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A Hike on the Southern Headland Trail in Pukaskwa National Park

A hike on the Southern Headland Trail is just what three of us and a dog needed after being cooped up in a car for seven hours. We’d driven from Espanola, west of Sudbury through Wawa to arrive in Pukaskwa National Park, a little known park that boasts dramatic Lake Superior scenery.We were in the park for another reason – to backpack the phenomenal, add it to your bucket-list, Coastal Trail.

After completing the required orientation for the Coastal Trail, we headed off to locate the dock where our boat shuttle would pick us up the next morning. Adjacent to it was the trailhead for the Southern Headland Trail. As it was a beautiful day and the hike was short – a mere 2.2 kilometers, we thought it would be a good warm-up for the rest of the week plus it would get rid of the kinks from sitting for so long.

"Lake Superior in Puksawka National Park"

A preview of the sort of country we’d be hiking in over the next five days

"Sheltered cove with a pretty beach - though the water is bloody cold"

Sheltered cove with a pretty beach – though the water is bloody cold

"The hiking is glorious along the shores of lake Superior"

The hiking is glorious

"Even the hiking through the woods is lovely"

Even the hiking through the woods is lovely

The scenery as you can see is divine. This short hike is rated by the park as moderate, but compared to the Coastal Trail it was like an easy walk in the park. There were boardwalks in places and signage was excellent.

With stiff winds, bugs were never an issue either – and they definitely can be, especially early in the hiking season.

"Lake Superior is covered in white caps"

Lake Superior is covered in white caps

"The rocks around Lake Superior are some of the oldest in the world"

The rocks around Lake Superior are some of the oldest in the world

"Inukshuk overlooking Lake Superior"

Inuksuk overlooking Lake Superior

"Looking down on the beach at Horseshoe Bay on Lake Superior"

Looking down on the beach at Horseshoe Bay

"Horseshoe Beach on Lake Superior"

Horseshoe Beach on Lake Superior

There is one other short hike nearby that takes you out to another headland and there’s a walk around Halfway Lake via the beach or a campground as well.

Pukaskwa National Park doesn’t see a lot of visitors because of its’ remote location – roughly 1100 kilometers northwest of Toronto and 320 kilometers east of Thunder Bay. With its’ beautiful beaches and rugged lake-shore scenery, it ranks right up there as one of Canada’s great national parks.

If you’ve got a long drive planned across Canada, a visit to Pukaskwa National Park is one side trip worth doing. It doesn’t take long to drive in from the Trans-Canada Highway, perhaps 20 minutes if I remember correctly, maybe less. So take a few hours to stretch your legs, hike the beautiful Southern Headland Trail and enjoy a picnic on the beach. You’ll be very happy you did.

Have you ever visited Pukaskwa National Park?

Other posts you might enjoy from this region:

Leigh McAdam


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