Are You Ready to go Solo Hiking?

by | Mar 24, 2022 | Big Blog, Nature and Outdoors

Strike out on your own with these ten trails in Northeastern Ontario

 

Imagine this: you’re solo hiking in Northeastern Ontario. Feel the breeze, smell the rich scent of the boreal forest, and listen to the songbirds chirping as inner peace washes over you. 

For some, the idea of hiking alone can be scary. But with a little preparation and safety gear, seeking solitude can be a confidence-building exercise and a gratifying experience with many rewards. When you’re on the trail solo, with no distractions, nature’s therapeutic health benefits–like lowering stress, increasing energy, and lifting spirits–become a little more obvious.

Whether you’re a novice or experienced hiker, it’s always important to explore at your own pace. For some, short trails are mere appetizers, and that’s okay. I’m a slow explorer, so these were perfect for my solo adventures in Northeastern Ontario. There are longer trails at these very same parks for those seeking an extra challenge. 

Ready to follow in my footsteps? Let’s explore my must-visit trails for solo hiking in Northeastern Ontario, from north to south. (Disclaimer: They’re all fun to hike with friends, too).

 

Spruce Lowland Trail, Rene Brunelle Provincial Park

Photo Credit Heidi Csernak

Try this easy 1.6 km trail in the Boreal Forest’s songbird nursery–there’s always a flurry of activity in the spring and summer. Hike through trees common to the northern forests, an uncommon stand of Black Ash, and my favourite tree, the Tamarack.

 

Quaking Bog Trail, Ivanhoe Lake Provincial Park

Photo Credit Heidi Csernak

Circle a wetland through a vibrant forest brimming with birds on this quick and easy 0.8 km hike. Afterwards, tackle Saw Lake Trail, an easy 2.8 km over ancient riverbeds and ridges, with views of the scenic glacier lake’s shoreline. 

 

Wintergreen Trail, Kettle Lakes Provincial Park

Photo Credit Heidi Csernak

Start this 1.5 km moderate trail in a beautiful boreal forest, trekking up esker ridges to several lookouts over Island Lake. Take a seat, bathe in the beauty of the forest and let nature restore you: Trees release oils into the air, called phytoncides, and inhaling these natural essences can actually help to boost your immune system.

 

Lonesome Bog Trail, Esker Lakes Provincial Park

Photo Credit Heidi Csernak

This relatively flat 1.5 km loop has some of the North’s most eye-catching scenery: Sausage Lake, the Lonesome Bog and Jack Pine forests. Take a close look at the thick vegetation and appreciate the lush environment on the bog boardwalk. On the return, observe how beavers–nature’s architects and engineers–hasten the bog’s transition from wetlands to meadowlands. 

 

Riverside Trails, Kap-Kig-Iwan Provincial Park

Photo Credit Heidi Csernak

This provincial park is a waterfall lover’s paradise! Follow the 500 metre High Falls Trail down to a spectacular lookout and feel the mist on your face at the falls’ base. Then, head up the Englehart River, along Hell’s Gate Trail, for more cascades.

 

Hilliardton Marsh Conservation Reserve, Temiskaming Shores

Photo Credit Heidi Csernak

These beautiful farmlands-turned-rehabilitated-wetlands are a birder’s dream. Thanks to Ducks Unlimited and other partners’ efforts, this is now a protected area and provincially significant stopover for waterfowl migrating to and from the James Bay and Hudson Bay lowlands.

Unmarked trails circumvent extensive marshlands on raised berms, following a grid pattern mimicking the old fields, so getting lost won’t be an issue. It’s possible, however, to lose yourself in this wildlife haven.

 

Trail A to Devil’s Rock

Photo Credit Heidi Csernak

Take the very rocky 2.5 km Trail A to the top of a 300-million-year-old cliff. The uphill path is uneven with protruding stones and buried boulders, so watch your footing on the way in and out, as well as at the cliff’s edge. Upon reaching Devil’s Rock, marvel at the dramatic views of Temiskaming Lake 300 feet below and Quebec across the water.

 

Temagami Fire Tower & White Bear Forest

Photo Credit Heidi Csernak

The Caribou Trail is an easy 2.8 km multi-use route through forests and along the shores of picturesque Caribou Lake and Pingue Lake. After this warm-up, ascend the Temagami Fire Tower for breathtaking landscape views. There’s also a lookout platform if you prefer solid ground. Have more energy to burn? Connect to more trails in the network from the tower.

 

Loudon Peatland Trail, Mashkinonje Provincial Park

Photo Credit Heidi Csernak

The first part of the 2.9 km trail, including the boardwalk and beaver pond viewing platform, is wheelchair accessible. Upon entering the forest, the route is moderately difficulty. Add 1.6 km to visit the Lookout Tower – discover the impressive view of the Loudon Peatland’s expanse – it’s worth the distance! It’s here, in this unspoiled wilderness, that I first experienced the feeling of being alone in the woods.

 

Granite Ridge Trail, Killarney Provincial Park

Photo Credit Heidi Csernak

This 2 km trail starts with a leisurely walk through the remains of an early settler’s homestead. When the trail ascends the ridge and scales rocks, challenging sections are more manageable with trekking poles. Pack a lunch and take a break at one of two lookouts to enjoy the stunning sights of La Cloche Mountains to the north and Georgian Bay to the south.

 

BONUS: Chikanishing Trail at Sunset, Killarney Provincial Park

Photo Credit Heidi Csernak

Save time for this moderate 3 km loop through the woods and along Collin’s Inlet’s rugged landscape. Interpretive plaques dot the trail, educating hikers about Georgian Bay history, from Indigenous People to logging days where evidence of past industry is still present.

Solitude is hard to find in Killarney – it is one of the most popular Ontario Parks, but when I hiked this trail, I was thrilled to run into two other groups with whom to share nature’s beauty. We watched the sunset, then worked together to find the route back out the trailhead in the dying light. 

 

Stay Safe On the Trails

Before adventuring alone, here are six tips for staying safe:

  1. Tell a friend where you’re going and your expected return time. Start early enough to finish trails during daylight. Touch base upon returning home.
  2. Pack day trip necessities; water, food, first aid, emergency blanket, flashlight, firestarter and a clothing change. 
  3. Prevent Hypothermia by wearing merino wool or quick-dry synthetic clothes; cotton can stay wet for a long time. Sweat excessively like me? You won’t need a cold, drizzly day to get sick–just a breeze and shade.
  4. Listen to your body. Enjoy frequent breaks to hydrate and refuel. 
  5. Make your presence known to bears. Skip earbuds, sing out loud and clap your hands–don’t surprise large animals!
  6. When adventure leads out of cellular reception, carry a Personal Locator Beacon such as Spot Messenger or an SOS device from Garmin. Purchase emergency units from Rammakos in Sudbury, LeFebvres in North Bay, and Albert’s Sports and Workwear in Timmins.

 

About Heidi Csernak

Heidi is a nature photographer who fell in love with Northeastern Ontario’s wild charms after her first time exploring the region. She likes to wander the trails at a snail’s pace, enjoys birdwatching - and lets the current carry her kayak to watch the scenery passing by. Fun Fact: Heidi has an insatiable hunger for hamburgers.

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