In late June we decided to check out Neys Provincial Park. I had been wanting to check out the Pic Island Overlook for the past couple of years and I also wanted to check out the trails in the park for potential future clients.
Neys Provincial Park is about 30km west of Marathon along Hwy17. It is a beautiful place nestled along the shores of Lake Superior with sand beaches that are littered with driftwood. It has sand dunes and a red pine plantation that has to be 50 or so years old. There was an old, Second World War POW camp located here for which the park has produced an interpretive brouchure. The campsites are well located close to the beach and clean. Access to water is plentiful. There is only one comfort station which could have used some maintenance when we were there but there are several outhouses. You can rent canoes or paddle your own boat either on the lake or on the Little Pic River and of course you can hike.
There are 6 official hiking trails within the park. We only hiked the Tower trek(10.5km), Under the Volcano (1km) and the Point (1.5km) trails as a single hike one day. In addition to these there are the Dune Trail (2.5km), Lookout Trail (2.5km) and the Coastal Trail (19km). We started our trek from the parking area just outside the park entrance. The trail actually starts down the hydro access road between the railroad and the park. There is a small sign on a gate indicating the Pic Island Overlook trail.
This trail follows the access road almost the entire way up the mountain to the overlook. It is kind of boring as you can imagine, fortunately it is relatively easy and quick. The 4.5 km trek took us just over an hour. The overlook is well worth the trip with its large seating structure and its "Moment of Algoma" interpretive sign. By far, the best part is the view of Pic Island and Lake Superior. This area is where Lawren Harris (Group of Seven) painted his famous Pic Island painting. Frank Carmichael and Arthur Lismer also painted this landscape.
,From the outlook we decided to take the Kopa Cove Trail back down to the coast where it meets the Under the Volcano Trail. What we did not know (despite having spoken to park staff about our plans) is that this trail is not maintained very well. It could be a great trail with many lookouts along the way but too many trees have fallen onto the trail making the hike extra difficult. This 2.6 km downhill track took us about 2 hours. It was only when we reached the Under the Volcano trail did the trails show signs of recent maintenance and the footing was back to being solid.
The Under the Volcano trail is an Interpretive trail highlighting the geology, glacial and volcanic history of the area. This trail is connected to the main camping areas and Prisoners Cove by the Point Trail. Both these trails run parallel to the coastline often spitting you out onto beaches and rock lands on the shores.
The Pic Island Overlook is well worth going to and if the park staff do end up cleaning the Kopa Cove Trail, I think this would be a great destination trail. If you are in the area or driving through, stay an extra day to check out this wonderful tribute to the Group of Seven and to see all the other interesting heritage the park has to offer. The new Lake Superior Water Trail also follows the coast line along here, wouldn't it be nice if the paddlers could hike up to the lookout?