Accessible by water only, the Montreal River Provincial Nature Reserve is notable for its ancient coastlines formed over a long time. The present Lake Superior coast consists of wave-washed outcrops of granite and diabase. Inland, there is a steep bluff and related sand deposits which formed about 6,000 years ago during the Lake Nipissing stage of the Great Lakes. Above the bluff, an impressive sequence of cobble beaches or offshore bars can be traced inland to another ancient shoreline. Such bars are usually constructed of sand in the nearshore zones of lakes and oceans. Scientists believe that these unusual cobble and boulder bars may be unique in the Great Lakes. Slopes and gullies include forests of jack pine and spruce, while sugar maple and mixed forests grow on the uplands. On the Nipissing sand plain there are forests of pine, birch and spruce. The reserve’s most significant biotic community is found on its raised cobble bars. Here, mats of lichen and bearberry and groves of pines and birch appear as open barrens. Mixed forest surrounds the lichen barrens on all sides.
Park Facilities and Activities: The nature reserve is managed to protect its significant landscapes and habitats, especially the lichen barrens. As the lichen barrens are easily trampled and eroded, visitors should avoid walking on them. There are no visitor facilities. The unauthorized collection of rocks, plants, or other natural objects is prohibited. Anyone wishing to conduct research must obtain an approved research application.
Location: Adjacent to Highway 17 between Sault Ste. Marie and Montreal River Harbour.