Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: September 2021
Neys Provincial Park is located on the sandy shore of Lake Superior. It offers a variety of hiking trails that weave through the different habitats in the park, including ancient sand dunes, dense forests, pebble beaches, and rocky overcrops. It’s no surprise that this scenic landscape and wild shoreline provided much inspiration to the Group of Seven painters.
We arrived at Neys just after 6:30pm. After checking in at the Park Office, we drove to our site to set up our tents. We planned to stay here for two nights and managed to reserve an awesome site that had its own private path to the beach. The forecast was calling for 10-15mm of rain the next morning, so we decided to set up a few tarps over our tents. Afterwards we had a late dinner and walked down to the beach to look up at the night sky.
We slept in later than usual the next morning, largely because it was lightly raining outside, which always makes it hard to get up. Eventually we got up. I even walked down to the beach to check out the water and all the driftwood scattered along the sand.
Neys offers a sheltered picnic area, but since it was cold outside, we decided to treat ourselves and drive into Terrace Bay for breakfast. It was a nice way to spend the morning indoors and wait out the rain. While we were in town, we decided to pick up some groceries to kill some time.
By the time we returned to Neys, it was early in the afternoon. It had mostly stopped raining for the day. The clouds were even starting to clear and the sun was poking out. Our campsite had some serious flooding issues. But luckily we set our tents up on higher ground so all our stuff stayed dry.
We then drove to the Visitors Centre, which was closed, but there were a few interpretive panels outside that provided more information about the Neys Camp. The region in and around Neys was once the site of a German prisoner of war camp during World War II. There’s also a Moments of Algoma art installation behind the Visitor Centre as well as access to the beach.
After all that rain, we weren’t sure what the conditions would be like along the trails. We decided to try our luck with the Point Trail (2.2 km round trip, rated easy), which is relatively short and flat. The trail weaves through a mossy forest and leads to a rocky outcrop where there’s nice views of the bay and a few old boats scattered along the rocks. The path is mostly sandy, which meant there was pretty decent drainage.
The boats were once 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 provided some of the labour for logging in this area in the Pic and Little Pic River valleys.
We then hiked along the Dune Trail (1.3 km loop, rated easy), which loops through an ancient sand dune system. The path is relatively flat and sandy and is signed with seven numbered posts.
Afterwards we hiked along the Lookout Trail (1.6km loop, rated moderate). The trail weaves through the forest, along rocky outcrops, and provides sweeping views of Ashburton Bay and the surrounding area. The trail then leads down the ridge, back through the forest and through a series of sand dunes. There were some wet, muddy and slippery sections, but we took our time.
After all that hiking, we had worked up an appetite. We returned to our campsite and made an early dinner. We spent the remainder of the evening by the warmth of the fire. It felt great after such a rainy morning and damp day.
The next morning we woke up to blue skies and sun. I would have loved to stay another day, but we had other plans. We still had time to visit the beach one last time though.
After eating breakfast, we packed up and headed out. We planned to spend the morning at Pukaskwa National Park.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here