HIKING IN ONTARIO'S NATIONAL PARKS
PUKASKWA NATIONAL PARK
The park is a primitive wilderness park on 1,878 sq. km of Canadian Shield along the northeast shore of Lake Superior, halfway between Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie, near the town of Marathon. The highest summit in the park, Tip Top Mountain, has an elevation of 630 m and is 450 m above the lake. The Park's 80-km coastline is characterized by exposed headlands, islands and islets, shoals, sand beaches, boulder beaches and coves.
Backpacking is the major activity in the park. The 60-km Coastal Hiking Trail on the shoreline of Lake Superior is completed giving a very challenging hiking route.
The park is very remote and isolated, with road access only to the park headquarters and campground at Hattie Cove at the north end.
Hattie Cove, located at the northwest corner of Pukaskwa, offers a 67-site, semi-serviced campground. Hikers can either hire a boat to drop them down the coast, which commits them to their plan and increases the physical demands of the hike, or hike out and back along the trail.
The trail follows an inland route from cove to cove. Backcountry camping, at primitive campsites or randomly at non-developed sites, is available along the trail.
You must register with the park and purchase a permit before traveling in the backcountry.
BRUCE PENINSULA NATIONAL PARK
The park is located just south of Tobermory, with two entrances off Highway 6. The Emmett Lake entrance leads to a short hiking trail on Emmett Lake and another short trail that connects with the Bruce Trail.
The Cyprus Lake section of the park offers both camping (242 campsites) and hiking. It boasts four easy, well-marked trails: the Cyprus Lake Trail (5 km), Georgian Bay-Marr Lake Trail (3 km), and Horseshoe Lake Trail (1 km). There are several connections with the Bruce Trail.
Reservations are required.
FATHOM FIVE NATIONAL MARINE PARK
The park consists of a small mainland section near Tobermory and nineteen islands in Georgian Bay, of which Flowerpot Island is the most visited. The Bruce Trail extends along the coast of the mainland section. Hiking is available on Flowerpot Island, located off the tip of the Bruce Peninsula and accessible by water taxi from Tobermory's Little Tub Harbour. The 495-acre island is representative of the Niagara Escarpment geology. It is composed of limestone and, as a result of wave action, sections of cliff have been carved into flowerpot formations. It has a well-marked 3-km loop mountain trail leading to the flowerpots, the main attraction of the island, and continuing to the lighthouse at Castle Bluff on the north shore. The entire trail can be completed in two hours. Hikers should wear sturdy footwear and exercise caution on loose rocks and in wet weather. There is limited camping (six primitive sites) on the island.
GEORGIAN BAY ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK
The park, on the eastern side of Georgian Bay, can be reached only by boat, including water taxis from Honey Harbour. The park is situated on the southwestern edge of the Precambrian shield and contains both the rugged terrain characteristic of shield topography and sedimentary deposits of younger rocks. The park's landscape, shaped by glaciers of the ice ages, consists of submerged hills which have become islands or shoals, and former valleys are now deep channels or bays. The result is a group of islands which offer sheltered beaches and shaded campgrounds.
The largest island, Beausoleil, is situated near Honey Harbour and has over 30 km of trails. Beausoleil Island, portrayed in the paintings of the Group of Seven, provides one of the last refuges of the rare Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake. Numerous hiking trails, ranging from less than 1 km to over 8 km , are well-marked. A trail guide is available from the administrative office on Beausoleil Island. The island also has a central camping area and a number of primitive wilderness sites.
POINT PELEE NATIONAL PARK
Point Pelee is located on Lake Erie, near Lemington. The park includes the southernmost point of Canada, a world famous bird viewpoint with a boardwalk over the marsh and long splendid beaches. This park is open year-round.
A variety of interesting, easy, short trails are available. For example, the Woodland Trail is a 2.8-km nature trail which starts at the Visitor Centre and threads through three habitats - dryland forest, swamp forest, and an abandoned orchard. The Marsh Boardwalk Trail is a 1.8-km boardwalk which allows visitors to experience Point Pelee's marsh. Visitors are not permitted to leave the trails due to the fragile eco-system of the park.
The park is an excellent place for bird-watching and, in September, is the best area in Ontario for viewing monarch butterflies. Ask the park about special bird-watching hikes.
Only group (no individual) camping is available and only on a reservation basis.