Slippery rocks and moss covered paths and occasional streams. The final 1-2km is a steep ascension to the peak. You can then save about 15km off the trip. Firla and Matt’s adventures on the overland route to Ishpatina 26 of us met at the fire tower for a geocaching event. Turning back, I vowed to return to climb the Ishpatina Ridge. Keep right and continue on for another 11 km until reaching the Montreal River. A larger campsite exists on the northwestern shore of the lake, and a nearby burnt out area marks the start of the trail to the Ishpatina Ridge. Also roads to get there are best suited for an SUV or larger! smiling, laughing & momentarily ignoring the kilometres we still had to navigate. Smoothwater was rough for us as well, especially southbound. This portage heads south for 1.1 km to a series of 3 small unnamed lakes and over 3 short portages (the longest being 130 m) until reaching McCulloch Lake. That saying I’m glad I did it. Eventually they took pity on me and got it off. Most hikers begin on foot or by bike at a rugged road crossing of the Sturgeon River and follow the road north to a series of overgrown bush trails. The highest point in Ontario! 15 km from the road, at the midpoint of the eastern shoreline, is an excellent campsite, often referred to as the Kirsch memorial campsite. Crossing the sturgeon was a new experience with a pack and a bike. We did our best to gather it all up and reinforce the container, however damaged it was. My obsession to climb the Ishpatina Ridge, began as an innocent internet search. So I began to plan for a more realistic multi-day canoe trip to the Ridge, starting from the Montreal River access point on Beauty Lake. Camping within the park boundaries requires a backcountry camping permit. We had reached the summit of Ishpatina: the highest point of Ontario! Going up took about 7 hours with breaks, and coming back down took about 6. The northern end of Mihell Lake is very shallow, but deepens at the southern end. Great time of year (only a few bugs )for a hike. It is really important to note we downloaded AllTrails Pro and had the map downloaded so the gps kept us on track throughout the day. Canoe-expericed siblings spoke haughtily of the art of the J-stroke. Two things that really helped was a mosquito head net and trekking poles. The rest of the trip back went smoothly and we got back to our cars early enough that we could make the 8 hour drive home. A steep wall of cliffs dropped away below us. From here, it is a short distance to the fire tower and 360 degree views on the summit. After having a quick lunch and preparing our gear, we set off on our trip. There were a few marshy areas on route, which required hopping from log to log, but we finally got to the beaver dam at Dick Lake. View of Ishpatina Ridge from the North Peak. Ishpatina Ridge and the fire tower from Mihell Lake. It had been a long day, and we made good use of the remaining daylight. A possible, but unconfirmed higher point of land may exist 250 m to the northwest of the summit, but GPS measurements have all been inconclusive. We finally arrived on Scarecrow Lake as dusk was approaching. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. I recommend traveling with a light pack and bring water shoes - there are multiple water crossings. The trail is fairly easy to follow, despite the fact that it is not maintained. The portage to Apex Lake is 800 m. On Apex Lake, avoid the portage on the southeastern shore which goes to Whitemud Lake, and find the portage on the southernmost point of the lake. We decided we would hike out along the shoreline, in the dark, as we had friends camping on Scarecrow Lake, if we needed help. It was a surreal moment, 6 of us hanging out in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night. Next time I think 4days pack lighter. --Walter Sobchack, Images © 2020 ontariohighpoints.com All Rights Reserved I really hate leeches and here was one latched to my ankle. We decided together that there was no way we’d be able to descend the cliffs safely and we’d have to find another approach. (Watch out for leeches!) It is necessary to bring another pair of shoes for the start crossings and bogs you have to get through. More recently, many hikers have begun to use an overland route accessed via a series of logging roads which are accessed north of Capreol (near Sudbury). Made it most of the way to the base of the ridge. Non-residents of Canada may require a Crown Land Camping permit. There are 2 routes to the Ishpatina Ridge: Click here for my trip report to Ishpatina Ridge – Overland Route. Started the hike on August 28th and camped overnight. If you like bushwhacking for 4 hours. It was during this haul, that I enjoyed a close encounter with a leech. When the roads became too tough for my car, I switched to mountain bike and finished up the last 27 km of rough road. The trail starts where they took out an old bridge for logging. It had been used as a kind of log book repository and there were bits of paper with people’s names all over. Andrew Lavigne’s detailed day trip to Ishpatina via the overland route After the 2nd lake, the trail begins to climb moderately and then crosses a beaver dam at Dick Lake. The Montreal River was gentle and fairly wide; we made better time than I was expecting, considering that most of us were novice canoeists. Combined with a bushwhack along the north shores of Woods Lake and Scarecrow Lake and the usual fire tower trail hike from the trailhead on Scarecrow Lake, many hikers are able to complete the trip from car to car in a long day hike. This time of the year there were still a lot bugs. Then Chris mentioned that he was organizing a canoe trip to it on behalf of the YMCA Canoe Camping Club. Can't wait to go back! All in all, it's a great hike, wouldn't recommend for people just getting into hiking, this is more of a challenge you want to do after you've gotten comfortable with your local trails. But requires having the right gear and preparing yourself for the steep incline near the summit. Trail can almost be broken down into 3 different parts, the first part from the sturgeon river crossing to the trail head is a 6km gravel/atv path with lots of puddles. We set out at 5am in the morning before sunrise, and the temp just above zero.
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