The results are in. Here are the top five hikes in Northeastern Ontario, as voted by visitors to this magnificently wild and scenic region of the province.
Bridal Veil Falls, Manitoulin Island – #1 rated hike
Bridal Veil Falls is the highlight of Manitoulin Island’s trail system and comes complete with a metal staircase to lead you down to the base of the cascade. Here, you can take a dip and explore the rock mound behind the translucent 35-foot-high “veil.” It’s absolutely stunning.
The falls are close to the parking lot, off Highway 540, past the entrance to Kagawong, allowing less-adventurous visitors to simply stop and gawk at the waterfall. However, several more hikes continue on from here. A scenic 1-kilometre trail hugs the riverside and a more rugged trek exists with steep climbs and pretty views of Lake Huron’s North Channel.
Devil’s Rock, Temiskaming Shores
Ojibway legend tells of mystic rock demons living in the crevices of this 2,200 million-year-old, 300-foot (90 m) sheer rock face, scoured out of Lake Temiskaming’s western shoreline. It was believed to be the entrance to the underworld, and thus it gained the name “Devil’s Rock.” Some insist Northern Ontario’s One-Horned Sasquatch has been spotted hiking the precipice. Others allege to have seen “Mugwump,” a lake monster, swimming the depths of Lake Temiskaming. But most reliably, this cliff face provides hikers one of the best scenic views and picnic spots in Northern Ontario.
There are two access points. The most common place to start is at Bucke Park. Take Highway 567 (which is off Highway 11-B) in North Cobalt. The 3-kilometre trail is a steady uphill climb through rocky terrain. The second trail provides a gentler, shorter walk. The access isn’t so obvious though. Look for a sign and small parking area on the east side of Highway 567, approximately 1.5 km south of Bucke Lake.
Duchesnay Falls, North Bay
This isn’t just a single cascade; it’s a series of ledges where water collects and then tumbles down over molded granite. The roaring water seems to go on forever.
You have two trails to choose from at the base of cascade: the East and West Duchesnay Falls trails. Both head upriver, and both offer excellent views. The first drop is the most colossal, measuring 10 metres from top to bottom. Next is a collection of smaller drops, each more striking than the last. A metal bridge spans the waterway about a kilometre upstream, connecting the east and west trails. This allows you to explore the opposite bank on your return route.
The access is just off the north side of Highway 17, about half a kilometre west of the North Bay Regional Health Centre, and just east of the Highway 17B exit.
Cup and Saucer, Manitoulin Island
This is Manitoulin Island’s hiking gem. Running along a 2-kilometre extension of the Niagara Escarpment, Cup and Saucer Trail is known for its views and versatility. A network of trails, ranging in difficulty, offers grand 180-degree views of the island, set atop 70-metre cliffs.
The full-looped section measures 12 kilometres, with other shorter sections linked along the way. The East Lookout is one of the most popular panoramic view points. The Adventure Trail consists of scaling wooden ladders 10 metres down the side of the rugged escarpment.
The trail is located 18 kilometres west of Little Current, at the junction of Highway 540 and Bidwell Road.
Caribou Mountain Tower, Temagami
Caribou Mountain peaks at 122 metres (400 feet). Now, include another 30 metres (100 feet) up a restored fire tower. That adds up to one incredible view of Temagami’s vast stands of old growth pine and shimmering blue lake waters.
The original wooden fire tower was built in 1910 and was used by forest rangers to check the distant horizons for troublesome forest fires. A steel tower took its place in 1951. In 1998, a restoration project allowed for visitors to clamber up and gawk at the magnificent 360-degree view.
A 3-kilometre hike can be had after you summit the tower, leading you through the ancient pines you viewed from above. The White Bear Forest is made up of an 800-hectare conservation land to protect the remaining old growth pine. Some of these giants date back over 400 years.
To access the trail, take O’Connor drive off of Highway 11 (at the historic train station), cross the tracks and continue to the right for one kilometre. You’ll see a sign for the Caribou Mountain Tower. The parking area is to the right.
This article was sponsored by Northeastern Ontario Tourism. Need a hand planning your ‘Big 5’ hike? Visit NortheasternOntario.com.