Did you know that the Trans Canada Trail is the world’s longest network of recreational trails? When fully connected, the Trail will stretch 23,000 kilometres (14,000 mi) from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic oceans. More than 16,800 kilometres (10,400 mi) of trail are currently usable, making it approximately 75% complete in 2014. Two hundred forty gaps totaling 6,200 kilometres (3,900 mi) must be bridged in order to achieve a fully connected trail. The Trans Canada Trail has given itself until its 25th anniversary and Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017 to reach this objective.
The Woods Canada Explorers have been embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime, five-month, 14-stop journey across the Trans Canada Trail—from British Columbia through to Prince Edward Island. Click the link to read about it! http://tctrail.ca/news/?p=6760.
Have you been following the outdoor adventures of the Woods Canada Explorers? I sure have and I’m enjoying all their posts on social media! Follow the #WoodsExplorer hashtag on Twitter!
Though we’re not embarking on the epic adventure on Trans Canada Trail, we have been sticking locally and have been checking out our favourite hiking trails on Manitoulin Island.
Manitoulin Island is known as a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you seek adventure through a moonlight paddle by canoe or kayak or cycling around the Island and taking in all the natural beauty that Manitoulin Island is known for, your time on the Island will no doubt be filled with great memories and fun experiences. There are so many things to do on Manitoulin Island if you love the outdoors.
Another fun activity to do on Manitoulin (other than spending the day at the beach!) is going for a hike or a leisurely walk on one of the Island’s many trails.
Where to hike on Manitoulin Island
Admittedly, I have only frequented three of the popular trails on the Island. There are many hiking trails on Manitoulin Island, but with a six year old in tow, I need to make sure the trails are easy for her to walk (otherwise I end up having to carry her, and that’s no fun).
Here are some of our favourite hiking trails on Manitoulin Island:
Bridal Veil Falls, Kagawong
Bridal Veil Falls a Niagara Escarpment waterfall. This trail is not exactly a “hiking” trail, but more of a walking trail. It’s located on Highway 540 at the entrance of the village of Kagawong. There is parking at the top and a picnic area at the top of the falls that leads down to the base of the falls. The trail follows both sides of the stream of the bay. While on the trail, you can appreciate the flora and fauna and enjoy the peacefulness of stream. If you come in the Fall, you can experience the salmon run. The salmon come upstream each September to lay their eggs and ultimately find their final resting spot. It’s bittersweet to see the salmon fight their way to the falls, against the stream and over the rocks. The beauty of this is that they create new life and the cycle repeats again.
I am always blown away when I see animal fossils that lived in shallow seas over 400 million years ago, as well as evidence of the most recent glaciation of 10,000 years ago. Misery Bay truly is a special place. Even if you’re not interested in history, the diverse ecosystems, the wildlife or geology, you will definitely be taken by the beauty of Misery Bay.
I have been asked countless times why Misery Bay is called Misery Bay. I can assure you that there is absolutely nothing miserable about Misery Bay! It is one of the most stunning places I have seen in Ontario.
Misery Bay is the only operating provincial park on Manitoulin Island. With 15 km of hiking trails, the park is home to a variety of rare plants and globally significant ecosystems. Visitors can walk the trails and have access to scenic Lake Huron Coastline. The Visitors Centre has displays of local flora and fauna. I especially like that there is a sign board out front that tells visitors which animals and birds (and other wildlife) have been spotted that day. That way, visitors can look out for those and other animals and wildlife at the park.
Something to note is that Manitoulin Island has yet another important feature — its alvars! In case you are not familiar with what alvars are, a great place to start reading is Alvars and Geomorphology 101 here.
Alvar is a Scandinavian word meaning flat limestone or dolostone bedrock where soils are very shallow to absent. Alvar ecosystems include stark pavements, grasslands, savannas and sparsely to more heavily vegetated rock barrens.” (source: http://northernontario.travel/northeastern-ontario/misery-bay-provincial-nature-reserve_
We really enjoy looking at all the interesting flora and fauna. We spotted a little frog, a rabbit, and a few other friends at Misery Bay. Of course, in my daughter’s opinion, the very best part of our trip to Misery Bay is always the beach.
For more info, check out Friends of Misery Bay.
