Neys Provincial Park

Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: July 2020

Neys Provincial Park is located on the northern shore of Lake Superior. Its rocky shores are home to many subarctic plants because of the cold and rough water of the lake. Despite the frigid water, the park features a gorgeous sandy beach. There are also a number of hiking trails that weave their way across different landscapes in the park, including ancient dunes, dense forests, pebble beaches, and rocky overcrops. These rugged landscapes of Neys provided much inspiration to the Group of Seven painters, most notably Lawren Harris’ and his most famous piece, Pic Island.

Neys also has a rich history. During World War II, the area that is now Neys Provincial Park was used to hold mostly German prisoners of war between 1941 to 1946. Prisoners of war from Neys Camp 100 provided some of the labour for logging in this area in the Pic and Little Pic River valleys.

We arrived at Neys just before 6p.m. We managed to book one of the coveted sites close to the beach (#65) and had our own pathway that led to the beach. We could even hear the waves from our campsite. We set up our tent and made some gnocchi on our camping stove for dinner. Afterwards we checked out the beach and made a fire.

We woke up around 7a.m and wasted no time getting up. After breakfast we set out on an ambitious hike from Pic Island Overlook to the Point Trail (10.5km loop, rated moderate with some difficult sections). The trail consists of four separate trails that connect together, along with a small road portion, to form a larger loop.

We started at the trailhead for the Pic Island Overlook Trail (4.5km one-way, rated moderate). It was a steady ascent up an old dirt road that leads to a Gazebo overlooking Pic Island. This island, and surrounding landscape inspired The Group of Seven’s Lawren Harris’ famous painting, Pic Island, in 1924.

From the overlook, the trail turns into the Kopa Cove Trail (2.6km one-way, rated very difficult). This is easily the most challenging section of the hike and is a steep descent through the forest to the shoreline. The trail ends at a small sandy beach covered in driftwood and turns into the Under the Volcano Trail (2.5km one-way, rated difficult).

The trail is still rugged, but is much more scenic and provides great views of Lake Superior along the way. One billion years ago, the area along the Under the Volcano Trail used to be an active shield volcano. When the glaciers receded, the top layers of the volcano were stripped away.

The Under the Volcano ends at a rocky point jutting out on Lake Superior and turns into the Point Trail (1.0km one-way, rated easy). There are a few old boats scattered here that were used in the mid 1940s by the Pigeon River Timber Company to haul workers and supplies to logging camps that were located up the Pic and Little Pic rivers. Prisoners of war from Neys Camp 100 (which is now Neys Provincial Park) provided some of the labour for logging in this area.

From here it’s a relatively short and easy walk to Prisoners’s Cove, which marks the end of the trail. But not the end of the loop. We had to walk along the road for a couple of kilometres back to the parking lot for the Pic Island Overlook Trail.

We finished up our hike shortly after 12p.m and returned to our campsite for some lunch and to take a break. In the mid-afternoon, we headed back out to hike along the remaining two hikes in the park, both of which are relatively short.

We first hiked along the Dune Trail (1.3km, rated easy), which loops around a sand dune system. The trail features some of the unique plants of the dune environment. Towards the end of the loop, the landscape changes from a sand dune system to be more representative of the boreal forest.

After that we hiked along the Lookout Trail (1.6km, rated moderate). The trail leads up onto scenic rocky highlands and provides a nice view overlooking Ashburton Bay. The trail weaves through a variety of habitats including thick spruce forests, bare rocky exposures and sandy dunes.

Afterwards we returned to our campsite to go for a (well deserved) swim in Lake Superior. It was cold, but surprisingly not as frigid as Pancake Bay. There was a warm layer of water at the top and colder on the bottom.

We walked back to our site along our private path to the beach, got changed, and started a fire to make dinner. We hung around the campsite for the remainder of the evening and went to bed around 9p.m.


