View over Agawa Bay, the Montreal River
and the Trans Canada Highway
Website: Ontario Parks or Friends of Lake Superior PP
Map: Friends of Lake Superior PP or Google Maps
Camping Facilities: Backcountry (at Mijinemungshing)
Stargazing: As expected up north
Thoughts: I feel like Lake Superior Provincial Park is Ontario's hidden gem. Everyone knows about Quetico, Killarney, Algonquin, Temagami, Haliburton, etc. but I don't know if I've ever heard anyone say much about Lake Superior PP. And that is a great oversight. There are very few camping spots in Ontario that can give any camper everything they're looking for. I am willing to wager that Lake Superior Provincial Park is one of those places. To list the most important features:
- Reasonable drive from Toronto (well - 8 hrs, but you can do it in a day)
- Numerous access points to observe the violent beauty of Gitchigumi herself
- Plenty of car camping and interior camping dispersed throughout the park
- Rich in interesting natural and human history (in fact, you can observe the native Canadian relationship with the area through the parks pictographs)
- A variety of hiking trails providing a range of difficulty levels, with rewarding vistas
- Incredibly scenic drive along the Trans Canada highway through the park
There is something for everyone here. And it's bound to provide you with some of the best quality experiences of whatever it is that you seek.
|Mijinemungshing Lake put-in|
While I was waiting for the situation to improve, a car pulled up with a friendly man and woman in their 70s from Northern Michigan, a pair of retired teachers. They came to a similar conclusion as I did, to wait until the winds become a bit more hospitable before their leisurely afternoon paddle on the lake. The gentleman had visited this area 20 years before with his late wife and mentioned how impressed he was by the park (which I found surprising, given that they were from Northern Michigan - I had just assumed a similar experience could be found on the other side of the border). He mentioned that the loons on Mijinemungshing Lake would let you to paddle right up next to them, and that the fishing was good here. "But there don't seem to be any loons here now", he said wistfully. He seemed to be attempting to recapture the experience of his visit to Lake Superior all those years ago and I really hoped he would be able to.
We both looked out onto Mijinemungshing in silence for a few moments while the wind pressed against our faces. It seemed to evoke memories of his late wife: "Coming back to this lake, you know...it brings everything back". I clumsily mumbled something like "I can imagine", but it made me think about all the times I had spent with friends and family camping in the outdoors and how they produced deep, vivid memories that can fuse the sentiments towards your traveling partners with the beauty of these places. The quality of the memory seems to be enhanced by majesty of the location, and I guessed that a splendid spot like Mijinemungshing would provide rich, detailed emotions entwined with the feelings you have about the people you experience it with. It made me briefly wish that I wasn't paddling solo, but later I realised that my time here will give me a fond memory of introspection and solitude that I could always come back to, something that would be valuable in the days when I was daydreaming about the Ontario woods.
Tent pads can turn into above-ground swimming pools
if the rains get heavy
I filtered some water and poured a mug of rye, then sat and looked out at the lake. Mijinemungshing was everything I was after; a good-sized, quiet lake with plenty of interior campsites, just a short distance off of the Trans Canada highway. It's possible to portage deeper into the backcountry from Mijinemungshing, but I just didn't have the time; I was on a mission to see as many of the parks between Toronto and Thunder Bay as possible in the 10 days that I had off and I hoped that what I learned about these places would inform future trips back to Ontario. Indeed, I realised that I would have to come back to Lake Superior another time to explore the many backcountry camping opportunities it provides.
There are tent pads at the sites on Mijinemungshing, in addition to privies, picnic tables and fire pits; all the backcountry comforts that you desire from a provincial park. The water is crystal clear. You can get a sense of wilderness and seclusion, even though my closest neighbour was only 50 metres away. The stargazing is splendid. The effort to get here is minimal, where you can go from the dock to setting up a campsite in less than an hour. Everything a lazy interior camper in search of serenity can ask for. The only thing that left me wanting was the short amount of time I had to spend there.
|Loon on Mijinemungshing Lake|