Lake Superior Coastal Trail – Trip Report

Where: Lake Superior Provincial Park

When: June 21st – 26th, 2021

Who: My husband and I

Type of Trip: Group, Multi-Night, Gear Testing, Type 1 Fun

By the Numbers:

  • Nights: 5
  • Campsites: Gargantua North, Mermaid Lagoon, Baldhead, Robertson Cove, Sinclair North
  • Kilometres Walked: ~75km (very approximate)
  • Blisters: 0 (a new record low!)
  • Falls: Me -0, Jake – 1 (Remarkable in the rain!)
  • Boulders Hopped on: infinite

Trip Report

I had been wanting to hike the whole Superior Coastal Trail for a while! Last year I was able to do a section with a friend, from Agawa to Coldwater Beach and couldn’t wait to come back to do the complete trail. I love the ever changing terrain, the views, and the scrambling. It might be slow going at times, but never boring! I had originally planned this as a solo trip, but my husband decided to join in at the last minute. He doesn’t hike a lot, and hasn’t been on a long trip with me in over 5 years so I was excited he wanted to join in!

The plan was to hike from Gargantua to Chalfant Cove, then swing back around to complete the trail to the Agawa visitor’s centre, where my car awaited our return. This year had the complication of needing to book specific sites for every night of our trip, which is a new system this year that brings Lake Superior Provincial Park in line with the other parks in Ontario for hiking reservations. This is more challenging on this trail than on the others, as the weather on this trail effects your speed of travel so significantly. Rain can cut your speed in more than half in some sections, and high waves can make certain areas impassible until the weather calms. Due to this, I made a very conservative set of reservations, especially for the area between Gargantua and Orphan Lake, which I hadn’t done before, and which has no bail points. I chose distances that we could definitely complete even if it rained all day, and where a day could be made up by hiking a long day if necessary.

For detailed times and distances between campsites, check out the table below the day-by-day account. I didn’t go into those details in the write-up, since it is a lot easier to use that information in chart form than to try to pick it out of paragraphs of writing!

Day 1 

Campsite: Gargantua North

Distance Covered: ~20.4 km

Hours to Camp*: 7

*Hours to camp is total camp-to-camp time, including all stops (snacks, lunch, exploring, etc)

The trip got off to a slow start. We got packed up at the car in Agawa in the pouring rain and with the remnants of my food poisoning earlier in the week still wreaking havoc with my stomach and digestion. I hoped this wasn’t an omen of how our whole trip was going to go!

We were lucky to avoid the cost of the shuttle, as my dad happened to be in the area and drove up to run our shuttle for us (thanks Dad!!). He dropped us off at Gargantua, and the hike was on!

A rainy start!

Day 1 was the longest day at 20.5km, but the terrain made it the easiest day. Most of the trail to Chalfant Cove is old road in various states of growing in. The trail beings as a maintained forest road, then follows an older forest road to Warp Bay. After the bridge and waterfall on the Gargantua River the trail becomes single track. After Indian Harbour the trail became a bit more rugged for the last kilometre to Chalfant Cove. 

It rained all morning, with the rain stopping around 11am, however the wet foliage meant we remained wet for the rest of the day. The return trip was fast and uneventful, and we arrived at our Gargantua North campsite shortly after 4pm. I had to introduce Jake to the concept of a thunderbox. He complained he didn’t hear any thunder, and I told him he needed to supply his own. 

Gargantua North is a beautiful beach, one of the most beautiful sites on the trial in my opinion! The downside is that it is very close to the parking lot so it is very popular. There was garbage in the bear box and fire pit that made us wish we had a car at this end so we could get rid of it (after we finished the hike, we came back to clean it up, but the park service must have been through because it was all gone). 

The evening turned out to be beautiful, with a strong breeze dried out our gear quickly. My tent went up quickly with no issues, as usual. Thats what I love about the X-Mid design: no messing around on set up and tear down! Jake took a little longer, but 2 hours later finally had a hammock set up he was happy with. Lesson on hammocks: set them up at home first even if you have used all the components individually before. Jake hadn’t used his tarp, bugnet, AND under quilt in one trip before. Thank goodness once he had it sorted out, every other night only took a few minutes. I am definitely not a hammock person!

