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.
Another great thing about the trails at Misery Bay is that they are easy enough for families with small children to go on. This said, my six year old always gets tired on the way back.
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!
Bowerman Trails/Make-Believe Island, South Baymouth
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.
All the trails lead to Make-Believe Island.
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?
Follow Woods Canada on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and the #WoodsExplorer hashtag so you can keep track of the Woods Explorers’ Trans Canada Trail adventure!
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.
Never been to many of these beautiful spots and I lived here all my life .. …. I am blessed !
Tamra Phelps says
Beautiful! I admit I’m not a great outdoors type of person, lol, but I like ‘day trip’ types of ventures to the great outdoors. That waterfall is gorgeous.
J Kruzic says
Hey Christine!! Fun to read. We love the South Baymouth trails. Never saw the fairy house though – next time!! Also know that the Kagawong River was restored last year (2015), and the walk leading to the falls is now greatly improved, and more impressive than ever! This is the nitty gritty – http://www.manitoulinstreams.com/kagawong-river.html – but seeing it in person is much more impressive!! There are some gorgeous new rock carvings at the lower end as well.
Thanks so much for the info, J! We were at the falls twice in the past two weeks! Lots of visitors from out of town means lots of trips to the falls and beach! I didn’t realize the river was restored last year! Thanks for the link! Going to check it out now.
Kimberly Rampersad says
I have been there and I did not know there were so many beautiful places to visit, thanks for sharing.
Leslie W-H says
I’m determined to make it to Manitoulin this year. I have been working away on the Bruce Trail here in southern Ontario, and would love to try Cup and Saucer too!
Cathy LeBlanc says
Great article Christine. I just recently heard about The Cup and Saucer Trail. I have put it on my Bucket List. 🙂
Fabulous, Cathy! Looking forward to hearing what you think of the Cup and Saucer Trail (when you get the chance to check it out)! 🙂
What a great post full of information and so many wonderful photos! Thanks for sharing! Another place I need to explore!
Thanks so much, Christina! Hope you and Melba get to visit Manitoulin sometime! I’d love to see you!
LORI N. says
We don’t live that close, but next time we are on our way to ON we are goign to make a side trip to do these hikes.
Thanks so much, Michelle!
Dave S says
Our family loves hiking and the photos here are awesome. Will have to find a way to go here on one of our vacations.
That would be great, Dave! Your family will have a blast!
I love your photos and would love to hike on Manitoulin Island. So pretty. My boys and I like to take long walks but we don’t really have a place to hike in Toronto.
Thanks so much @loucheryl! Hope you get to visit Manitoulin Island sometime! We’re not tooooooooo far from Toronto! 😉 We’re about a 6 hr drive away!
Anne Taylor says
Such beautiful places to hike! Living in Victoria, we have so many gorgeous places around us to hike. When my grandkids are old enough we are hiking Mt Finlayson which I did when I was a kid.
Anne! I love Victoria! Such a beautiful place. I remember spending some time in Victoria back in ’92 (when I was a teen).! So beautiful and so many places to explore there!
jeff shawana says
Anyone on Manitoulin ever hear of Bebamikawe Trails? http://www.wikydevcom.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=81&Itemid=109
Hi, Jeff! Thanks for the heads up! I only just heard of Bebamikawe Trails this year! We’ll definitely be checking it out! Do you have any other trails you’d recommend?
Great post! We plan to hike Manitoulan in the Fall. A friend, Dan, forwarded your post to me today and glad he did. Nothing like nature to renew us. Happy Hiking
Thanks so much, Karen (and thanks, to your friend, Dan for forwarding the post)! Which trails will you be going on this Fall?
lori n. says
You live in a beautiful spot! We have driven through but have never explored the area.
Lori, next time you are in our neck of the woods, stop and stay a while! It’s worth the stop! 🙂
Brenda A says
Next summer we plan to check all of these trails out! Now to find the best place to camp….
Thanks for the inspiration!
Brenda, now you’ve inspired a future blog post! Best Places to Camp on Manitoulin!
Tammy @inRdream says
Oh Christine your pictures are amazing! What a beautiful hike and that waterfall = LOVE! We just hiked at Bon Echo and it was stunning. We also invested in a new hiking backpack which makes it so much easier with kids.
coffee with julie says
It’s kind of neat to think that right beside our home in Ottawa is the same Trans Canada Trail that leads all the way to Manitoulin Island! We absolutely loved hiking in Manitoulin this summer. The Misery Bay hike was a treat. Next time, we also want to do the Cup and Saucer!
Julie, isn’t it incredible? I am in awe of how amazing our province (and our country) is! So vast and so beautiful! We are surrounded by natural beauty and it’s all there for us to explore!
paula schuck says
We go hiking and exploring all the time wherever we are vacationing. These trails are awesome and so is that backpack. Great list of essentials for backpacking too.
That’s awesome, Paula! Which are your favourite places to go hiking with your family?
What great recommendations! We will definitely check these out when we visit Manitoulin eventually. That is a great backpack! I’m going to look for it.
Thanks, Janie! Definitely check out the Woods Convoy backpack! It’s the perfect backpack for hiking and exploring!
tThe last time we were on the Manitoulin Island, we didn’t hike but now I want to try out those trails! The Make-believe Island sounds especially great!
Oh my gosh! I had no idea you had been to Manitoulin Island, Stephanie!!! Next time you visit, give me a shout (errr…a Facebook message or Twitter DM)!!!
Matthew Tully says
Wicked! Congrats to your mom for completing the cup and saucer and I have to tell you I’m loving the pics. I personally have a soft spot for water falls and Bridal Veil Falls looks amazing and serene. Nice job!
Thanks, Matthew! I was pretty impressed with my Mom. That’s a challenging hike for her. She did it! Yay!