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Looking Out Towards Lake Huron

Misery Bay Provincial Park – For Hiking & Nature

The name Misery Bay (on Manitoulin Island) certainly conjures up all that could be negative about a place. But don’t let the name put you off. According to local lore the name came about because of a conversation in the 1880’s between a farmer cutting marsh grass at the water’s edge and a couple of men in a small boat.

They asked the farmer the name of the place – and after swatting black flies for probably hours he yelled back “Misery”. It turns out the men in the boat were government surveyors mapping the island. The name stuck despite the fact the place is indeed beautiful – and with wildflowers blooming in the summer I can only imagine how much nicer it would be than the day we visited in November.

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Where is Misery Bay Manitoulin Island?

Misery Bay is located on the south shore of Manitoulin Island – on the waters of Lake Huron. From Gore Bay drive southwest on Highway 540 for roughly 45 minutes.

Misery Bay is now an 1,100 hectare natural reserve (the MBNR) put in place to protect fragile ecosystems including the rare lakeside daisy, pitcher thistle and Blandings turtle.

Even more interesting to most visitors will be the rock you walk on. The park sits on an ancient flat rock sea bottom called an alvar. It is this feature that throws it into the ring of world class parks.

The only alvars in North America are found in the Great Lakes Basin and the collection around Manitoulin Island are the most noteworthy alvars found anywhere in the world.

We saw none of the rare plants are animals and nor did we expect to in November. In fact a thin layer of snow could be found in the woods and skies were in line with what’d you’d expect in November – gloomy with the sun trying hard to come through. Yet the area still had it’s charm.

We walked along the shore and through the woods for roughly eight of the 15 kilometres in the park. I can only imagine how magical the place would be on a hot summer day. 

Here’s a look at what we saw on our hike on the Coastal Alvar Trail to Misery Bay on Manitoulin Island

"The start of the walk to Misery Bay"
Flat limestone at the start of the Coastal Alvar Trail to Misery Bay
First look out across Misery Bay Manitoulin Island
First look out across Misery Bay Manitoulin Island
Interesting large boulder along the shore of Misery Bay Manitoulin Island
Interesting large boulder along the shore of Misery Bay
Looking out towards Lake Huron
Looking out towards Lake Huron across the alvar
Eroded rocks filled with pebbles
Eroded rocks filled with pebbles
Boulder under November skies
Boulder under November skies
Eroded rock at Misery Bay is easy to walk on
Eroded rock at Misery Bay is easy to walk on
"My friend decked out in a fluorescent vest"
My friend Jo – taking no chances in hunting season with a fluorescent vest
Rocks that look like waves at Misery Bay Manitoulin Island
Rocks that look like waves at Misery Bay
November skies over Lake Huron at Misery Bay Manitoulin Island
November skies over Lake Huron at Misery Bay Manitoulin Island
Looking in the window of an old cabin
Looking in the window of an old cabin
There is a Visitor Centre but no one is around in November
There is a Visitor Centre but no one is around in November
"Map of the trails"
We hiked the red loop in Misery Bay Provincial Park

Where to stay on Manitoulin Island

There are lots of cottages and small motels to rent on Manitoulin Island. 

In Manitowaning the Wayside Motel would be a great choice. In Mindemoya, Maple Grove Cottages are rated superb.

For more information on Misery Bay Provincial Park visit their website.

Further reading on things to do within a few hours of Manitoulin Island 

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

A visit to Misery Bay Provincial Park on Manitoulin Island, Ontario

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. @Aleah Misery Bay is a provincial park and hunting isn’t allowed. But it’s not worth taking chances. The dogs have neon orange vests too.
    Barefoot walking might be an issue. I’d be wearing water scandals in the summer to get in and out of the lake.

  2. I’ve not been to the island. I love the lace like texture of the eroded rock. I have only seen Lake Ontario. I could never get over the size of it and kept on referring to it as the ocean. Lake Huron seems to be bigger still – awe inspiring.

  3. For me, the worst time of the year is the in between zone between fall and winter and winter and spring. The leaves are down and the weather is usually too cold to camp, but not cold enough for skiing. Being outdoors during this time is not as beautiful as normal, but it does not mean one should just stay indoors until it snows or if you don’t like skiing until it gets warm again. These pictures show that there is still beauty found during this time, but it is just a little different.

  4. @Ted I couldn’t agree more Ted. I usually feel cooped up in November and April and anyway to get outside and make the most of it is welcome. I tried some early season snowshoeing yesterday too – and that helps to get the happy hormones going.

  5. What a wonderful job you did of countering the difficulty of a less-than cooperative sun. I love the pebbles on rock. I’m going to be posting some of those nature closeups that I did on my recent trip to the Smokeys. I’m fascinated with nature’s “found objects art”. The “Still Life in Cabin Window” wowed me too!!

  6. The rocks in that photo look like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, which is what I thought it was at first. Oh, and I’d never heard of alvar before. It looks like quite a hard rock, almost like flint.
    Poor guy, it’s definitely misery to have to swat black flies

  7. The rocks in that photo look like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, which is what I thought it was at first. Oh, and I’d never heard of alvar before. It looks like quite a hard rock, almost like flint.
    Poor guy, it’s definitely misery to have to swat black flies

  8. You always show us the prettiest parts of nature. That picture of the eroded rocks with pebbles is my favorite. And Jo has a great idea there. It’s not the best idea to wear your “Rudolf the Reindeer” headband up there during hunting season.

    1. @Michele – I like that photo too Michele. Read an Italian blog that made note of how many deaths had happened because of hunting accidents – something like 12 already this year. Not as bad in Ontario but getting mistaken for a deer would be a stupid way to go.

  9. This is our favourite place on Manitoulin Island and we always send our guests their for hiking experiences. We offer accommodations in Providence Bay which also features the alvar shore. We would love for you to come and stay with us next time you are travelling through the Island.

  10. My husband’s family is from Manitoulin Island and we spend time there every summer. It’s one of the most beautiful, unspoiled places in the country!

  11. I love how you captured the beauty of this place despite the gloomy weather. I’ve never heard of alvars but these look so interesting. The textures are all wonderful and unique. Thanks for introducing me to another beautiful part of Canada.

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