Family Friendly Hikes on Superior's Northshore

Visitors who explore the Dorion Trails are guaranteed to see a moose!

The Dorion Trails consist of two short trails – the Brunner Trail and the Harris Lake Trail. The two trails offer family friendly, relatively easy hikes for those looking for a quick stop on their travels along the Lake Superior northshore on a visit to Northwest Onrtario. Both are accessed from the same trail head, just one kilometre west of the Township of Dorion, between Thunder Bay and Nipigon.

The Brunner Trail loops through a mixed forest and over exposed bedrock that is part of the Canadian Shield.  It is an easy 2.2 km (1.4 miles) that is suitable for all hiking skills and families with children old enough to lift their feet over roots and rubble.  The highlight is a lookout that includes a bench made from logs and an expansive view east over the town site of Dorion and onto Black Bay in Lake Superior. 

The Harris Lake Trail is a half-kilometre (.3 miles) branch off the Brunner Trail.

Both trails are well defined and well marked.  I hiked the trail one week before the May long weekend and there still weren’t any leaves on the trees yet.  Once the leaves are in full foliage, some of the signs, particularly at the trail head and at intersections, may be partially obscured, so it’s important to watch closely for them.

The trails also gain nearly 270 feet in elevation which may be challenging for novice hikers.  However, several well placed interpretive signs provide ideal spots to stop, learn about plant or animal life and catch your breath before moving on.

Harris Lake is quite small and access to the shoreline is obscured by brush.  It may be a great place to catch a glimpse of wildlife, but is not suitable for swimming and there are no spots along the shoreline for picnics. 

The lookout is the best place to sit back and enjoy a picnic lunch.  And it’s here that you are guaranteed to see a moose – although a handcrafted moose placed by the trail’s developers. 

The trails are short enough to enjoy if you are just passing through and only have a few hours to explore; or as part of a full day that could also include stops at Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park, Eagle Canyon Adventures, or Hurkett Cove Conservation Area.   

To get to the trail head, from the Trans-Canada Highway turn onto the Dorion Loop Road, then turn west onto Brunner Road and follow that for exactly one kilometre.  The trailhead, which has a small parking lot, is at the top of the hill on the right side of the road.

About Richard Boon

Richard Boon is a Thunder Bay native who spends much of his spare time hiking and doing nature photography.  He is a past member and hike leader with the Thunder Bay Hiking Association and a former broadcaster..

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