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“A great hike, swim and wildlife sighting!”

Pukaskwa National Park
Ranked #810 of 3,887 things to do in Ontario
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Attraction details
Owner description: The hidden gem of Lake Superior’s north shore, Pukaskwa will transform eventhe most seasoned traveller. Rugged coastlines, serene sunsets, anddramatic Lake Superior vistas await.Home to Ontario’s premier wilderness hiking trail, the Coastal HikingTrail, the park also offers car campers unparalleled solitude and privacyat Hattie Cove Campground. In the Anishnaabe Camp, visitors can immersethemselves in local aboriginal culture through ceremonies and workshops.
Kittredge, Colorado
Level Contributor
55 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“A great hike, swim and wildlife sighting!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 31, 2013

Driving through Ontario we recently stopped at the park for an afternoon. GORGEOUS hiking trails, beautiful scenery and wildlife. We hiked the South Headland Trail around the coast and it took and through the forest, up mountainside and down to the bay and multiple beaches. Great photo opportunities, great for our 3 dogs and an overall excellent experience with very helpful park rangers. We even took a dip in the beautiful clear and COLD lake. We wished we had time for the Coastal Trail which takes you to a suspension bridge. We also were very impressed by the campsites and would love to spend time camping here in the future. We felt like we had the entire park to ourselves, we only saw two other cars...which I know added to the positive experience, but I don't think having to 'share' with others would deeply change how we feel about the abundance of nature and hiking at this Park.

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
5 Thank lisanichols20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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38 reviews from our community

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Alpena, Michigan
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Rugged and Beautiful!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 7, 2013

Pukaskwa is a special place...make sure you are in shape if you plan on hiking any distance on the trail. There are points where you can make great time and others where it slows right down. As others have mentioned, the weather can change the whole dynamics of the trip. With the lichen on the shoreline rock, you don't want to hike on it when it's wet. There are some great coves and sights...the chutes at White River and the suspension bridge is a million dollar view!!!! It's an amazing place, but you want to make sure you leave extra time for your trip, considering the potential for bad weather. If you are planning on taking the boat, Lk Superior can hold things up. We got hung up on a cove for a couple extra days waiting for the waves to settle down so that the boat could get to us...If you've hiked Lk. Superior Provincial Park, Pukaskwa has more hiking inland in the forest than the Lk. Superior Trail...gives a different feel to the trip. Gorgeous place! Just make sure to rent a satellite phone so you have contact out if needed; the SPOT system doesn't always work here.

Visited August 2012
Helpful?
5 Thank Swim_Upstream
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
8 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“Pukaskwa National Park Coastal Hiking Trail”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 8, 2012

Spent 5 days hiking the spectacular coastal trail in Sep 2012.

The trail provides coastal scenery without having to go to the ocean and it's all fresh water you can take anywhere. I found the distance chart on the park guide and map fairly good. I could have gone farther than I did but I'm glad I didn't since I had time to do more sightseeing without having to push too hard. I'm in good shape and an experienced canoe-tripper but this was my biggest hiking trip in years so I spent some time doing practice hikes and breaking in my boots and I was tired but not suffering in any way. The campsites are well developed and the toilets and food boxes are luxurious compared to the privy boxes and slinging food over tree branches I'm used to in Algonquin. One concern is that some of the tent pads are in depressions which I suspect will flood in heavy rain. One food box did not close tightly enough--it was bear-proof but not mouse-proof! There is no cell phone signal in the park but my mp3 easilly picked up an FM station in Marathon which gave local weather forecasts. I carry a SPOT messenger in case of a real emergency. Fall was a good time since there were hardly any people (I had every site to myself) and there were only a few mosquitoes in the evenings. Weather can be a factor and my first morning saw a fearsome thunderstorm. By the time I got checked in at the kiosk and on my way it blew over but I would have been hiding somewhere if I was out on the trail so it's wise to allow some extra time.

The park administration I found a little casual which is nice to an extent but I had a few occasions where they told me things that were not right (when the kiosk and visitor centre were open, etc) and there was a bit of a "northern time" feeling. To be fair, it was late season and things were winding down but I had no vehicle so just popping out to the kiosk or admin building was not feasible.

The first half-day gives a good preview of the trail; some relatively easy parts, some quite rugged. It gets progressively more difficult the farther you go. A few old sign posts but not very helpful. Some places marked only by small rock piles, some places you just have to look carefully for the path. A few confusing places they have piled branches across side tracks to help steer you. Nowhere did I lose the trail but you have to stop and look carefully in a few places. I kept my map and compass in hand all the way out just in case. I carried my gps but did not need it. Some sections cross open areas of bare rock or fields of boulders which would be treacherous when wet. I was fortunate that it rained a little at night but stayed mostly dry during the day.

Chrismar Adventure Map of Pukaskwa is highly recommended and is available at the park. There is a 1983 National Film Board film by Bill Mason about the park which shows some glimpses of the trail (including the old suspension bridge which is now replaced and a dangerous stunt crossing a river on fallen trees).

Day 1 hiked to White River, Hook Falls, lower campsite. Upper site was nice but difficult access to water. There is an old site right at the falls but it has no outhouse. Spotted a family of bears near the suspension bridge.

Day 2 hiked to Willow River. This is the first really coastal beach site and its beautiful. Water was cold but ok for a short swim.

Day 3 made a day hike out to Shot Watch Cove and back. There is an alternate loop that follows the coast out of Willow R and the views are wonderful but it would be quite slippery and hazardous in the rain.

Day 4 and 5 reversed my tracks back to Hattie Cove. I got back with lots of time to walk the short trails around Hattie Cove which are well worthwhile also.

I travelled to Marathon by Greyhound bus which is an adventure in itself and I would need a whole website to discuss everything that's wrong with Greyhound. Then I took a taxi to the park which cost $50. Another nasty suprise; Bell Mobility (and many others) do not have coverage from Sault Ste Marie to at least Thunder Bay (I could fill another web page about Bell). A water taxi is available so you can make a one-way trip but that's cheatin', and it costs $650 (which might be manageable if split among a larger group) and of course you have to be sure you can make the full distance you planned.

This hike was the trip of a lifetime and I'm already planning a longer trip to do the water route by sea kayak.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
24 Thank skibumpete
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Center City, MN
Level Contributor
22 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Absolutely beautiful!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 24, 2012

I want to go again and stay a few days. We only drove through and stopped at the canoe launch for a short while but I wished we had made plans to camp here. It was gorgeous. Hard sandy bottom, clear water, beautiful scenery.

Visited August 2012
Helpful?
6 Thank janeo1653
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
st. catharines
Level Contributor
357 reviews
82 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 358 helpful votes
“what an amazing place”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 4, 2011

My thoughts still go their daily, it is soooo beautiful words cannot capture the magic of this area. The wildlife is abundant bears, deer, rabbits and bird migration was in full swing. The scenery is breathtaking and unlike any park we have been to before.
We had such a great time on the hiking trails, the highlighting of Ojibway traditions and culture along the trails is beautifull and meaningfull . Spiritually it was an uplifting experience, to take the time and absorb the messages that were being presented.
We spent 2 days there this time and will definately travel there again.

Visited September 2011
Helpful?
12 Thank rodney01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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