Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: September 2021
Esker Lakes Provincial Park is located in Kirkland on the edge of the great continental divide between the Arctic and the Atlantic watersheds. Here the waters of the lakes in the north half of the park flow to James Bay and the Arctic Ocean, while those in the south drain towards the Great Lakes and eventually the Atlantic Ocean.
The landscape in Esker Lakes and the surrounding area was formed during the last Ice Age. An esker is a long, narrow ridge that is made of layers of sand and gravel and snakes across the land. Esker Lakes has no shortage of eskers and is home to the largest esker in Ontario, the Munro Esker which winds through most of the park. The park also includes other glacial remnants, such as kettle lakes, erratics and sand dunes. Esker Lakes provides a number of activities to explore and enjoy the landscape, including canoeing, fishing, swimming, hiking, picnicking, camping and birdwatching.
We pulled into the park in the mid-afternoon and drove to the sheltered picnic area to make a late lunch. We fired up the BBQ and made some burgers and strategized where we should spend the night. We had booked a campsite at the nearby Kettle Lakes Provincial Park, but the weather forecast was calling for 15mm of rain overnight. We weren’t too keen to set up camp in the rain or spend the remainder of the evening trapped inside our tents. Plus we all were a bit tired from the previous night of dealing with noisy campers at Finlayson Point. It didn’t take much convincing, but we booked a last minute hotel room in Timmins.
The main beach area is located near the picnic shelter. While waiting for our food to cook, I made a little detour to check out the water. Despite the fact that it was the Labour Day long weekend, there weren’t many people at the beach or in the park.
After eating lunch we went to go for a hike along the Lonesome Bog Trail (1.5km loop, rated easy). The trail is mostly along a boardwalk and winds around Sausage Lake and through a bog. Sausage Lake is another remnant of the last Ice Age and is actually a kettle lake, a depression that was formed by the retreating glaciers.
The trail winds through the forest and passes jack pine, black spruce, tamarack and other trees and plants that are typically found in a bog. There’s also a series of eight interpretive panels that provide more information about the history and geology of the area and the flora and fauna that can be found in the bog.
The trail also features a scenic lookout that provides sweeping views of the bog, Sausage Lake and the surrounding area.
As we were nearing the end of the trail it started to lightly rain. Afterwards we decided to quickly hike along Prospector’s Trail (1.4km, rated easy). The trailhead is located across the road from Lonesome Bog, so we figured why not. Besides, we were staying in a hotel so we didn’t mind getting a bit wet.
Except it started to rain harder. The trail follows along the shore of Panagapka Lake and meanders through the forest. Since the trail itself is not particularly all that scenic, we turned around at the fish cleaning station and headed back to the car.
Once we wrapped up our hike, we figured we might as well move on and get settled into our (warm and dry) hotel room for the night.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here