Friday, October 25, 2013

Chutes Provincial Park not to Narrow (Thanks Shins)


For some reason Beverley thought that Chutes Provincial Park was not going to be a great park, but upon arrival she realized how wrong she was.  But only this once.  Chutes is dazzling.  I think Chutes is the provincial park that made me realize, northern Ontario parks are better. Now, wait, before I’m lynched, I wish to make my case.  Northern parks have more physical space and therefore, can maintain sites that are lovely, quiet, and private. Now hang away.

No, log jam here, but maybe you can see some tree butter. Testing out the new panorama function.

Chutes Provincial Park was named for the logging chutes on the Sauble River that use to sit on top of the stunning waterfall at the north end of the town of Massey.  Massey is a half hour outside of Espanola, if you take the Chicheemaun, or about an hour east of Sudbury. When the logging company closed in the early nineteen sixties there was talk of building a hydro-electric dam over these falls, but the province decided to keep the natural water feature and create a provincial park. Thank-you. I guessed this park is a natural environment park. Wrong. Chutes is a recreation park, so I'm one for one in my guessing game. 

This park began our end of the summer camping extravaganza to see Bev’s parents again in September 2013.  We were going to try to see three provincial parks on the way to Thunder Bay (dumb idea), one on the other side of TB (Quetico to come), and then three on the way back to Toronto (didn't happen).  When we arrived at Chutes planning to stay a single night, it only took an hour for that plan to be thrown straight out the metaphorical window. Because of Chutes, I thought it would be smart to add a category to the end of each of my blogs: Suggested Length of Stay.  For Chutes the answer would be 3 Days – Day one set up, Day 2 Hike and Swim, Day 3 Sit and stare at the waterfall before leaving – and this is exactly what we did.

Bev staring at the falls.  Told you.
In the past 4 years, I have tried to learn as much as possible about Mycology (fancy word for the study of mushrooms) sometimes to the dismay of Beverley, but I haven’t poisoned her yet -- with mushrooms, (ceviche is kind of a different story). The only trail at Chutes was the Twin Bridges Trail (6km), a great medium hike with some difficult slopes and a mushroom every three feet.  This was the first time we ate orange boletes (Leccinum aurantiacum) and there were at least 10 different varieties of edible mushrooms that were ripe and ready when we were there the Tuesday after September long weekend.  Now I cannot stress enough, when we pick mushrooms I have to be 100% sure the mushroom is edible before we even pick it from the ground and to do that I have to confirm it's variety in 2 different mushroom books. And then to be extra safe, I take a spore print.  I'm getting better at it, but I still follow those rules. Here are some pictures of the edible mushrooms for the visual learners:

Clavariadelphus pistillaris (pestal shaped coral mushroom)
The sweetest grilled mushroom of them all.
Russula Aeruginea Top
Didn't eat it because -- it's green.
Orange Bolete from a different camping trip.
Excellent flavour, but I wouldn't pick this one since the slugs have claimed it.

Both Bev and I did go for a swim and it wasn’t the coldest water I’ve ever been in, but if you won’t swim unless it’s 24ÂșC this is not the place for you.  It was also fun to be taken for a ride by the current and I have, since our trip, been told people use certain routes on the waterfall as waterslides.  I wish I had of known this and gone for a death defying slide.

Beverley getting ready for a cool one.

There are some cool things about Chutes I hadn't seen at other provincial parks, but now I'm looking for them.  Things like biker boxes so people with motorbikes can lock up their valuables or food over night and accessable campsites for the physically disabled.  I have since started to notice these amenities at all the campgrounds since.


Campground A sites 1 and 2.

Physically disabled fire pit -- The campground bar-b-que.

The best campsites at Chutes are campground A #20, at campground C #62, 68, 74, 82, 85, 87, RF #94, 95, 97, 98, 99, 101, 102, 103, 104, 106, 108, and 110, and at campground D #119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 128, and 130.  Since there are so many good sites, the best ones are C #62 and 74 and RF 97.  We stayed at #94 which was one minute from the waterfall and you could hear water all night as you were sleeping. Not good for the suggestible pee'r.


Site 94 from the road.

Site 94's path to the waterfall with a waving Bev.

At the start of every trip there is a sense of excitement and anticipation that can cloud ones view of a Provincial Park.  I don’t think this is one of those times, but take it into consideration when reading my assessment.


Site Cleanliness: Good.  Some little bips and bops to clean up, but overall the site was pristine and some mushrooms growing right on the site.

Privacy: So many private sites to choose from.  The site we stayed at was not the best but we loved it. Privacy wise this campground is fantastic.

Hiking and Activities: Twin Bridges trail is great and the swimming is good. We also heard that the fishing was good, but we didn't take the time to try. There are summer activities set up by the staff.  This may sound good but it is really average at best.

Fire Pit and Amenities: The fire pit was excellent and as usual the amenities were great. When we were there the water was on a boil advisory and if you are sensitive, the water has some tannin flavour.

Beach Quality or Ease of Getting to the Water: The beach is great, not excellent and it is very easy to get to from all the campgrounds.

Recommended Length of Stay: 3 Days – Day one set up, Day 2 Hike and Swim, Day 3 Sit and stare at the waterfall before leaving.

Overall Impression: I loved chutes, it was a great park with a fantastic hike and beach.  My feelings about this park will likely increase its rating unduly, but I will try to be realistic.

Rating out of 107: #33 A third of me wants it higher, a third of me wants it lower and a third of me wants it exactly at 33. And "like a blind man at an orgy, I'm going to have to feel things out."

Shot some chutes on the Twin Bridges trail.  Shoot the chutes!


If you're keeping track:
#2 Algonquin
#19 Sandbanks
#21 Wakami Lake
#29 Pancake Bay
#33 Chutes
#93 Rainbow Falls
#101 Turkey Point