Our second family vacation for the summer of 2018 was upon us! It would be our first time camping together in a tent as a family of four! Our July camping trip was great but involved a whole lot of whining. I was determined to try and keep everyone in a better mindset for this trip. After work on Friday, we quickly finished packing up the car, fed the girls and started driving. Kory had decided to drive up through Michigan, crossing back into Canada at Sault Saint Marie. The drive is shorter that way and we would avoid the traffic on the 400 north of Toronto.
The border crossing (from Windsor to Detroit) was thankfully uneventful and we drove a few hours up to West Branch Michigan where we stayed in a hotel for the night. The next morning, we started the drive up through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Unfortunately, we hit traffic on the Mackinac Bridge and again on the International Bridge back into Canada.
Because we had to cross the border, we hadn’t brought any groceries with us from home. We stopped in the Sault for lunch and to stock our cooler. It’s hard to say if driving through the US saved us much time. I’m sure we would have been caught in traffic around the GTA had we driven through Canada. We continued down the road, where Purple Loosestrife and Crows were gradually replaced by Fireweed and Ravens. We drove down what seemed like an impossibility long and winding road, over a temporary single-lane bridge and finally arrived at Mississagi!
Mississagi is a small park with 60 campsites, no flush toilets, no electrical sites and no showers. It is beautiful! I quickly fell in love with the park.
From our site (#6), we could take a short trail right to the lake. The girls and I explored the lake shore while loons called in the distance.
The fire ban at Mississagi was lifted right before we arrived! Kory and I enjoyed a lovely campfire after finally getting the girls to sleep. Car naps lead to very late bedtimes for the girls!
Mississagi is a quiet park. There were several open sites and many seasonal campers. From our campsite, we could portage the canoe right to the beach. One morning, we set out for a day of paddling, hiking, picnicking and swimming. We were prepared for anything. Across Semiwite Lake we paddled, enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery.
Black Spruce and White Pine lined the lake and Ravens soared overhead – it definitely felt like a northern park! About 2km from our site, we happened upon Semiwite Beach and the portage to Helenbar Lake. Semiwite Beach is incredible – possibly my favourite beach ever!
The sand is soft and the water was calm. The slope into the water was very gradual which created an amazing area to splash and play!
Aside from a few backpackers on the Semiwite trail, we had the place to ourselves. There were 2 picnic tables, a fire pit and a well maintained outhouse.
The portage to Helenbar was short and well maintained as well as being a beautiful hike.
We enjoyed our picnic on the beach and an afternoon of swimming and hiking. My pictures just do not do this place justice – it was incredible.
After our day of paddling and swimming, Em was asking to do some hiking. We walked from our campsite along the Semiwite Lake trail.
The trail goes all the way around the lake through the beautiful forest. We spotted several frogs (Leopard frogs, I believe) along the trail. Lyssa pointed out every birch tree. We just walked until we felt like turning around. Em did a great job being the line leader and pointing things out on the trail.
We visited both beaches in the campground. The beach at the end of Semiwite Lake had somewhat decent sand but the swimming area was a bit weedy. The beach with the canoe rental had a nice swimming area but the sand was almost gravel. We all had a great time enjoying the perfect weather – the beaches just didn’t compare to the perfection of Semiwite beach.
Our site was in a great location. We could easily walk to both beaches and the vault toilets. I loved having the Semiwite trail right behind our site. The girls and I went for several short hikes while Kory kept busy on the campsite. I was excited to see Em take an interest in hiking. We looked for frogs and the girls threw many many rocks into the lake.
Mississagi, though it is still a provincial park, is operated by the town of Elliot Lake. There is a small store that had a bottle of pop, some Gatorade and firewood. They ran out of ice and weren’t able to say if they were going to get more so we had to make an unexpected drive to Elliott Lake. I had no cell service at all and Kory could pick it up a bit from the beach. We had our Spot device with us in case of emergency. It was quite refreshing to be out of wifi range!
One afternoon, we ended our paddle earlier than expected when the wind picked up on Semiwite Lake.
We drove over to Flack Lake, just down the highway.
A one kilometre trail passes by a small waterfall/rapids and then up through a gorgeous upland forest.
There was a floating dock, a boat launch, picnic area, privies, and stunning scenery – and only one other car there. This region is definitely under utilized (which is probably why I loved it). Seriously, if anyone out there wants a quiet camping trip or backcountry experience, I highly recommend making the drive. The scenery at times reminded us of Temagami, but with no one else around!
We all felt relaxed and comfortable at Mississagi. The girls adapted well to sleeping in the tent. Whining was at a minimum. It probably helped that we enjoyed perfect weather for our entire stay.
After an incredible 4 nights at Mississagi, we packed up to drive to Grundy Lake. We were on the road by 9:30am – a new record with 2 kids and certainly so much faster than packing up the trailer.