Wildlife, Climbs and Views… OH MY!
Another week, another adventure! This week’s journey took us on the Nipigon River Recreation Trail, which is actually part of the Trans Canada Trail. I’ve done this hike a few years back and could remember it being a challenge, but well worth it! The second time around proved to be the same situation. This hike is a well maintained, 10 km trail that can take 2.5 to 3.5 hours to complete. Signage is excellent, and there are two trail heads, one at the Nipigon Marina, and one in Red Rock, just before you hit the railway tracks.
I brought my dad with me since he enjoys hiking, and knows the trail extremely well. We started in Red Rock, but you can start at either end depending on your desired end destination. Just remember, this is not a loop trail so you will need a ride back to your vehicle.
The first part of the hike is a slight incline up for about 1 km, bringing you to Lloyd’s Lookout. It has such an amazing view!
I personally think this is the best view along the hike. You get a beautiful scene of Lake Superior, Red Rock, and Nipigon Bay. There is also a multi-level viewing platform that was recently installed which makes it easier to linger a bit and drink in that view. A few minutes later you can find the Parks Canada big red chairs, so of course I had to stop and get a picture in them.
The next part of the hike was super fun. I didn’t know this, but there are actually two trails, a flatter one, and a trail where you are required to climb some rocks. We of course took the more difficult one, why not right? Eventually the two trails meet up again, and continue to Eagle’s Ridge. Another breathtaking vista! Next was the stairs. There are three sets of stairs along this hike. Luckily because we started in Red Rock, we only had to climb one set, and down two sets.
According to my guide (Dad), before the stairs were installed, there used to be ropes to help people climb up and down. I can’t imagine… the stairs are MUCH easier. The next part of the trail is where you need to pay attention to footing. There are a lot of bigger rocks to walk over, so be very careful. The last 3 km of the trail is where it got nice and flat. I loved this part of our hike, strictly because I learned so much. Every bridge, sign, and old trail we passed had a story. Plus, there are more opportunities to see wildlife. My dad and I actually saw a deer, which was pretty cool.
A few months ago, when I started my intern position, I learned there is a committee dedicated to the trails in our surrounding area. I also learned that there had been a committee started long before. In the early 1990’s the group had been incorporated and named the “Land of the Nipigon Waterways Development Association” (LNWDA).
Following a feasibility study, it was determined that Phase One of an overall plan would be to build a trail along the Nipigon River, linking the towns of Nipigon and Red Rock. With the help of grants from all levels of government, and donations from businesses and organizations, construction of the trail commenced in 1992. From then on, many volunteers worked hard to ensure this hike was the best it could be. According to data compiled by Parks Canada, the Nipigon River Recreation Trail continues to be, by far, the most popular hiking trail in the area.
The Trans Canada Trail, or “The Great Trail” as it has been re-branded, is the longest recreation trail in the world. It spans 13 provinces and territories, and offers a wide range of activities through a variety of landscapes. On August 26th, 2017, the TCT, with support from Canadian Heritage, has a goal to connect The Great Trail and the country for a grand celebration. Nipigon will be holding their celebration down at the marina starting at 6:00 PM. I invite everyone to come down and join in the festivities! There will be food (pork on a bun, corn, coleslaw and cake) while supplies last, voyageur canoe rides, activities for the kids, and an outdoor movie screening of the documentary “Painted Land”. Plus, yours truly will be there. And the best part is everything is FREE. Yes, even the food.
A fantastic event that happens annually on this trail is the Hike For Health. Every September, on the last Saturday of the month, locals and visitors gather in Red Rock to have breakfast, and then set off for the hike to Nipigon. The committee hosts a delicious lunch at the Nipigon Community Centre following the hike. This is a fundraiser that supports local and area health programs, and also supports the maintenance of the trail. So I would encourage everyone to come out for that, too.
This was by far my favorite adventure so far, but I would not recommend it for those with mobility issues, as it is a very challenging hike. If you can’t handle the ruggedness of the interior trail, I would recommend doing the hike up to Lloyd’s Lookout, or walking along the flat area of the Nipigon side.
Until next time, exploring the edge