Hwy 11 and hwy 17
One week to drive Haileybury, Esker Lakes PP, MacLeod PP, Nagagamisis PP and Lake Superior PP
We decided to spend a few days without the trailer and sleep in the Jeep. After all, we have the Sleeping Platform and all the gear that make this possible. Before we had the camping trailer, we were vacationing in a tent. We booked three nights at MacLeod Provincial Park, followed by two nights at Lake Superior Provincial Park. It didn't exactly play out as we planned.
We started Saturday, July the 10th after a hearty breakfast at Daylight Grill, only a few minutes from where we live. We left Mississauga after rush hour. The drive north on Hwy 400 and 11 was all at the speed limit and we arrived in Haileybury just in time for an early dinner. Or was it a late lunch? The Whiskeyjack was open, a culinary treat every time we go there.
Esker Lakes Provincial Park
The first night was a coin-toss. We either find a spot at a Provincial Park or we camp on Crown Land. The Esker Lake Provincial Park had a site available and we opted for the comfort of a flush toilet and chopped firewood in a bag.
A few years ago, we picked up a used tent at an auction for $2. Yes two dollars. Now was the opportune moment to actually use it. This is the Outbound Dome Tent for $45 from Canadian Tire (2021 prices) and can fit two people. I left the Jeep Sleeping Platform to Ursula and slept in the tent. We both had plenty of room for a good night's sleep.
The first night was memorable. Well, minus the mosquitoes. We walked to the beach and watched the fireflies. The night in the tent was peaceful and quiet, with the occasional foot steps from some small critter. Sleeping on the ground in a tent does not muffle any sound at all. Some of them get your imagination going, the crack, thump, swish sounds could be anything
We had to rearrange some of the equipment, they were just in the wrong box or bag. By the second night, we had the system worked out almost perfectly.
MacLeod Provincial Park
We booked a site for three nights, right at the lake. When we made the reservation, the view on the lake was the selling feature. As it turned out, this was the most amazing misadventure. Lets start with the amazing part. Several duck families came to visit. The lake is home to white pelicans and did you know that bald eagles can swim? Read about all the amazing encounters in MacLeod PP or use the Next Page button at the end of the page.
On the misadventure side, the wind was blowing and made shelter impossible. Hiding behind the Jeep means to share the space with millions of mosquitoes. The haze from the forest fires filtered the sun. The forecast was calling for rain.
We are too old for this. A unanimous decision was made to leave this place early. We headed back to Hearst. and made the glorious proclamation "Lets stay a night in Hotel 8". Sipping on a cold beverage on the hotel patio and the revised activities for the next days took shape. They were simple, sleep in a soft bed, take hwy 583 to Hornepayne and camp at Nagagamisis Provincial Park.
One minor discord with a logging worker when we were told that we are driving on Private Property. And this is how it happened.
The 583 heads south from Hearst. The first 30 km is paved and then changes to packed gravel. Immediately after a railway crossing, big signs made the traveler aware of active logging. The 583 to Hornepayne is about 130 km in length. We crossed several lumber trucks and eventually ran into a worker in a big pickup truck. "Are you lost?" he asked. "Yes, on purpose" we answer. And then the BS started. "You are driving on private property. We have communication between all drivers and know exactly where they are". Before we met the 'friendly' worker, we already decided to turn around because of the boring road and unbelievable dust from the big trucks. We knew that this is NOT private property and had no intention to converse with the individual. He was clearly either misinformed of full of it.
The information we found about logging roads. Logging takes place mostly on Crown Land. The companies have a lease to harvest the timber. Many of the roads were built with our tax dollars, and that includes the 583 from Hearst. The short version, it is not private property. The area the friendly worker was labeling as private property is about 50 by 50 km and includes lakes and rivers. Small sections are leased to the company.
Everybody can access Crown Land for the activities listed in the Crown Land Use Policy Atlas. If it leads through a leased area, the company has to grant access to areas on or beyond the leased land. This is a very general statement and sometimes the road is just closed to public access (it is still not private property). The 583 is not one of them, we just missed the exit to the bridge.
Before you enter Crown Land, make sure you have the correct local information. Large areas are protected or reserve lands. You can find more information in the Great Canadian Outdoors
The 583 is paved from Hearst to Jogues, Coppell up to the railway crossing. This is were we saw the logging road information. We didn't take pictures from the ominous signs. Their placement suggested that the 'No Trespassing' referes to the yard and fields, and not to the roads. No matter how you look at it, the 583 continues to the bridge over the Kabinakagami River at 49.2867 -84.2335 and eventually to Hornepayne. The bridge was closed to long vehicles as the sign suggests.
A pile of dirt blocked the access to the bridge but a bypass for 4x4 vehicles was in place. We walked over the bridge and looked back at our Jeep. The surface was ok, it could carry the Jeep and the frame was solid steel I-beams. Two pickup trucks parked on the other side and this was a good sign that the road continues to Hornepayne. We abandoned our expedition and returned to the paved 583.
We still had to drive to the Nagagamisis Provincial Park, about 100 km from Hearst.
Nagagamisis Provincial Park
Possibly our most favourite camp site in Ontario. The lake is great for swimming and the sunsets are spectacular. The park is north of Hornepayne on the 631. There is no electricity and no cell phone reception. The 631 has countless side roads to explore.
Read all about the area on our Nagagamisis PP page or use the Next Page button at the end of the page.
Lake Superior Provincial Park
We had a reservation for two nights on the Rabbit Blanket Campsite. We took our time to get there and arrived mid afternoon. It turned out that our program was packed. With only one full day, we had no time to waste
We took the Gargantua Road to the beach. This is 14 km on a packed gravel road. This is a starting point to the Coastal hiking trail. It is a typical Lake Superior beach with round pebbles of all sizes and colours. It is possibly a great starting point for canoe or kayak as well, the coast is rugged with small islands and inlets.
We spent most of the day exploring the park and returned to the camp site for a late lunch. There was no cloud in the sky and the smoke from the forest fires blew away. At eight we decided to watch the sunset at Old Woman Bay. Our last evening was one to remember. Read about it at Old Woman Bay or use the Next Page button at the end of the page.
We had an early start on our last day. The drive home was long, but we couldn't leave without visiting the Agawa Rock Pictographs. When we looked at the parking lot the day before, the number of parked cars was not very appealing. We knew that the trail was narrow and had no intention to move in a herd. The early morning start rewarded us with a quiet and undisturbed trail. Read about it at Agawa Rock or use the Next Page button at the end of the page.