29-Jul-2003 -- My wife, my parents and I had planned a trip to the upper penninsula of Michigan to visit family. Since we were planning to stay for a decent amount of time, we decided to take a trip up into Canada to make an attempt at the confluence.
We crossed the border into Ontario at Sault Ste. Marie on the International bridge and headed north on Canadian Highway 17. At 90 km/h (about 55 mph), the trip took just under 3 hours once we were in Canada. We decided to spend the night in Wawa, about 10 miles from the confluence. Wawa is very dedicated to hunting, fishing and snowmobiling so there are plenty of motels. It's still a good idea to get a reservation, especially if it's a winter trip. The Wawa Tourism website has info on the area and motels for anyone else planning a trip.
Once we got our room, we decided to see how far we could make it in the truck. Since it was later in the day, we didn't figure we'd make it to the confluence that day, but we wanted to see how much of a hike we'd end up with.
Much of the land we had to cross was partly owned by Superior Aggregates and the Michipicoten First Nation indian tribe (pronounced Mish-ah-peh-cotten). Everything we saw was public access, so we didn't have any issues with permissions. Most of the land, including the hike is on the tribe's land. They have a number of signs saying use the land at your own risk, but no restrictions that we saw.
Also, even the topo maps of the area don't have all the roads on the reservation listed, so we spent a couple hours just trying to get to the closest point. Using the topo maps and a GPS plugged into a laptop with mapping software, we ended up following a couple miles of two track to a gravel pit (Picture 1). We made it about another 1/2 mile until the road dead ended into the Dore river, which as about 75 feet wide at that point. There had been a bridge there at one point, but it had since collapsed into the river. Judging from the 15 foot tree in the path on the other side, the bridge had been gone for some time. This was when we realized we were unprepared and probably wouldn't make it during this trip.
This was the closest we got to the confluence. It would've been at least a 3.5 mile hike on the other side through heavy growth and steep hills. The actual confluence is not on the Michipicoten First Nation's land, so I can't be sure if there will be issues with access once we'd left their property, but it all looks pretty uninhabited. Judging by the maps, it appears the area will be heavily wooded near a creek.
If no one has visited this confluence by next year, we'll probably make another attempt. We weren't prepared for the river crossing, or a day long hike (possible camp out) since we couldn't get the topo maps prior to arriving in Canada. I would recommend a vehicle with good clearance and a 4x4 if it's been wet. Most of the two track is covered by 4 to 12 inch rocks because of the gravel pit, so it's a boucy ride with a few steep inclines. There is a spot at the river to stop and launch a canoe, and there is actually a canoe rental place on the way in.
The area is beautiful with quite a few waterfalls (Picture 2) and rivers. We even ran into some local kids jumping of the rock faces at one waterfall (Picture 3). I highly recommend the trip even if you don't want to hunt the confluence. The town of Wawa doesn't offer much other than motels, a couple grocery stores and a tourist trap shop or two, but the area is stunning with a lot of great views of Lake Superior.
If you're going to attempt this one, make arrangements for a canoe or raft, motel reservations in Wawa, hiking equipment and possibly a tent, depnding on how much you think you can hike in a day.