Between Wawa and Marathon on the shores of Lake Superior in Northern Ontario, you will find the wonderful Pukaskwa National Park. This park is perfect for hiking adventures. While the Coastal Trail draws several visitors each year, a few options are available to day-hikers. In addition, Pukaskwa National Park is a small paradise of Canadian culture and history.
About Pukaskwa National Park
This beautiful park located in the Anishinaabe territory offers opportunities for experiences mixing culture and nature. The people of this First Nation share their way of life, traditions, and great respect for the lands and waters surrounding what is known today as Pukaskwa National Park.
During my stay in the park, I walked on the self-interpretation trails to read the signs and discover a bit of First Nations culture in the region. Another bit of hiking taught me about prescribed burning in parks and the benefits to the ecosystem.
Like every other park, there are admission fees to visit or hike in Pukaskwa National Park. You can visit the park’s website for more information on park passes.
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Hiking Trails in Pukaskwa National Park
Visitors who wish to go hiking in Pukaswka National Park won’t be disappointed. All trails are wonderful and offer amazing landscapes. They vary in length and difficulty, most can be enjoyed as a family with young children.
Make sure to have the necessary equipment for an enjoyable experience. You will find here a list of the gear I use when day-hiking.
Hattie Cove Fire Walk
- 1 km
The hike in the Hattie Cove sector reveals a landscape ravaged by fire but which is rapidly regenerating.
After three years of preparation, May 14, 2012, presented itself as the perfect day. The temperature, the wind and the humidity joined hands to allow the prescribed burning of the sector.
We can still observe the trees blackened by the fire, but the most important thing is the greenery that has been able to grow following the fire. Everything goes from black to green in a short time. Barely ten days after the prescribed burning, the small green shoots emerged from the blackened soil, and life resumed healthier.
Throughout the self-interpretation trail, you will discover the importance of fire and its consequences on the ecosystem. You can already see the vegetation now growing in this section. The Hattie Cove area is part of the famous Pukaskwa National Park Coastal Trail.
The trail in this section is only a few hundred meters long. Therefore, it is accessible and appropriate for anyone, especially those curious to learn more about how and why to plan controlled wildfires.
- 6 km
The Beach Trail, Manito Miikana Trail, and Southern Headland Trail all come together to form a loop of approximately six kilometres.
It would be best to start at the Beach Trail’s trailhead, off the campground’s north loop. After a few minutes of walking among conifers and birch trees, the trail leads hikers to North Beach.
The sandy beach, invaded by driftwood, stretches for a few hundred meters. Black boulders here and there make a unique landscape. Then, finally, the piercing blue water reaches the horizon.
The place is ideal for admiring the sunset. Most campers make their way here a few minutes before sunset each night. The beach gets busy for a few minutes as the sun sets over the water.
After the first beach, the trail enters the forest again and comes out from under the trees at Middle Beach (very original as a name, yes, it is the middle beach). Once again, this sandy beach dotted with driftwood offers a beautiful spectacle.
Manito Miikana Trail
Following this second beach comes the intersection of the Manito Miikana Trail, translated to the trail of the spirits. The path climbs to the top of a rocky point overlooking the lake, where the views are surprisingly beautiful.
Enjoy the amazing views while taking a little break on the rocks above the lake.
Once back on the trail, the route descends to cross the Beach Trail again, which wanders through the woods to the third beach, Horseshoe Beach (another original name, yes, the beach is shaped like a horseshoe).
Here, several swimmers take advantage of the sand, the water and the sun. The trail runs along the beach to plunge back into the forest and climbs to a second rocky point above the lake.
Southern Headland Trail
This section is part of the third trail, the Southern Headland Trail. Pic Island, which hikers can admire from the lookout, was the subject of a painting by one of the Group of Seven. This is where you will find the famous red chairs from Parks Canada. They are facing Pulpwood Harbor.
All along the path, panels allow us to discover this beautiful territory’s history, flora and fauna. The trail follows the cliffs along the shore and then descends to bring hikers to the visitor center.
White River Suspension Bridge Trail
- 18 km
Another well-known trail in the park is the White River Suspension Bridge Trail, part of the famous Pukaskwa Coastal Trail. It is nine kilometres from the visitor center to the suspension bridge, but with little elevation, hikers cover the distance in no time.
The trail wanders through the Hattie Cove section covered earlier in this article. It contours Hattie Cove and then moves towards the White River in the forest. Along the trail, you will cross footbridges and walk across marshes and through pine forests. Some parts of the forest have rocks and ground covered in green moss, giving it a sinister feel but still a beautiful sight.
Before getting to the river, you will come across two intersections. They are part of the Mdaabii Miikna loop used by backpackers, with campsites available for backcountry or canoe camping. Keep left at each fork to stay on the Coast Trail towards the suspension bridge.
You can hear the falls before you can see the bridge. The canyon spans 30 meters across, with raging waters of the White River flowing through it. The bridge is suspended 23 meters above Chigamiwinigum Falls.
After enjoying the falls, you return on the same path.
Bimose Kinoomagewnan Trail
- 3 km
Bimose Kinoomagewnan is another self-guided interpretive hike in the park, sometimes called the Halfway Lake Loop. The trail is a loop around the lake. You will find the trailhead across the Hattie Cove campground on Pukaskwa Rd.
Bimose Kinoomagewnan translates to “the walk of lessons.” While you hike Bimose Kinoomagewnan Trail, you will be invited to stop along the way to read the seven interpretive panels that tell the elders’ stories and display works of art associated with each of these teachings. It talks about love, honesty, respect, wisdom, truth, humility and courage. These values, still present in our communities and our families, had a privileged place in the life choices of the local First Nations.
The trail wanders through the forest and on rocky cliffs around Halfway Lake. Some stairs and boardwalks will make this trail enjoyable. There is minimal elevation, but the trail features beautiful lookouts on the lake.
Although I must leave before exploring all the park offers, I promise to return and enjoy this wonderful land. Hiking in Pukaskwa National Park is an experience that makes you yearn for more! So keep exploring this amazing region in Northern Ontario with this 7-day itinerary road trip.