After an excellent couple of days in Sudbury, we continued on our journey west to Lake Superior. Our next major destination was Sault Ste. Marie, but before we made it there, we had time to stop along the way at two small, but pretty, provincial parks – Fairbank and Chutes.
Fairbank Provincial Park
As we headed west from Sudbury on the Trans-Canada Highway, Fairbank Provincial Park was the perfect place to stop for lunch. The park might be a 25 minute detour off the highway, but we thought that was time well spent.
Pulling up at the day-use area and one of Fairbank’s two beaches, we got our camping chairs out of the car and sat on the beach’s edge, taking in the view on a sunny and warm day while eating our lunch. Apart from a couple of flies that wanted a bite of our lunch – or of us – it was a pretty good spot.
After lunch, we enjoyed Fairbank’s one trail, Wa-Shai-Ga-Mog, which is an Ojibway word for ‘clear water’ and is the original name of Fairbank Lake.
This short hike was a good way of burning off a few of the calories from the cookies we’d just devoured over lunch, but more importantly, thanks to a rocky outcrop, offered a memorable view overlooking Fairbank Lake.
Chutes Provincial Park
From Fairbank, the drive to Chutes was only one hour, which meant that after checking in at our campsite, we still had plenty of time to explore the park.
Chutes’ main features are a series of scenic waterfalls and the gorge of the Aux Sables River that flows through the park. We turned up at the park thinking that its name was due to the waterfalls, whereas in fact, the name is thanks to a 60 metre long wooden chute that was built in the logging days to divert floating logs past the waterfalls and thus preventing log jams.
Like Fairbank, Chutes only has the one hiking trail, the Twin Bridges Trail, although it is considerably longer at 6.5 kms. The trail starts on the west bank of the Aux Sables River and works its way upstream, before crossing over to the east where a couple of loops give you options for extending your walk.
Near the start of the trail are the biggest waterfalls in the park, where the wooden chute was built in the logging days. We got a good view of the crashing, unrelenting water from a platform that juts out from the cliff and over the falls.
We made our way upstream from the falls, catching glimpses now and then through the trees of the river gorge and other waterfalls below. The trail eventually leads to a couple of bridges that cross the river, and are how the trail gets its name. The steel bridges were built by hand in the winter of 2001, which, given what Canadian winters can be like, doesn’t sound like much fun!
We found that the views at the second of the bridges were better, as there were prettier views upstream and downstream and of the stepped falls, while we could explore the rocks down at the riverside and sit back in a couple of Muskoka chairs. With the shadows starting to get longer and our stomachs getting hungrier, we took in a short stretch of the trail on the eastern side that leads to a viewpoint of the river gorge, before heading back to our campsite and enjoying our first campfire dinner and toasted marshmallows of our trip.
Thank you to Ontario Parks for hosting us at Chutes Provincial Park by providing us with accommodation and firewood.