Hiking in Timmins: Urban Promenades & Hidden Glacial Anomalies

Gillies Lake in Timmins at Night. Photo: Grownup Travels

Part 2 of Jane Canapini's Hiking Adventures in Timmins

When it comes to hiking in Timmins, Jane finds out that there really is something for every skill level.



For a city of 45,000 people, the City of Timmins has a lot to offer when it comes to their trails—there really is something for everyone here. Since this was our first visit, Henk and I decided to explore three of them. We started with an urban hike on Gillies Promenade that required no help to find, since it’s practically located in the centre of town.

Gillies Promenade

Calling this a trail is a bit of a stretch, since this flat, groomed path is right in the centre of town and circumnavigates a lake (complete with fountain). But being super-accessible and perfect for runners, cyclists, and families of all ages doesn’t take anything away from the fact that Gillies Promenade is a very pretty walk. The gravel path is even lit at night, making it a great spot to enjoy a crisp fall evening.

Stroll on the cantilevered boardwalk on one side of the lake, or join the kids who just love feeding the ducks that call this lake home. And if you keep your eyes open, you might even see the muskrat we spotted, who seems to have made a home under the wooden platform along the edge of the lake.

DIFFICULTY: 1

Easy, gravel paths; level but not great for strollers. Amenities: well, you’re right in town, so stop by a local restaurant or food truck if you’re hungry!

Archie’s Rock

Jane takes on Archie's Rock. Photo: Grownup Travels

Not everyone can say they have an eight-story-tall pile of boulders named after them, but Archie Chenier can. Archie is the local Timmins man who discovered this geological anomaly that now bears his name. An avid hiker who has probably clocked thousands of miles in his lifetime, Archie was as surprised as anyone when he first discovered this rocky pileup in the bush over 60 years ago.

I, too, was surprised to hear about Archie’s Rock, and decided Henk and I should follow in Archie’s footsteps and see it for ourselves.

Thanks to Archie’s trailblazing decades ago, finding the path to his namesake rock today is easy. A well-used ATV track leads you to a sign that describes the history of Archie’s Rock. From here, the hike to the rocks is a short climb on an uphill path to the right.

I had just started up on the path and wasn’t even winded, when out of nowhere, Archie’s Rock appeared beside me with almost no fanfare or warning. There was no clearing or view of the rocks from a distance; I was just looking through the trees to my left and suddenly there was a giant pile of boulders practically beside me.

A Glacial Anomaly

It's not just a hike—visitors learn about the area when visiting Archie's Rock. Photo: Grownup Travels

It is exactly this "surprise" location that makes Archie’s Rock the oddity that it is: it shouldn’t be here, based on everything else in the surrounding terrain. Archie’s theory (and he’s the first to say it is only a theory since he’s not a geologist) is that the rocks are a glacial deposit, formed when a crack in the glacier formed and some of the boulders being pushed along with the ice fell into it, stacking one on top of another. Once the glaciers receded, this vertical pile-up was left behind.

Whatever the origin, the rocks are a natural jungle gym for kids, and adults who still like to clamber on top of tall things. You do need to be part mountain goat and not afraid of heights if you plan to climb to the top of the rocks. (I only climbed the first "story" of the eight-levels; Henk probably got about halfway up).

Even if you just pick your way through the base and walk around the boulders, Archie’s Rock is an impressive reminder of how glaciers helped shape the rugged landscape of Northeastern Ontario. For any other Archie-types out there, these rocks might be the inspiration to get out there exploring and maybe discover something that you can put your name on.

ACCESS:

Take Highway 101 to Little Star Lake Road (a bit west of the White Birch outpost). Follow the white signs for Archie’s Rock and leave your car where you see the sign for the trail on the left.

DIFFICULTY: 1 - 4

Getting to the sign for Archie’s Rock is an easy walk; getting up to the rocks involves a short but steep, narrow trail. Climbing up and around the rocks requires good footwear and agility.

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more information

General Information & Things to Do
Tourism Timmins
1 (705) 360-2640

Accommodations 
Cedar Meadows Resort & Spa
1 (877) 207-6123
Hampton Inn by Hilton Timmins: 1 (844) 405-0600
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Timmins1 (855) 531-5310
Horwood Lake Lodge: 1 (866) 242-9992

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