Trail Dedications

 Table of Contents

1. Grant's Trail

2. Helen's Trail

3. Liz's Trail

4. "Red" Briffett Trail


Grant's Trail
(Many thanks to Sue and Jim MacLean, Gerry and Nickie Jean and Darla MacPhail for the write up!)

Grant MacPhail joined Coureurs de Bois Outdoors Club in January of 2007. He has been a very dedicated hike leader and served on the executive as co-vice president along with Jim MacLean.

As well as creating what is now known as “Grant’s Trail” located just off of Stanrock Road, he has been very active in clearing many of the local trails.

When Coureurs de Bois first got involved with Winterfest (an annual winter festival hosted by the city), Grant – along with a team of members – cut the wood, set up the fire pit and made sure there were enough hot dogs and hot chocolate to feed the families that participated in a snowshoe hike to Horne Lake Island. Whenever the club planned a cookout, Grant was always on site bright and early to make sure the fire was burning when the hikers arrived. He introduced the club to “Moonlight walks” and the tradition has carried on for many years.

Over the years he lovingly made 35 hiking sticks that he gave out to various members. Some were offered as door prizes at our annual Christmas party.

Grant is best known for

  •       his limitless energy in breaking trail when snowshoeing and his unwavering conviction that nothing beats traditional snowshoes.
  •       his gift for storytelling. He actually convinced some newcomers of the legend of the “Canadian Eagle” … which surprisingly very much resembled our common raven!
  •       shaking the branches that are laden with fresh snow. It is well known not to follow Grant too closely after a snowstorm.
  •       his love for Maple Leaf bologna sandwiches accompanied by a Darla pill during lunch break.
  •       his kindness and fun loving approach to life.


Helen's Trail

(Many thanks to Phillip Barnes for write up!)

 Back in the early days of the hiking club (back in the 90's), Alan Day, President of the Coureurs de Bois,  learned of an old trappers trail that was accessible from a disused road in the bush just north of the existing Stanrock Road and east of Gander Lake.  He and another member, Gord Bruce, went looking for, and eventually found the trail where it went in by following the slash marks on trees left by the trappers. They even found signs that the mines had been exploring in the area near the Denison Mine site as there was an old drill rig left in the bush. However, there was no evidence of any mine activity beyond that.

 A few years later, in conversation, he mentioned their find to me. It sparked my interest and Jean-Guy and my late wife, Liz, and I went searching for the lost trail. We had just about given up when we found what looked like a trail heading in off the old road and sure enough we were able to follow the marks up to the ridge above the Denison dam.

 About this time a new couple arrived in Elliot Lake from "down south". Franz and Helen Ohler had retired from the St. Catherine area and had taken up residence on Talon Lake at Bonfield near North Bay. Only problem was, they could not access the site safely when the lake ice was forming or at break-up. They solved this by renting an apartment for the winter in Elliot Lake.

 Franz was a superb wood carver and Helen loved hiking. She became friends with Liz, and they decided to clear and mark the trail, including the extension from the ridge down to an extension trail leading to the east end of Cinder Lake. It seemed almost a daily occurrence that Helen would phone Liz asking if they were going to hike that day. They worked on the trail steadily, sometimes with others, until it was cleared and marked.

 Franz and Helen enjoyed several years of winters in Elliot Lake until, tragically, Helen became ill and died quite suddenly while they were at their summer home.

 The Coureurs de Bois decided to name the old trappers trail "Helen’s Trail" in her memory.

 More lately, I added the 150 Trail, cleared in honour of Canada's 150 year anniversary. This is reached by using Helens Trail up to the ridge and then turning east, following the newer trail - although I should mention that part had been used by us in the past - until reaching Northspan Lake on the Spanish American mine site. The trail then turns south, eventually reaching the road into the mine site and will lead back to Stanrock Road only a short distance from where we park to enter Helen’s Trail.


Liz's Trail
(Many thanks to Phillip Barnes for write up!)

 Liz's Trail, also known by the hiking club and locals as Banana Lake trail was named in honour of Liz Barnes, a Coureurs de Bois member since the mid  90's, after her death in 2017. This beautiful little lake was  her favourite trail and she spent many hours hiking and clearing there.

