As the glacier covering this area retreated, melting water flooded much of the present day Lake Huron/Michigan basin around 12, 000 years ago. This created a massive post-glacial lake called Lake Algonquin.
Within Awenda only a few areas were above water. If you hike to the end of the Robitaille Homestead Trail you’ll be standing on one of Lake Algonquin’s islands! But right now, to get an idea of the lake’s depth: look out to Giant’s Tomb Island, find the highest point for the high watermark.
By 10, 600 B.P. (Before Present) the land started to rise after the glacier no longer weighed it down. This process is called isostatic rebound and it caused water levels to drop well below present day lake levels. You could have actually walked to Giant’s Tomb!
By 8,700 B.P., the land had rebounded enough to block off the Mattawa River causing water levels to rise again creating a new glacial lake, Lake Nipissing. The shoreline of post-glacial Lake Nipissing created the Nipissing Bluff, which neatly divides Awenda into an upland and lowland section.
Lake Nipissing shaped Awenda’s landscape for 4,200 years, with the shoreline dropping drastically over time.
The series of lowering shorelines created a staircase effect on the bluff that can be observed when hiking up the Nipissing Trail. The bluff is high enough to actually influence local weather!
It is cooler and wetter below the bluff compared to the campgrounds. This is the Park’s main geological feature and we encourage you to check it out when you get the chance!
Imagine what it would be like 8,700 years ago where you are standing right now. What would you be doing? Look back toward the east and you will clearly see the staircase-like appearance of the Nipissing bluff. Can you count the ‘steps’ representing all the old shorelines?
To reach Stop #9 go back to the Beach Trail and walk to 4th Beach. Once there scan the QR code for Stop #9. As you walk through the forest enjoy the cool climate created by the bluff!