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Archive for November, 2008

Hazelwood Lake

Another of the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority areas, Hazelwood Lake is a year round facility offering recreational trails, picnic area, non powered boating and indoor facilities for rent. The lodge is a popular spot for weddings and conferences. It is a great get-away spot for the whole family.

Hazelwood Lake LodgeHazelwood Lake Lodge

It was a beautiful November 1st, 2008 when I headed up Hazelwood Drive to the LRCA trails. There are two trails, each about two and half kilometers. The brochure I had said the trails were on the easy side, so I intended to do both of them this day.

From the parking lot, I headed up the orange trail, going north past the picnic area. This is a wonderful area for families, having numerous table, a large shelter, washrooms and a sandy beach. There is plenty of room for having fun.

Picnic area and beachPicnic area and beach

The trail leaves the picnic area and follows the lake shore. Unfortunately it only parallels the lake, too far inland for even the slightest view. There are plenty of small up and downs on this particular trail, so I would describe it as easy to moderate in difficulty. The trail is very well maintained and wide enough for two hikers to walk side by side.

Well kept trailWell kept trail

The trail loops around and returns to the picnic area on the east side by the washrooms.  Once across the open field, follow the trail from the beach along the shore. You pass the lodge and pick up the forest community trail heading southwest. This is another two and half kilometer loop, but it is much easier walking than the orange loop. Again, the trail follows the shore, but there is virtually no view available.

These are lovely trails but I swear they were built by the government. They don’t really go anywhere and don’t offer a view of anything but trees. There is  no “wow” factor at all, and frankly I felt disappointed once I was done. There was plenty of opportunity for views of the lake and surrounding area from the numerous high spots on the orange trail, yet the trail was so far from the lake that nothing could be seen. The forest community trail showed promise, but it was too far from the shore to offer any real scenery as well. But if all you want is outdoor exercise, these well maintained trails are for you.

Hazelwood Lake, looking east to the beach and picnic areaHazelwood Lake, looking east to the beach and picnic area

The LRCA works hard to maintain all of its trails, don’t leave garbage lying about.

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Mission Marsh

The Lakehead Region Conservation Authority has eight areas in Thunder Bay under it’s control. Mission Marsh is located on Mission Island and can be accessed via Island Drive and 106th Street. It is a very good area to see the local deer population. It is a popular spot, but the trails are rarely busy. Most people come to check out the deer or to walk the short boardwalk trail. As with all LRCA areas, a $2.00 parking fee is asked for. It is on the honour system and I hope that those who get out of their vehicles to check out the trails are honest enough to support the LRCA. And for those of you who enjoy the outdoors and the facilities available courtesy of the Authority, a yearly pass is available for only $30.00 ($25.00 if you buy before the end of 2008). Many of the conservation areas have facilities that need to be maintained, and you know that doesn’t come free. So do your part and support the LRCA.

Beaver ActivityBeaver Activity

Melanie and I headed to Mission Marsh on October 12th, 2008, in a bit of a drizzle. We took Sierra, my daughter’s dog, along for the exercise. We did the trails around the Memorial Trees and over to the McKellar River. This included the wetland lagoons where there was ample evidence of beavers at work.

Although the trails are not long, this is still a great spot for a bit of exercise. You get a great view of Lake Superior and the Sleeping Giant, and there always seems to be waterfowl on the river.

Wildlife on the riverWildlife on the river

We didn’t do the boardwalk this time, but certainly will the next trip out. There is always something to see here, so make sure you come back often.

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Finger Point Trail

After a long break from hiking, I’m back on the trails. I did this trail on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, October 13th, 2008 along with my girlfriend Melanie and my daughters dog, Sierra.

Finger Point Lookout trail is located south of Thunder Bay on Highway 61 at the US border, in the Pigeon River Provincial Park. You access the trail from the east side of the parking lot at the Ontario government tourism office. When the office is open you can pick up a map of the park. Follow the boardwalk to where the trail heads left. Although not very wide, the trail is easy to follow as it heads to the intersection of the High Falls trail. Keep right and you can’t miss the Finger Point signs.

You get a chance to walk to the waters edge here and you can see the “lookout” in the distance to the east north east. So once you’ve had a look at the driftwood, and probably let your dog wade in the water, head up the trail to the lookout.

A view from Pigeon Bay of the lookout.A view from Pigeon Bay of the lookout.

It’s about 2.5 kilometers one way from the parking lot to the lookout. The first kilometer and a half is fairly easy with minimal up and downs. However, once you get to the base of the lookout, you have a few steep climbs ahead of you. But the trail is very good and easy to follow. There are natural steps created by both rocks and tree roots that help you along. And once you reach the top, you will be amply rewarded with a view as spectacular as you have seen in these parts. This is a trail with a high “wow” factor.

View of Lake SuperiorView of Lake Superior

On top you will find two veiwing areas separated by a small gully. Make sure you head over to the far one as that is where the bench and artwork is found. This is a pleasant surprise as you are not expecting to see such creativity in the middle of nowhere.

Lake Superior benchLake Superior bench

Enjoy your stay on the lookout and then head back down the trail.  But be careful on the way down. Sometimes your legs can get going faster than you like on some of the downslopes. Hiking down a hill can often be as dangerous as hiking up.

Finger Point trailFinger Point trail

Remember to take your garbage out with you. We found the trail and lookout very clean and hope that it remains that way. And don’t forget to clean up after your dog as well.

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