Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park

Each Canada Day long weekend is typically a mass exodus from the city to cottage country, and this year was no different. Located three hours drive north, and about 30 minutes east of the city of North Bay, Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park was the site of my third camping event of the summer season. The Mattawa Valley forms the backdrop to the park, an important part of the historic fur trade route that links up with the Ottawa River further east. It is also located next to the Mattawa River Provincial Park.

Samuel de Champlain Park

Our campsite and home for two nights.

Samuel de Champlain Park

Calm waters of Moore Lake, adjacent to our site.

As is usual for holiday weekends, the park was very busy but we still managed to pre-book a spot near the water. Compared to other parks, the sites were quite small and offered little privacy, but everything generally clean and well serviced. It was raining when we arrived, so we had to pitch the tents in the wet – luckily it cleared up shortly thereafter, and we had great weather for the remainder of the weekend.

The Etienne Trails

There are a couple of hiking paths in the park, the most longest being the Etienne Trails, a set of loops spanning the southern shore of the Mattawa River. We chose a long route (the Nature Loop, approximately 8.5 km over moderate terrain) which combined with the access to the trailhead resulted in a good 13km trek. It took us through dense forest and rocky cliffs with good views overlooking Long Lake and The Gut. This was a hike with plenty of ups and downs, made more challenging by the warm weather and seemingly never-ending mosquito assaults.

Samuel de Champlain Park

The trailhead, about 3km from our campsite.

Samuel de Champlain Park

Wetlands and lots of mosquitoes. Ugh!

Samuel de Champlain Park

Long Lake at the beginning of the trail.

Samuel de Champlain Park

Some portions had boardwalks over swampy areas.

Samuel de Champlain Park

A small pond – and more mosquitoes.

Samuel de Champlain Park

The Etienne Trails – Geology, History, and Nature Loops.

Samuel de Champlain Park

Working our way though the forest.

Samuel de Champlain Park

A lookout point over Long Lake – and one of the few spots with breeze.

Samuel de Champlain Park

At the far end of the loop, some relief in the cool water where The Gut meets Mattawa River.

Samuel de Champlain Park

The narrow bridge crossing that links the northern and southern sections of the Nature Loop.

Samuel de Champlain Park

The Gut waterway.

Samuel de Champlain Park

If only I had brought swim trunks…

Samuel de Champlain Park

Mushroom ragout for dinner? Better not.

Samuel de Champlain Park

Overlooking Long Lake near the end of the trail.

Samuel de Champlain Park

Thick forest at the end of the hike.

Starry Starry Nights

The rain and overcast skies on arrival gave way to wonderfully clear skies for the remainder of the long weekend. Combined with a moonless night, this was a great opportunity to get some shots of the Milky Way. With ever-present light and air pollution, too many city dwellers never get to see the true beauty of the skies above us. Plant yourself in a camp chair and gaze in amazement at natures most spectacular backdrop. It’s worth the drive up north.

Samuel de Champlain Park Samuel de Champlain Park Samuel de Champlain Park Samuel de Champlain Park Samuel de Champlain Park Samuel de Champlain Park

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Location and Route Map

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