Once in touch with Clayton, the trails project manager, we received detailed maps, driving directions, and parking and camping information. Since we would be on First Nations land without a guide, we also discussed fishing regulations and were advised where to buy our trip permits.
Clayton also gave us an update on the condition of the trail. The Chaudière and Tikibi Trails which give access to hiking along the French River behind the band office see much more use than the Papase Trail, and for a time, little interest was shown in the longer Papase Trail, so it was never completed. Blue markers lead approximately 5 kilometres to a campsite on Hemlock Lake 2, but the remaining 4 kilometres to Five Finger Rapids are still incomplete. Clayton has already received a few inquiries this year, though, so he’s happily now decided to finish the trail.
With packs loaded, dogs excited, and maps and permits handy, we set off. For the first half of the day, we were hiking along the French River on a well-cleared path, and the going was easy.
Interesting rock formations and scenic lookouts along the way enticed us to stop and observe, sometimes only for a moment, long enough to take a picture, other times for a short rest. We were in no rush at all and enjoyed the varied types of forest, the winding French River, and lush wetlands.
There was a bit more confusion when we thought we had reached our campsite on Hemlock Lake 2, unable to find any more blue markers. Without any flat terrain or even a fire pit, we were skeptical, so we dropped our bags and continued exploring along the shoreline for a bit, finding the right site not five minutes later.
We reconnoitred a little more to see if we could find our way to Five Finger Rapids the next day, and it didn’t take long to find the blue markers we were seeking. Good enough. We’d come back to find them again the next day.
We went back for our packs, and I soon had camp set up while Marc got some food cooking over the fire. Afterwards, he threw a few casts from shore and caught us a snack.
The next day was windy, and colder than expected. I just felt like cuddling up with my book and Marc was happy casting for bass from shore. So we decided to make it an at-camp day before hiking along the French River to get back home later in the afternoon.
To go with our bread, we poached some fresh farm eggs — maybe for a little too long? No matter. It was delicious!
Even before we reached our car, we started talking about taking another Papase Trail trip. Since it’s so close and convenient, and since the trail will be finished soon, we’re definitely coming back for more hiking along the French River.
We’ve even got a plan to incorporate the day hike into a French River paddling trip as a side trip. In mentioning that to Clayton, he also suggested a possible hike and paddle loop. Sweet — hiking along the French River, then paddling its waters!
Information on hiking along the French River at Dokis First Nation
Dokis First Nation Administration Office
To read trail descriptions, visit the Dokis First Nation Attractions page and scroll down to the bottom.