Victoria Falls

Black River - Solitary Wilderness 1Up north at the very end of the trail off Cooper's Falls Road is an area we know as Victoria Falls, although there really is no nearby waterfall. The Black River runs through this wilderness park, and in some places over many of the boulders and rocks on the riverbed creating rapids - in some areas fairly quick rapids, in others the rapids are lazy and gentle. Almost any time we've taken the long and arduous trip up to this area, we've found it all but deserted. On one occasion we've seen a couple of other cars, but no people, on another, two other people, but most often we see no one. It has a lonely and wild feeling, with much of the area untouched. Although there are areas where people have set up small firepits and camp spots, there is no water, other than that provided by the river, and no electricity...not even any washroom or outhouse facility. If you love the outdoors and nature, this area is so worth the trip...once we get there, I seldom want to leave.Black River 3A low section of the rock cliffs along the Black River at the Victoria Falls area. They don't look very high in this scene, and this particular area has a more gentle slope to the river than some of the others. When you happen to be hanging from the cliff top by one hand with a camera in the other you soon realize just how much higher they are than they seem when you are just looking (so far, I've been lucky enough not to have fallen into the shallow river yet.)  The area is composed of boulders and outcroppings of granite and other rock indigenous to the Canadian Shield. Many have interesting shapes and colours - particularly those in the river and along the shoreline. Worn smooth and shaped by the waters of the river over eons of time some look like the backs of giant turtles, and others, the smooth black hide of a resting whale.

Black River Reflecting PoolThe flora is varied, from deciduous trees to firs and conifers, to scrub bushes and wildflowers. In some areas along the river's edge are small water plants and beyond the river in the marsh, all the typical marsh plants, like cattails and reeds. One other thing you'll find lots of up in this area is insects, so come prepared with some sort of oil or insect cream to protect yourself. Apart from the common mosquito, are many types of gnats, deerfly, many types of spider, and the dreaded blackfly. Blackflies are tiny and difficult to see, until they've bitten you. You'll know it soon afterward - the swelling lump, the uncontrollable itch and a tiny piece of missing skin will be a dead giveaway.  There are also butterflies and moths, some months in abundance.

The wildlife consists of many forest animals such as squirrels and the tiny chipmunks, and a variety of birds, from the robin to the bluejay, to smaller finches and sparrows. In the nearby marsh area that forms on the other side of the road from the bridge you are likely to find Heron, as well as ducks and sometimes geese. Although we haven't seen any bear, wolf, or deer, the area is perfect for these types of wildlife - little human habitation along the river and in the forest, and of course drinking water.

Black River at Victorial Falls
We tend to visit here during the daylight hours (usually around 10:30-11:00 am, and away be 5:00-6:00pm) and from our experience with deer in our own area, they are often out before and after these hours - just after sun up and again around dusk. While we wouldn't mind hanging around until dusk to see if any show up here, I think we'd be a little concerned that we'd find bear or wolf, rather than deer.  The wolf tend to stay away from humans, so unless they were starving or sick, or we accidentally stumbled across a den, it's unlikely we'd run across one, but I have seen wolf at the outskirts of Orillia, so I wouldn't cross it off my list of animals to be careful of. Bear seem to be getting more plentiful in our area, and are something to be very weary of. In our own area there have been a couple of bear attacks on humans in their own yards this (2010). In the 35 years I've lived in Orillia, I believe this is only the second time I've seen reports such as this. The one thing we do not want to do is run into a bear or her cubs in an area so isolated that help would be 40 minutes away.
Black River WildernessIn the area behind the bridge at Victorial Falls, the black river settles into a very small pool of quiet water before
traveling off into another direction, forming a large marsh.

Here, the low cliffs and thick trees along the river's edge create many shadows, and the pool reflects the scene along the riverbanks in it's silent water (seen in the black and white photo above). Beyond this smooth reflecting pool the water travels to an area where it spreads out over the lands forming a marsh that goes for miles. Coming into the area along the roadway (before you get to the bridge) you'll see part of this marsh along the edge of the road...and it times you may find the roadway under the waters of the marsh. Above the marsh is a rock cliff, atop which sits a small stone inuksuk, and beyond that, cottages and homes - very few, but they are there. We have yet to explore this area atop the cliff, since it is private land. The roadway goes a little ways beyond the wilderness area, but since most of the area has private property we have focused on the forest. One day, we'll along the roadway for a while and see what else may be there.

We also haven't spent a great deal of time exploring the marsh area yet - there is a pathway along there which we've followed for a short distance, but how far it goes I don't know yet. We've spent a few days every summer up here; enjoying the peace and hiking, but there is much we haven't yet seen and more to explore. That's one of the things I love about this seems to go on forever.

Victoria Bridge at BlackRiver

(left) A bridge over the Black River at the Victoria Falls area. The bridge is mostly iron with a wooden footpath and connects the wilderness park areas on either side of the river. To the left and right are small areas of hard-pack dirt where one can park.

(Below)  Taken from a lower perspective and further back than previous images one begins to get an idea of the size of some of these large boulders and granite outcroppings. This whole area gives one an immense feeling of peace, mostly by the sheer size and untouched surroundings, and partly because of it's solitude. If it weren't so difficult to reach, I'd be there all the time. This is a trip we generally have to plan for.

Black River 2

View Victoria FallsNorth of Cooper's Falls in a larger map