Ouimet Canyon Loop

Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park, Ontario

Trip Date: Monday, July 3rd, 2017
Last Updated: Monday, August 14th, 2017
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★★(5/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 0.6 miles roundtrip
Time 30 minutes
Terrain A few hills
Best Seasons Summer, Fall
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly Yes
Accessible Yes

Highlights

Hike Walkthrough

Only an hour from Thunder Bay or an hour from the campground at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Ouimet Canyon (pronounced wee-met), the Grand Canyon of Ontario is an impressive gorge 330 feet deep, 490 feet wide, and 1.2 miles long. This provincial park is day use only, and this hike is the only recreational opportunity available; the park exists mainly to protect the fragile arctic plants found at the bottom of the canyon, and as such visitors are prohibited from exploring much of the park.

Due to the orientation of the canyon, I highly suggest you visit in the afternoon for the best lighting for your photographs or else the beauty will be lost in shadows. Dogs are allowed on leash, and this is an excellent destination for kids. The scenery is unbeatable for a hike this short, and each observation area features educational signs explaining the origin theories for the canyon and how the bottom of the canyon features plants normally found 600 miles to the north.

This trail, although unpaved, is wide and mostly flat and is designated accessible (called barrier-free in Canada). In addition, a wheelchair is available free of charge from the park office (see photo of sign below). The accessible route is slightly different, and you must do the trail as an out and back to the two lookouts rather than completing the loop to return to the parking lot. The map kiosk before the trailhead should also state this route modification.

Sign stating a wheelchair is available free of charge

Sign stating a wheelchair is available free of charge
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There is only one trail in this park, so navigation should be easy. From the parking lot, follow the trail across a cool wooden bridge. After the bridge, turn left where the trail splits, then follow the trail to the first overlook. Enjoy your first view of the canyon, and look for the Indian Head (pictured below)!
The rock formation known as the Indian Head

The rock formation known as the Indian Head
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Continue back on the trail to the second overlook. Be sure to read the signs to learn more about the canyon and its unique vegetation! To return to the parking lot, veer left after leaving the overlook to return to the wooden bridge, cross the bridge, then follow the way you came. For the accessible route, turn right after leaving the second overlook to retrace the same route and return to the parking lot.
More views of Ouimet Canyon

More views of Ouimet Canyon
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Directions

From Thunder Bay, follow the Trans-Canada Highway (Ontario Highway 11/17) east; if you are coming from Minnesota, Minnesota Highway 61 turns into Ontario Highway 61 once you cross the Canadian border, and this highway turns into the Trans-Canada Highway. After about 45 minutes, turn left onto Ouimet Canyon Road. There should be an Ontario Parks sign for Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park indicating this turn. Continue straight on this road following signs until the parking lot. Note that trailers are prohibited on the last stretch of road and there is a designated unhitching area.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

Parking fees are on the honor system here, and you are required to deposit $2 (Canadian) in cash per person -- use US Dollars if that's all you have -- into a metal pole near the visitor center, as shown in the image below. You will not receive a receipt or proof of payment, so you are unlikely to be caught and ticketed or towed. In addition, the visitor center has extremely limited hours, so staff are rarely present. Seriously though, $2 is dirt cheap as far as entrance fees go (even with a car full of 5 people, it's still cheaper than paying the vehicle fee at any other Ontario Provincial Park), and this park is well worth the money. There is a park store and accessible vault toilets near the lots.

Sign declaring the $2 (Canadian) fee

Sign declaring the $2 (Canadian) fee
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External Links

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