32 thoughts on “Neys Provincial Park

  1. kagould17 says:

    Looks like there is something for everybody here, views, beaches, dunes and great hikes. We did love our hikes along Superior most, when we drove across Canada. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. We were not surprised to see that some of the RVs in the campground had a seasonal pass for the park and planned to stay for the entire summer. It’s a small park and it’s located in the middle of nowhere, which means it never really gets (or feels) busy. And there’s a great range of activities and beautiful scenery. Most of our favourite hikes this year have been along Lake Superior. It’s such a beautiful area. Thanks for reading.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I love Neys. It is hands down one of my favourite parks in Ontario. We ended up coming back to Neys in August since we had such a fabulous time here in July (and to see other parks we didn’t have time for on our first road trip). I bet it would be beautiful here in October when all the leaves are changing colour. But probably cold.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s not hard to take a nice picture when the landscape is so stunning. I had such a great time in Neys, and around Lake Superior in general. It certainly helped that we had fabulous weather and wonderful views along the way. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m glad I had the opportunity to (finally) visit Northern Ontario. We did spend a lot of time driving, but it was so nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of Toronto. It was very peaceful and relaxing. None of the parks ever felt busy and we had no issues social distancing on the beach or trails, which is quite the opposite of parks close to home. Thanks for reading.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Why thank you. We had such a lovely time at Neys that we decided to come back later in August. It is quite the drive to get here from Toronto, but was well worth it to escape from the city. There is certainly something here for everyone, whether you enjoy beaches, hiking, hanging around your campsite, or viewing wildlife. Neys has it all. And it’s not crowded!

  2. ourcrossings says:

    Wow, just look at that lush green forest and golden sand beach! This sounds like a great place to camp and hike for couple of days. Given the parks location, I’d say it would be a perfect place for stargazing. Love reading about your hikes and I can’t wait to see some autumn photos. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 😀 Aiva

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We loved our time at Neys that we decided to come back later in the summer and stay for longer. And yes, because it’s in the middle of nowhere, it was a great spot to look up at the night sky. Now that summer is almost over, I can’t wait for the leaves to start changing colours. We’re hoping to do a bunch of hiking this fall. Thanks for reading.

  3. carolinehelbig says:

    I’m enjoying your posts about Lake Superior. There’s so much beauty there. I regret not having spent more time exploring this area when I lived in Ontario. Thanks for taking me there. I had forgotten about those beautiful beaches.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s hard for me to believe that if it weren’t for the travel restrictions, I likely wouldn’t have visited Northern Ontario. I’m glad I took this road trip along Lake Superior as it’s such an incredibly beautiful area of the province. I regret not visiting sooner. And yes, hard to believe that there are such beautiful sandy beaches along Lake Superior. I just assumed the shoreline would be all rough and jagged. It certainly was full of good surprises.

  4. William Wise says:

    Love the photo of the old boats. I bet they’d make for some great artistic photography if you have the time and right light. Great journal; thanks for posting. William

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The rocky outcrop with all the old boats was beautiful, especially against the backdrop of Lake Superior. And agreed, I bet they would make for a good photo op with the right time and light (and season). Thanks for reading and commenting.

  5. alisendopf says:

    I have always wanted to spend an entire summer canoeing Ontario’s lakes. Seeing this gorgeous scenery makes we want to spend more time on the great lakes. Thank you for your local knowledge and expertise! It’s possible to Wander around Canada and never get bored!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Canoeing around Ontario’s lakes is such a great way to explore the province’s wilderness. It’s also nice because you can pack a bit more when canoeing to your campsite rather than backpacking. We’ve been canoeing a lot these past couple of years that we’re thinking about buying our own canoe next season. Many thanks for reading and commenting.

      • alisendopf says:

        Oh yes! You can eat so much better with a canoe 😀 My wedding present was a cedar strip canoe handmade by my father-in-law. I think it was meant to go feral on Ontario lakes.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        We seem to bring more stuff (especially food) every year on our canoe trips. We certainly eat well. What a lovely wedding present! Hopefully one of these summers you’ll be able to use it to explore Ontario’s many lakes. That would mean giving up those beautiful mountains out west though!

  6. Ab says:

    Beautiful. We didn’t stop by Neys other than for a quick few minutes. I will make a note to explore more next time. Sounds and looks beautiful.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I know that I’ve been saying this about many of the provincial parks along Lake Superior, but Neys really is one of my favourites. The campground is lovely (especially if you manage to book a site along the beach), there are a variety of great hiking trails, and the beach is gorgeous (even with all that driftwood). I would highly recommend returning. We ended up coming back later in the summer and stayed at Neys for three nights. That’s how much we loved it here.

Leave a Reply