end of the post but once you turn left off of highway 39 (Past the Roche Percee Campground) you'll be on a long winding grid road for a solid 20 minute drive. The drive is really pretty and brings you through an area that is geologically a wide glacial spillway. It's a beautiful drive that largely follows the Souris River.
How the Souris River got it's name:
The story goes that prior to European settlement there was a group of Metis hunters that camped along the southern bank and were invaded by "great hordes of mice". Thus the river became known as the Mouse River south of the border and in Canada the french name for mouse "Souris" was used.
Eventually you'll see the swinging bridge on the right hand side of the road and there is a small parking area that you can pull off into to access the pedestrian bridge.
To be honest, it's ironic that I even suggested this adventure as I don't like heights and swinging bridges really freak me out. The last swinging bridge I was on was in Florida on a zip line course that took us over an alligator breeding marsh. Even strapped to cables I hated it lol.
The bridge however felt pretty secure. There's one missing board and a couple boards that look quite weathered. Absolutely proceed with caution and use your own judgement. I'm not sure the bridge is maintained in anyway.
I'm not a stop and pause on a swinging bridge kind of person... more of a get me across as quickly as possible kind of person. I did make myself do it 4 times though.
We enjoyed exploring around the area, including the low water crossing bridge and culverts down stream. My children who groaned and complained that were were taking them on an adventure on a Friday evening were completely absorbed in finding clam shells, a random femur bone of something (likely cattle), and various smoothed rocks.
We scrambled a hill for a better view and also hiked along the grid road which was pleasant as well. All in all it was a fun little adventure. I can't emphasize enough the value in getting out and seeing something you've never seen before, especially during this season of restriction after restriction. It's so refreshing mentally, emotionally and physically to start down a road where you don't know where you'll end up to get out and explore.
These excursions always lead to so many questions and curiosities as well. Like why is there a bridge in the middle of no where?
I found this tidbit on a government document regarding the government pasture on the south side of the river. "A wooden swing bridge, built in 1969, is situated on the site to provide safe pedestrian travel across the Souris River at times of high water levels (when the low level vehicle crossing is impassable). During these times, vehicles are parked on both sides of the bridge to allow access to the former operating yard. A rock filled weir is located immediately downstream of the rider’s cabin area and upstream of the pedestrian bridge."
What hidden gems have you been to recently? I want to know!
Head out of Estevan on Highway 18 towards Beinfait.
Continue on and merge onto Highway 39 towards the US border.
When you reach the bottom of the valley where you can turn right to go towards Roche Percee (before the railroad tracks crossing the highway TURN LEFT onto Township Road 15.
You will pass the Roche Percee campground on your Left.
This grid road is long and winding and you will be on it for a solid 20 minutes depending on road conditions.
At one point there will be a sign that says "Road not maintained in winter." Keep going.
You will pass Wheatland Cattle Ranch on your left. Keep going.
Eventually you will see the Swinging Bridge on your Right. There is a small parking lot to pull off to.
** As always when exploring observe all signage and private property **
Someone sent this map via Apple Maps and it looks pretty accurate to me so I'll included it.