Northeastern Ontario is known for outdoor adventures, but one thing that stands out for many are the great expanses of untouched wilderness. Some of this wild terrain has been deliberately protected by Ontario Parks, an organization first established in 1893 with the creation of Algonquin Park.
The Legacy of Ontario Parks
Parks cover over 78,000 square kilometers of Ontario, roughly 10% of the land surface area. In addition to being a model for other parks in North America for the way they balance recreation, conservation and preservation, a central intent of Ontario Parks is protecting the cultural and natural resources that are one of Canada’s greatest assets. This year, Ontario Parks is celebrating 125 years!
Northeastern Ontario has many outstanding parks. I’ll introduce you to two of my favourites in the Temagami area: Marten River and Finlayson Point Provincial Parks. Despite experiencing a brief closure this July 2018, both parks are back up and open for business for the remainder of the season as of August 1st!
Welcome to the Temagami Region
The Highway 11 corridor is home to some of the most pristine waterways, old growth forests, an abundant supply of wildlife, and historic sites waiting for you to explore.
Marten River and Finlayson Point Provincial Parks lay nestled into the Temagami and Marten River watersheds, completely surrounded by the natural beauty of the boreal forest. Within an hour drive north of the city of North Bay, you can find yourself pulling through park gates where excitement, relief and joy will fill your being.
There are different camping styles available at both parks. There is car camping with fully functional sites for large trailers or a simpler tent and fire pit set up. Some of the amenities include laundry facilities and running water.
Marten River has larger group camping capacity for up to 125 people, with a beach strategically close by. At Finlayson Point, there is roofed accommodation for up to six guests along the shores of Lake Temagami. The Temagami Cabin is a rustic timber cabin lined with log furniture and an electric fireplace.
What to Do
Pace yourself once you settle into your camp spot because the activities to fill your day are virtually endless. Fishing, boating, canoeing, hiking and birding are all viable excursions at either of the parks. If you’re so inclined, bring your fishing gear as everywhere you turn, there’s a place to toss in your line—from the pristine waters of Lake Temagami, to a small inland lake in the remote wilderness or a meandering river drifting you past one opportunity to another.
Species that can be targeted include lake trout, lake whitefish, northern pike, walleye, smallmouth bass, yellow perch and an abundance of panfish.
There are plenty of hiking and exploration excursions to choose from—the parks are connected through a 2,400 km network of portage routes. Roughly 2,000 lakes surround the Marten River and Finlayson Point parks.
Hiking trips through the Caribou Mountain and White Bear Forest Conservation Area take you into a portion of Ontario’s forest that has been left undisturbed. Check out their website (link above) for a list of the excellent hiking trails, as well as other things to do in the park.
Some trips include look-out points, fire towers, 350 year old white pine trees, inland lakes, swamps, bogs and streams. Hikes vary in difficulty and distances range from 400 m to 6.5 kms. I would encourage you to pack a high resolution camera for this portion of your adventure. The breathtaking views are moments you’ll want to capture and share.
Natural Heritage Education
Marten River Park has a natural heritage education program that includes guided hikes and evening programs that give visitors some of the details of the more recent history of this area—namely post-settlement of the 19th century—and what life was like for those working the logging camps. Details for these activities can be found on Marten River Park’s website here.
My most cherished moments were spent hiking and fishing. The White Bear Forest hikes were spectacular—I was surrounded by the old growth forest and trees I couldn’t even wrap my arms around! The climb to the top of the fire tower is a must on a clear day to take in the breathtaking views.
Canoe trips down the Marten River system provided hours of shorelines to paddle, explore and fish. The system, going southeast, eventually makes its way to Marten Lake, Little Marten Lake, Big Marten Lake and Bruce Lake. This series of water bodies has decent-sized walleye, pike and bass. Lake trout is also on the menu at Big Marten Lake.
Where to Stay
If you’re ready to book your Temagami or Marten River getaway, here are lodges and resorts close by that will allow you to experience the best the Parks have to offer, while providing comfortable accommodations and tasty meal options:
Marten River (Marten River PP)
- Rock Pine Motel & Restaurant – 1 (705) 892-2211
- Marten River Lodge – 1 (800) 561-2067
- Beaverland Camp – 1 (888) 892-2224
- Olive the Lake Lodge – 1 (705) 892-2204
Temagami (Finlayson Point PP)