We were treated to a beautiful sunset, and I caught a rainbow view from my tent. A beautiful end to the first day!

Day 2

Campsite: Mermaid Lagoon

Distance Covered: ~7.5 km

Hours to Camp: 5.5 hours


The night turned out to be a cold one, with temperatures near freezing. Both Jake and I were warm through the night, but camp tear down was chilly. We were out of camp by 8:30.

Leaving Gargantua Bay

The morning was a lot of climbs and descents, but nothing exposed and minimal rock hopping. Physically demanding, but not terribly slow going. We arrived at Rhyolite Cove for lunch, and took a break to eat lunch knowing that it wasn’t much farther to our destination. No point in rushing. Rhyolite was a nice site with a lovely beach and a new bear box.

The top of the first climb of the day, over looking Gargantua Bay
Climbs like this were common between Gargantua and Rhyolite

The terrain changed noticeably past Rhyolite Cove, changing from steep climbs and descent to the first shoreline walking of the trip. Another hour and a bit and we arrived to Mermaid Lagoon at 2:15. A very early day! This was the one day of the trip that we had no rain, and the rocks were all dry. In the rain it may have taken us another couple of hours, so not a bad guess not knowing the terrain. In the future though, I would plan to at least Buckshot Creek for us.

As we were beginning to get camp set up, Jake decided to provide us with some entertainment for the afternoon. As I’m pitching my tent, I hear a dramatic, horrified gasp from Jake as he is unpacking his hammock gear. “Forgot your hammock straps?” I ask. It was the only thing I could fathom he may have forgotten that would elicit that sort of reaction. Yup, forgotten on the trees at Gargantua North. Luckily, Jake didn’t have to sleep on the ground the rest of the trip. I was quickly able to get him rigged up using our belts as improvised hammock straps, and that worked out quite well.

Mermaid Lagoon had a few places to put small tents, a cobble beach, and a bear box. It would be a good site to be on if there was bad weather, as it was one of the more sheltered sites we had this trip.

Jake was very happy with his MYOG hammock set up overall
Our improvised hammock straps
Day 3 

Campsite: Baldhead North

Distance Covered: ~10.5 km

Hours to Camp: 7.5 hours

We got up early to rain. Got ready in the rain. And started off in the rain. It was an earlier start than usual, out of camp at 6:30, but with the rain we were concerned it would be an extra long day.

The day started with rock hopping and navigating some very exposed rocks that were dangerously slippery when wet. There was a lot of wave action, which added to our slow pace between Mermaid Lagoon and Buckshot Creek. What should have taken us about an hour in nicer weather, took two and half in the rain and wind.

The trail eased up significantly after Buckshot Creek, and we made good time onto Beatty Cove, then past Sand Spit.

Beatty Cove

Between Sand Spit and Bald Head sites, there was a section the guidebook defined as very very rugged. I was concerned about the amount of wave action, and the wet rocks making this section nearly impassible if the guidebook was singling it out so specifically. Having done the majority of the trail, including some things I thought were pretty challenging, I was worried about how rugged that section would be given it was the only one in the descriptions emphasized so emphatically. It turned out the guidebook and I find different kinds of terrain hard. While that section was rugged, it was never really exposed and wasn’t horrible going in the rain. The big slabby sections where a slip would mean falling a long way down a lowish angle slab into the water and waves with no way back up concern me much more, doubly so in the rain. 

This was typical of the section described as ‘Very Rugged’ in the trail guide. It was physically demanding, but not exposed or scary when wet so wasn’t as slow going as I had worried.

We arrived at our Bald Head site by 2:00, once again an early day. First thing, we had to put out someone’s still smouldering fire. There was no trace of anyone around, so it may have been going a long time. On the bright side, the weather had cleared up in the last hour of hiking and we had clear skies the rest of the afternoon. We explored up around Orphan Lake and the beautiful Bald Head beaches. We got everything aired out, washed up and spent some time in the sun, etting ready for the rest of the week’s persistent rain. It wasn’t a very private site, and there were no bear boxes, but it was a stunning site and we got lucky having it to ourselves.

My stomach was a particularly bad mess this day and I wasn’t able to get much food down through the day. At least I was able to get dinner on board. Otherwise my body was holding up great! The short days meant I wasn’t sore at all, and had no joint issues. Despite having perpetually wet feet, the foot care routine I have been refining over the years was working well and I didn’t have any blisters either.

 

Day 4 

Campsite: Robertson Cove

Distance Covered: ~8.5km

Hours to Camp: 4.5 hours

The forecast had expected rain to start overnight, so when we woke up dry we decided to make the most of the dry morning and get moving! We left our site at 7am, hoping to beat the brewing thunderstorms over Bald Head. Jake’s knee was starting to give him a bit of trouble, so we took the downhills and cobble beach extra slowly. Up and over Bald Head was relatively easy trail, with just the gain and loss to contend with. After Bald Head, but before Coldwater North we got slowed down significantly by needing to bushwhack up around the trail route due to wave action on the rocks. Past Coldwater North, the trail was easy to the beach.

Just as we arrived at Coldwater Beach, the skies opened up and it POURED rain. We quickly put on our rain gear, but it was a futile effort. We were soaked through in minutes. The rain lightened up, but didn’t stop. We figured we weren’t going to get any wetter so stopped for a brief snack before moving off the beach and onto the following rocky section.

The section between Coldwater Beach and Robertson Cove was incredibly slow going in the rain. There were many steep, slabby sections that needed to be bushwhacked around because they couldn’t be safely traversed when wet. Even on the less serious parts, every step had to be tested to ensure that your foot wasn’t going to slip out from underneath you. The crux of this section was the giant boulder hopping in the last kilometre before Robertson Cove. It was less ‘boulder hopping’ and more scrambling through microwave to fridge sized boulders.

The aforementioned boulders. The trail goes down the shore as far as you can see.
More of these boulders, with Jake for scale. The trail runs right down the shoreline, and the bushwhacking option is even worse. This was very, very slow when wet.

Despite the slow going, we arrived at Robertson Cove by lunch, the earliest day so far. The slow travel was probably for the best, or this day would have been ridiculously short. We debated continuing onto the campsites at Barrett Beach, since I had cell service and could have re-booked our sites, but decided to stay put. The weather forecast was threatening ping-pong ball sized hail and there was a severe thunderstorm warning and we still had a few more kilometres of this sort of terrain before it eased up. That would be a bad place to get stuck in thunderstorms and high winds! It also would have screwed up our itinerary for the rest of the trip.

So, we got camp set up and killed time exploring the island out past the sand spit. We attempted to get our hiking clothes dried out, but even after an afternoon of wind, the humidity was too high to meaningfully dry anything. The expected thunderstorms never materialized, but the afternoon remained cold, windy, and humid. It never got above 13C this day.

The Robertson Cove site was pretty, but not very private (the trail runs right through it). There weren’t many paces to put a tent, and there were some unsafe trees in the most obvious spots. We were able to find a spot to hang the hammock and pitch my tent right by the shoreline, but it was pretty exposed had those thunderstorms come in. This site did have a bear box.

Day 5 

Campsite: Sinclair North

Distance Covered: ~14km

Hours to Camp: 7 hours

It rained overnight and we woke up to fog, just enough to get everything wet. We were out of camp around 7am, and off into the foggy morning!  

The fog quickly turned into heavier fog and drizzle. The rain overnight had all the plants wet, so we were quickly soaked through again. While not as technical as the section from Coldwater to Robertson, Roberson to Katherine cove was slow while wet as we needed to be very careful on the slippery wet rock. 

We stopped for a snack and to use the bathrooms at Katherine cove, and left around 9am. The trail past Katherine Cove was straightforward and easy even in the rain. This section had many kilometres of lovely sand beaches, which made for quick going. There was only one slow boulder hopping section that was particularly treacherous in the rain between Katherine Cove and Barrett Beach.  

The drizzle eased around noon, but with all the wet foliage we remained soaked all day. It was a surprisingly windless day, which made it very muggy. Jake was miserable for the last hour or so to camp. He does well in the cold, but overheats quickly! It was unusual to see Lake Superior dead calm.

We made good time again, and arrived at Sinclair North at 2:30. We tried to dry out our things, but once again were thwarted, this time by the lack of wind and fog. Luckily we only had to live in our wet, smelly clothes for one more day.

The day started in the fog, remained foggy, and ended foggy. Unfortunately this meant that we missed out on the Superior views, but it did mean that there was no wave action to be concerned about when on the slabby sections towards the end of the day and we saw some really cool cloud/fog patterns along the shoreline.

Sinclair North was by far the most private site we had all trip. It did not have a bear box.

Day 6 

Campsite: Agawa Visitor’s Centre

Distance Covered: ~13km

Hours to End: 5 hours

The last day! Onto Agawa Visitors Centre!

It rained again overnight, and we left camp at 7am in drizzle and fog. The first kilometre was a mix of slabby rocks, and climbs and descents in the forest until the pictographs. After the pictographs the terrain changes significantly as the trail navigates its way through an old, forested rock slide. Once past the rockslide, the trail goes up and down through the woods until flattening out before the Agawa River camp sites. The trail remains flat and easy from there to the visitor’s centre

Due to the fog, I didn’t take many pictures this day, so enjoy the photos I took last year for comparison to our views on this trip.

The last ~8km flew by, mostly being flat and easy and we quickly arrived back at our car at 12:30. Just in time for lunch!

Success! We made it back to the car!

The Superior Coastal Trail never disappoints! It remains my favourite trail in Ontario: challenging, fun, beautiful, and never boring. Despite our lacklustre weather and long hours spent in camp Jake and I had an amazing time, and I can’t wait to go back!

Campsites, Times, and Distances

One thing I had trouble finding when researching the Lake Superior Coastal Trail was hours between campsites. This is a trail where distances don’t mean quite as much as on other Ontario trails because the terrain is so unique. I endeavoured to take good notes and provide some for others who are researching this trail!

These times are our actual total times between the campsites, including snack breaks, lunch, and enjoying the views. I tried to denote the weather we hiked the sections in if it was notable (nice vs pouring rain, high waves, etc), along with any other quick notes I thought might be useful. For reference, our breaks tend to be short, we don’t take an extended lunch, and rarely take our packs off. Our packs started out around 23lbs including water, fuel, and 6 days of food.

Gear

Overall, I was very happy with our gear for this trip, even with all of the homemade gear we were testing. Everything worked as intended (when we remembered to pack it! haha). For the most part, Jake and I carried our own complete sets of gear. The only things we shared were

Gear List:

June Superior Coastal Trail Gear List

The gear I carried on this trip is very similar to my set-up for La Cloche Silhouette Trail, with some new MYOG items added.

What Worked:

Most of the gear we took on this trip is tried and true, so we knew it works well for us. The big unknowns for gear on this trip were the new MYOG pieces I created this spring, and Jake’s hammock set up which was on its first multi night trip.

Aurora Sky X-Mid:

I made this tent this spring using custom printed silpoly to make a beautiful version of my beloved X-Mid 1p. I did a full write up about its creation and features here.

This was its second major excursion, the first being my misadventure on the Sentier Frontaliers where it proved it could handle sustained rain, heavy condensation, and even hail with ease. The overnight weather on this trip wasn’t as harsh as on that one (just rain light and wind this time), but some of the pitches were more challenging. The tent spots at most sites were fairly small, and the ground rocky and rooty. The stretchier fabric of this version meant that I was able to get tight pitches even in less than ideal conditions. It was at the expense of some of the geometries, but that was an aesthetic issue rather than a functional one.

With ~10 nights on it now, I remain very happy with this project. It has always kept me dry, and pitches easily and reliably. It is stunning, AND functional. The tweaks I made to the original design are panning out just as I had hoped, with the additional pockets being the most notable. The inside of my tent looks like a disaster zone, and anything to help get that more organized is very welcome!

Painted Sky Quilt:

The Painted Sky Sleeping Bag inside the Aurora Sky Tent!

