We were due for a weekend getaway, and decided to head west along Highway 60 to take in some late season fall colours. I subscribe to the Ontario Parks newsletter, and was drawn to an image of Arrowhead Provincial Park’s Big Bend Lookout (seen below) – this would become our ultimate destination…
I mistakenly expected a quiet drive through Algonquin Provincial Park on our way to Huntsville. We soon discovered that even though the hardwoods were past their prime, all of the trailhead parking lots were full, and several coach buses could be seen at many of them as well. We had to adopt defensive driving techniques to avoid a few collisions with vehicles entering or leaving these parking lots (far too many drivers forgot that they were actually on a provincial highway, and not a low volume road limited to the park’s interior!).
Arrowhead Provincial Park is located a convenient 10 minutes north of Huntsville. The park was closed for the season, and like a dozen or so other vehicles, we parked just outside the park at the locked gate.
The trek to our first destination, Stubb’s Falls, was mostly uphill, ensuring that we stayed warm in the cool autumn air. We only crossed paths with a few other hikers, and felt pretty much alone once we left the main campground road to take the trail to the Falls. Our light hiking shoes were no match for the very wet conditions on the trail, and we had to resort to some rock hopping to avoid the puddles and mud along the way. We enjoyed having the Falls to ourselves, and took advantage of the solitude to take some self-portraits, as well as landscape shots.
We crossed the bridge at the Falls to make our way to our second destination, the Big Bend Lookout. The main feature of the Big East River are its many oxbows, several of which have been severed from the river due to the changing course of the stream. The lookout sits some 100′ above the river, and while it might be tempting to hop the fence to make one’s way down to the water, the steep sandy cliff acts as a natural deterrent to such foolish thoughts!
The hike back to the car was expedited by the threat of rain, and we were surprised to be encountering so many visitors who were just entering the park so late in the afternoon. We caught up to a young lad and his parents who was happy to share his love for soccer with us during the final half hour to the car.