Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: September 2021
Kettle Lakes Provincial Park is located close to Timmins in Northern Ontario. The landscape in the park was shaped during the last Ice Age. Gigantic ice chunks were left behind by retreating glaciers and buried beneath glacial till, which created a depression, or kettle. The ice eventually melted to form a small deep lake. There are 22 lakes in Kettle Lakes and 20 of them are kettle lakes.
We initially planned to spend two nights at Kettle Lakes, but we ditched our campsite the night before to stay in a hotel in Timmins as it was cold, windy and rainy. We slept in and took our time getting ready in the morning. We arrived at Kettle Lakes just before 11a.m.
After checking into the Park Office to pick up a badge and permit for our campsite, we then went on a couple of hikes, starting with the Oh-Say-Ya-Wah-Kaw Trail (2km loop, rated moderate). The trail is named after the Cree name for “sand ridge” as much of the trail and park is located along an esker. As the ice melted during the last Ice Age, a stream carrying sand and stones flowed through the glacier. The heavier stones dropped to the bottom of the glacial stream while the lighter sand particles settled on top creating this sandy ridge.
The trail loops through the forest and along rolling hills. It also passes by Paxton Lake and Leece Lake. The path is marked with a series of arrows to point you in the right direction and contains a number of interpretive signs that provide more information about how the landscape was shaped during the last Ice Age and the types of flora and fauna that are commonly found in the area.
We then hiked along the Wintergreen Trail (1.5km, rated moderate) since it was located nearby. The trail circles Island Lake and passes through the forest. The ground was nice and sandy, which meant it wasn’t muddy or flooded despite all that rain from the night before.
Afterwards we drove to our campsite to set up our tents. Despite the fact that it was the Labour Day long weekend, the campground was mostly empty. We then walked through the campground and ended up finding a bunch of free firewood that was left behind by the previous campers, which we naturally lugged back to our site.
As we were finishing up our lunch, we heard some thunder in the distance. The sun was still out and it was mostly blue skies ahead so we decided to risk it and go for a short hike. We planned to hike along the Kettle Lakes Trail, but accidentally hiked along the first loop of the bike trail since we weren’t paying too close attention to the signs.
The bike trail consists of three connecting loops that weave through the forest. The path itself was quite lovely as it was flat and wide and loops through a mossy forest of red pine, jack pine and spruce. The best part is that we didn’t even realize that we were on the bike trail until we finished and read the sign and map at the trailhead more closely.
It continued to thunder throughout our hike and it started to lightly sprinkle towards the end. Once we finished, we drove back to our site to close our tent flaps and set up a tarp.
We then headed out to hike along the real Kettle Lake Trail (2km, rated moderate). This trail winds through the forest along an esker and passes a few bogs that occupy some of the kettle depressions. By the time we wrapped up our hike, the skies were dark and the thunder seemed closer. We decided to just drive to the sheltered picnic area to make dinner. This turned out to be an excellent decision as seconds later, it started to pour.
Someone had just finished cooking and eating at the picnic shelter as the coals in the BBQ facilities were still hot. We got the fire going again using some of the kindling and free firewood that we found in the campground earlier in the day. We then used the coals to fry up some burgers. As we were cooking dinner, it continued to rain … hard. The water even started to pool inside the picnic shelter. Thankfully the rain had subsided by the time we finished eating.
We then returned to our campsite to start a fire. Our site was mostly sandy, which meant there were hardly any puddles.
It started to thunder and lightning again around 9p.m, so we figured this was a good sign for us to get ready for bed. Despite the rain, I slept really well. It helped that the campground was mostly empty and we didn’t have any neighbours.
The forecast was calling for showers the next morning. When we woke up it was overcast and the sky was dark, so we quickly packed up. As we were finishing up, it started to lightly rain. Good timing. We drove back to the picnic shelter to make a hot breakfast, which was nice since it was cold, damp and raining. We headed out shortly after 10a.m.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here