The Painted Sky sleeping bag was another one of this spring’s projects. I had, ahem, outgrown my Feathered Friends Flicker (Jake used it as his under quilt on this trip) and couldn’t find anything on the market that met my sizing and feature requirements. So of course I made my own, and used printed fabric. More about the features of this bag can be seen here.

The tent might be the flashier of the pair, but this is the piece I am most proud of. After ticking past the 10 uses mark, about 3 of those nights within a few degrees of its intended limit, the custom sizing, feature set, and construction turned out even better than I had pictured when designing it. I rarely get to say that! It is just. so. functional. The sizing is perfect, and I underestimated what a difference that would make. I’m a rotisserie sleeper, so usually I get tangled in my bags (hence no hoods for 3 season bags) and find quilts too drafty below 13C or so. I added a draft tube behind the zipper so that it wouldn’t matter if the bag rotated around with me in my sleep. The draft tube ensures that no cold spots are created if the zipper ends up on top. The draft tube does work as intended, and if it is cold enough to zip up I put the zipper on top for ease of access. The surprise with the sizing however, is that I don’t get tangled in it! It mostly stays put as I roll around, because there is enough room inside the bag to let me do so. It is the right size in all the right places: wide at the hip, moderately wide at the shoulder, and nipping in quickly to the neck. The taper to the foot box from the hip doesn’t start until just above my knees, so there is lots of room to pull my knees up a bit without ending up with cold spots at my bum and knees. The length is just long enough for me to lay on my stomach without my toes poking into the foot box down, but not so long that I have too much dead space to heat up when laying on my back.

I am in love with the draft collar! It is excessively large, massively overfilled, and I love it. Drafts don’t stand a chance, and it is very cuddly to sleep in. The little finishes, like the cinch cords on the draft collar being in places that are easy for me to reach (not the case on a few of my bags!) and having an auto lock zipper pull so it doesn’t slide down when partially opened just make it a joy for me to use.

The first night of this trip was the only cool night, with temperatures hovering around zero. I was toasty warm! The next 4 nights temperatures hovered between 9-13C, so the quilt got trialed in quilt mode. With the zipper fully open, it served very well. Plenty warm but easy to regulate my temperature. It was way too warm to keep zipped up these nights, which makes sense as 13C is the upper range of the use case for this bag. Above that I would take my Apex top quilt (below) for half the weight.

Airing out the Painted Sky Sleeping Bag after a number of soggy days.

After a 5 damp days it was still functioning perfectly well (still needed to use it in quilt mode at night, and stick my feet out) and there was no noticeable loss of loft, but the damp feeling in the fabric was decidedly more notable in the black nylon ripstop fabric than the printed polyester fabric. This makes sense, as nylon absorbs more water than polyester, but I didn’t expect it to be noticeable on the scale of a quilt in a high humidity environment. I will need to keep that in mind for future projects!

I have been incredibly happy with this quilt, and plan to put together a video and pattern for it later this summer. Stay tuned!

Color Blocked Wind Gear:

I made the wind gear in the spring with this trip in mind. I used 20D uncalendared HyperD 1.0oz (the same as for the Apex quilt below), to make durable but light wind gear. The pants came in at 2.6oz and the shirt at 3.2oz. I admit I was skeptical of adding wind gear when I’m already carrying rain gear, but for a low cost to make and low weight penalty I figured this was the perfect trip to try them out on as Superior is so windy. Just like the last trip I took them on, it turned out I was glad to have them! The last trip it was due to unexpected cold temps, and this one due to more time spent sitting around camp than expected, on the shore of a very windy lake. Not only are they great for wind, but they are also great for a bit of extra bug protection.

In this fabric, I find them just the right additional combination of warmth and breathability for when I’m cold hiking in my long sleeve shirt but adding my rain coat would leave me sweaty.

Everything must have pockets! I placed this pocket up high where I can still use it with my pack hip belt on.

The pull over style works well for me, and the high pocket placement allows for me to actually use the pocket with my hip belt on. The 20D fabric is plenty durable for most trips, but the pants likely would have been shredded if I wore them when hiking on this trip, with all the butt sliding and scrambling. I never needed them though, I was either wearing my rain pants or was warm enough in just my hiking pants.

