Fall is that time of year when things cool off, and despite the cooler weather some of us look forward to, there are still outdoor activities to enjoy. In Algoma Country, we have the pleasure of enjoying not only the cooler weather but the vibrant colours that explode as the leaves change throughout the region. As you travel along some of the roadways and hiking trails in Algoma, the bright oranges, vibrant reds, and dazzling yellows are spectacular. There are numerous hiking trails in the region, some of which lead to scenic lookouts. Read on for some of the best bets.
1. KINSMEN PARK
Kinsmen Park is a great place to hike within the city of Sault Ste. Marie because of its dense forests and scenic views. In the fall, this dense forest fills with colour, making it an ideal place to start your fall hikes. With easy access and ample parking, hikers cannot only take advantage of trails within Kinsmen Park, but also the connection trails in the Hiawatha Highlands Conservation Area. There are several trails in the area, ranging from easy to moderate, that can easily be done as a day hike. Crystal Falls is also located along the trail system, and there is a viewing platform where hikers can enjoy the rushing water of the waterfall.
2. ROBERTSON CLIFFS
Heading north to Goulais River, Robertson Cliffs, in the Algoma Highlands, is located north of Sault Ste. Marie. This hike is always a great workout as you climb up to view the incredible scenic lookout. The lookout trail is located across from the parking area. Follow the white blazes until you reach the top of the cliffs. If you time it right in the fall, you will see a sea of vibrant colours lighting up the landscape.
3. CHIPPEWA FALLS
Chippewa Falls is located just off Highway 17 and is also the mid-point of the Trans-Canada Highway. In the fall, the colours paired with the falls create a unique atmosphere for photography or even painting. The hiking trails are for moderate hikers and are good for an hour or two. An interpretive panel is located at Chippewa Falls to commemorate the Group of Seven artists who painted in Algoma.
4. PANCAKE BAY LOOKOUT TRAIL
If you haven’t heard of this trail by now, it is one of the most popular trails along Lake Superior, mainly due to the incredible lookout over the lake. It also overlooks the site where the famous Edmund Fitzgerald sunk in a fierce Superior storm in 1975. This hike provides you with some amazing views of Pancake Bay, and you can also see across to Whitefish Point. There are two lookouts that offer spectacular views of Lake Superior and the blanket of colours in the fall. It truly is a surreal experience to see how vast the landscape is from the high vantage points of the lookout.
5. ORPHAN LAKE TRAIL
A popular hiking trail in Lake Superior Provincial Park, the Orphan Lake Trail is a 5-km, moderate loop that is well marked with many scenic lookouts. The beginning of the trail goes through a forest of sugar maple and yellow birch which turn vibrant in the fall. As you head along the trail, you head towards lookouts over Lake Superior. From one of the lookouts, you can see the mouth of the Baldhead River. It’s a pretty epic view even in the summer, but truly awe-inspiring in fall. The trail continues along the beach to the Baldhead River and goes by a few scenic waterfalls. Once you pass the waterfalls, you follow the trail back to the trailhead. Lake Superior Provincial Park produces particularly vibrant fall colours due to the variation of trees and dense forestation.
6. ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN TRAIL
The Rock Candy Mountain Trail is located along Highway 129, approximately 35 km north of the town of Thessalon. The trailhead is located down the first road past Tunnel Lake Trading Post if you are heading north. The parking is at the first clearing along the road, and the sign is on the left side of the road. The Rock Candy Mountain trail is an easy 1.5 km to the lookout over Cummings Lake. It is a short trail, but uphill all the way to the lookout. In the fall, there’s an incredible panoramic view of Cummings Lake which makes it worth the trek.
7. BOOM CAMP TRAILS
The Boom Camp Interpretive Park is part of the North Channel Historic Trail that spans from the Township of Shedden to Huron Shores. The park has 12 km of multi-season trails and a total of 70 interpretive and direction signs that relate to the rich cultural and natural history of the area. There are three distinct trails that make up the network of trails: the Harbour Loop (3.1km), Woodland Loop (5.3km), and Delta Loop (3.7km). Along each of these trails, you will find unique geological formations, scenic lookouts, and wildlife viewing. Each one of these trails provides great opportunities to enjoy the fall weather and the changing colours of the leaves.
8. FIRE TOWER LOOKOUT
The Fire Tower Lookout is located just north of Elliot Lake and provides a panoramic view overlooking the city. At the lookout, there is the Fire Ranger’s Heritage Centre, a restored ranger’s cabin that was built in the 1950s for the area’s tower watchmen. In the fall, the vibrant colours at the lookout tower blanket this epic view. For the casual hiker, there are several hiking trails located at the lookout that connect to a series of trails in Elliot Lake. If you are looking for incredible fall photos, this a must-stop for autumn hiking.
9. SHERIFF CREEK WILDLIFE SANCTUARY TRAILS
The Sheriff Creek Wildlife Sanctuary Trail is located just south of Elliot Lake and provides well-maintained, easy walking and hiking trails, as well as a protected habitat for birds and other wildlife. The trails have great trail marking and information signs. The longest trail is just over 5 km, and the trails meet up with the Fire Tower trail and Horne Lake Trail at certain points. For hikers looking for an easy and well-kept trail to hike, this is the perfect network of trails to enjoy the fall colours and easy terrain.
10. HELENBAR LOOKOUT TRAIL
The Helenbar Lookout Trail is in Mississagi Provincial Park, located just north of Elliot Lake. This intermediate trail is about a 7-km hike that leads up to the incredible scenic Helenbar Lookout. The lookout has views across Helenbar Lake and is the perfect stop to rest and take a few fall landscape photos. The trail continues by heading down the slope past the lookout and rejoins another trail in the Mississagi Provincial Park, the Semiwite Lake Trail. Fall hikers can expect the forest to light up with red, yellow, gold, and orange. Trees commonly found in the park are red maples, sugar maples, and yellow birch, which produce incredible colours.
Fall hiking is one of those activities that you can really get up close to and enjoy the changing colours while getting your daily exercise in. Get out there and enjoy them while you can!