In early 2021 my friend Ron and I decided to hike the coastal trail in Lake Superior Provincial Park. It’s a rugged back country 7 day hike. We planned to go in September, after the bugs and after I got back from my JMT trip.
Unfortunately I returned from the JMT with bad knees and thought it imprudent to go back country for this length of time, so a plan B was developed. Ron persuaded his wife Carol to go on the hike with him. I would be with them for the first 2 days of relatively easy hiking. Then I would go off and car camp and do day hikes, but also be around in case the going was too tough for Carol and she wanted to bail. So that’s what we did.
Monday morning R and C drove to my place and the we drove together, in my car, up to Sault St. Marie where we stopped for the night.
The next morning we drove the remaining distance to the park, signed in, then continued to the trail head at Garantua Bay. The trail head being at the end of a 45 minute drive on an unmade up road. We got there around midday just as the rain tapered off, as forecast.
The map above shows the coastal trail. The hike starts going north for a day from Gargantua and then returning south, camping the second night just past the trailhead.
We loaded up, but with only a day’s worth of food, and set off northwards.
We stopped after a while for a late lunch.
The trail was, as advertised, easy going . Very green and a bit moist.
We passed some rapids
and the going got harder but manageable and soon we got to Warp Bay, our camp spot for the night.
It was still cloudy when we arrived but then suddenly the sky cleared. Brilliant.
We were alone apart from three kayakers.
After setting up camp , it still being early afternoon, we set off for the Devils Chair lookout. Much harder going, especially getting up to the viewpoint. Actually not much of a viewpoint as the trees had grown up obscuring the view.
We came across some bear scat on the trail
Then back to camp. Dinner. Sleep.
Woke next morning to another lovely day,
and signs that a coyote had been sniffing around our tents,
After breakfast, I had a brief swim, yes the water was refreshing, and after breaking camp we headed back south. Well C and I did. R decided to visit Chalfont Bay, the proper northern terminus of the coastal trail, only 2k according to the sign, and would meet C and me at the car, and so it went, except it took R longer than he expected and he swears it was more than the advertised 2k.
It was a nice stroll and C and I made good time. back to trailhead.
Not so nice for the kayakers. They were there too, having cut short their proposed itinerary due to the strong wind and large waves coming from an awkward direction.
While waiting C and I scoped out the campsites. All were noisy with the crashing surf. Only 1 of the 5 was taken.
The usual night. No problems.
Still fine weather. I went with R and C for the first 45 minutes. Harder going steep uphill.
Turning back at a good view point
and leaving them to make their way south on the main trail. I made it back to the car and then drove first to Wawa for lunch and then north to Marathon. I was headed to Pukaskwa National Park, but as rain was forecast I decided to motel it rather than going straight to the park. A good decision, as around midnight an amazing thunderstorm came by. It continued raining until about 10 the next morning. R and C were lucky the whole storm passed north of them.
So I had a comfortable night and a lazy morning, and when the rain eased I did a quick tour of Marathon, treated myself to a Chinese lunch and then headed to the Park.
After setting up camp, I went for an afternoon walk, first out to a headland, and then round the lake. Not far but some great views.
A quiet night.
A short walk round the southern point
Then broke camp and headed south back to Lake Superior PP. Just a 3 hour drive.
On the northern edge of the park I stopped to admire Old Women’s Bay. I women’s face is meant to be visible in the cliffs lining the bay. Couldn’t see it myself.
The next stop was Orphan Lake. Here there was a trail that led, via the Orphan lake, down to the Lake Superior coast. R and C were supposed to be passing this point this day, but in the morning, so I would not be meeting them unless they were way behind schedule, which they were not.
Anyway it was a pleasant 2 hour hike there and back, with great views.
Superior was calm enough that I managed a quick swim before returning up the hill.
Then it was back to Agawa Bay campsite for the next two nights.
Having received no distress call from R and C, I decided to go on a hike into the Agawa canyon, in search of the highest Falls in the park.
The trail head was a way up another unmade up road. When I got to the trailhead I discovered that the Falls were a bit more distant than I had reckoned from my map.
No way I was going to get there and back, but I decided to go and see how far I could get. The first hour was easy downhill to the river.
Then it got harder. After three hours of it, including a 300 ft steep descent over slippery rocks, which my knees did not appreciate, and still at least an hour short of the falls. I had lunch and turned round.
Back up that hill. But easier up than down thank goodness.
So back to the car. A nice 6 hour, 18k hike. Enough for the day.
Carol had decided to skip the last days hike so, at 9am I picked her up by the roadside along with most of their gear and Ron continued on by himself, but with a nice light pack.
C and my first port of call was Agawa Head and the pictographs.
Then we drove north to one of the many lakes, but one which was the kicking off point for canoe trips in the interior of the park.
After that we headed back to the camp site for lunch, showers and to breakup the camp before the 2,00 chucking out time. We then went to the Visitors centre which was the official end of the hike. After ice creams and buying R his celebratory button, we decided to walk back up the trail to met Ron. We met Ron at the Agawa river bridge and, after cooling his feet
we made it back to the visitors center just after it closed at 4.00. No ice cream for Ron. So we started driving home, and as we left the park it started raining. We stopped in the Sault overnight and drove home the next day.