DIY Apex Quilt:

No photos of this one in the wild unfortunately, as it was always hiding inside of Jake’s hammock!

I whipped this Apex top quilt for warm summer nights above 13C or so. It has a zippered foot box with a cinch at the bottom, and a cinch at the neck. It was the perfect top quilt for Jake to use in his hammock paired with a 20F underquilt, and is fairly light weighing in at 17.4oz. This was the first trip it has been out (way too cold so far for me to use it on any of my spring trips!) and passed the test! Jake found it warm enough and liked the feel of the uncalendared HyperD.

Hammock Set-Up:

A few years ago, Jake caught the myog bug from me (guess it is contagious!) and made his own tarp, hammock, suspension and bug net. This was the first extended trip out with it, and Jake was happy with it overall but it does need a few tweaks (see below).

Jake wanted to try hammocking after always being miserable on the ground. He is converted and is not going back to being a ground dweller! The learning curve can be steep sometimes though. After the first night (should have practiced at home!) the whole set up went up quickly despite the forgotten hammock straps. The tarp and bug net functioned as intended. We were always able to find acceptable trees to hang it on, although some sites it would have been a challenge to hang more than one hammock if we both had them. He slept great, and stayed toasty warm with a 20F under quilt (Feathered Friends Flicker) and a 50F top quilt down to lows around freezing.

Seek Outside Flight Pack:

A photo from last year’s section hike. Thanks Kelly!

I still adore this pack! Despite doing a detailed write up about it after La Cloche last year, I wanted to mention it again (especially after switching Jake packs and using my old one for a few kilometres). I just can’t reiterate enough how comfortable it is for me. Never any rubs or pressure points. It balances very well and moves with me, which was critical on this trail with all the scrambling and boulder hopping. Even where a bit of climbing was needed, I never had to take it off. Also, I am never going back to single clip hip belts and regular sized hip pockets. Game changers both!

What Didn’t/Could Use Improvements:

Marmot Precip: This was the first trip I’ve needed to use this rain jacket for sustained rain. It is alright, and for the price I shouldn’t really complain. It does the job of a light weight rain jacket at a a good price point. But I don’t love it. The zipper is hard to work, the side vents are not an adequate substitute for pit zips, the hood is annoying, and the pockets are nearly useless. I probably won’t replace it though. For the amount I use it, it works okay and I don’t want to spend 3-4x as much for a new one.

Hammock Improvements: While the hammock set up worked very well overall, Jake wants to add more ridge-line storage in the future, so I guess I have a new project!

Jake’s Backpack: We’ve never gotten around to buying Jake his own pack, he has always made due with my spares. On this trip he took my Osprey Ariel, the pack I replaced with the Flight. Usually this pack works pretty well for him, especially because we pack fairly light, but it was a bit of a nuisance this trip. With all the scrambling, the stiff hip belt restricts the pack from moving with you well. So every time you move one hip up, the whole pack cants sideways and braces on the shoulder straps. Even with well balanced packing, it just can’t compete with the Flight for comfort in this regard. It only caused Jake minor discomfort where one of the straps was digging into his neck a bit, but when we switched briefly so that he could try the Flight for comparison, it the restricted movement drove me batty. It felt like the pack was working against me rather than with me. I certainly felt justified in the money spent on my new one! This summer I will need to get around to selling the Ariel and getting Jake a different pack.

Food

Our food was pretty much the same as the menu I used for the La Cloche Silhouette Trail, just multiplied out to 6 days and for 2 people. Normally thats a menu that works really well for me, but with the last vestiges of food poisoning from the week before still wreaking havoc on my system I didn’t eat well on this trip. Luckily Jake was able to pick up the slack and eat my extras so we didn’t have to carry out a bunch of uneaten food!

