Thursday, August 27, 2020

Big Bend Lookout and the Big East River

The Big East River starts in Algonquin Park and heads to Lake Vernon near Huntsville, twisting and turning especially as it flows near and through Arrowhead Provincial Park. As the fast flowing water cuts through layers of sand it causes the formation of oxbow lakes and loops in the river and the lookout in the provincial park provides an outstanding view of one of the great loops in the river.

Arrowhead Provincial Park is 2.5 hours north of Toronto and is part of Ontario's primo cottage country called Muskoka. In addition to the camp sites and beaches, the park has two great points of interest - Big Bend Lookout and Stubbs Falls on the Little East River.

Panorama of Stubbs Falls on the Little East River

When rivers are allowed to determine their route (not constrained by man) they tend to follow the past of least resistance, from high elevations to low elevations. Sand does not stand up to the flow of water very well and erosion in sandy areas is quite extensive and the river meanders, causing some areas to be cut off from the river and be turned into oxbow lakes or even dry up, hiding the past river channel. Big Bend Lookout has large sand slopes along the outside of the curve, cut by the current, while sand is deposited on the inside of the curve as the water slows and the sediment falls out of the water. Erosion of the outer bend forces the park to move the lookout back from the edge each year. The view is similar to the famous Horseshoe Bend in the Grand Canyon.

Upstream launch point at Arrowhead Park Road adjacent to Highway 11
Cruising down the river

One of the reasons we came to Arrowhead was to kayak down the Big East River which flows fast enough that it is almost lazy river quality if you head downstream. We decided to drop the kayaks on Arrowhead Park Road adjacent to Highway 11. There is a small parking lot near Tulip Inn where you can park for free during the day. Then we parked our other vehicle at Hutchenson Beach at Lake Vernon which also had free parking. Light paddling and a stop for a barbecue lunch on one of the many sandbanks along the river had us completing the journey in about 5 hours and a distance of about 10 kilometres. It was a great journey and we hope to do it again next year. Highly recommended.

Stopping for a barbecue lunch on one of the many sand beaches along the Big East River
Spring runoff make for a powerful river. These steps got caught up on fallen trees

Update August 2021: We made it back to the Big East River, this time traveling down stream between Williamsport Road and Highway 11, passing through the famous Big Bend Lookout in Arrowhead Park. Last year we looked down upon the river and decided that we needed to put on our pirate hats and rest up on the sand bank below the lookout.
Pirates approaching the Big Bend

See more of the journey after the jump.

Panorama of the bend

We made it back to Stubb's Falls

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