Walking the Orphan Lake Trail in Fall
This is an amazing drive and hike to truly experience the deep crimson maples and inhale the crisp piney vapours of an Algoma autumn. Although it’s a bit of a drive (160 km) to the head of the Orphan Lake Trail, it is worth every bit of it in terms of stunning Lake Superior views. The granite cliffs are spectacular and the white pines majestic. This is the best Fall corridor for fall colour this time of year. The Canadian Carver/Agawa Indian Crafts on your way to the Trailhead or on your return is a fun stop for great gifts, snacks and ice cream.
The trail is moderately demanding…2 to 4 hours, 8 kms/5 miles. Here is a short overview of what you’ll discover:
· Ups and downs, lookouts with views of Lake Superior and Orphan Lake from above and from the shores, cobble beach, and the Baldhead River
· The first lookout is only a 20 minute hike or so; you don’t have to do the whole trail.
· Begin at the Orphan Lake Parking Lot. The trail starts out on a very shaded path and at about 15 minutes in you will come to a sign that says "Hikers Go Left" - take this route, and the path will lead you to the Orphan Lake Lookout.
· The trail then leads down to the level of Orphan Lake. You will come to a spot on the south-west side of Orphan Lake. There is another lookout here. Climb up the hill for a panoramic 180 degree view of Lake Superior; you can see the mouth of the Baldhead River on your right, to your front Leech and the Lizard Islands, and to your left, the north side of the Baldhead Mountain. On a clear day you might also be able to see Montreal Island.
· Climb down from the lookout and get back on the trail to descend to lake level, walk along the shore of Lake Superior and then follow the trail from the mouth of the Baldhead River along its banks to arrive at a set of footbridges.
· If you go across, it is about 15 minutes to the north side of the mouth of the Baldhead River where there are five campsites. If you do not cross over the river, continue along the south bank of the river. About 15 minutes from here there is another scenic stop - if you go down to your left you will come to view the Baldhead River and a set of falls.
· Get back up on the trail, and you are headed towards the finish. From here, the trail presents some ascents and descents - you'll definitely work up a sweat. The trail again follows along the river for a while, and eventually comes to visit the north-west tip of Orphan Lake and then winds along its shore, behind the tree line where there is plenty of shade. Once you are past the lake, the trail heads north-east through a forested area leading back to the parking lot.