We finish our morning break before 10 a.m., and we ready ourselves to continue. There's only one headland of land between us and Hattie Cove - where the park headquarters is located - and we can feel the reality of completing our journey more tangibly now. The trail becomes somewhat rough again as it crosses up and over this headland, primarily in the forest except for a brief area of open bedrock over the highest point. We have returned to more humid conditions today, and the trail is wet and slick (care is required on any exposed bit of bedrock, roots, or wood planking, lest you want to try and deal with suddenly doing the splits).
Normally the coastal trail crosses a large expanse of wetland at the end of Hattie Cove, on a long boardwalk. This bit of trail is both scenic and interesting and also provides a way across an extended stretch of difficult terrain. Unfortunately, this nice section of trail is closed today, as a result of a delay in the completion of boardwalk replacement. Instead, the park has hacked out a 1.5km longer trail around the wetland, though tangled forest just beyond its upper edge. We're a touch miffed, because this trail replacement was scheduled for completion earlier in July. From our vantage point, it looks complete... we can see all the way to the far side and as far as we can tell it's done. But the last link in the pre-fab boardwalk is lifted up and a sign and tape say trail closed so... we decide not to be renegades and not walk on it, anyway.
There was starting to be a lot of talk about burgers at the A&W in White River, and this detour stuff was just getting in the way. All in all, this was a tedious and unwelcome extension to our hike. Although the footing was soft and loamy, there were a lot of little wiggly twists and turns, and one rather sketchy makeshift log-bridge crossing - which Brian ended up slipping off of while being pressured by some other hikers.
It feels longer, but it only takes us about twenty-five minutes to complete the trail detour around the closed boardwalk. From here we return to the official path, which is now very much a front-country trail: very wide, extensively planked and boardwalked and full of fresh-smelling hikers. The humid day has made the planking boards slick and damp, and much caution is once again required - especially if you are maintaining a fast pace, like we are.
The signs of civilization grow ever larger as we cover the last kilometre or two to the park headquarters: more people - the sound of vehicles on the nearby park road (only a few hundred metres to our right initially, but at times within sight). And the presence of various interpretive signs and plaques.
In the middle of a prescribed burn area (now re-growing), we encounter a small Pukaskwa Coastal Path sign, and we stop for a group selfie. It is only a few metres beyond this that we encounter the twin of the huge sign we saw at North Swallow, and beyond that, the bathrooms, visitor center and parking lot. Finished at noon. Not bad, good time. And congrats to all!
Coastal Hiking Trail alumni
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Hook Falls to Hattie Cove - click map to view
Pukaskwa National Park Day 6 - Hook Falls to Hattie Cove - Hike Data
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet