Posted by Derek on Jan 12, 2010
Height: 2188 feet / 667 m
GPS recorded height: 2198 feet / 670 m
Lat/Lon: N47 18.389 W80 45.906
Line Parent: Ishpatina Ridge (Tower Summit)
Key Col: N47 18.704 W80 45.312 (1952ft / 595m)
Clean Prominence: 236ft / 72m
Date Summited: August 1, 2010
The Ishpatina Ridge traverses several rounded bumps and under the Ontario 2100 Footer criteria, 3 of these qualify as being distinct 2100+ foot peaks. The highest point, the familiar Tower summit of the Ishpatina Ridge is the highest point in Ontario and a popular hiking and canoeing destination. The South Peak, the lowest of the 3 peaks, ranks as Ontario’s 5th highest point. Despite being only a short bushwhack from the trail leading from Scarecrow Lake to the Ishpatina Ridge Tower summit, the South Peak remains relatively unexplored. A small lake at the summit is crowned by several candidate high points. OBM map spot elevations indicate that the southwestern-most point is the highest.
Due to it’s close proximity to the Ishpatina Ridge Trail, the best approach to the South Peak is to hike to it in conjunction with a trip to the main Tower Peak via an overland trip or canoe trip. Although it’s shorter to bushwhack directly to the primary candidate high point from the height of land just south of Dick Lake, the route is made difficult by the extremely thick underbrush which dominates the south slopes of the peak. Instead, it is recommended to bushwhack to the secondary candidate high point first, then bushwhack west around the small lake atop the South Peak to the primary high point, and return back to Dick Lake by retracing the route in.
From the trailhead on Scarecrow Lake, follow the Ishpatina Ridge Trail to Dick Lake. Turn left and follow the lake shoreline west for 250 meters until reaching a small stream at the western edge of the lake. From here bushwhack west and paralleling the stream for about 500 meters to a small lake / wetland. Head northwest around the edge of the lake / wetland area and ascend the hill up to the secondary candidate high point at N47.3088, W80.7612. To get to the primary high point from here, continue the counter-clockwise swing around the lake / wetland by heading west for 250 meters, then south for 500 meters to an open area composed of ferns and moss covered rock outcrops. The height of land at N47.3065, W80.7651 is the likely candidate for the highest point on the South Peak.
Having missed my initial chance to hike to the peak on my previous canoe trip to the Ishpatina Ridge, I decided to combine an upcoming overland hike to the Ishpatina Ridge – Tower Peak with a side trip to the South Peak.
After gaining the top of the ridge just south of Dick Lake, Darcy and I left the Ishpatina Ridge trail and bushwhacked west towards the suspected high point of the South Peak of Ishpatina. At first the forest appeared fairly open, but as we bushwhacked further, it quickly degraded into a thick and tangled knot of bushes and trees. It was slow going, as we attempted to move between the less dense patches, while approximately staying on course. Finally after an hour and 1.3 km of difficult bushwhacking, we were pleasantly surprised when we entered an open area at the summit with limited views south towards Scarecrow Lake below us. I waypointed the summit and noted the GPS elevation. We would attempt to circumnavigate the lake just to the north, to ensure that we indeed had stood at the highest point on the South Peak.
We bushwhacked northeast towards another height of land. Originally I thought there would be 3 potential high point candidates, but after bushwhacking for 450 meters, we stood at a high point whose elevation seemed to be about 10 feet lower.We hiked another 200 meters to the east, and climbed a small, but steep hill. The GPS reading initially suggested that this location was higher than the initial high point we had encountered, but taking additional GPS readings, the elevation readings dropped. (Note: GPS elevation measurements are approximately 1.5 x the error factor of the GPS readings and cannot be relied on for accurate measurements). We unscientifically declared the southwest peak to be the highest, however just in case, we were glad to have hiked over to this point.
After a quick break, we left the second candidate high point of the South Peak and headed in a roughly easterly direction towards Dick Lake. This time the bushwhacking didn’t seem to be quite as hard as our initial trip up, as it only took us 30 minutes to go 1.1 km. I had planned to rejoin the trail where we had departed from, but for some reason the contours and land was leading us towards Dick Lake. We descended the slopes towards the lake and once reaching the shore, hiked along the edge of the lake until rejoining the trail at the beaver dam.
Darcy’s video montage of our journey to the South and Tower Peaks of Ishpatina Ridge: