Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Lake Superior Provincial Park Coastal Trail

We've been thinking about hiking the Coastal Trail for about 6 years, and this year we finally hiked all 43 miles. Just a few hours north of Sault St. Marie is the beautiful, rugged, and demanding Lake Superior Coastal Trail. This trail is weather permitting! If it's raining or the lake is wavy, we really don't know how this trail is even possible due to slippery rocks. We walked along the coastline, over beaches of boulders, along high cliffs, through the woods, and even some sandy beaches.

Nathan and I decided to hike from North to South, so we were hiking into civilization. We were very happy with Twilight Resort's shuttle service. We dropped our car at the Agawa Visitor Center where we paid for our parking and backcountry permits and were shuttled to Gargantua Rd. to begin our adventure.

Planning Info:
Lake Superior Provincial Park 
Quick View Map
Map with my notes
Purchase Detailed Park Map

BUY the detailed park map, you'll be happy you did.

This is our itinerary. We decided to head north from Gargantua trailhead (for a down and back), but if you need to trim your hike down you could just head south from here. Every single day was spectacularly beautiful but difficult to extremely challenging. We had an idea of what sites we wanted to camp in, but this is where we actually stayed each night.

Day 1: Gargantua Trailhead to Chalfant Cove
Day 2: Chalfant Cove to Gargantua Bay
Day 3: Gargantua Bay to Buckshot Creek (Extremely Challenging)
Day 4: Buckshot Creek to Coldwater River (Site north of Robertson Cove)
Day 5: Coldwater River sites north of Barrett Island
Day 6: Barrett Island to our vehicle at Agawa Bay Visitor Center (Challenging)

(Note: There was a site we wished we had known about prior that had a beautiful sandy beach. It's about 1 mile past Beatty Cove and is shown on the detailed park map)

We try very hard to be mindful of what we're carrying but we really should have left more items at home. If you can live without it, don't bring it. (Note: leave your hammocks at home, there are a few nice hammock spots, especially at Gargantua Bay, but it's not worth the weight)

You will need a good pair of broken in backpacking boots. This terrain is rugged and hard on your feet. You will be very thankful for the short bits of soft terrain through the woods. We each had a hiking pole and thought it was extremely helpful.

There were many areas were we were actually scrambling or bouldering over rocks. It was a lot of fun but a lot of work. We actually didn't feel prepared in some cases and it was a bit scary but extremely exhilarating and rewarding. Unfortunately we don't have any pictures because we were too tired or preoccupied with trying to get through these areas. 

This trail is a maintained trail, however they must use the term "maintained" lightly. There were sections of the trail where there were pine trees on either side of the trail that you basically had to plow through. This is basically our only complaint. Be prepared for some real untouched ruggedness out there.

One last tip. The trail is fairly well marked, however some sections of the rocky areas have cairns that are few and far between. We lost the trail a couple times and ended up in some real difficult situations. If the going gets too tough, you might have missed the cairn leading you back into the woods.

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures! I love seeing/reading about your adventures!