Backcountry hiking and paddling
Pukaskwa National Park
Fittingly, Ontario’s only wilderness national park offers two amazing backcountry experiences: hike across more than 60 kilometres of rugged and varied terrain, or paddle 135 kilometres along dramatic shoreline in Pukaskwa National Park’s most remote region.
Backcountry Hiking and PaddlingBackcountry hiking trip planner (PDF, 6 MB)
Coastal Hiking Trail
Get ready to experience the wildest hike on the wildest shore of all of the Great Lakes. Pukaskwa National Park’s 60 km Coastal Hiking Trail is an adventurer’s dream that offers a challenging but rewarding premiere Ontario wilderness experience. The trail climbs steep Lake Superior coastline, meanders through sandy and cobble stone beaches, and treks through rugged boreal forests. Visitors who are properly equipped for backpacking this difficult terrain will enjoy relaxing campsites, beautiful beaches and awe-inspiring views. The Coastal Hiking Trail is a part of the Trans-Canada Trail.
Looking for a memorable backcountry weekend getaway? Mdaabii Miikna, ‘go to the shore trail’ in Anishinaabemowin, delivers everything that Pukaskwa has to offer in a fraction of the time it takes to complete the Coastal Hiking Trail! This loop trail is accessed south of Playter Harbour and north of the White River Suspension Bridge via the Coastal Hiking Trail. It features serene boreal forest and the impressive Lake Superior coastline at Picture Rock Harbour.
Coastal Paddling Route
Lake Superior. They weren’t kidding when they named it. Superior in size, superior in adventure! Comparable to ocean-paddling, Pukaskwa’s Coastal Paddling Route offers premiere Ontario wilderness terrain and demands technical knowledge and skill from visitors who wish to experience it. Enjoy pristine backcountry campsites, beautiful sandy beaches, towering shorelines and awe-inspiring views.. The Coastal Paddling Route is a part of the Trans-Canada Trail.
Within Pukaskwa National Park, there are two rivers of interest to interior paddlers: the White River and the Pukaskwa River. For more information about interior paddling please contact the park at 807-229-0801 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boat shuttle information
Boat shuttle services down the coast are operated by private businesses who have business license agreements with the park. These businesses set their own schedules, policies and fees. Please connect with them directly to discuss trip options.
It is important to understand that boat shuttle services can be delayed or cancelled based on the weather and Lake Superior wave conditions. Lake Superior is calmest in May, June. Once July and August comes, the wind direction starts to change in the area as the fall season arrives. It is common for boat shuttles to be cancelled in September and October - unfortunately Lake Superior doesn’t care about your schedule!
Visitors should have a back up plan ready should their boat shuttle be cancelled due to weather conditions. Park Kiosk staff can help visitors rearrange their hiking routes but options may be limited and are subject to availability.
Ready to book? Here’s how...
1. Schedule a boat shuttle (optional):
If you need a boat shuttle, contact the provider(s) listed in the trip planner to confirm their availability first.
2. Make a backcountry reservation:
Backcountry trails and campsites are open (weather permitting) from May 15 - October 14. Reservation open dates will be posted on the park’s website. Reserve your backcountry camping permit:
- Online 24/7 at: www.reservations.pc.gc.ca or;
- By calling: 1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783)
Are you confident in your trip itinerary? Online service fees are $11.00 per reservation, modification or cancellation and call centre fees are $13.50 per reservation, modification or cancellation.
3. Mandatory safety orientation and emergency information
Park staff will contact you via email or phone to set up either an in-person or online backcountry safety orientation. The safety orientation must take place prior to starting the hike. They will also ask for additional emergency information to help speed up the on-site registration process. This information will include:
- Group member names
- Emergency contact information
- Equipment descriptions (tents, canoes, kayaks, etc.)
- Vehicle descriptions
4. Check in and Pay your fees
Upon your arrival, stop at the park Kiosk to register and check-in. At the time of booking, a backcountry overnight camping fee of $10.50 per person per night is applied. Please note that daily admission is not applied at the time of booking. This additional entry fee will be processed upon arrival. See the current daily entry fees.
5. Go! Let your adventure begin!
Call 1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783)
Outside of North America: (519) 826-5391
If you would like more general information, please call the Parks Canada national information line at 1-888-773-8888.
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