What to Expect Part Two -
From Elliot Lake west to Sault Ste. Marie, the Voyageur Trail runs parallel, but approximately 6 to 8 kilometres north of the Trans Canada Highway. The only town the trail runs directly through (for reprovisions) is Iron Bridge. The rest of the time, you must travel 6 to 8 kilometres south along various access roads to reach towns where reprovisioning can take place.
This section is inland from Lake Huron. It is rugged with hills, streams, rivers and inland lakes (see photo). In all areas of the trail we recommend a water filter, but in this section in particular as the only available water would come from beaver streams.
You can look forward to much peace and quiet. The overlooks are usually over inland lakes and rivers, or vast tracts of trees.
It is not well-used therefore has a tendency to be overgrown in most spots.
The stretch between Elliot Lake and Blind River is 23.5 kilometres long with no access points in between. This means at least one overnight to travel this section.
You should obtain permission from the Band Office if you plan on travelling through the Echo Ridges section through the Garden River Reserve, just east of Sault Ste. Marie.
In the immediate Sault Ste. Marie area, the trails are better used and cleaned, therefore, a little easier to follow. There are numerous access points allowing hikes from one to several hours long. There are two loop trails in the Sault Ste. Marie area (yellow blazes) in the Gros Cap area (highest hills in the Saulteaux section), and the Hiawatha Highlands area. There is a 16.5 kilometre long blue side trail called the Tom Allinson Spur Trail which takes you from the hills at Gros Cap to the shoreline of Lake Superior. The Saulteaux Club is the largest Voyageur Trail Club and plans numerous outings on the Voyageur Trail in all seasons. You are welcome to join their outings for an introduction to what you can expect on the Voyageur Trail.
The Goulais River Section and Stokely Creek Sections, located immediately west of Sault Ste. Marie are not as well used as the Sault Ste. Marie sections and therefore, may be a little harder to follow due mostly to the annual growth of ferns and raspberry canes. Although the trails are again inland from the Lake
Superior coastline, there are some spectacular views from the top of King Mountain and Robertson Cliffs. Stokely Creek Lodge (a world class cross country ski resort) operates in the area and has many ski trails crossing the Voyageur Trail. Be careful to watch your blazes to stay on the trail.
The Harmony Section offers a beautiful lookout over the Haviland Bay arm of Lake Superior, as well as, many inland lakes, rivers and streams. (Wonderful "Lake Superior" swimming opportunities at Harmony Beach and Havilland Bay.) The Canadian Forest Service Centennial Loop trail is between this section and the Stokely Section. Again, the trails are not widely used and may be overgrown. Be careful!
The Lake Superior Provincial Park Coastal Trail is aptly named. It follows the coastline of Lake Superior and that means rocks! Big rocks, medium rocks, little rocks and some find sand beaches usually at the mouth of rivers. Rocks can be treacherous when wet. Keep this in mind. A simple turned ankle can endanger your life while you wait for someone to come along to rescue you. You are right on the shoreline of Lake Superior with all of its many moods. Crashing waves, fog and wind are sometimes the order of the day, but you are rewarded with fine (but usually cold) swimming and an endless supply of water! There are park fees for hiking the coastal trail.
The Michipicoten Section near Wawa has some beautiful overlooks (see photo to left) and waterfalls, however, it is not well-used and may be overgrown at times. Again, remember, they who go up must come down! If we tell you there are beautiful overlooks, this means climbing is on your agenda.
The Coastal Trail in Pukaskwa National Park is a beautiful, well-used backpacking trail. There is only one entrance, at the northern tip (Hattie Cove) and you must register with the Park staff before using the Coastal Trail. This is for your own good, as if you don't return at the reported time, the park will launch emergency personnel to find you. It is a good introduction to Northern Ontario hiking because of this registry system. It takes approximately 7 days of hiking to reach the southern tip of the Coastal trail and then you have to get back!
We have had reports that the Marathon section of the Voyageur Trail system is in poor repair. We haven't had a club there and without people to look after a trail, the forest reclaims it pretty quickly. It follows the coastline of Lake Superior in the town of Marathon itself and heads west to a loop trail which takes you to an overlook. The smooth shoreline rocks on this trail are treacherous when wet.
The Casques Isles section of Voyageur Trail near the towns of Schreiber, Terrace Bay and Rossport is 52.4 kilometres of high cliffs affording spectacular lookouts, beaches on Lake Superior and inland scenes. It is rugged but worth the effort. It also passes through Rainbow Falls Provincial Park. The Casques Isles Voyageur Trail Club offers many outings during the year that you would be welcome to participate in.
The most westerly section of Voyageur Trail at the moment is the Nipigon River Recreational Trail between the towns of Red Rock and Nipigon. This 8.2 kilometre section is rugged with climbs to spectacular lookouts over Nipigon Bay.
You may wish to visit the individual trail section site pages to see more photos in their photo galleries of the types of terrain you may see on any given piece of Voyageur Trail.
In summary, the Voyageur Trail offers something for everyone. From inland, peaceful lakes and rolling hills to the breathtaking cliffs of the western sections. It is not recommended to hike alone on ANY section of the Voyageur Trail. Always let someone responsible know where you are going, your route and your expected time of return.
Carry enough to insure that you can survive at least one night in the bush if the fates turn against you. A Voyageur Trail Guidebook is a must and we recommend topographical maps and a compass as well. In many sections of the trail, a cell phone will not work as there is no coverage. Do not rely on this as your emergency equipment! Be aware of hunting seasons and dress in bright colours to not only be seen easily by hunters, but by rescuers should you become lost. Be aware that three of anything is a call for help--three whistles, three fires, etc. Northern Ontario bush demands respect. The Voyageur Trail is a primitive, wildland trail in rugged country. For the most part, there is little trail traffic, and no nearby facilities, therefore you must be self-sufficient! It is the safe hiker who is the good hiker.
Visit the Trail Conditions section on each web page (sorted by location on this web site) to find out when the last time your intended route was cleaned, and please report back to us after your trip so we can better plan our trail maintenances.
For a list of businesses who supply the Voyageur Trail Guidebook, consult our Membership and Store link.
From the Voyageur Trail Association, happy hiking!
Don't forget to take these...
Here's a couple of web site to visit to learn more about being safe in the wilds:
Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada: http://www.sarbc.org
Ontario Search & Rescue: http://osarva.nt.net