My personal alternative name for this hike in Kettle Lakes Provincial Park is “Scary Creature Trail”, but we’ll get to that soon enough.
There are some nice hiking trails at Kettle Lakes, and this could be a favourite for many people. All trails at the park are pretty short, with this one coming in at only 1.5km in length. It has mostly minor elevation changes – nothing gruelling, but offers some great lake views.
Wintergreen Trail at Kettles Lakes starts off with lush green fields and a mix of vegetation to enjoy. You’ll find the trail starts with a bit of low lying shrubs and a sandy dirt base, as is found at many of the parks in this area of Ontario, just east of Timmins. Blueberry bushes and jack pine forest are common here in the park.
Those tall spindly pines provide a fairly open start to the trail and offer possible bird, squirrel and chipmunk sightings. It isn’t long before the vegetation changes though, into denser forest with more birch trees popping up as the trail eventually winds around Island Lake, one of the many kettle lakes formed here by the last ice age.
Walking through some overgrown shrubs along the trail, approaching the lake, was when I heard something quite loud, which stopped me in my tracks.
Just up and around the corner something was making a lot of noise, rustling through the trees, breaking branches and causing commotion. Hmmm. Deer and smaller creatures tend to move around in practical silence, so this seemed odd.
Even bears, which love the blueberries around here, are generally very quiet. My heart started to race a bit as the noises got even louder and seemingly closer. Something was tearing up the forest just ahead of me and it didn’t sound friendly.
The trail was pretty narrow here. Rough terrain on the right was slightly uphill – towards the sounds, or a steep and long downhill slide that would eventually lead into Island Lake. It was going to be a jump downhill if whatever was ahead decided to come after me.
The noises got even louder, whatever it was, had reached the trail up ahead of me. Branches and twigs snapping. I waited for it to come barreling down the trail right at me, it sounded huge whatever it was!
Then the sounds started to get quieter. Moving away, moving downhill towards the lake. I cautiously moved forward on the trail, up to the corner and to where the noise had come from. I got there just in time to see the last parts of a birch tree being dragged down to the lake.
Ah ha! A beaver. I stood there near an opening in the forest and waited. Sure enough a couple of minutes later I saw the telltale ripples of a beaver swimming across the lake, with long tree in tow.
The beaver had obviously been busy. Surveying the area it wasn’t overly obvious that a tree had just been dragged through, unless you looked close at the small shrubs and bushes. A little ways off the trail was where the tree had been taken. It was a good 50m or more from the lake, and a fair trek uphill/downhill for that beaver. He sure earned his reward!
Walking along the trail, with nerves calmed, I soon came across another birch tree that had been freshly chewed down by the beaver. Seemed that someone had some home renovations in the works.
I left the scary beaver trail behind and admired the lake from above. There weren’t any trails to get down and see what the beaver was up to, but that was probably good – nice for them to have their peace and quiet away from us visitors, even if they caused me a bit of a noisy scare.
Before long, I came to a clearing and end of the trail. A nice walk in the woods, with a bit of a surprise. At least now I know what a beaver dragging a tree through the forest sounds like!