Marten River Provincial Park

Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: July 2021

Marten River is located just north of North Bay and is considered the southern gateway to Temagami, Ontario’s wilderness region. It features towering old growth pines, rocky outcrops, sandy beaches and has a reconstructed winter logging camp. It also offers a number of recreational activities such as swimming, canoeing, hiking and camping.

We spent the previous three nights at Windy Lake Provincial Park and it was time for us to move on. From Windy Lake it’s about a 2 hour drive to Marten River. While it rained for about the first half of the drive, thankfully we were able to escape the rain … for now. We arrived at the park just before 11a.m.

It was overcast and the forecast was calling for rain throughout the day. We figured we might as well start hiking while it was still dry. There are three interconnecting trails in Marten River: the Short Loop (800m, yellow markers), Old Growth Trail (3.5km, red markers) and the Transition Trail (4.2km, blue markers). The trailhead to all three trails is located in the Assinika Campground and there’s a small parking lot that can accommodate 3 to 4 cars. The parking lot was full when we arrived, so we instead parked at the nearby parking lot for the bike trail and just walked a couple hundred metres to the trailhead.

We planned to hike along the Transition Trail which encompasses the other two trails. The trail winds through the forest of mature pine and leads to a lookout of Marten River.

All three trails have the same starting point and for the first stretch the path is marked by a series of yellow, red and blue markers. The trail is relatively flat, but there are some rough and tough sections with a few ups and downs and roots and rocks. There are also a few boardwalk sections to help even things out.

The turn offs for the Short Loop and Old Growth Trail are well marked. At the junction for the Old Growth Trail and Transition Trail, there’s an interpretive panel about how few of the world’s original old-growth pine forests remain. A very large white pine in Ontario in 1860 could reach 67 metres in height. Most mature white pines today reach about 30 metres.

We continued to follow the blue markers through the forest, which leads to the Marten River and a rocky outcrop. The trail then loops back through the forest and meets up with the Old Growth Trail and the Short Loop again. Once we saw the yellow markers, it’s a short stretch to get back to the trailhead and parking area.

Afterwards we drove down to the picnic area to have some lunch. We made a croissant sandwich and ate on a bench overlooking the water. One of the beach areas is located here, but it was a bit chilly outside and it looked like it was going to rain soon. We then headed out. But after driving for about 15 minutes, I realized we had totally forgotten about the logging camp. Naturally we had to turn around and check it out.

From the picnic area, we followed the timber signs to the historical logging camp. There’s a short trail (1.6km) which loops through the forest along an old logging road and passes a number of wooden buildings and logging equipment.

The area around Marten River was once used for logging in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The logging camp and museum were constructed in the park to replicate the type of seasonal logging camps that were common in Temagami and the north that lumberjacks would live in through the winter. Prior to the pandemic, Marten River hosted Lumberjack Days on the third weekend in July in celebration of those early days and included traditional food, demonstrations and a variety of logging contests and competitions.

The first half of the trail passes by a few logging buildings, including an office, bunkhouse, cookhouse, meathouse, horse stable, hay shed and blacksmith shop.

The second part of the trail passes by original artifacts and equipment from the logging era, including a wooden plow, water tanker, sleigh, jammer, crazy wheel, log boom, and roller.

As we were finishing up, it started to lightly drizzle. I’m glad we returned to explore the historical logging camp and learn more about the logging history in the area. From here we drove east towards Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park.


My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here

58 thoughts on “Marten River Provincial Park

  1. Kelly MacKay says:

    Looks like a great park, I have a friend that lived near North Bay and is very outdoors inclined. I must ask her if she has been here. Thanks for the tour of park and trials always interesting.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for commenting. North Bay is such a lovely area and offers an abundance of activities to enjoy the great outdoors. Marten River was quite lovely and I enjoyed strolling through the historical logging camp to learn more about the various buildings and equipment that were once used for logging in this area.

  2. Ab says:

    This seemed like an interesting park! The logging buildings and old equipment provide a nice historical experience.

    It’s always interesting to notice the unique nature, such as the taller white pines which don’t grow as high anymore. It’s nice that efforts are made to preserve these natural resources.

    Croissant sandwiches are the best! We make them when we go camping too. Goes great with sliced deli meat and cheese.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The historical logging camp was a neat way to learn more about how this area was once used for logging. It’s too bad the buildings themselves weren’t open, but it was fun to peek through the windows and see what was inside. There are also signs that provide more information about what each of the buildings and pieces of equipment were used for.

      I’m such a fan of eastern white pines. They are such magnificent trees. It is such a shame that many of the old growth ones were cut down and today they don’t grow as tall anymore. But good to preserve areas of them in the hopes that they can return to their natural state.

      Croissant sandwiches are definitely the best and are among some of our favourite lunches while camping. I usually put hummus and cheese on mine and K adds some deli meat to his. It’s funny because we started to make a meal list for our Northern Ontario road trip on the weekend and the first three days of lunches are croissant sandwiches.

