I've done portions of this trail to maximize the amount that I could get covered in only a few days.
I started on the northern part of the coastal trail off of Gargantua Road. The road is about 40km of dirt road. Graded enough so that even small cars can get through with carefull driving around the potholes and rocks.
There is a small parking lot with a good trail map and information board. Check before heading on the trails for any wildlife in the area notices.
The trail leading north to the backcountry campsites are wide and makes for an easy hike to get set up at one of the nearby campsites.
The campsites are located just off a beautiful beach with gorgeous sunset views.
If you settle in here and go exploring further north to Warp Bay, Devils Chair or Chalfant Cove, give yourself about 2-3 hours to return to your campsite. The trail gets fairly narrow after leaving Gargantua Harbour, but opens up with slight inclines. (keep your eyes open for bears)
The trail to Warp Bay gets a little tricky to follow after you cross the bridge, keep your eye's peeled for trail markers.
The southern most parts of the trail are well worn and see alot more usage by day-hikers. As well the more southern campsites feel alot less backcountry as you can still see/hear cars passing by on the nearby highway.
Overall, great trails to explore. I would definately go back with a fellow hiker to help carry gear to hike the trail in its entirety.
If travelling south from wawa, continue past the park border. The Park office will be on your left.
Continue further south and you will see signage for Gargantua Road on the right.
Follow throuh until the end of the road.
The entire park is well signed and decently mapped.
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Posted By: Princess Otto
- Tue Sep 07 07:41:20 EDT 2010
UpsideFabulous views, lots of solitude, varied trails, great camp sites. Definitely coming back for repeat visits. Even with an 11 hour drive, this part of Canada is worth exploring. We loved it.
DownsideTricky footing; need to keep an eye out for trail markers
CommentWe did not walk the whole of the Coastal Trial tin Lake Superior Provincial Park but did several sections over a series of day hikes, followed by a three day backpacking trip into Beattie Cove and then Ryolite Cove. The Trail is stunning. It is mostly on the shore line but with sections in land cutting across headlands. The coastal sections are a mix of scrambling over large slabs of stone and beach crossings. The beaches can be tricky with many requiring boulder, or worse â??bowling ballâ?? hopping. The result is sometimes very challenging walking (you need to watch every step), slow progress (you spend a lot of time climbing in and out of small coves), and magnificent scenery. We loved it and loved the fact that we could mix up day hiking with shorter backpacking options.
Backpack route: Orphan Lake to Beattie Cove for 2 nights; day hike from Beattie Cove to Ryolite
We wanted to see Ryolite Cove because of its interesting geology but were not able to access it from the north because Gargantua Harbour was suddenly closed (because of some ceremonies taking place). We backpacked from the Orphan Lake trail head to Beattie Cove in the first day. The route down from the car park to Bald Head river is an easy 45 minutes, but the first half of the trip along the coast to Beattie Cove was much slower going. Traversing the stone shelves and stony beaches with backpacks on our (my) unfit legs was slow and not easy. It took me a while to get comfortable with the tricky footing and balance. The last section leading to Beattie Cove though is a comparatively easy and quick section with several long stints in the trees on relatively straightforward, comfortable paths. It took us about 3-4 hours from the car park to Beattie Cove including a lunch break.
Beattie Cove is a delight. Its a big sandy cove with camping for 4-5 tents and an outhouse. The water, in late august, was great for a refreshing swim. We stayed for two nights and were the only campers the first night.
Beattie Cove to Ryolite â?? we attempted this as a day hike and did not make it all the way to Ryolite. After about 4 hours (or so) of hiking, we were in eye shot of the cove but our feet and our dog voted to have lunch on a large, diabase rock shelf not far from the cove itself. Iâ??m not sure we were entirely disappointed not to have made it (we estimated we needed another 30 minutes to reach Ryolite). The hike from Beattie to Ryolite was varied and fascinating. There are some challenging sections particularly going over Bear Hill. We lost the path in a few places, including coming down the north side of Bear Hill. There are also longer sections along rock outcroppings with few cairns to direct and confirm the path. We probably lost about an hour because of our diversions. On the way back, we could easily see where we went wrong and in both cases, there were signs (if we had seen them!!) to let us know the correct route. The shore line north is quite different in sections than in some of the southern sections we explored â?? but this is a tricky part of the Trail and we were glad not to have our packs on for this section!
Orphan Lake â?? this is a primarily forest walk that takes you down past a pretty (comparatively) little lake and onto a large sweep of stony beach on the shores of Lake Superior. The basic hike has you coming down onto and then north along the beach for a short section and then circling back up to Orphan Lake and the parking lot in a small loop. The Park brochure gives this basic hike a time of 2-4 hours with 2 hours being quite comfortable in our experience.
We used this hike to explore parts of the Coastal path and principally south up to the top of Bald Head, one of the highest, if not the highest â??headland crossingâ?? along the Coastal Trail (but not, by any means, the hardest climb along the Trail!). The walk along the beach and up to Bald Head was a great introduction to the Trail and the various look-out points on the hill provide spectacular views. There is plenty to explore heading in either direction of the shore line from where the Orphan Lake path dumps you out. As you head north and along the return route to Orphan Lake you go past a tempting sandy spit, then past a few bridges that take campers and backpackers further north along the Coastal Trail, and, staying on the Orphan Trail, alongside the Bald Head River with some waterfalls further on.