By Sault Tourism

 

Enjoy the Spectacular fall colours in and around the city thanks to these four great spots

Sault Ste Marie has a number of well known hiking and fall-colour viewing areas in or around the city, including Robertson Cliffs, Fort Creek and Bellevue Park, but not everyone will be aware of these four relatively hidden spots. 

So keep reading to learn about four of the best ‘other’ places to explore and to enjoy the fall colours from. 

Odena Lookout at Hiawatha

The Odena lookout and Odena Loop at Hiawatha Highlands is part of the Voyageur Trail. The large ‘Loop’ trail is a 4.2km hike that starts at Sixth Line and weaves itself over to Connor Road. Alternatively if you just want to enjoy the incredible view, the Lookout hike is a short 400 metre trot uphill. Once you get to the top the view will take your breath away. Beautiful maple fall colours blended with vibrant coniferous greens make this lookout truly spectacular. 

Wishart Park

Wishart Park, just off Fourth Line East, is a cute little park, and a perfect place for a short hike to take fall fall photos in. Enjoy a walk through the woods or alongside the Root River as it winds its way south towards the city.

Root River and Root Cascade

Root River and Root Cascade at the west side of Sixth Line is another pretty place to visit. Beautiful falls cascade into the Root River, and the surrounding maple trees create a vibrant and bright scene. 

Gros Cap Conservation Area

The lookout at Gros Cap Conversation area is another great spot just outside the city limits. While the tree species here don’t offer the vibrant red and oranges of Hiawatha, you can still enjoy fall tones with incredible views of the place where Lake Superior flows into the St Marys river, the Gros Cap lighthouse, and any Lake Superior ‘lakers’ that happen to be cruising past. 

The lookout is part of the Saulteaux-Goulais section of the Voyageur Trail, which leads west and north towards Red Rock. 

By Sault Tourism

Enjoy a wide array of fall themed events and festivals in the Soo!

From maple syrup events to historical reenactments, culture days to family fun days and even an Oktoberfest! Experience various events this fall in Sault Ste. Marie, all against a beautiful backdrop of autumn colours. Here are some of the fun things coming up in September and October. As always, stay up to date with all the happenings in Sault Ste. Marie by visiting our events page. 

Fall rendezvous and Culture Days

September 23rd & 24th

The Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site hosts it’s annual Fall Rendezvous and Culture Days event. Demonstrations of drumming, quill work, cannon, militia and voyageurs. Read more here…

Hogan Homstead's 'Fall In Love with Maple Event'

Culture Days

September 23rd – October 16th

Film screening and talks, ‘Meet the Author’, feather wrapping workshops and much, much more. Join us as we celebrate Culture Days 2022 in Sault Ste. Marie. This event highlights our diverse cultures, arts and heritage within a collective hub known as “The Sault Ste. Marie Cultural Corridor”. Read more here…

 
 

WEEKEND FOR TRUTH & RECONCILIATION

September 30th & October 1st

The two-day event offers a free, family-oriented showcase of Indigenous arts, culture, and heritage as well as key educational opportunities surrounding Indigenous history and ongoing reconciliation efforts. Attendees are invited to spend the entire weekend in Baawaating with exclusive coupons and promotions provided by participating partners.

Don’t miss a spectacular drone show on Friday night about Truth and Reconciliation that will be illustrated with over 200 drones over the night sky. Read more here…

2022 Soo Greyhounds Season Opener Block Party

Friday, September 30th

The Soo Greyhounds hockey season kicks off with a tailgate style party before the game! Local food, beer, live music, games, and more! 
 
Block party will be in the GFL Memorial Gardens block (Brock to Dennis Street).
More details to be announced closer to the date. For more information, contact info@saultdowntown.com 
 

Doors Open Event (free entrance!)

Saturday, October 1st

Come and explore many of Sault Ste. Marie’s historical and landmark buildings live and in person for Doors Open Sault Ste. Marie! Attractions include the Algoma Conservancy of Music, Art Gallery of Algoma, Ermatinger Clerque Blockhouse and Old Stone House and more! Read more here…

Thomson Farms' Fall Family Fun

October 1st – 31st

During pumpkin season Thomson Farms hosts activities for everyone in the family to enjoy. Come out and enjoy a tractor wagon ride to the Pumpkin Patch to pick out your pumpkin. There is the Corn Maze and Corn Cannon, as well as fall berry picking. Click here for all the info…

Robertson Cliffs Challange

October 1st – 16th

Run up the Algoma Highland Conservancy Robertson Cliff’s. Bear in Mind Running have the toughest 5km hike in all of Algoma, a virtual race over the first 2 weeks in October! Attempt The RCC as many times as you want over the two weeks. Each participant receives an AHC trucker cap! Proceeds contributed to the silent sport recreation initiative of the conservancy. All the details can be found here!

Algoma Fall Festival

October 6th – 29th

The festival maintains a range of programming that includes music, theatre, dance and the visual arts. This year eight events are planned including Broadsway on Oct 6th and The Family Crow on Oct 7th. For the full range of programming click here!

Oktoberfest 2022

October 14th & 15th

The biggest and best Oktoberfest in Northern Ontario. Locally brewed craft beer, live music and a Munich style Biergarten! Tickets sell out fast so book soon! Click here for all the info.

By Tourism Sault Ste. Marie

Experience Spectacular Fall Colours with the True North Adventure Bus

Forest The Canoe are offering a variety of guided tours to see some of the best fall colours in Ontario. The True North Adventure Bus has full day, morning and evening guided tours running in September and October. 

