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Keep moving on the Coastal Trail in Pukaskwa NP

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Joshua Lambert

Keep moving on the Coastal Trail in Pukaskwa NP

Hiking is an avalanche of fun especially when it’s taking place in the Coastal trail in Pukaskwa, NP. This trail is as wild, challenging, rugged as it is beautiful. It is a welcome change from the monolithic tower blocks of some of the tourist places that scar mountainsides. When it comes to hiking, it’s all about the slopes which this trail offers.  


Going through a park-issued guide book, it is stated that hiking times in the rugged and slippery slopes of Pukaskwa is based on mainly two factors, a hiker average speed of 0.9mph which translates to 1.5km/hour and assuming that the hiker is carrying a pack weighing 35lb/16kg. It is recommended that all hikers should have a back country experience. There is no road at the end of the trail which means the only way out is either to hike back, covering a distance of 75 miles/120km or take a shuttle vessel. 


Hiking in the Pukaskwa is about overcoming both easy and rugged parts of the terrain. Starting from the North Swallow it can test your bravado. Once you start on the trail, you are faced with rocky areas or fields of boulders which can be hazardous when it’s wet. The area is known to have some nasty weather as well and it is advisable to wear reliable hiking boots.

After a few hours of hiking, you are bound to be exhausted. Unless you have the skills and stamina to spend more hours on the terrain, chances are, your burning legs and tired arms will drive you back to where you started from. With this in mind, there are camp sites which are well built with nice toilets and food boxes. Therefore, on the first day of hiking you come across the White River, Hook Falls and the campsites. There are lower and upper camp sites.


The coastal scenery is something from a fairly tale. There is a stark truthfulness to the landscape, an unsentimental beauty that reveals itself to the heart rather than the eye. The trail gives you the coastal scenery from a distance. This is fresh water and you can swim in it if you want to. It’s important to use your trekking poles for stability and ease of fatigue. On day 2 and 3 you see the Willow River and Shot Watch Cove. 

At Willow River you can see the beautiful scenery and there is coastal campsite. Here, the slopes can be dangerous especially when it’s wet.

On this trail, you will need to shorten each pole to about 5-10 cm to get more leverage and more secure pole plants. The steeper the slope, the more you shorten the poles. For long downhill sections lengthen the poles to be about 5-10cm from the length you were using. 

Finally on day four and five, you should be finishing hiking. You can either hike back or take a shuttle vessel.

Hiking the Coastal Trail in Pukaskwa NP is both fun and adventurous. It will test your limits and the terrain is worth the visit. 


Heron Bay

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