Length of stay: 3 day
Visited: August 2020
I know I say this about a lot of Ontario’s provincial parks, but Neys really is one of my favourites. It is located along the northern shore of Lake Superior and features a beautiful sandy beach. Some of the campsites are located close to the water and even have their own path down to the beach. Neys also offers a number of hiking trails that weave through the different landscapes in the park, including ancient dunes, dense forests, pebble beaches, and rocky overcrops. These rugged landscapes in Neys provided much inspiration to the Group of Seven painters.
We had such a fabulous time in Neys earlier in the summer on our first Northern Ontario road trip that we decided to come back. This time for three nights. We spent the previous night at Pancake Bay Provincial Park and after a day of hiking in White Lake Provincial Park, we arrived at Neys just before 8p.m.
We picked up our park permit and a bag of firewood and then headed to our site to set up our tent. Afterwards we walked down to the beach to watch the sunset.
When we returned to our site, we started a fire and made dinner. We could still hear the waves from our site. It’s not a bad way to fall asleep.
Day 1: There’s nothing like a nice swim after a long day of hiking
We spent the day hiking in Pukaskwa National Park. By the time we returned to Neys it was just after 4:30p.m. We went to check out the visitor centre, but it was closed for the season due to the pandemic. We’re glad we came here though as we found another “Moments of Algoma” installation. The sign described how the north shores of Lake Superior, including the area that is now Neys, provided much inspiration to the Group of Seven paintings.
Afterwards we returned to our campsite to eat a snack and change into our bathing suits. We then walked down to the beach to go swimming. The water was chilly, but it sure felt nice after a long day of hiking. With shower facilities closed for the season, this was the only way to wash off all the dirt, sweat and bug spray.
We then returned to the campsite to make dinner. We went to bed shortly after as we were pretty exhausted.
Day 2: Ancient Dunes
We spent the morning hiking at Rainbow Falls Provincial Park, which is located about an hour west of Neys. We returned to Neys at around 1:30p.m and on the drive back to our site, K dropped me off near the comfort station. As I’m walking along the road, a couple of other campers informed me that there’s a mama black bear with three cubs nearby. I stayed back and chatted with them for a bit, trying to spot the bears, but couldn’t see them. After waiting around for about 10-15 minutes, I continued walking to the comfort station, all the while keeping my eyes peeled for signs of the bears.
Sure enough, as I approach the comfort station, I can see the bears in the meadow behind it. I took a few pictures of them and stayed close to the washroom door in case I needed a quick escape. I watched them for a few minutes until they disappeared deeper into the forest.
When I returned to the campsite we made some lentil soup for lunch. We headed back out later in the afternoon to hike along the two shorter trails in Neys.
We started first with the Lookout Trail (1.6km, rated moderate). The trail is well signed with blue markers with a white hiker symbol. The path winds through the forest before leading up onto a granite ridge, which provides sweeping views of Ashburton Bay and the surrounding area. The trail then weaves down the ridge and back through the forest. Towards the end of the trail, the path leads through some sand dunes before looping back to the parking lot.
We then hiked along the Dune Trail (1.3km, rated easy), which loops around an ancient sand dune system. Towards the end of the trail, the landscape becomes more representative of the boreal forest.
Afterwards we returned to our campsite and went swimming. The water was no longer as wavy as yesterday, but it was still cold.
We then returned to our campsite to make a fire and eat dinner. We roasted some peppers and corn on the cob on the fire. For dessert, we picked up a small pumpkin pie the day before and heated that up on the fire as well. After dinner we headed down to the beach to watch the sunset.
Day 3: Pic Island Overlook
I woke up early this morning as I had to use the washroom. On my way back to the campsite, I saw a black bear cross the road near our site! I walked a bit further down and saw the bear sniffing around in a nearby site. I stealthily took a picture and backed off to give it space. I then returned to our site to wake up K, but by the time K got out of the tent, the bear had already moved on.
Since we were already up, we decided to get a start to our day. We decided to pack a light breakfast and hike the Pic Island Overlook to the Point Trail (10.5km loop, rated moderate with some difficult sections). The trail consists of four separate trails, along with a small road portion, that join to form a larger loop.
The last time we hiked this trail, we parked at the trailhead for the Pic Island Overlook Trail and started our hike there. When we finished the four trails, we then had to walk a few kilometres along the road to get back to the car. There was minimal shade cover, so this time we parked at the trailhead for the Point Trail and walked along the road portion first to get that out of the way.
From the trailhead of the Pic Island Overlook Trail (4.5km one-way, rated moderate), it’s a steady walk up an old road that leads to a lookout of Pic Island. There’s a gazebo here with seating and another “Moments of Algoma” sign, which explains how Pic Island and the surrounding landscape that is now Neys inspired The Group of Seven’s Lawren Harris’ famous painting, Pic Island, in 1924.
Once we reached the gazebo, we took a break to eat the light breakfast we packed and just enjoyed the views. We had the place all to ourselves and it was lovely.
The next part of the loop follows along the Kopa Cove Trail (2.6km one-way, rated very difficult), which was rough and tough and mostly downhill with lots of steep sections. The trail weaves through the dense forest, passes some rocky overcrops and ends at a small beach.
The beach marks the start of the Under the Volcano Trail (2.5km one-way, rated difficult). There’s also a campsite marker here and a picnic table. We took another break and sat on a piece of driftwood on the beach.
The terrain along the Under the Volcano Trail isn’t as challenging as the Kopa Cove Trail, but still involves some rolling hills and hiking through rocky areas. The path leads to another beach and rocky area before ending at a scenic lookout along a rocky overcrop near the shore of Lake Superior.
This marks the start (or end) of the Point Trail (1.0km one-way, rated easy). There are a few old boats scattered on the rocky outcrop with a sign that explains more about their history. These boats 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 in the Pic and Little Pic River valleys.
From here it’s a relatively easy hike back to the parking lot. We wrapped up our hike at 11:30p.m and drove back to the campground to make lunch and pack up our tent. We left Neys at 12:45p.m and from here it’s a 2 hour and 45minute drive to our next stop along our road trip: Lake Superior Provincial Park.