Provin­cial parks great snow­shoe­ing des­ti­na­tion

North Bay Nugget - - NEWS - By Back­roads Bill

There are plenty of places to go snow­shoe­ing in our area. We sim­ply use our com­pass to go off and ex­plore four di­rec­tions.

But of­ten we need a des­ti­na­tion with a rea­son. Provin­cial parks be­come choices for their nat­u­ral fea­tures and trails. Although closed, they are open for snow­shoe ex­cur­sions.

Mat­tawa River Provin­cial Park We know of the dy­namic forces of our planet, and if you are look­ing for the rem­nants of an earth­quake zone, Mat­tawa River Provin­cial Park is your des­ti­na­tion.

Faults are frac­tures in the Earth’s crust where rocks on ei­ther side of the crack have slid past each other. Some­times the cracks are tiny, as thin as a hair, with barely no­tice­able move­ment be­tween the rock lay­ers. But faults can also be hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres long, such as the San An­dreas Fault in Cal­i­for­nia and the Ana­to­lian Fault in Tur­key, both of which are vis­i­ble from space.

Look­ing at the line of hills on the north side of the Mat­tawa River at Mat­tawa, at the Cana­dian Ecol­ogy Cen­tre and along the north edge of North Bay, you are see­ing a land­form caused by a fault.

There are two vis­tas on the Red Pine Trail (2.5 km on the Eti­enne Trail Sys­tem) within Sa­muel de Cham­plain Provin­cial Park and the Cana­dian Ecol­ogy Cen­tre; about 35 min­utes east of North Bay on High­way 17. At the Eti­enne trail­head there is a map you can do a loop or lin­ear trek. Great for this winter’s snow­shoe­ing. Try a wolf howl as your voice car­ries along the river be­low. If you have the time and en­ergy do the dou­ble header and visit the nearby Eau Claire Gorge Con­ser­va­tion Area via nearby High­way 630.

Restoule Provin­cial Park

One of the best views in the North Bay area is the Stormy Lake look­out, si­t­u­ated within Restoule Provin­cial Park. It is a worth­while jaunt to the look­out at any time of the year, but the winter gives you a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence the shad­ows of a ma­ture hard­wood for­est. It is one of those places you want to re­turn to in order to ex­pe­ri­ence the sea­sonal tran­si­tions. It is a favourite.

There is an eas­ier ac­cess to ex­pe­ri­ence this panorama. drive to the Vil­lage of Restoule, which is south of North Bay and west of Powas­san or Trout Creek on High­way 534. The look­out trail, part of the Graw­barger Trail, is lo­cated within Restoule Provin­cial Park but you do not en­ter at the park en­trance.

Just be­fore en­ter­ing the park. There is no the trail head here; as soon as you leave the road, veer to the left or NW. you can also take the trail to the right which is a longer loop.

The trail to the left or NW fol­lows along a for­mer road. Within a few paces, watch closely, on the right or to the north the trail will turn to­ward the look­out. It takes ap­prox­i­mately 35-40 min­utes, one way, to walk or snow­shoe to the top of the cliffs and the look­out.

you can­not see the cliffs from the trail, you would have to snow­shoe from the boat launch ac­cess point and go around the point to the east.

The pre­dom­i­nately flat trail winds its way through a mixed hard­wood stand with some hem­lock closer to the cliffs. On sunny days, you will want to snow­shoe through the count­less shad­ows. There is al­ways deer sign.

There is a trail sign just be­fore as­cend­ing. It shows you a shorter, 1-km loop lead­ing to the top, clock­wise past a beaver pond and back to where you are stand­ing. This is a good op­tion.

It is a very short, but steep as­cent to the top of the cliffs and the look­out. The fire tower will ap­pear be­hind you when you are at the top. The mag­nif­i­cent view is from the north­west to north.

To the north, you will see Clear Lake, in be­hind Stormy Lake, and be­yond Clear Lake there is Bass Lake. On a clear day, you may see Lake Nipiss­ing on the hori­zon so bring along the binoc­u­lars.

Next week, we’ll take a look at snow­shoe­ing at Marten River and Mashki­nonje provin­cial parks. Back Roads Bill ex­plores the back roads and back wa­ters of North­ern On­tario in the The Nugget. He is the founder of the Cana­dian Ecol­ogy Cen­tre and teaches part time at Nipiss­ing Uni­ver­sity and Canadore Col­lege. wilston­[email protected] or

Bill steer Photo

Tra­di­tional or high tech, it's time for the quintessen­tial Cana­dian winter ac­tiv­ity - snow­shoe­ing.

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