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Ishpatina Ridge over Land
Route Description
Ishpatina Ridge is located about 80km almost due north of Sudbury, Ontario. To get there via the overland route, you need to drive north from Capreol, Ontario (which is itself reachable by paved highway from Sudbury).
(if you are looking for our image gallery from this hike, this page isn't it. click here to go to page 1 and the start of the image gallery).
Maps: NRCan 41 P/7 Smoothwater Lake and NRCan 41 P/2 Pilgrim Creek.
Driving Directions: From Capreol, drive north on the paved road out of town, and then take a right at a logging road about 7 km north of town. The road is the "Gauthier Logging Road" (Waypoint 'JCT1' below), and from here on you will be on gravel.
From here, it is a long 45 kilometre drive up the good, wide, graded logging road to a junction with a smaller side logging road (Waypoint 'JCT3' below). This sideroad is much narrower and rougher. Turn right onto this road, which proceeds up out of the valley of the Wanapetei river, which you've been following.
Drive 18 kilometres up this narrow and rough road. You may need a high clearance vehicle to negotiate sections of it. At the 18 kilometre mark, you reach the Sturgeon River. It would be possible to ford the river in your vehicle only if the river level was not too high and you had a very capable 4wd vehicle. There is a wide grassy area off to the left where you can park and/or camp. This is where we stopped and camped.
Here are the significant waypoints (datum WGS84) for the drive (note, these are also duplicated on the Interactive Trackmap below):
  • Town of Capreol (waypoint CAPREOL): N46.704941 W080.920486
  • Turnoff to logging road (waypoint JCT1): N46.768400 W080.927300
  • Turnoff to rougher logging road (waypoint JCT3): N47.108500 W080.905400
  • Logging Road @ Sturgeon River (waypoint STURGEON): N47.225319 W080.827809
I've created a very detailed Google map-based GPS track of the drive from Capreol to where we parked (see below). Double-click on the track and then use the right-click feature to see the above waypoints rendered graphically, a GPS track of the entire journey, and, should you need it, latitude and long co-ordinates of any spot along the way.
Interactive trackmap with photo points - road access route - click map to expand
courtesy RHanel
Sturgeon River Campsite
This is what you drive on
Gentle Grades
Climbing Ishpatina Ridge: Once you've crossed the Sturgeon River (mostly likely on foot), you have another 7.5 kilometres of road to traverse. This obviously can be done on foot, but that can be tiring. A mountain bike works well here and can enable you to cover this section in less than an hour.
Again, once you've crossed the Sturgeon River, continue along the well-graded and wide road for about 4.8km, where you'll come to a shallow ford of a tributary of the Sturgeon (note: there is a ATV/snowmobile bridge just off to your right that avoids you having to get out your water shoes).
After you've crossed this shallow water, continue on the logging road for another 1.3 kilometres or so, where you'll reach a junction with faint grassy track leading off to the right (waypoint 'ROADRIGHT' below). Follow this grassy track, which you may or may not find bikeable, for a short distance (maybe 300 metres) to a junction with other faint grassy tracks (this junction is marked by waypoint 'JCT RIGHT' below). Turn right and follow more faint grassy track about 1/2 of a kilometre. There is another very faint junction of paths here, and as of June 2006 there is a bit of pink/red flagging here. (waypoint 'BIKES' below). You can't bike any farther than this, so ditch the bikes.
Here are the significant waypoints (datum WGS84) for the biking portion (note, these are also duplicated on the Interactive Trackmap below):
  • Turn onto faint track (waypoint ROADRIGHT): N47.267550 W080.794367
  • Turn onto another faint track (waypoint JCT RIGHT): N47.270083 W080.793633
  • Biking no longer possible (waypoint BIKES): N47.269871 W080.787136
From where the bikes are dropped off, take the left-hand faint path (which goes due east) and walk about 600 or so metres (marked by waypoint 'BW START' below). From here the bushwhacking starts. Turn right and plunge into the woods, making directly for Woods Lake. You'll go up and over a ridge. When you reach Woods Lake, check to see if it is possible to walk along the shore. If not, bushwhack more or less within sight of the lake, continuing northeast, until you reach the end of the lake (there may be some old flagging along this section). Continue on to the shore of Scarecrow Lake and follow it northeast (again, see if the shore is passable, if not, bushwhack just a little bit inland. After three or four tiring kilometres from the start of the bushwhacking, you'll reach the northern corner of Scarecrow Lake, where you'll find some open campspots and the start of the Ishpatina Ridge trail (see waypoint 'ISHTRAIL' below).
Here are the significant waypoints (datum WGS84) for the start and end of the bushwhacking section (note, these are also duplicated on the Interactive Trackmap below):
  • Start of bushwhacking (waypoint BW START): N47.271677 W080.780910
  • Start of Ishpatina Ridge Trail (waypoint ISHSTART): N47.289850 W080.748636
From the start of the Ishpatina Ridge trail, which is fairly obvious, wide, and curiously burnt, proceed up and away from Scarecrow lake. The trail is easy to follow and the grade is mostly gentle. The trail passes by a few pretty lakes, and, if the water is high, passes through a couple of wet areas (one over a beaver dam) where you'll have to hike up your pants and take your boots off if you don't want to get completely soaked. Other than that, the trail is straightforward and is only 3.5 kilometres one way (I've heard 5 kilometres from other people, but I've measured it pretty accurately and it is 3.5 kilometres). At this point, give yourself a pat on the back - you've made it to the top of Ontario!
  • Ishpatina summit & firetower (waypoint TOWER): N47.316896 W080.749879
I've created a very detailed Google map-based GPS track of the biking and hiking from the Sturgeon River all the way to the top of Ishpatina Ridge (see below). Double-click on the track and then use the right-click feature to see the above waypoints rendered graphically, a GPS track of the entire journey, and, should you need it, latitude and long co-ordinates of any spot along the way. (note: this track is the same as the one on page four - I've just placed another copy here for completeness).
courtesy RHanel
courtesy RHanel
courtesy RHanel
Some wetness here and there...
Ishpatina Summit Firetower
View from the top
Interactive trackmap with photo points - climb of Ishpatina Ridge - click map to expand
More detail on distances, times, and elevation profiles are available on page four of the image gallery.

Other sites detailing the climb to Ishpatina Ridge: on foot, Ken Takabe's climb; via canoe (and then on foot), Markus Wandel's trip. Complete GPS tracklogs of the hike and of the drive in, in .GPX and in ASCII GPS utility (http://gpsu.co.uk) formats, are available here.
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