Cup and Saucer
The Cup and Saucer adventure trails are indeed just that! An adventure! The trails at Cup and Saucer are a bit more advanced than the others on the Island. The Cup and Saucer is the Manitoulin Extension of the Niagara Escarpment, with 70 meter cliffs, over 2 km long. There are 12 km of hiking trails through the hardwood bush, as well as 2 km of adventure trails.
There are several paths to choose from, with varying degrees of difficulty. The trail we take only has two spots that are steep. It normally takes us about 4 hrs to complete the trail. The view from the top of the cliff is stunning, especially in the Fall when all the leaves are at the peak of their colours.
The Cup and Saucer is a popular attraction for visitors to Manitoulin. It is absolutely breathtaking from the top! Cup and Saucer is located 18 km west of Little Current at HWY 540 and Bidwell Road. Keep an eye out, since it’s easy to miss due to signage being not extremely obvious. If you reach the gas station (Paul’s Corner) and Lillian’s Crafts, you’ve gone too far.
I have hiked the Cup and Saucer trails only four times (and I moved to the Island in 2004)! Although I like the adventure trails and I love the view from the top, I have a little confession. I am deathly afraid of heights! Every time I step on that ledge that juts out at the top, I feel faint! Watching my friends, family members and students sit on the part that juts out just makes me anxiety-riddled!
This said, I do admit that this is a MUST if you are on the Island. The Cup and Saucer is stunning, especially in the Fall! With lots of family coming up for Thanksgiving, we’ll be heading to the Cup and Saucer!
This is the perfect walking trail if you have young children or if you prefer a walk instead of a full on hike. The trails are well groomed and the handiwork of Dick Bowerman can be seen in the wooden bridges and stairs you’ll come across during your walk. If you look carefully, you’ll even find a little fairy house and a fairy swing! Keep an eye out for various fungi and mosses that grow along the side of the paths. We have found some beautiful mushrooms, wild flowers, plants and mosses along our adventures. Little One knows the trails like the back of her hand since we frequent these trails the most.
Enjoy a picnic lunch or have an afternoon swim. Make-Believe Island is Little One’s favourite spot on the Island (next to Bridal Veil Falls). If you have a child who loves fairies and is full of imagination, you’ll find that it’s magical to be among the trees. Little One calls it a magical forest. Everything is magical to our six year old though!
For other hiking trails on Manitoulin Island, visit http://www.manitoulin-island.com/hikingtrails.html.
Friends always laugh, but I always pack to be prepared for just about anything when we go on the trails. My must-haves include:
- Reusable water bottles (filled with drinking water, of course). It’s important to keep hydrated!
- Healthy snacks (lots of them when I’ve got Little One and friends in tow). I pack apples, watermelon in a reusable container, granola bars, etc.
- Extra clothing and lightweight jackets.
- First Aid Kit
- Wallet (and some cash) just in case!
- Cell phone in case of emergency (and also to take photos with if you don’t want to bring along a camera)
- Towels (it’s inevitable — Little One always ends up in the water).
- Paper towels and two plastic bags. Why two plastic bags? Well, I carry one to keep our waste and compostables in (always leave the site as you found it – Don’t leave behind any garbage) and the other bag to store any wet or dirty clothing.
- A strong, sturdy backpack to fit all our supplies in!
I carry all our hiking essentials in our Woods™ Convoy Backpack (60-L).
- Woods™ Convoy Backpack features an internal aluminum frame that provides lightweight support for extended hiking
- Dual ergonomic hip belt with pull forward design for quick adjustment
- Detachable daypack for versatility and convenience
- Integrated rainfly protects pack during wet weather
- Made from 210-denier double rip-stop nylon/600-denier polyester fabric
- Capacity: 60 L (15.85 gal)
- Dimensions: 30 x 16 x 14″ (76 x 41 x 36 cm)
I really like that the backpack is lightweight and provides support. When we go hiking, it’s for several hours. The integrated rainfly comes in very handy when it rains. We’ve gotten caught in rain on some of our hikes, so the fact that the rainfly protects the pack is a winner in my books. I also like that we can detach the daypack. It’s a very convenient feature!
Where do you like to go hiking? What are your family’s essentials when it comes to family hiking? Since Summer is almost over, it’s a great time to go on a few family adventures and hit the trails! Will you and your family be going on a hiking adventure before Summer ends?
Disclosure – This is a sponsored post in affiliation with Woods Canada. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed on this blog are honest and my own.