Situated in the heart of North Woods, and sitting just off of the Trans-Canadian Highway, Chutes is a popular stopover spot for travelers, but stands as a destination in its own right, too. The gorgeous, rushing Aux Sable River runs straight through the park, providing a suite of recreational opportunities. Hikers and photographers can enjoy viewing the river's dramatic rapids, churns and waterfalls. Anglers can cast along the banks, and summertime visitors can enjoy a refreshing dip at the park's wonderful beach area. During July and August, park staff offer interpretive programs and activities for aspiring Junior Discovery Rangers.
Churn itself is a modestly-sized park, but the surrounding area offers plenty of opportunities for additional adventure. Lake Huron, Manitoulin Island, the Spanish River, numerous small lakes and thousands of acres of thick, mixed woodlands are all within a short drive of the park. The entire area is a haven for hikers, paddlers, anglers and birders alike.
The park also sits just to the north of the charming town of Massey, which sports an excellent local museum and several restaurants.
Those traveling with RVs or trailers will find a spacious, sylvan campground at Churn, which is complete with amenities including modern restrooms, showers and a camp store.
Though it sits in the heart of the North Woods, Chutes is quite accessible - it sits adjacent to the small town of Massey, just off of the Trans-Canadian Highway. Indeed, the park's location makes it a popular stop-over spot for travelers driving along that famed, long-distance route. Route 553, which cuts through the town of Massey and offers quick access to the park is paved, flat and well-maintained. Drivers, thus, need not fear sharp turns or steep climbs when heading to Chutes.
The campground at Chutes is large and comprises a fair chunk of the park. Spots are divided among four loops. The A and B loops have spots which can accommodate larger rigs and trailers (though, it should be noted, all spots are back-in), while the C and D loops have car-camping spots which can accommodate smaller setups. There's ample space in between spots, and parking should not pose any difficulties. Once you have parked, all of the campgrounds amenities, as well as the day-use areas, trailhead, and overlook, are within walking distance.
Chutes sports a large but lovely campground that offers some excellent amenities. Spots, which are well treed and shaded, are dived among four loops: A, B, C and D. The A and B loops offer large sites with electric hookups, while the C and D loops offer smaller, primitive sites (the C loop also includes a "radio free" section along the banks of the Aux Sable). In total, there 57 electric hookup sites for RVs, 2 group camping sites and 71 additional car camping sites (which may accommodate very small trailers and RVs). All sites come with fire pits and picnic tables.
The campground also has several potable water spigots, modern restrooms with flush toilets and showers, a laundry area and a well-stocked camp store (of course, if you need additional supplies, Massey is just a minute away). The campground and its facilities are available from Mid-May through Mid-October.
Chutes is a popular spot among both birds and birders, with the former using the park as both a breeding ground and a spring stopover spot on the way to more northerly destinations. The insects, berries and seeds which are plentiful along the Aux Sable and its surrounding forests provide ample food for a wide variety of avian species. Visitors may see the regal pileated woodpecker, the playful black-capped chickadee, the swift golden-crowned kinglet, and numerous colorful warblers and vireos. Make sure to bring some binoculars and a guide book along!
Chutes sports a lovely 3.7-mile (6km) trail that skirts the edge of the Aux Sable River and offers fantastic views of several falls and rapids along the way; included among these are the dramatic Seven Sisters Cataracts, a series of scenic, white-water churns. Just a short drive from the park are several more hiking opportunities. Manitoulin Island is a gorgeous and understandably popular destination; the 3-mile (5 km) Cup and Saucer Trail there provides stunning views of a sheer, rocky escarpment that hangs above the island's dense green forests. If you're heading to the area in late September or early October, you'll undoubtedly see some spectacular fall colors along the trail.
Fishing is permitted at several spots along the Aux Sable within the park. The area just below the park's main falls, popular with anglers, is used by spawning salmon every autumn. Those willing to venture outside the park to fish will find countless lakes as well as the Spanish River; the area's waters are home to species such as walleye, small mouth bass, northern pike, perch and more. The fishing is world-class, and the setting is too; look out over sparkling water to tree-lined shores, and perhaps hear the call of a loon, as you breath fresh, North Woods air.
While there are no put-in locations in the park itself, the area surrounding Chutes offers plenty of prime opportunities for kayaking and canoeing. Manitoulin Island, a huge island on Lake Huron which itself is dotted with large lakes, has many excellent paddling spots, and it's just a short drive from Chutes. The Spanish River, which parallels the Trans-Canadian highway for its last few miles before flowing into Lake Huron, is also a lovely waterway for canoes and kayaks.
Kids can explore and learn about the natural history of Chutes, and its surrounds, through the park's summertime Discovery Program. Educational booklets and guided programs help young naturalists learn about the area's flora, fauna, geology, human history and more. For completing a set of workbook activities, kids can be rewarded with a Discover Ranger button, bequeathed by park interpretive staff. The park also hosts several special events throughout the busy season (July and August). You can call ahead, or check out one of the many calendars posted throughout the park, to see what's coming up.
Though Chutes (as its name may suggest) is filled with fast moving water - rapids, churns and cascading waterfalls - there is one excellent calm spot along the river that makes for excellent swimming. A beach of fine sand juts out into a horseshoe bend along the Aux Sable, and here visitors may relax, sun themselves and even go for a dip in the clear, cool water. With July high temperatures averaging about 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius) there's plenty of good reason to seek refuge in the Aux Sable's refreshing currents.