The Coastal Trail: Pukaskwa, ON...        

The entire Lake Superior coast-line from Sault Ste Marie to Thunderbay was stunning and Pukaskwa was no exception. We chose to do three days of the beautiful coastal hike, staying two nights at White River and using the middle day to hike to Willow River and back again. The first couple of days did not follow the coast so the views where not so spectacular - next time we would take the boat shuttle along the coast and then walk back as this would allow for more scenery and less back tracking. At any rate, Pukaskwa is a great park and was well worth the visit.

The first day we passed Playter Harbour which had a beautiful beach surrounded and protected by large rock outcrops and a couple of small islands (this would be a nice and short overnight for introducing backpacking to kids). From here we hiked up to a flat plateau which we started calling the 'emerald forest' due to its lush and green nature. Just past this, a super neat suspension bridge crossed a canyon through which the White River surged below. As the bridge was very bouncy and we could look through the slates far below into canyon the trip across was slightly freaky. After the bridge, it was a short hike to Hook's Falls where we set up our tent for two nights. We were careful to ensure that we used the bear boxes as we had seen a black bear at the main campground the night before!

As we headed towards Willow River on day two we traveled a trail that was much less used than the previous day's trail (a lot of people hike into the White River suspension bridge as a day hike - not as many continue on). It followed along the top of a ridge and we were rewarded with great views of a towering gorge wall and the undulating forest. Eventually the gorge walls narrowed toward each other and we dropped down to a small pond located at their intersection. From here we walked through fairly dense bush for a period and then suddenly came out at a beautiful expanse of beach... Willow River. A most amazing spot: islands, a sandy beach, crystal blue water and a clear blue sky - it couldn't have been much better! The only issue was its apparent proximity to a large blue-berry patch as the campers who had stayed the previous night had all had bear visits! After a relaxing lunch we headed back to our tent at White River.

We awoke on day three to another exquisite day. The cool night had resulted in a beautiful mist over Hook Rapids and the pool below. In some ways backtracking was advantageous as we knew how long the route took and as a result we allowed for a long, leisurely lunch break at Playtor Harbour before doing the final stretch back to the main campground.

Hatties Cove

Dew on fungus

Playtor Harbour

Bridge shadows

Emerald Forest

Spider web

Mist on
White River

Suspension bridge


The fire maker

Bush wacking

First views of
Lake Superior

Carol and Stephen



Big splash

Breaking camp

Willow River


On the trail

Playtor Harbour

Stephen hiking

Hook Falls

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