While many people see Saskatchewan as flat and boring, Saskatoon hiker Jay Brown spent last year exploring the province. He hiked about 20 new trails.
"I saw a lot of the province. There were a lot of things that surprised me this year. Some things I've never seen before," said Brown.
In April, Brown launched his website SaskHiker, where he provides detailed information on hiking across the province. He was frustrated with the lack of information on trails in the province so he created the website to serve as a resource for those looking to check out what Saskatchewan has to offer.
So far Brown has found it rewarding.
"Hearing people [say] 'yeah I'm exploring Saskatchewan. I've lived here my entire life. That's 45 minutes from where I live and I've never gone.'"
Brown shared the top places he visited this year and encourages others to go out and discover Saskatchewan's hidden gems.
Surprising sand dunes
Brown discovered sand dunes in the Douglas Provincial Park on the north end on Diefenbaker Lake.
"I didn't even know they were out there until I went out there," said Brown.
He says it's about a five kilometre round trip hike.
"It's almost like for a second you're out of Saskatchewan in this spot with super fine sand and big rolling dunes as the wind carves them as it comes across," Brown said.
A small cluster of lakes in the northwest corner of the Narrow Hills Provincial Park are known as the Gem Lakes.
Brown says the lakes are special because they are not river-fed like other lakes in Saskatchewan.
They are filled with run-off water from nearby hills. This makes the water crystal clear, reflecting the colour of the surrounding forest.
"They get a bit of a green colour to them and that's where they get their name from," said Brown.
Brown says he looped around all the lakes — a route of about six kilometres.
"It's just a really spectacular area because you're in the really thick boreal forest and there's these hills that surround the lakes so you can get up on top of these lakes and see the green colour in them."
He warns that it is bear country. While walking along the lakes, he encountered a young black bear about five metres from the trail.
"It sounds like the forest is falling part. They don't really prance, they just bolt through it," said Brown.
Anglin Lake is located near the Prince Albert National Park.
Brown recommends the fire tower trail hike near the lake. The 10 kilometre trip takes you to a fire tower with views above the tree line.
"When you're up there you can see for miles," said Brown.
Northern lights above Nemebien Lake
Brown visited Nemebien Lake located north of La Ronge last summer.
While outside an the isolated cabin on the lake, the sky provided him with entertainment.
"While you're out there, there's no artificial light. We got a northern light show that was to date the most insane northern lights I've ever seen," said Brown.
He says the sky was full of green, purple and pink hues as the Aurora Borealis exploded over his head.
"They were like spotlights every time they came out. They made the world brighter as they streaked across the sky," said Brown.
Brown says he will continue to explore Saskatchewan in every season, even winter.
"You can go back to a place every season and it's almost like a completely different experience every time," said Brown. "Just because I've been somewhere doesn't mean I can't go again."
Brown says he prefers to hike in the colder season especially at the Prince Albert National Park. He also recommends Cypress Hills during the winter months.
"The way snow dampens sound, when you stop you can almost hear your heart beat. It's so impossibly quiet," said Brown.
"It can be a very therapeutic experience going for a hike in the wintertime."
Directions to the trails can be found on the SaskHiker website.