      • Ab says:

        Your roadtrip is fast approaching! Sounds like you have a full plan for it already. It will be here before you know it! 🙂 Enjoy every moment and safe travels!!!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        We leave on Friday!! I’m looking forward to taking an entire two weeks off of work. It’s been awhile since I’ve taken this long of a vacation from work and am looking forward to just focusing on the simple things in life. Hopefully we’ll continue to have nice weather (and no rain). Best of luck getting T ready for school!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It’s hard to believe that we nearly missed the historical logging camp, which is one of the main highlights of the park. I’m glad we weren’t too far from the park and that we were able to turn around to check it out. It was neat seeing all the old logging buildings and peaking through the windows. It’s hard to believe that people once lived in log cabins like this and used those pieces of equipment. Logging sure looks like hard work!

  3. Island Traveler says:

    Beautiful serene greens. Been craving to hike but wife’s bday week so she gets to choose . But I may get lucky and find a train somewhere along the way. Happy weekend. ☀️🙏

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It was neat catching a glimpse into the past and trying to imagine what it would have been like to live here when this area was once used for logging. After seeing some of those pieces of equipment, all I can say is that being a lumberjack looks like hard work! Thanks for reading. Linda

  4. Rose says:

    Old growth forests are fascinating, they’re essentially living museums. Imagine what they have seen in their long years on this earth. Did you see any pine martens, or see or hear any pileated woodpeckers?

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It’s incredible to think just how old some trees are and what they must have endured over the years. I’m glad that some of these forests have been protected so that the trees can continue growing. We unfortunately did not see any pine martens, unless the picture of one on the park entrance sign counts. We also did not hear any woodpeckers. The forest was remarkably quiet, likely the calm before the storm, or rather rain.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The historic logging camp was easily the highlight of this park. It’s too bad the buildings weren’t open, but we were able to peak inside through some of the windows. This is such a cool way to learn more about the history of the area and about all the various pieces of equipment that were once used for logging. Looks like hard work! And yes, it’s always nice to add to my collection of park badges 🙂

  5. ourcrossings says:

    Looks like there’s no shortage of beautiful trails to explore in Ontario, Linda. It’s amazing to see how green everything is. As it’s back to school/work time for us, we haven’t been on any hikes recently. Might have to squeeze some in before the winter storms and moody weather arrives 🙂 Thanks for sharing and have a nice day 🙂 Aiva xx

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It amazes me just how many parks and trails there are in Ontario. There certainly is no shortage of options. It’s also neat to learn more about the history of the area while exploring these trails. We are leaving for a two-week road trip around Northern Ontario later this week, so it’s not quite back to work for us yet. All the best settling back into your regular routine. It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over. Enjoy the rest of your week. Linda

  6. annemariedemyen says:

    Interesting as ever! I would love those boardwalks. Tripping over roots and the like, not so much. 🥺.
    That logging camp is cool. My ancestors were loggers in Quebec. I have always thought that was pretty neat – especially since we have mutated into the least graceful bunch you can imagine.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. I’m such a fan of trails that involve a boardwalk. It’s great to not have to look at your feet the whole time to make sure you’re not tripping over any obstacles. That’s neat that your ancestors were loggers. After looking at all the various pieces of equipment that were used for logging, all I can say is that it looks like a lot of manual labour and hard work!

      • annemariedemyen says:

        I think so. My ancestors were a fascinating lot. My Mother’s family came to Canada to escape the king’s army (France) in the sixteen hundreds. My father’s family were officers in the king’s army (France). They came to Canada in the sixteen hundreds to round up deserters of the king’s army. 😂

  7. carolinehelbig says:

    But did you see any martens? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these critters. Looks like an interesting place. I like how they’ve preserved the old logging camp–such an important part of our history.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We did not, unless you count the picture of a marten that was located on the park entrance sign. They are such elusive creatures and I have yet to see one in person before either. The historic logging camp was a cool way to learn more about how this area was once used for logging. It was neat to read about all the various buildings and pieces of equipment and for what they were once used for.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It was surprisingly a lot of fun to walk through the logging camp and read more about what each of the buildings and pieces of equipment were used for. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like to be a lumberjack or logger back in the day. It seems like a lot of hard work!

  8. Lookoom says:

    I liked the logging camp, it’s good that it’s preserved. There is also a winter camp presentation in a section of Algonquin Park that you might be familiar with. It always seemed counter-intuitive to me that the camps were in the winter when one imagines the outdoor work to be in the summer. With this kind of presentation you can understand why it was the best time to cut and handle wood.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I typically venture into the backcountry whenever I visit Algonquin so I had no idea that there is a winter camp presentation there. It does seem a bit counter-intuitive for people to stay in those log cabins during the coldest months of the year. We’re planning on visiting Algonquin later in September to enjoy the fall foliage. We’ll have to check this out.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was neat walking through the old logging camp to catch a glimpse into the past and imagine what it must have been like to live and work as a lumberjack or logger. I’ve become a bit obsessed with trying to collect as many of these park badges as I can. They are beautifully designed.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The logging cabins were definitely the highlight of this park and a great way to learn more about the history of the area and logging. It’s too bad the buildings were closed, but we were could at least peak through the windows of some of the cabins. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Linda

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