Pukaskwa National Park

Around the lake we go!  From Sault Ste. Marie, we headed through the border into Canada (no problems at the border crossing) and continued north and west to Pukaskwa National Park.  Now, before you mis-read this entire blog post, we will go on and correct your pronunciation.  It is pronounced puck-a-saw.  We have no idea why.  We don’t make the rules, we just follow them!

Parks Canada red chairs on Hattie Cove, right outside the visitor center.

This is a gorgeous national park right on the shores of Lake Superior, and while the park is rather large, the areas you can drive to and utilize for day-use purposes are pretty small.  We were here for four nights, three full days, and we hiked every trail except one that is listed for day hiking.  We could have worked that one in, too, had Heather’s hair dryer not decided to choose this time to shoot sparks and die.  Part of one of our days was spent seeking out a replacement. 

You should know that late May is still very early in the tourist season around here.  The park entrance kiosk and one loop of the campground opened on May 15.  Nothing else, including the visitor center, second loop of the campground, or canoe rentals will open until June 15 and the interpretive programs (ranger programs for those of us from the U.S.) won’t begin until July 1.  Things could actually probably stand to open up a bit earlier.  The campground was full or nearly full for our entire visit and we saw a fair number of people enjoying the trails, so it seems like there is enough interest.

Now, let’s get to the fun stuff.  Like we said, we hiked all the day hiking trails except one.  We hiked the Boardwalk Beach, Hattie Cove Fire Walk, Beach, Manito Miikana, and Southern Headland Trails.  We also did the part of the Coastal Hiking Trail that goes to the White River Suspension Bridge, but we will talk about that in a minute.  As for the others, they are gorgeous!  They explore the shoreline area of Lake Superior near the campground and visitor center.  These trails took us high above the water for extensive views in every direction, as well as down onto the beaches along the bays and coves.  We enjoyed seeing lots of rocky coastline as well as driftwood littered sandy beaches.  And for most of our visit, we enjoyed dazzling sunshine glittering off the surface of the water.  The exception was the last day when we hiked the Southern Headland Trail.  The attitude had definitely changed!  The wind was roaring, the sky was overcast, and the lake was more churned up, giving everything an unwelcome, yet ruggedly beautiful look.

Now for our hike to the White River Suspension Bridge…  Wowsers!  It was a tough one.  This was one challenging hike!  According to our GPS, it was roughly 10.5 miles total, and they were not easy miles.  There were so many sections of rocks to climb up, over, and around, tons of tree roots to navigate through, and so much mud!  There was also way more up and down than we expected.  After getting through over five miles of this, it culminated at the White River Suspension Bridge with the Chigamiwinigum Falls below.  To us, from the bridge, the falls look more like a cascade – or even rapids or white water – rather than a traditional waterfall, but either way, there was a lot of water flowing, and the river seemed so very powerful!  We enjoyed the area for a bit, then began the difficult walk back.  All in all, we were on the trail for a total of about seven hours, and we were both exhausted by the time we returned to the Bigfoot.  We definitely do not regret doing the hike, but wonder if the reward was worth the effort.  For sure, since we have now seen it, we would not do it again if we ever came back this way.  Have you done this hike?  Do you think it is worth it?  We can’t make up our minds…

Our thoughts on Pukaskwa…It is gorgeous! The shoreline is varied and beautiful, and with the amazing weather we had, we thoroughly enjoyed our time! We really loved that all the hiking could be done right from the campground, too. If we hadn’t had the pesky hair dryer errand, we wouldn’t have driven the truck at all during the four days we were here. We do wish more had been open during our visit. We would have loved to have rented a canoe and gotten out on the water a bit and we always enjoy visitor centers and interpretive programs. All in all, it was a great visit and a beautiful park.

Our time at Pukaskwa has wound down and we are now back in the U.S. exploring the North Shore in Minnesota! Check back in a few days to see what we think about it as we continue our trek along the Lake Superior Coast!

Until next time!

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