In the Wake of August
There is a sense of urgency that accompanies the onset of autumn in Algoma. It’s not prompted by the need to prepare for winter. It has more to do with the desire to experience the explosion of opportunity that erupts in the fall.
The varied landscape of Algoma Country in Northern Ontario–encompassing a vast region of old-growth forest stretching from the north shore of Lake Huron to the eastern shores of Lake Superior–entertains outdoor recreationists at any time of year. And while many adventurers explore here through spring and summer it's the fall that's full of possibility–when days are still long and earthy hues of red, gold, and brown descend upon the land. Just a short day's drive from Southern Ontario, Algoma is the perfect spot to explore this fall.
Virtually all of the activities we enjoy through summer continue to flow throughout August’s wake. Whether it’s driving leaf-strewn roads or climbing to a towering granite lookout, we are nourished by the season’s harvest, warmed by the afternoon sun, and lulled to sleep through long cool nights. The intense yellows of tamaracks against the boreal forest and the rounded mountains of the Canadian Shield–that pulsate with the reddish-orange of hardwood forests–provide a beautiful background to our activities. And in Algoma Country the choices are plenty.
When Canada’s Group of Seven painted in Algoma Country, their keen artist’s sensibilities meant they often chose to visit in autumn. Today many of the landscapes captured by the likes of Lawren Harris, Arthur Lismer, and A.Y. Jackson remain part of an intact wilderness as vibrant and colourful as when these artists put brush to canvas 100 years ago.
We can immerse ourselves in the wildlands of the Group of Seven by capturing a broader perspective by road-tripping and hiking to all 19 Group of Seven interpretive panels spread across the Northern Ontario landscape.
With Algoma’s abundance of clean freshwater comes an abundance of fish. Popular game fish like trout, walleye, and smallmouth bass–which are caught all summer–only become more vulnerable in fall. As waters cool, trout run shallower and strike with aggression, walleye congregate in marauding schools, and bass can be pinpointed at depth on rock structures.
Additional opportunities arrive when fall rains and dropping temperatures signal the salmon to run up the tributaries of Lake Superior and Lake Huron. They are followed by opportunistic steelhead that keeps the hardiest of anglers entertained well into November. The autumn fishery accommodates fly anglers, spin casters, and downriggers alike and unfolds on urban waters like the famed St. Marys River Rapids in Sault Ste. Marie as well as in the wilderness waters of Algoma.
Choose between short and easy hikes to scenic falls or rigorous climb up precipitous bedrock to spectacular lookouts. Walk the rugged trails of Lake Superior Provincial Park to survey the brooding headlands of the big lake. Or opt to travel along lakes, rivers, and falls via the trails along Highway 129 north of Thessalon or the landscape around Elliot Lake.
Whether we like our hikes accompanied by a little sweat on our brow or strike a more relaxed pace, cooler temperatures help to propel us to destinations alive with colour. In Algoma, there is a long list of hiking trails that take advantage of the resplendence of autumn in all of the communities across the region.
In a land that holds such a vast quantity of water, paddling is a premier activity enhanced by the brilliant colours reflected on the surface of lakes and wild rivers. Sea kayaks are custom-made for quickly covering vast distances of Lake Superior and exploring her hidden sandy beaches and curious formations of sculpted rock. Stowed within these sleek craft is the food and camping gear that allows kayakers prolonged trips within the magical autumn coastline.
Canoe tripping is another option for paddlers who pitch tents on the shores of boiling rapids and silent glassy lakes for multi-day trips along the myriad of interconnected waters. Of course, those who prefer to keep their feet on dry land can camp in a wide variety of road-accessible campgrounds in the region and enjoy the same palette of autumn colours painted across Algoma.
Many of the trails that snake through the woods of the north are the realm of mountain bikers who propel themselves over paths that vary as much as the terrain. Choose between dedicated, single-track routes or travel a vast network of trails that host skiers and snowshoers later in the season. Road bikers love to travel the paved shoulders of main highways that link rural communities vibrant with farmers' markets, restaurants, and lodging.
For a breath of fresh autumn air, visit cycle-friendly regions like St. Joseph Island. Here a network of tranquil island roads undulates over rolling hills of maple and stretch arrow straight through agricultural lands where it's as common to spot deer as it is livestock.
Few activities are as synonymous with fall as hunting. In late summer the bear hunt kicks off the season in Algoma where bruins are plentiful and large. Ruffed grouse are the most popular small game and hunters walk or ride ATVs on old bush roads and forest trails for these tasty birds. Shallow bays, wetlands, and scattered fields attract huge flocks of migrating waterfowl that are virtually untouched.
The deer hunt prevails amidst the agricultural lands and brilliantly coloured hardwood stands of southern Algoma while the boreal forest to the north is home to one of the most coveted species of big game. There are few more exciting experiences than having a giant bull moose come to the call, but it happens every season here in Algoma.
In the wake of August, outdoor activities are just ramping up. When the pungent smells of autumn waft from the wilderness, there is no better time or place to nourish our souls than in Algoma Country.