Over the last year or so, as we’ve been building out various areas of the park, I’ve eyed this particular spot. Based on the terrain it looked like an incredibly rugged area of wetlands. It’s the largest area of the park that appeared to have no roads or ATV tracks through it, which likely meant it was too wet and rugged to get a vehicle through. This, obviously, made me want to explore it as I love a challenging hike.
My first experience with this loop was scouting it with a friend in April, with 3′ of snow to stomp through. To put it bluntly, it sucked, but I also immediately fell in love with the wetlands, rock barrens, and mature forests through the area despite the misery of the hike itself. My second trip was on a sunny day in May, to actually map out a route for the rangers to build. This second trip involved about 30% less crying.
While only 16.5km, this loop takes you up, over, under, and through the best and worst of the Canadian Shield. Gorgeous wetlands abound, with countless birds and herps to look out for.
For both trips, we started across the top of Jocko Lake, accessing from the Jocko West Lot. The first section of trail follows the Jocko Lake Loop around the North side of the lake, moving Eastward. We built this trail last summer and I love it. Once we left the Jocko Lake Loop we returned to some old logging roads. I’d like to one day decommission these and create single foot paths instead. A much nicer hiking experience in my opinion.
As we continued South, towards Twomile Lake, we passed the newly-named Lac Randonné (a perk of being the first to scout a trail). It’s gorgeous, with a big drop off at a beaver dam at the north end.
Where the trail splits to continue the Wetland Run or head South to Twomile, we veered right to continue the Wetland Run. This section was what we came out here for. To find a suitable route to build a trail. Our last visit involve postholing through the snow for 4+ hours. This time, I knew what to expect and intentionally followed a route that I wanted to revisit in the future. There are nice rock barrens at the top, and the topography would make for some incredible scrambling and shenanigans. There were some fallen trees that we would need to cleared but I could really see potential for a spectacular trail through here.
We passed by Mountain Lake, which was on another level. Beautiful rocky shores with potential for several great campsites in the future. There are lots of huge wetlands, with some 20′ higher than the one just on the other side of the trail. I’m sure it’s a dream to do some very challenging portagy-paddling (yes, I’m making portagy a word) though there.
When we were here in April, by this stage we were ready to give up and try to reach the nearest road until we suddenly found ourselves on an old trail. This turned out to be a great trail, and much easier that the previous stretch, although it still featured healthy climbs and some fallen trees and flooded trails.
My scouting notes from my trips on April 10 (left) and May 11 (right)
written by Ben Samann