What do you do when you have the ability to invest in trails but no infrastructure in which to work?

Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area was our fifth visit of the 2015 tour and third Parks Canada stop. It was a unique visit in that the park is still in the process of being designated a National Park; also being a Marine Conservation Area it doesn’t officially have any trails on the ground yet. Some might think that because of the lack of trail infrastructure that there was not much for us to do while we visited and that could not have been further from the truth. Due to the lack of actual trail in the park, they are in the unique position to offer their services and funding to the surrounding communities in order to develop the trails in the area.

The park is located in Nipigon, Ontario and the surrounding area has some great trails and great potential. For our visit, we were working with the Red Rock Indian band at designing and building a small trail to allow lake access from a newly purchased historical chalet site. That, along with a lake front boardwalk system will allow the band to create a great small network of trails now and allow for future development.

We also had the opportunity to walk and assess a section of the Casque Isles Trail that went from the small community of Shreiber up over 1450ft to the ‘Picnic Table Lookout’ overlooking the beach and Lake Superior. While that section was only just over a kilometre long, it was great to be able to walk and talk with two of the main trail builders responsible for building the 57km trail along the Lake Superior shoreline. We were able to learn a lot from each other and left that brief encounter knowing that they along with the Park’s help are going to come up with a vision and concept of what they want their community and trails to attract in the future.

Our trail building school workshop and build was very well attended and included local community leaders, professional builders and members of Ontario Parks to name a few. This just goes to show the great ability for the Lake Superior Marine Conservation Area staff to foster and build some lasting connections in the local communities, while also getting those communities on board for trail development and a common goal. We left our visit very hopeful that the knowledge passed on will help the Park and local communities come together to create the outdoor destination and trail network that they all want. We would like to thank the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, the Red Rock Indian Band, and everyone else we encountered on this visit for their incredible hospitality!

Stay tuned for photos from our visit at Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area!