View from Churchview Road

View from Churchview Road
Photo 11 of 33: View from Churchview Road
Taken 2008 October 13 in Upper Glencoe from the Churchview Road at its southeastern end on the summit
GPS 45°56.954'N 61°16.376'W

In spite of the clear sky, moon, and stars as I drove home from the Glencoe Mills square dance Sunday evening, the perfect weather of the previous day disappeared on (Canadian) Thanksgiving Day, giving way to off-and-on sun and becoming mostly overcast by late afternoon, with even the occasional isolated shower. The colours of the foliage, though, propelled by frosty nights, were fast approaching their peak.

Late Sunday morning, while I was taking photos on the Glencoe Road at the top of the mountain separating Glencoe Mills from Upper Southwest Mabou, a gentleman on an ATV who said he lived in the area stopped and began chatting; during our conversation, he asked me if I had ever been up Churchview Road. I knew exactly where it was, having driven past it each time I travelled MacKinnon Road, which I do at least once every year, but I had never thought about going up there. When I told him that, he replied, “You should.” He said nothing more as to why and soon went on his way. There was no time for an exploration of that magnitude on Sunday—I was already running late—but I filed his terse recommendation away for future action.

On Monday afternoon, a sunny spell enticed me to act on his comment, so I drove back out to Glencoe Mills and on to the MacKinnon Road, which is found on the Whycocomagh Road 4 km (2.5 mi) east of its junction with the Glencoe Road in Glencoe Mills (or, alternatively, 0.3 km (0.2 mi) west of the Dunakin Mountain Road (one of the few roads in the area with its own road sign). The MacKinnon Road runs first to the southwest and then to the northwest where it ends on the Upper Glencoe Road 1.1 km (0.7 mi) southeast of the Glencoe Mills Parish Hall.

2.1 km (1.3 mi) west on MacKinnon Road, one comes to Churchview Road. I did not attempt to drive up the road, and was glad I hadn’t tried as there is no place to turn around until one reaches the end (I could have driven most of the road, but there was an early section that had too high a central crown for my car—a higher-slung vehicle than mine is needed), but instead hiked up. It’s a good climb, but half an hour later I was at the end of the road, overlooking the Glencoe Mills area and far beyond!

The reason for the road’s name is obvious from the photo, with St Joseph’s Church in Glencoe Mills drawing the eye. What I hadn’t expected is the wide open views to the west, northwest, and (somewhat obscured by trees) north. This photo shows only a small portion of that magnificent panorama. St Georges Bay is clearly visible from this summit, although it was much too cloudy to identify the landmarks along its shore. It’s a spectacular view and one which I have not heard mentioned by any but the anonymous gentleman who so kindly advised me to go up there. The capricious sun, alas, had disappeared behind the clouds, making the colours far duller than they were in actuality, though shining a spotlight through the clouds on one area or another from time to time (in this photo, the sun is out on the mountains far to the north, but completely missing locally). I will for sure be returning to this gorgeous place on a clear day to better understand just exactly what one can see from here and to enjoy again the marvellous views.

The walk back to the car was very nearly as good as the views from the top: the road passes through a mixed though mostly deciduous forest and the colours, even in the absence of the sun, were startlingly bright. Not far from the bottom where I had left my car, the sun came out fitfully, lighting up first one and then another of the multi-coloured trees along the road, often fading before I was able to bring my camera to bear. Because I took so many pictures, it took me nearly an hour to walk back down!

[2012] I have returned several times since to the summit at the southeastern end of Churchview Road; each time, the glorious views spanning the quadrant from Cape George to Cape Mabou, drew me back for yet another extended photo session. All subsequent times, I have driven up to the summit, whose road was improved after the logging at the summit had been completed after this essay was first written. In 2011, however, I had a very rough time reaching the summit because the heavy rains of the summer had loosened the gravel and caused some bad ruts not far below the top; I made it, but only barely. The narrow road offers few places where one can turn around, so you’d do well to check it out before you get committed; otherwise, you will have to back down. The hike up is not all that arduous and you will, in any case, see far more on foot than when you are driving and have to pay close attention to the road.