Today’s post comes from Bob Elliott, former superintendent of the winter wonderland that is Lake Superior Provincial Park.
From time to time, winters around Lake Superior are cold enough to freeze the waters of the lake. Gitchee Gumeeproviding a magical opportunity to walk on the ice of the world’s largest freshwater lake (by surface area).
The winter of 2017/2018 was cold enough to provide that magic, and the winter of 2014/2015 was the ultimate ice walker’s dream; the polar vortex froze 95% of Lake Superior and there were dozens and dozens of ice caves along the shoreline on the north side of Old Woman Bay in Lake Superior Provincial Park.
Old Woman Bay, with its towering cliffs, is one of the landmarks of Lake Superior Provincial Park and is depicted on the park’s logo.
A walk on the ice at Old Woman Bay in early March revealed some interesting ice formations. Just before the towering cliffs, the water had frozen into very unusual patterns.
Fingers of jagged icicles protruded at every angle, and one formation even looked like dull elk antlers. Very interesting stuff!
The towering cliffs of Old Woman Bay are a magnificent sight, whether seen from the beach, from the water, or from one of the viewpoints on the Nokomis hiking trail. Being able to walk on ice, stand at the base of cliffs and look up, way up… well. It gives you a completely different perspective on how big those cliffs really are.
If you want to take a full day hike on the ice, continue beyond the cliffs, around the point and head south for about another 5km to Till Creek. Till Creek is very picturesque, with its reddish rock and small rock beach at the mouth of the creek. There is a campsite here, on a small pebble beach just south of where the creek empties into Lake Superior.
Up Creek Falls – Summer
On a nice calm summer day, Till Creek is a nice day to paddle from Old Woman Bay. Of course, everything looks different in winter with the landscape covered in snow and ice.
Up Creek Falls – Winter
About a 10-minute walk down Till Creek, you’ll reach Till Creek Falls, a beautiful waterfall that is completely frozen and covered in ice in winter. You may not need snowshoes to walk on the ice to Till Creek, but you will definitely need your “boreal flip flops” to hike to the falls.
When ice conditions are favorable, there are many other places to walk on ice in Lake Superior Provincial Park. The north side of Old Woman Bay, to the entrance island and Brule Harbour, is a pleasant walk. Caves and other ice formations are often found, and larger boulders and rock walls become covered in ice.
The indigenous pictographs at Agawa Rock are another must-see when Lake Superior is frozen. Snowshoe down the road to Sinclair Cove, then around the point to the pictographs. Being on the ice, you certainly get a different perspective of “the Rock” than you would on a summer visit.
Winters in northern Ontario can be long and cold. But when conditions are right and Lake Superior freezes over, those lucky enough to see the park in season four are treated to magnificent scenery.
Before heading out on the ice, always check ice conditions (remember: Lake Superior doesn’t always freeze during the winter), dress appropriately, and tell someone where you’re going.