Red Rock to Nipigon Trail connects the two towns, following the scenic Nipigon River in the northernmost section of Lake Superior, passing through a variety of habitat and wildlife. Sections range from strenuous to easy.
We began in Red Rock and climbed up rocky ledges to Lloyd's Lookout and Nipigon Bay Lookout, and saw the Inn, mill, railroad and homes of Red Rock. We passed through spruce and pine forests, then a boggy area before ascending up a rope assisted cliff to Eagle's Ridge Lookout, the highest summit on the trail. Here you can see gorgeous vistas of the river and islands.
We were on the lookout for a black bear and her cubs who lived in this area. Last spring, she brought her cubs to the trail and left them there for curious hikers to see. "Just don't step between her and the cubs" was the advice...but how do you know where SHE is? Luckily, we did not see mama or her darlings. Or the red fox who live here.
Or any other hikers. Just two men with chainsaws who were clearing out the path–which became a little alarming when they somehow managed to run ahead of us (bypassing a lot of felled trees) to intercept us on Eagle Ridge–but we had turned around. From the high ridge they waved to us, calling out and asking where we were going. "Back to the car" we yelled nonchalantly, while panicking and hightailing it back over the challenging ridges and ravines toward the safety of our car. Can't can be too safe in unfamiliar woods with men carrying chainsaws who were purposely following us...each nervous glance over my shoulder revealed they were making pretty good time on our heels...but finally we reached our car, breathless, and dashed away.
We drove over to the town of Nipigon to access the opposite trailhead. If you don't have two cars in your party, and cannot arrange transportation then it will necessary to hike to a chosen scenic vantage point along the Red Rock Ridge, (the farthest one being Eagle's Ridge) and backtrack. Otherwise, the trail (without accessing the additional mileage to the Lookouts) being a long, challenging 5 miles oneway, will take a good 10 hours roundtrip.
At the Nipigon trailhead, we hiked along the relatively flat, easy Wetland Trail. What a breeze compared to the difficult climbs through the thick forest on the other side. We searched for osprey and bald eagle in the marshes but saw none. We did see a large beaver lodge and a few abandoned fishing boats along the sandy dirt trail.
Transportation can be arranged in advance for those who wish to hike the entire trail. Call the marina at Nipigon. A taxi will drive you back to your car at Red Rock Ridge trailhead, just 16 miles away, for $30 CAN. A bit steep, but so are the cliffs you won't have to repeat on the return hike.