Hiking in Neys Provincial Park

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.


52 thoughts on “Hiking in Neys Provincial Park

  1. kagould17 says:

    Good fortune to get some bear sightings when you are not surprising them and they are not surprising you on a trail. Looks like this may be a problem bear hanging around the campground mooching. Not a good thing for the bear. Great scenery as usual along Superior. Thanks for sharing. Stay well. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I had mixed emotions about seeing the bears at Neys. Who doesn’t enjoy (safe) wildlife sightings!? But on the other hand, it’s not good to have bears wandering around the campground and becoming used to people and their food. Even though there are signs posted to warn people that we are in bear country, some campers don’t take it seriously. Thanks for reading. Take care.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Neys is one of my favourite places in Ontario. There’s a nice sandy beach, a variety of scenic hiking trails, and great wildlife encounters. What more could you want while camping? And yes, glad I was right outside the washrooms when I saw the mama and her cubbies in the meadow. I wouldn’t want to come between them. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. Lookoom says:

    It’s true that the parks along Lake Superior look a little alike, but you always manage to add a distinctive touch, whether it’s a footbridge, the Group of Seven, a moose or this time the bears. This gives a comprehensive view of the area.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. It also helps that this is the second road trip that I’ve taken around Lake Superior this year. I was pleasantly surprised at how incredibly scenic this area is. There are some great hiking trails and wildlife sightings. Hoping to return next year.

  3. Oh, the Places We See says:

    Neys does look like paradise since it combines forest and water and beach. What a great place! I’d love to see bears as you did, but only at a safe distance. I don’t run fast enough to elude a bear, for sure!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’ve only ever seen bears before while driving, which is great because I’m inside the safety of a vehicle. This was the first time I’ve seen bears on foot, which was incredible and incredibly terrifying. I was comforted by the fact that we were in a campground with other people around. Otherwise I’m not sure I’d be able to get much sleep if we were in the backcountry!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I certainly have more of an appreciation for the Group of Seven after visiting some of the landscapes that inspired their work. I knew they were Canadian, but had no idea how much on an impact Northern Ontario had on their paintings.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The landscape in Neys is breathtaking and so completely different than what we have in Toronto. And yes, we were so lucky to have seen not one bear sighting, but two! That certainly was one of the highlights of our road trip. Thanks for reading.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We had such great wildlife sightings on our Northern Ontario road trip. Thankfully we only ever saw black bears while driving or in the campground at Neys and not when we were hiking. We did encounter a moose while hiking earlier in the summer though, which was both exciting and terrifying all at the same time.

      • Christie says:

        Indeed, you need to be careful when too close to wildlife. We have never seen a moose, either in East or North, but never too late, maybe next year😉

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        We’ve only ever seen a moose twice. Once in Newfoundland and the other back in July when we were visiting Lake Superior Provincial Park. It was pretty incredible. We’re glad both of those were safe encounters. My ideal wildlife sightings are along the road when we’re driving. Hopefully you’ll be able to see a moose someday! They are very impressive.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I always have mixed emotions about wildlife sightings. I’m both excited and yet scared to encounter something big like a bear or a moose. Luckily I was in the campground, and help was close by. I’m not so sure I’d be as thrilled if I was on the trail by myself or camping in the backcountry!

      • winteroseca says:

        I definitely understand that. I saw an Instagram reel once of a bear chasing a car, which looked pretty scary! Speaking of moose, if you ever travel to Montana, their signature beer is called Moose Drool. Never tried it, but my Dad’s from Montana, so whenever I see someone from there, I mention it

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I guess it’s better to be chased by a bear when you’re in a car than on foot! That sounds terrifying. Thanks for the recommendation for Moose Drool. I had a good chuckle when I read that name. It sounds so cute!

  4. Angie says:

    Great photos of the bear, glad you are safe! Here in the northern forests of Saskatchewan, my family and I used to go tenting when I was growing up. We encountered many bears and were fortunate we never got hurt. Only once there was a very close call.
    About a month ago a lady from a neighboring village was killed by a bear while out camping. Just a case of being in the bear’s territory at the wrong time.
    Stay safe while enjoying the beautiful wildlife!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I have a love/hate feeling when it comes to bear sightings. I’m happy to see them from a distance or along the side of the road when driving, but anxious to encounter them while hiking or in the backcountry. It’s always sad to hear about bear attacks and a stark reminder that when we enter the forest, we’re in their territory.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We had such a great routine in Neys where we would hike in the morning and swim in the afternoon. And while it’s great to see bears in the wild, it’s never a good sign to have them lingering around the campground.

  5. Ab says:

    Thank you for this additional post about Neys. It’s definitely on our wishlist next summer. What a beautiful park and I love it’s volcanic origins. And how AMAZING that you got to spot a bear not once but twice. I can definitely understand your apprehension and being on guard. 🙂 But what a cool encounter. Ahh, I’m missing that beautiful Lake Superior view right now.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m glad we had the chance to return to Neys over the summer and spend more time there. It’s such a great park that has a little bit of something for everyone, whether it’s a nice beach, hiking trails, or a quiet campground. You can’t go wrong with adding this to your itinerary for next summer. And yes, I felt quite lucky to have a double bear encounter and was able to observe them from a safe distance.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure, there is something here for everyone. It also helps that it’s a relatively small campground in the middle of nowhere, so the beach and trails are never really busy. I imagine things may change next year. The Ontario government has started branding 2021 as the year of the staycation. And yes, always happy to have a safe bear encounter!!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thankfully it was our last night in the park, otherwise I’m not too sure I’d get much sleep either. A few years ago, we abandoned our campsite entirely due to a pack of coyotes. I was even ready to leave my tent behind. We were camping in the off-season in November and were the only people in the park and probably the only people around for miles. Never again.

      • Diana says:

        Scary! We had a frightening moose encounter while camping this past summer too… I guess it’s bound to happen to all of us at some point. At least we all made it out in one piece!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Woah, I’ve never heard of a moose encounter in a campground before!! I always have such mixed feelings about encountering wildlife. It’s incredible and incredibly terrifying at the same time.

  6. Janet says:

    I can see why the Group of Seven found inspiration here, it’s so pretty. And nice bear photos! As I sit here and read this, I’m chilled by the thought that you went swimming in that cold water. LOL Of course, it was warmer then than it is now.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I knew that the Group of Seven were Canadian, but I had no idea how much of an impact Northern Ontario had on their work. It was neat to walk in their footsteps and see some of the rugged landscapes that inspired them. The shower facilities were closed this year because of the pandemic, so we forced ourselves to go in the water so we wouldn’t be as stinky. Not sure it worked. Ha.

      • Janet says:

        I used to have no problem getting in the cold water when I was younger. I don’t know what happened. Now I can’t stand the cold. LOL

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Same!! We had a pool growing up and would often go for a quick celebratory dip whenever we opened it for the summer. The water must have been around 60F. Now it’s a struggle to get in the water unless it’s bathtub temperature.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for the kind words. We’ve sure had a lot more free time this year because of the pandemic to go hiking and explore new trails in our home province of Ontario. Thanks for reading and commenting. Take care.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      This park certainly has it all. And the best part is that the campground is relatively small and it’s located in the middle of nowhere, so the beach or hiking trails are never really busy. Thanks for reading.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. It’s been fun exploring more of Ontario this past year (one of the unintended benefits of the pandemic). Neys was definitely one of the highlights. Thanks for reading.

Leave a Reply