Esker Lakes Provincial Park

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

36 thoughts on “Esker Lakes Provincial Park

  1. says:

    A fish cleaning table!? Don’t see those on hikes too often! We always like walks through wetlands – you always get the feeling you are completely surrounded by wildlife which you can’t see, but they know you’re there!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      There’s a few provincial parks in Ontario that have fish cleaning stations, but I think this is the first time we’ve seen one along the trail. I love hiking through wetlands for that very reason as well. Thank goodness we visited during the fall though, as wetlands are usually such a hot spot for mosquitoes and flies earlier in the year!

  2. kagould17 says:

    The sign of a seasoned camper is when they know enough to book a hotel during major rain. This does look like an interesting are to hike. Hiking in boggy areas is best done in spring or fall, with no skeeters around. Have a very Merry Christmas. Allan 🎅🎄❄️

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      After spending most of our vacation days in a tent these past two years, we had no issues ditching our campsite and splurging on a last minute hotel room to avoid the bad weather (and grumpy moods if we had stayed). The hike through the bog was one our favourites during our trip. It’s always neat to learn more about the types of plants and animals wetlands support. And yes, a huge bonus to visiting in the fall was that there were no pesky mosquitoes around. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Enjoy the rest of the holidays. Linda

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The parks along this stretch in Northern Ontario are all charming and (best of all) not crowded since they’re quite remote. I find it so interesting to learn about how the landscape was shaped by the glaciers as well. I was surprised that this area is so sandy, which worked out well as the trails were never muddy or flooded considering all the rain we got.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Northern Ontario is such a special place. It’s always nice to avoid the crowds and just enjoy nature. The parks were all very well maintained and the campers in general were quiet and very respectful. If this pandemic is still out of control by next summer, we may just have to return to Northern Ontario!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      This was one of my favourite hikes during our two week Northern Ontario road trip. I find wetlands so fascinating. I’m such a fan of boardwalks as well. I find it nice to walk on a flat surface sometimes, not have to worry about tripping over rocks or roots, and can therefore focus more on my surroundings.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It sure beat sleeping in a tent! It looked so miserable outside as it was cold, windy and very rainy. And yes, always glad to add another park badge to my collection. I recently discovered that Ontario Parks has a holiday pop-up store. I was able to buy all the badges that we missed out on from either visiting during the off-season or because the parks were sold out. Hope you had a Merry Christmas yesterday. Enjoy the rest of the holidays. Linda

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I have just over 80 badges now, which is pretty impressive. If this pandemic is still in full force next year, we may just have to spend our time trying to collect the remaining ones! Glad to hear you had a good Christmas. It’s hard to believe that this year is almost over. Looking forward to whatever adventures lie ahead for 2022.

  3. Ab says:

    Did you have a sausage at Sausage Lake? 😆

    I love that a park in Northern Ontario connects to the Arctic Ocean somehow. So amazing and humbling how we are all interconnected somehow!

    Wishing you and K a Merry Christmas!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      That would have been so fitting to have a sausage at Sausage Lake. I still get a good chuckle when I hear that name. Who comes up with this stuff? It is pretty amazing how many of the lakes and rivers in Ontario are interconnected and how they eventually make their way into either the Arctic Ocean or Atlantic Ocean. All the more reason to keep our rivers and lakes clean.

      Hope you had a wonderful Christmas yesterday. Enjoy the rest of your holidays and time in New Brunswick.

  4. Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

    Sometimes you just have to take a hotel for the night. It definitely turned out to be a good call, especially being tired from the noisy night before. Looks like a good hike, and a little wet is no problem when you have a place to dry off.
    I’ve been wondering what you do, Linda, as you seem incredibly knowledgeable about geography, geology and biology. (I also understand if you don’t want to say so here.)
    Season’s Greetings. 🎄

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It didn’t take much convincing to abandon our campsite and trade up for a hotel room instead. We were a bit worried about availability given that it was the Labour Day long weekend, but we had no issues finding something last minute that was reasonably priced. It was meant to be.

      Despite the weather, the Lonesome Bog Trail was quite enjoyable. I’ve come to appreciate parks that have storyboards or interpretive panels along the trails that provide more information about the history of the park and geology of the area. I’m actually an economist who is very curious and enjoys learning and spending time in nature 🙂

      Hope you had a merry Christmas yesterday and are enjoying your time in Penticton.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I love hiking along a boardwalk through the wetlands, except in the spring and early summer when the bug situation is usually out of control. Thankfully it was fall which meant the trail was quieter and there were no bugs. It was nice that there were storyboards along the trail that provided more information about the wetlands and the types of plants that are commonly found in the area. Hope you had a happy Christmas as well. Enjoy the rest of the holidays!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The best kind of trail! It was nice to have the boardwalk all to ourselves, even if the weather was gloomy. It was a lovely hike and a nice way to learn more about the importance of wetlands and the types of plants that can be found here.

  5. ourcrossings says:

    As I have always loved boardwalks, I had my eyes peeled to your photos of the Lonesome Bog Trail. I hope you had a lovely stay at the hotel, Linda! Warmest thoughts and best wishes for a wonderful Christmas. May peace, love, prosperity follow you always 🙂 Aiva xx

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The Lonesome Bog Trail was one of my favourites on our Northern Ontario road trip. It’s nice to not have to worry about tripping over rocks or roots and instead you can focus more on the surrounding scenery. After seeing what the weather was like for the remainder of the afternoon and evening, we had no regrets. It was cold, windy and rainy. We would have been miserable if we stayed in our tent.

      Hope you and your family had a happy Christmas as well. Enjoy the rest of the holidays. Cheers. Linda

  6. travelling_han says:

    It looks beautiful – we have a park here in England with some really good bog trails and I love the variety of nature you can see there. Though it’s a definite summer destination for me, you were sensible to get that hotel room 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I love trails that wind through the wetlands. It’s amazing how much life they support and how different the plants are compared to when we hike through the forest. We had a lot of rain during the first week of our road trip, but thankfully we were able to dodge the worst of it by ditching our campsite to stay in a hotel a couple of times. There’s nothing worse than setting up or taking down your tent in the rain and then everything remains wet.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m such a fan of trails with a boardwalk. It’s always a good sign that the trail is going to be easy and I don’t have to worry about my shoes getting muddy. It looked so miserable outside even as we were driving to our hotel. There’s nothing worse that setting up in the rain when it’s already cold outside. Everything gets wet and there’s no opportunity to dry anything off. I’m so glad we were able to find something last minute.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s been fun learning more about the geology in Ontario and how the landscape was shaped during the last ice age. I didn’t mind the rain too much knowing that we were heading to a warm and dry hotel room for the night!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Even though the weather wasn’t ideal, we made the most of it and still managed to go on a couple of hikes. If anything, the weather probably kept the crowds away so we had the park mostly all to ourselves!

Leave a Reply