A beautiful last day of winter walk through North Bay!
I had to make a trip to North Bay recently to pick something up, and I would be travelling there with a couple other people who also had errands to do in the city. One of the people that I was going with asked if I wanted to go for a walk or hike while we were in North Bay. That sounded like a great idea to me!
Even though I live not too far away from North Bay, there are still a surprising amount of trails in and around the city that I have not yet explored. North Bay has a wide variety of trails for hiking, walking, biking, multi-use, winter use, some that are more rugged and natural, while others are paved and travel right through the downtown core.
When we went to decide which trail to visit, the person that I was going with suggested the Kate Pace Way pathway. We had biked along this pathway in summer 2020, but we had never walked it before, so it would be nice to get to experience this trail at a much slower pace. We also thought that this might be a good option as during this time of year when it’s getting warmer out and snow is melting, some trails can be wet and muddy. The Kate Pace Way is paved it’s entire 12.8km length, so the only issues we might run into would be a little snow or ice.
The Kate Pace Way, named in honour of Olympic skier Kate Pace who was from North Bay, is a linear multi-use trail for walking, jogging, biking, and inline skating, and is intended for shared use. The pathway winds it’s way through a variety of landscapes, through marshes, forest, across rivers and creeks, along city streets, through parks, and along the North Bay waterfront at Lake Nipissing.
The Kate Pace Way is a part of the Voyageur Cycling Route between Ottawa and Sudbury, and has been designated as part of The Great Trail, also known as the Trans Canada Trail.
We decided that we would start at the far south end of the pathway, located on the outskirts of North Bay, and we would make our way north, up into the city. We weren’t sure how far along the Kate Pace we would get, how long it would take, but there are lots of access points along the pathway to roads and city streets where we could get picked up by our ride if needed.
We got dropped off at Cranberry Road and made our way from the intersection to the start of the Kate Pace. It was a beautiful, sunny and warm spring like day on what was actually the last day of winter. It was the first real time this year that we had been out, that was warm enough to not have to wear gloves.
We started off down the Kate Pace. The first few kilometres of the pathway were probably my favourite. It was nice and quiet, and kind of in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing but trees and marsh around, no homes or businesses close by.
It had been warm enough lately that there were some sections of the trail that the snow had melted off and pavement was showing, while in other more sheltered areas there was still a few inches of snow on top and some icy spots to watch out for.
We saw lots of birds and squirrels. There were chickadees who almost landed on us, which we found out further down the pathway was because people had left seed out for them and likely came out to feed them by hand.
We passed by another marshy area where there was two beaver lodges. We only saw a few other people during the first few kilometers, some people out walking their dogs and a person riding a fatbike.
At certain places along the pathway there were signs that displayed photos and information about different topics, such as plants, animals, and the environment. It was nice to stop for a moment at these signs and learn a little about the wildlife and plants or trees that can be found in the area.
We came out to a bridge along the pathway that crosses over the Lavase River. Since the last time we had passed over this bridge on our bikes last year, it had been repaired with nice new decking on top.
The Lavase River is a part of the Lavase Portages. This was the main route that the Indigenous people, then followed by the fur traders and European explorers such as Samuel de Champlain and the voyageurs, took to travel between Trout Lake and Lake Nipissing. The Lavase Portages is still used today by recreational paddlers.
We arrived out at Lakeshore Drive where the pathway then followed along on a sidewalk for a short distance. One thing that could really be said about this trail is that it was well marked! At almost every intersection or road crossing, there was a large map that showed the entire pathway and where you currently were. These signs also provided a variety of other important information such as where washrooms were located, other trails in the area, distances and contact information. At the intersections or road crossings where there was not a large map, there was at least a smaller sign pointing you in the right direction to where the pathway goes.
The path then turned onto Booth Road. The next few kilometres of the Kate Pace would follow along the side of this road.
This section of the pathway was not quite as nice as the other sections. When we had biked through this section the summer before, we were going a much faster speed and did not really take the time to look around much or realize the path’s proximity to the road. While walking, much slower than biking, we would notice these details more. The only thing that separated the road and the pathway was a painted line, and instead of feeling like we were enjoying a nice walk along a path it felt more like just walking on the side of the road, which is what it was.
