Provincial parks great snowshoeing destination
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] gmail.com or www.steerto.com
Traditional or high tech, it's time for the quintessential Canadian winter activity - snowshoeing.