Hike #37: A.Y. Jackson Lookout Trail

Distance hiked: 2.1km
Location: Sudbury, Ontario
Date: August 10, 2020

A.Y. Jackson was a famous Canadian painter and a founding member of the Group of Seven. He often drew inspiration from many of the landscapes in Northern Ontario, including Onaping River in Sudbury, which is depicted in his “Spring on the Onaping River” painting in 1953. There is now an overlook of and trail around Onaping High Falls that is named after Jackson.

There’s a significant geological feature at this site as well. High Falls plunges over the lip of the Sudbury Basin, which was created 1.85 billion years ago when a meteorite crashed into the Earth. Scientists estimate that the meteorite was about 10 to 15 kilometres in diameter and travelling at a rate of 40km per second when it smashed into the earth, punching a hole 35km deep into the crust and creating a crater 250km across. As a result, the Sudbury region is rich in copper nickel resources. So rich in fact that it is home to the largest concentration of mines anywhere in the world.

We spent the last two nights camping at Windy Lake Provincial Park. We woke up bright and early and after eating breakfast, packed up our tent and continued onwards on our Northern Ontario road trip. On the way through Sudbury, we made a short detour to hike along the A.Y. Jackson Lookout Trail.

The trailhead is located right off Highway 144. Near the parking lot there are some historic mining equipment which were used from the Levack Mine. The mine was discovered in 1888, began production in 1913, was closed during the depression and sustained some damage during a fire in 1929. Operations resumed in 1937 before closing for good in 1999. It operated for a total of 78 years.

There are also a few large samples of rocks from the different mines in the Sudbury region. Each contains a plaque that provides more information on the type of rock and from which mine they were extracted.

Near the trailhead there’s a scenic lookout of Onaping High Falls. There’s a viewing platform including a a plaque that provides more background information about A.Y Jackson and his “Spring on the Onaping River” painting. Two years after Jackson painted this picture in 1953, it was purchased by a group of students and placed in the Sudbury Secondary School. Shortly after Jackson’s death in April 1974, the painting was stolen and as of date, has not been recovered.

There’s another sign to indicate where the trail continues. The trail is well marked by a series of yellow markers on the trees and red circles outlined in white on the rocks.

There’s another viewing platform in a couple hundred metres, providing another nice view of Onaping High Falls.

From here the path becomes progressively more rugged and involves scrambling over large rocky overcrops and around large boulders. But the path continues to provide nice views of the falls along the way.

The path then crosses the bridge over the falls and continues through the forest to form a 1km loop. We rather foolishly forgot to bring the insect repellent and tried to hike this part as fast as possible to avoid the mosquitoes. Except there’s no outrunning the mosquitoes.

The trail loops back to the bridge, which we crossed over, and hiked back the way we came to the parking lot. Overall it took us about an hour to complete the hike.

From here we resumed our Northern Ontario road trip. On the drive through Sudbury, we made another detour and stopped at the Big Nickel. The nickel is a 9 metre replica of the Canadian nickel and the largest coin in the world. It’s located at the Dynamic Earth science museum, which was temporarily closed this summer due to the pandemic.

From here, we drove to the next stop on our Northern Ontario road trip: Pancake Bay Provincial Park.


My progress on the 52 Hike Challenge can be found here

24 thoughts on “Hike #37: A.Y. Jackson Lookout Trail

  1. kagould17 says:

    I can see how this spot would inspire the artists. Beautiful location for sure and a welcome respite from what Sudbury used to be. I have only been to Sudbury twice, once in 1973 when the rainy sky was black and orange from the mines and smelters and then we just drove quickly by in 2018. Thanks for sharing what the area has to offer. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      On our first Northern Ontario road trip we just drove through Sudbury as we weren’t expecting much. For our second visit, we made a few detours in and around the Sudbury area and were pleasantly surprised at how much there is to see and do. We would have liked to visit the Dynamic Earth science museum, which offers an underground mine tour, but unfortunately it was closed for the season due to the pandemic. Thanks for reading.

  2. Diana says:

    What a pretty place and with a neat history! Also I had to chuckle at the “largest coin in the world” designation. It’s funny, the silly tourist attractions you stumble across.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Ha. Those silly tourist attractions certainly work to get people to visit. That big nickel was the reason we drove through Sudbury and finding this trail along the way was just a bonus. I’d say it worked out pretty well.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Haha, yes. We were feeling pretty confident with ourselves as it was late in the summer and we figured how bad could the mosquitoes be? Rookie mistake. The scenery more than made up for it though.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I have such a newfound appreciation of the Group of Seven (and Ontario!) after visiting many of the landscapes that inspired their work. I still find it hard to believe that all this scenery exists in my home province. Despite living here for my entire life, this is the first year I’ve taken the time to explore it.

  3. Ab says:

    That is quite the beautiful view and lookout! I will definitely include this in our next trip to Sudbury. And my high school was named after AY Jackson – and it wasn’t until our summer roadtrip that I saw the wonderful nature that inspired the works of the Group of Seven.

    And you can’t visit Sudbury without seeing that big coin!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Same. I knew the Group of Seven were Canadian, but never fully realized that they drew so much of their inspiration from the landscapes right here in Ontario. It was neat learning about their history through all those “Moments of Algoma” signs along the way. Can you believe that we skipped the big nickel entirely on our first Northern Ontario road trip? Glad we had the opportunity to come back and were able to spend some time in and around the Sudbury area.

  4. ourcrossings says:

    Know I know where the largest coin in the world is located 😀 this looks like a great hike. I love the gushing river and the viewpoints. Can’t believe someone would steal a painting from the school. Intrigued by the unusual story, I had to use Google to see what the painting looks like. He was such a talented artist. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 😊 Aiva

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      And come to think we only stopped in Sudbury to see the coin, glad we found this hike along the way. I’ve always enjoyed trails that provide signs with more information about the history of the area and viewing platforms. And agreed, sad to hear that someone would steal a painting and that after all these years, still hasn’t returned it. Take care.

  5. Lookoom says:

    Nice pictures of the waterfall. I also like the references to the Group of Seven and the geological details, they are quite amazing information.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      This was such a great area that we stumbled upon while driving from Windy Lake to Sudbury. It was neat learning about the geological history of the area and how it also provided inspiration to the Group of Seven. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I had so much fun learning more about A.Y. Jackson and the Group of Seven along our road trip. I had no idea how much of an impact Northern Ontario had on their work. And agreed, sad to hear that his painting was stolen from the high school. Not cool.

  6. alisendopf says:

    I can’t believe the painting was stolen!!! That’s terrible. Some people… Still – you got to see the place where it was painted AND the giant nickel. I have heard about the nickel for years. Lucky you for making the effort.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s pretty sad that someone would steal a painting from a school. What a monster. We actually missed the big nickel on our first road trip through Northern Ontario, but made sure to visit the second time around. I was pleasantly surprised at how much there was to see and do in the Sudbury region.

Leave a Reply