  • Jake also found this to be enough food for him, he was never hungry and sometimes struggled to eat my extras.
  • The Thanksgiving dinner meal was a hit! The recipe can be found here. It is a fairly large portion, so size may need to be adjusted to individual needs.
  • The coffee shake is a bit of a weird item (45g whole instant milk powder and 5g instant coffee) but it is such a reliable one for me. I can always get them down, even when nothing else will stay down. These were subbed out for another granola bar in Jake’s meals.
  • I hate granola bars. I hate how sweet they are. I hate how hard they are to chew. I hate how much water I need to get them down. Only having 1 per day on the menu used to be acceptable, but at this point I need to strike them entirely.
  • I used Swiss cheese for the first 3 days, and Parmesan for the last 3 days. I chose a harder cheese that would hold up better longer for the last few days of the trip. It all held up great though, and given the cooler temperatures the Swiss would have been fine for all 6 days.
  • All of our dinners were home-made dehydrated meals I prepared in advance. They only require adding hot water to rehydrate, which is done right in the freezer bag, so the pot for boiling water is the only dish needed. Well, Jake carries a spoon. I’m a heathen and eat my meal straight out of the bag piping-bag style! Less mess and fewer things to carry: I’m sticking with it!

miscellaneous Thoughts

  • 6 days was too long. With needing to book specific sites this year I went conservative with our days, but even in the rain I found most of them too short. We hiked between 5-7 hours each day, which put us in camp by lunch some days, which meant a lot of sitting around in camp. It wasn’t so bad killing time in camp with a partner, but it would have been awful solo. 8-10 hours camp-to-camp is what I prefer, as I like to hike most of the day. In nice weather I’d do 4 days, in awful weather 4.5 or 5 days would still leave lots of time for us.
  • I used the trail description and maps out of the Voyageur Trail book. The descriptions of the trail in this guide are interesting (and moderately useful, although I found I needed to take the assessment of difficulty with a grain of salt. Sections it deemed very difficult I found to be moderate by this trail’s standards while others it didn’t deem notable were the hardest part of the trail for me. It was published in 2014 and is becoming increasingly out of date, with the change to the campsite booking this year dealing big blow to its relevance. The maps with distances are still great though, and at the time I bought it the Ontario Parks Lake Superior Provincial Park map was perpetually out of stock. At the time of writing, they do appear to be in stock.
  • I was shocked that bugs were a non issue on this trip. There were some black flies, mosquitoes, and deer flies but they mostly weren’t biting and I never used my bug spray or my head net. Not what I was expecting for Northern Ontario in late June!
  • I was rather dismayed by the amount of garbage in the privies and fire pits. I expected it to some degree at the sites easily accessed from the road, but was surprised by the amount left at sites a fair distance from access points. We packed out what we could, but didn’t make much of a dent. Please don’t leave garbage in fire pits hoping someone else will burn it, pack it out! Same goes for anything you may be tempted to throw down the privy.
  • Traffic noise could be heard at the sites we stayed at past Bald Head since the highway is so close.
  • Cell service was intermittently available past Balt Head. I got cell service at the Robertson Cove and Bald Head sites, but none at Sinclair. 
  • We saw lots of strawberry, rose, raspberry, and blueberry plants. 
  • The cooler temperatures, around 12-22C during the day, were fantastic! It was definitely cool at times with the wind and rain, but both Jake and I wilt in the heat, and the rocky exposed parts are very hot in the sun (as I learned on my trip last year). We were happy with the temperatures we had.  
  • I liked having my Ursak for the sites that didn’t have bear boxes. Finding a tree appropriate for a good bear hang was difficult to impossible at many of the sites.
  • The hammock generally worked well for this trail. We were able to find a place for Jake to hang every night, even with our improvised hammock straps.
  • Foot routine and anti chafe routine were key with perpetually wet feet and usually wet bodies. We both managed to avoid any blisters, but Jake was the (un)lucky recipient of all my chafing-management knowledge (acquired through years of trial and error, unfortunately for me but fortunately for Jake!).
  • Slow and steady worked out well, with only one fall between the two of us the entire trip (Jake, day 5, slipped on a root coming down a forested hill). I thought that was pretty good for this trail in the rain! This trail has the potential for some nasty falls, especially when wet.

2 thoughts on “Lake Superior Coastal Trail – Trip Report

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