What to Expect Part One -
Interested in hiking the Voyageur Trail, but you are not sure what to expect? Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions.
USES / SPEED:
The Voyageur Trail is a pedestrian trail only--this means that it is made for hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing and bushwhack skiing (registered with the Trans Canada Trail for only these uses). If the trail is on private land, the landowner has only been asked for permission for pedestrian uses only and we ask that you respect the landowner's wishes at all times.
In most places, the trail is too rough for other uses anyway. Where trees have fallen completely to the ground and lie there across our path, more frequently than not, we climb over it. We cross streams on beaver dams, rocks or logs. There are no facilities along the Voyageur Trail. This is why we advertise it as a "true wilderness trail". No matter what kind of physical shape you are in, you can expect to do approximately two (2) kilometres an hour on the Voyageur Trail. Plan your outing taking this into account. Some hikers have described it as "bushwhacking with blazes", and in some areas, this description is true.
WILDLIFE / FLIES:
You can expect to see wildlife along our trail. In Northern Ontario, the largest animals you can see include moose, wolf and black bear. We ask that you respect all wildlife you may encounter. It is THEIR home and WE are the visitors! You would do well to remember that. If you plan on camping at any of the designated campsites, please hang all your food and anything which has a smell to it in a bear bag. This is a tree branch located a distance from your tent at least 10 feet off the ground. If a bear visits your campsite during the night, it will go after your bear bag and not your tent!
Most animals are interested in smells of any kind. You would be wise to use deoderants, shampoos and soaps with no scents added to them. Bear sprays are made from pepper and are designed to work only if you spray the mixture right into the bear's eyes. Do NOT try to use them as a repellent. If you spray anything with bear spray, it will attract bears, not repell them. They like to lick the pepper! Also, your bear spray can should be stowed with all the other things in your bear bag at night as it will attract them to your tent if they catch a whiff of the pepper in the can. Not only will these scents attract bears, but flies as well. June is usually the worst month of the year for black flies in the Northern Ontario bush and they usually begin around the long weekend in May. July is the favourite month for mosquitoes. Horse flies usually start in July.
SPRING / FALL HIKING:
If you hike in the spring or fall to avoid fly season, be forewarned that spring runoff will swell streams and rivers until May. This may make crossings more difficult.
Fall is a great time to hike, but remember that evenings are cold and daylight hours are short. Don't get caught out after dark and it can get dark very fast in the fall!
When the trail is cleaned, we make sure that blazes are in place and can been seen from a distance. This means that blazes are replaced and branches interfering with seeing those blazes are clipped back. That is our number one priority on a trail maintenance outing. Old blazes are painted on the tree, which can make them hard to find. Newer blazes are made out of scrap pieces of white vinyl siding. They are nailed to trees using aluminum nails so if the tree is ever harvasted in the future, the nails will slice through and won't hurt anyone employed at a lumber mill. As you pass a blaze, you should be able to see the next one. Sometimes branches or downed trees can obscure blazes and it may take a while to pick up the trail again. We would appreciate hearing from anyone who finds this situation so trail maintenance crews can be sent out to remedy the situation.
A double blaze indicates a sharp turn in the trail.
White blazes indicate the main trail, blue indicate a side trail to a point of interest or an access, and yellow blazes indicate a loop trail.
On rocky outcrops where there are few trees to blaze, we build cairns of rock to mark the route.
Above: a new vinyl blaze is put in place
Below: A good example of an old painted blaze
|Samples of various blazes you may see at an access point.|
|White blazes indicate the main trail, blue blazes indicate a lookout trail, or access trail and yellow blazes indicate a loop trail.
National trail blazes are found from time to time along the trail
On trail parties, we also try to clip small tree saplings on and near the trail to keep the forest from regenerating over our path, however, we do not bother with rapid annual growth such as raspberry canes, ferns, etc. When the tree canopy is cut back (for instance, when logging has taken place, or along road access points) the direct sunlight will encourage growth along the forest floor. Raspberry canes and ferns will grow back very quickly if they are clipped, which wastes a lot of time for a few people planning on cleaning a length of trail in any given day. The main focus is to keep people from getting off the trail (blazes) and keep trees from growing up in the middle of our path. The end result of all this to a hiker, is that in sections that are not well used, the "path" may be obliterated by ferns and other vegetation. If you do not see a "path" on the ground, follow the blazes very carefully. It is easy to get off the planned route if you are pushing your way through five foot high ferns!
|These two photos were taken before and after a trail maintenance outing on the same piece of trail. We usually re-route arround large downfalls across the trail.|
|Handtools are used on work parties.
If you decided to go out on a trail maintenance outing with an organized club, you would be shown how to use these tools and would only use the tools you were comfortable handling.
Go To: Part Two Trail Terrain