Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: September 2021
Chutes Provincial Park is located on the Aux Sables River and is the only provincial park between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie. It was named after a logging chute which was built at the main falls to reduce the risk of logs jamming up the river and instead divert them downstream. The park offers a few activities on and along the river, including hiking, swimming, fishing and camping.
After spending the morning in Sault Ste. Marie, we arrived at Chutes just before 4p.m. The park office was temporarily closed and there was a sign to indicate that it would open again later in the afternoon. So we figured we might as well go on a hike to stretch our legs.
We parked at the day-use area near the picnic facilities and designated swimming area and first walked to the scenic lookout overlooking the main falls. There are a few interpretive signs that provide more information about the history of the area and how the park was created.
Many rivers in Northeastern Ontario have a rich history as transportation routes, including the Aux Sables. Each winter from the late 1800s to the 1930s, trees were chopped down and dragged onto the ice-covered river. In the spring, thousands of pine logs floated down the Aux Sables when the ice and snow started to melt. Special chutes were built around difficult sections, like the main falls in Chutes, to reduce the risk of log jams.
The viewpoint at the falls also marks the start of the Twin Bridges Trail (6km round trip, rated moderate), the only trail in the park. We first had to walk up a bunch of steps to get to the actual trail though.
The trail can be hiked in portions and there are options to scale up or down. It meanders through the forest and follows the shore of the Aux Sables River and Seven Sisters rapids. Along the way the trail crosses two bridges (for which the trail is named) and contains three viewing platforms.
The second viewing platform is located about a kilometre from the trailhead at the base of the Seven Sisters Rapids. Most of the views are obstructed by trees though, but it helped build up the anticipation of seeing the rapids.
After the second viewing platform, the trail crosses the twin bridges. These bridges were built in the winter of 2001 by hand. The steel on the bridges is a special alloy that never needs painting, but will eventually turn a dark brown colour as it oxidizes and seals.
Beyond the second bridge, the trail follows the eastern shore of the river and loops through the forest. The terrain on this section is a bit more rugged, but the path leads to another viewing platform that provides lovely views of the Seven Sisters series of waterfalls.
Once we looped back to the junction, we crossed over the two bridges and walked the same way we came to the trailhead.
Overall it took us just under 2 hours to complete the trail. We drove back to the park office, which was now open, to check in. We found our campsite and set up our tents one final time. The forecast was calling for a 40% chance of rain in the evening. While the skies turned to overcast, thankfully it didn’t rain. What better way to end our trip than by having one last campfire.
The next morning we packed up our tents for the last time. After eating a hot breakfast, we headed off to Sudbury to see the Big Nickel. The nickel is a 9 metre replica of the Canadian nickel and the largest coin in the world.
We hopped back in the car and continued our drive home. We planned to make a couple more stops to make the most of the nice weather and our final day of our road trip.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here