The main entry point is reached by taking Dunlop Shores Road off Hwy 108. Just head west from 108, cross the ATV/snowmobile trail about 200 yards in and go another 200 yards or so on Dunlop Shores, just around the first bend and look for an obvious trail heading off on the left side.

At this point this is a fairly wide trail and looks as though it was used by trucks at one time, which is correct, as it was used while companies were searching for uranium deposits and facilitated putting drill rigs in place back in the 1950's. The last of these was fairly recent within the last 25 years. You may see evidence of the drilling activity as there are some vent pipes still visible off the side of the trail. Pretty well hidden by undergrowth now. Also, the damage on the trail in some places, was caused by a later model drill that was placed there about 20 years ago.

The distance from Dunlop Shores Rd. To Banana Lake is only about 2.5km on this trail.

Walk about .5 km and turn right at the Y junction. Walk another .5 km and look for a trail partly hidden in the trees on the left side. It should have trail markers there to help you find it.

You will notice deep ruts on this trail at some areas and a short diversion in one place around an area that floods. This was caused by the gigantic vehicle used to put the aforementioned drill rig in place. The trail will take you about 1.5km to another join in the trail where a leg goes off to the right. Stay on the original trail and it will take you over a rise and then down to the lake shore.

If you take the right leg, the one you just passed, you will shortly see markers going left and this goes to a viewpoint over the lake and a bench placed in Liz/s memory, where you can have a pleasant lunch time view.

Go back to the trail and turn left from  the trail that brought you to the lookout and it will follow the lake for about 1 km . There you will see a trail going up the hill on the right. This leads to another way into the lake reached from South Lake road. More on this later.

The trail you are on will now take you left and to the lake and another great lunch spot on the rocky shore.

The total distance from Dunlop Shores Road to here, return, is about 6.5km.

 The trail mentioned above that will see going up the hill to the right is reached by driving about 3 km on Dunlop Shores Rd. And taking a road going off at an angle on the left. This is the South Lake Rd. Go to the first exit on the left and take that road for about 1.5km  Always head to the left when you see other roads merging. This road will dead-end. Park there and look for an old road going from the left of the clearing. Look for a trail marked on the right, only yards into this road and follow the marks until reaching a beaver dam. Warning. This trail can be very muddy and the dam very full. Use with care particularly in spring when it can be impassable. Follow the trail up and over the hill and at the bottom of the hil on the other side you will join the trail detailed above.

There is one other way to reach Banana Lake but on the south side. Take the trail mentioned at the start above, used by ATV and snow machines just off Hwy 108. Turn left off Dunlop Shores Rd. and walk about 1km on the trail until it divides. Take the right fork and almost immediately you will see an opening on the right side. That trail will take you to the south shore of Dunlop Lake about 1.5km Round trip is about 5km. 


Malcolm ‘Red’ Briffett Trail

On November 20, 2004 a 1.5 km commemorative trail which sits off the Spine Beach cross-country path was dedicated and named for Malcolm ‘Red’ Briffett. The trail includes a stunning lookout point that provides a scenic view of Elliot Lake. The Standard covered the event thoroughly and the articles that appeared in the paper are included here. Learn about Mr. Briffett’s immense contribution to Elliot Lake by exploring the articles written by Deborah Aarts for The Standard. (Click on the Newspaper articles to make them larger to read.)

In 2021, Coureurs de Bois members, along with a crew from the city of Elliot Lake, recleared the trail from the falls at Quimby Lake up the hill on the Red Briffett Trail to the lookout over the west end of Elliot Lake. We then tidied up at the lookout and proceeded to clear on up the last few hundred feet to the cross-country ski trail.

Cam Briffett brought the new bench, contributed by the city, to the start of that end of the trail with his ATV and trailer. Two Coureurs de Bois members, Jim and Tom Bellingham, carried it in and replaced the old one. Cam supplied and placed new name plates at the start and finish of the trail and our club refreshed and remarked the trail for all.

(Thanks to David Nesbitt for the 2021 update.)