Wild Northerner Magazine Summer 2017 - Page 56

I was feeling the heat. It was a hot and muggy July afternoon. My wife, Arielle, and I had just made it to Three Island Lake on the Hawk Ridge Trail in Halfway Lake Provincial Park. We were about eight-kilometres into the excursion and we needed a break from the blistering sun.

We took off our packs and drank water by the shoreline. It was +35C. I got down to my underwear and dove into the lake. It was refreshing and relieving. I looked across the small bay and about 70-yards away was a healthy adult black bear. He was roaming the opposite shoreline.

The bear came down to the lake. It had the same idea as me. It needed to cool off. The bear waded into the lake and proceeded to swim right past, no more than 40-yards away.

It did a few circles and enjoyed the effects of the water before coming out on the same side of the shoreline as us. The bear then disappeared into the forest.

It was one of those moments you instantly appreciate and never forget.

It was all because of my two feet and a heartbeat.

Arielle and I saw a lot of neat things on our overnight hike of the Hawk Ridge loop. The system makes it way through a section of the park that was hit by the powerful storm in 2002 that flattened mature trees. There are a couple of scenic look outs, including the one over Three Island Lake, which, alone, makes the hike worthwhile. We also saw huge concentrations of ruffed grouse. At one point, we had to stop walking because the grouse were moving across the trail right between our legs. It was neat.

My family and I spend a lot of time hiking trails in northern Ontario, especially provincial parks. It is absolutely one of the finest ways to enjoy nature in my opinion. It provides healthy exercise and opportunities to connect with nature and wildlife.

The hiking trails within parks of the Ontario Parks system are second to none. There are guided and self-guided hikes and interpretive hikes in many parks. It is a low-cost and fairly easy way to get outdoors and soak up some wilderness.

Here’s a look at a few parks in northern Ontario that offer outstanding and multiple options for hikers making it a heaven. Every park has trails, so check out ontarioparks.ca for additional information and find out what experiences are available in a park near you or one you will visit this summer.

Hiking the summer away

BY SCOTT HADDOW

Wild Northerner staff