***This trail is threatened with closure due to new ownership of the land - see the end of the review for more information. Please help to spread the word about keeping this trail open - the #1 attraction on Manitoulin Island.***
We were very lucky with our day to hike the Cup and Saucer trail. It was sunny and warm. We started off on the white trail (the main trail), with a gentle incline towards the first escarpment. We stayed on the white trail and managed to climb the first escarpment without too much difficulty. There are "natural" stairs formed by the limestone, as well as tree roots to step on. Just a bit past the top of the climb you come out to the first set of views over Lake Manitou and along the cliffs. The entire area below the bluff and over to the lake is forest. If you are from Southern Ontario and hike the Bruce Trail, then this is what possibly it once looked like from Mt Nemo or Rattlesnake Point. Trees as far as the eye can see! The bird song was wonderful, with Carolina Wrens, Wood Thrush and Nuthatches making their presence felt.
Along the white trail a little longer with more views, until we arrived at the next escarpment to climb up. This one was a bit more challenging, with larger rocks to scramble up - some a bit slippery - and a more vertical slope. At one point it was easier to ascend bum up, rather than on foot. Kids had no trouble! This is difficult for people with mobility issues, or those who are not in shape.
However, the view at the top is quite spectacular, with some outlooks quite scary given that there is no barrier when looking down! The drop is higher than Niagara Falls. You must exercise great caution along the second part of the trail, and kids should be well supervised when up there. A quick move or trip, and over you go.
We continued on about half way along the white trail, and then turned back, but if you do the entire white trail, it's about 12km. There is also a blue side trail, and an adventure trail which looked like a lot of fun - ropes, ladders, climbing into crevices and caves - great for kids and kids at heart.
We hiked about 7km in 3 hours. Stopped at every view and took lots of photos. There were many people on the trail, all being very respectful of the area. Make sure you take lots of water and a snack, as well as a hat on sunny days. Mossy spray might be helpful. Proper walking shoes are a necessity - no flip flops!! The trail is NOT appropriate for strollers. There are no services here, but the village of M'Chigeeng is only 10 minutes away.
***HOWEVER, and there is a big however, as soon as you begin the walk from the parking lot, you will be very aware of the noise from the adjacent gravel pit and quarry. The machinery can be heard along the entire route of the trail, and so this detracts from the quiet nature sounds one would hope to hear whilst on the trail. There are a couple of places to walk up and see the quarry, which is mining the side of the limestone escarpment for the dolomite and sand and gravel. The land on which the Cup and Saucer trail crosses is privately owned, and for years the owner allowed it to be open to the public for all to enjoy. He also owned the adjacent gravel pit and quarry. However, this gentleman recently passed away, leaving the land to a new owner. This owner is threatening to close the trail, citing liability issues. However, the Manitoulin Tourist Board purchases liability insurance for exactly this reason, so one can only conclude that the new owner wants to close the trail in order to expand the quarry. Please pass the word around about this wonderful treasure on Manitoulin Island - the most beautiful views of the escarpment, and the diversity of plant and animal life found in the area. It would be a travesty to the island tourism if this trail were to close. Many people come down for the day from Sudbury, boosting the local economy as well. As the #1 tourist site on the island, it would hurt the economic benefits gained from the tourist industry. Keep watching this space as this issue develops.
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