Hidden Gems for Adventurous Hikers

There are many hidden gems waiting to reward the hiker who is willing to go a little further off the beaten path.

Often, making an extra effort pays off with big rewards. The same is true when it comes to hiking on a visit to Northwest Ontario. While visitors to Thunder Bay and the North of Superior region are constantly rewarded with spectacular vistas and views of nature around virtually ever corner, the rewards can be even bigger when one goes the extra distance.

There are many hidden gems waiting to reward the hiker who is willing to go a little further off the beaten path or who is willing to get up an hour earlier than everyone else. Among the hidden gems in the Thunder Bay area are Red Rock Falls, which is nowhere near the town of Red Rock but, instead, is located along the Wolf River about 30 km north of Dorion; and the virtually private beach of Middlebrun Bay in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

Located along the Wolf River, is the kind of waterfall that one often sees only in movies or which a person dreams their whole life about being able to experience. Red Rock Falls looks like something you would expect on a romantic deserted island. Imagine a 30-foot-high waterfall that you can actually walk under! That's Red Rock Falls. A driving distance of about 100 km east of Thunder Bay, this is worth the trip.  

In Dorion, turn North onto Fish Hatchery Road and travel approximately 26 km. After crossing a third bridge, make a right turn and travel an additional 2.3 km and park where the road makes a sharp left turn. The trail is easy to find on the right and the falls are a short walking distance. Good hiking boots are essential as there is a steep climb down along a ridge with loose red sandstone. Conveniently, previous hikers have provided a climbing rope to help those making the trip down to the river. Once there, visitors can actually walk under the falls in the summer, but be careful... the rocks can be slippery. While there, enjoy a refreshing swim in the whirling pool.

For those seeking a more relaxing destination, Middlebrun Bay at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is a secret you may not want to share. Located on the East side of the Sibley Peninsula, facing the open waters of Lake Superior, the large shallow bay and long sandy beach make this the perfect destination for anyone wanting to spend a full day relaxing and, possibly taking a dip in Lake Superior.

The bay is an easy 45-minute hike from a large parking lot and trailhead near Silver Islet, the once famous silver mining hamlet at the tip of the Sibley Peninsula. As you step out of the bush and onto the beach, you will immediately be captivated by the warm sand beach that stretches for close to one kilometer. Situated on a shallow, horseshoe shaped bay, the water here can warm up enough to make swimming comfortable on nice summer days.

Despite its beauty, few people visit Middlebrun Bay, leaving enough room for those who do to enjoy plenty of privacy and a near exclusive experience. Bring a picnic lunch and the beach blanket, and plan to spend the entire afternoon. Read a book, catch some rays, or just relax and let your mind wander.

rb Beach Middlebrun Bay

Don't forget to bring along a camera and binoculars, as it's not unusual for ships to pass close enough that you can hear their propeller blades chopping through the water. On a perfectly clear day, you can also see Isle Royale National Park, which is located in the U.S. state of Michigan, 25 km away.

Many more rewarding destinations await those who take the time to get off the beaten path. Just don't tell too many others.

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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