This section of the Kate Pace did pass by a few scenic spots though, a creek and a marshy area, and also passed close by the North Bay water tower which was interesting to see. It also had a wide paved shoulder on both sides of the road which was nice as there was lots of space for both walkers or bikers, and you could travel on either side of the road.
It would be nice in the future though if maybe this section of the trail could be rerouted away from the road, or maybe even built several feet off of the road if possible.
After this section, the pathway turned off of the road and started winding it’s way through a treed area between railway tracks and the backyards of some homes. Shortly after walking into this section we saw two Downy Woodpeckers in a tree, and a pair of Mallard Ducks swimming in a little creek.
Although this section of the trail was bringing us deeper into North Bay, it was fairly quiet and we didn’t really feel like we were in a city.
I imagine this section of the pathway would be a really nice spot for people who live in the area to come for a walk away from the noisy streets. The entire Kate Pace Way is actually an excellent pathway to follow for those who want to make their way through the city and avoid the busier main roads and narrow sidewalks.
Another great thing about the Kate Pace Way is that during the warmer months, when there is no snow on the path, the entire pathway is completely assessable to all who wish to travel it! Those who use wheelchairs, walkers, medical assist vehicles, parents or guardians pushing strollers, or for anyone with mobility issues, the pathway is paved, wide, and smooth, with no steep climbs. It’s a perfect place for people to enjoy nature and some time in the outdoors without barriers.
By this point along the path we had decided that we would continue walking. We had completed over 10km of the path already and were making good time, so we might as well keep going and complete the entire Kate Pace Way!
The pathway brought us out to a park with soccer and baseball fields and then followed along the edge of Main Street before taking us underneath the Constable Fred Lefebrvre Memorial Overpass. The Kate Pace Way and the railway tracks both squeeze under the overpass at this point, with the pathway heading through Lee Park.
When we arrived at Lee Park we had to stop and get a photo of course with the Gateway Of The North, City of North Bay, archway sign. This has become something that we always do now when passing through this part of the city during a long bike ride, or in this case, a long walk.
From here the Kate Pace starts to make it’s way towards the North Bay waterfront along the Lake Nipissing Shoreline. It got a little colder once we came out to this section of the trail, with wind blowing across the still frozen over lake. Even though it was a bit chilly down here, there was lots of people out and about along the waterfront area enjoying the day!
Through this section of the Kate Pace Way people have the option of continuing to travel along the paved wider part of the path alongside Memorial Drive Road to the end of the trail, or they can follow the smaller path that winds it’s way directly alongside the shoreline and through the marina area. We went for the waterfront path option so that we could have a better view of the lake and shoreline as we walked by.
North Bay has a lovely waterfront area with a few different beaches, parks with benches and picnic tables, an area for outdoor concerts and a playing field, beautiful gardens, sports parks, statues and memorial plaques, a large marina, a pier, restaurants and ice cream shop, two carousals, a mini train ride, and a playground.
We passed through the marina area and by the pier, and then made our way back up towards the Memorial Drive Road to find the Kate Pace Way trailhead.
We found the trailhead sign located right alongside Memorial Drive. We had completed the entire 12.8km length of the Kate Pace Way, and adding on the sections of road we walked before and after, it make for a nice 14km outing that afternoon!
Overall, we enjoyed walking along the Kate Pace Way and would travel it again on foot or by bike! It’s a great path to follow to make your way through the city, or to get out for a nice easy walk or bike ride. I especially enjoyed the first few kilometres between Cranberry Road and Lakeshore Drive, as I thought that section was the most scenic and felt more like a walk through the woods. I would probably return to walk that section again during another time of year, such as summer or fall, to see what the surrounding landscape looks like during those seasons!
The section of path along the waterfront was very nice as well, and would be especially nice during a hot summer day along the Lake Nipissing shoreline! An evening walk along this section at anytime of year would be a great too, as it’s a nice location to view a sunset.
If you’d like to learn more about the Kate Pace Way there are a few different websites online that provide some good information about the pathway and some maps as well. I have posted links to three of those website below.