Take a walk into the wilderness just like the Indigenous peoples, voyageurs, and loggers did over one hundred years earlier. The sound of whispering pines fade into an fierce roar caused by the approaching Eau Claire Gorge waterfall. #DiscoverOntario | #NortheasternOntario | #Hiking
If you are ever in Northern Ontario between Mattawa and North Bay, you NEED to visit Eau Claire Gorge! This 400-acre conservation area is home to one of the most breathtaking waterfalls in the region. This is a relatively short - 1.9km - moderate trail should take you under 2 hours to complete. The area is rich with history dating back to the 1800's, and boasts a great opportunity to learn about the past uses for this land.
When you start the trail, be sure to grab a brochure and trail map. This way you are able to stop at each post along the way and read about the natural and historic features scattered throughout the trail.
The first thing you notice when you begin this hike is exposed bedrock. This unique feature is the result of ancient glaciers, which occupied the land nearly 11,000 years ago. During their melt, glaciers occupying the area scraped the top soil away during their retreat. This caused the breaking up bedrock, and displaced chunks of it all across North America. If you look around, you'll notice big boulders graciously placed along the forest floor.
In the 1850's, loggers trekked into this area and began to cut down giant red and white pine trees, and process them in mills downstream. Once processed, these trees were suitable for poles, pilings and railway ties. If keep your eye out, you should notice that a few of these giants still remain.
As you continue along your way, you will begin to hear the consistent rush of the Amable du Fond River which is fed by Kioshkokwi Lake on the northern tip of Algonquin Park. This river eventually merges into the Mattawa River. Thundering water drowns out the whispering trees and chirping birds as you approach the gorge. The giant gorge was formed by an ancient fault which was smoothed by the glacier previously occupying this land. Words and photos cannot describe the scale and power of this natural beauty.
TIP: Be careful when you approach the gorge as there is no guardrails between you and the surging waters below.
As you continue along your way - and get your hearing back - you wind along the calming river until you reach an iconic log home. You'll later find out that it was once a squatters cabin. Reconstructed in 1910, moss and cobwebs now call this quaint cabin it's home. Take a few moments to explore this cabin, furniture can be found inside. It would make a great place to stop and eat lunch.
From here, you will quickly approach the end of the trail. If you have extra time, you can stop by Samuel du Champlain Provincial Park, about 15 minutes away. Here you will be able to witness even more displacement caused by the ancient glaciers, and learn about the native heritage and fur trading that took place with some of the very first voyageurs.