Witness the stunning fall colours you’ve seen on Instagram. Paddle beautiful inland lakes. Hike up the iconic Robertson Cliffs to witness a stunning vista of autumn colours that stretch  as far as Lake Superior. 

Contact experienced tour guides Forest The Canoe to see some of the most beautiful fall colours in Ontario. Ride the True North Adventure Bus this fall, with daily tours departing from Sault Ste. Marie. 

Choose your Adventure

Four fall colour tours are offered on the True North Adventure Bus, each a truly unique adventure, and a each chance to see and explore a different part of Northern Ontario. Tours last a full day, a morning or an evening with pick ups from local hotels in Sault Ste. Marie throughout the day.

Friends of Fall Colours

Explore the autumn colour change by water and land.  Tours run 9.30am – 6.30pm.  

Sunday, Sept 18th,

Friday, Sept 23rd,

Saturday, Sept 24th,

Sunday, Sept 25th,

Saturday, Oct 1st,

Sunday, Oct 2nd,

Wednesday, Oct 5th, 

Friday, Oct 7th,

Friends of Fall Colours: Lite Edition

A micro version of Friends of Fall Colours. Tours run 4.30pm – 9.30pm

Wednesday, Sept 21st

Monday, Oct 3rd 

 

Chase The Train

Chase the train all the way to Searchmont, then explore a beautiful waterfall on the Goulais River. Tours run 8am – 12.30pm.

Thursday, Sept 22nd

Monday, Oct 3rd

Tuesday, Oct 4th

Thursday, Oct 6th

Coastal Fall Colours at Sunset

Experience breathtaking views of Algoma Highlands along the greatest lake all the way to Montreal River. Tours run 5pm – 9.30pm

Thursday, Sept 22nd,

Monday, Sept 26th, Thursday, Sept 29th

Tuesday, Oct 4th,

Thursday, Oct 6th,

The True North Adventure Bus

Sit back and enjoy the drive, that’s all you’ll have to do with the True North Adventure Bus. Expert, certified tour guides Ryan and Shana provide informative narration to help you get the most of your experience. Enjoy your day with all the quality equipment and safety information you will need. 

By Sault Tourism and Canadian Cycling Magazine

Come for the new mountain bike trails, stay for the sites, microbreweries and more

Canadian Cycling Magazine and Charlotte Batty from Minii Adventures spent a couple of days checking out our new trails, because we think that Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect place to spend a weekend mountain biking! So check out this awesome video above by Canadian Cycling Magazine, then continue reading below, and finally, start planning your awesome adventure here in the Soo!

The perfect mountain biking destination

Sault Ste. Marie has some of the best mountain bike trails in Ontario, and we’ll talk more about them in a second, but did you know that these trails are just ten minutes from downtown? So you can be riding hard one minute then relaxing at a microbrewery almost the next. This combination of awesome trails and close proximity to the city is what makes Sault Ste. Marie the perfect mountain biking destination.

Farmer Lake Trail

We recommend you start your mountain biking adventure on the newly constructed Farmer Lake trail (trail forks map here). It’s a 7 km out and back trail through the stunning Canadian Shield that will eventually take you to the beautiful Farmer Lake. Before you get there you are going to have to navigate up the rocky Climb to Canyon section, a new modern flow XC trail that is a fun test of your technical skills. With your heart pumping hard from climbing the almost 50 m hill you’ll then be met by the many berms and hairpin turns of Farmer Lake trail. Finally, you’ll descend to reach the beautiful oasis that is lake the trail is named after.

On the way back advanced riders may want to test their skills with on the new Crazy Train trail; an adventurous and aptly named downhill trail which has enough vertical to keep any adrenalin junky interested.

Crystal System

Catch your breath after that, but not for long because the end of the Farmer Lake system is one of the jumping on points for the popular Crystal System (trail forks map here). The Crystal is what everyone is talking about up here in the Soo; we added 12 km of new machine built flow trails here last year bringing the total to over 20. You can ride alongside (and over) beautiful creeks, take in some spectacular lookouts, or simply enjoy the rollercoaster experience of new flow trails such as Berm Baby Berm.

The Crystal really has something for every ability, and with so many trails and combinations of trails, you can easily spent a day here alone.

Red Pine & Pinder Systems

The Farmer Lake and Crystal systems make up just over half of the trails at Hiawatha Highlands, with the Pinder and Red Pine System completing the list (trails forks link to Pinder and Red Pine). The Pinder has roughly 8 km of green rated single track, so it’s perfect for beginners or families with young riders. Then there’s the Red Pine system, which at 15 km long, is a bit tougher with more elevation, but still has a wide array of trails. The Red Pine is a combination of blue / black trails and great diversity of single track trails, transporting you from the historic beginning of MTB to new modern hand-built fun-flow trails like Stickman.

The Hub Trail

There’s only so many mountain bike trails a regular person can ride and after a day and a half at Hiawatha, you may feel like cranking the pace down a touch. If so, the Hub Trail could be the perfect ride for you. It’s a 22.5 km easy loop of the city where you can ride at your leisure and soak up the sights. You’ll pass some of the well-known tourist spots like Fort Creek, the famous locks between Lake Superior and Lake Huron and the beautiful St. Marys River waterfront. 

The Fort Creek Conservation area is a beautiful spot with three bridges giving you incredible views of the creek and surrounding forests. Continue south through the city to the Canal District and Machine Shop area. This area has been restored from a previous industrial area to become one of the hottest parts in town for great food and drinks. Delicious pizzerias, cozy pubs or fine dining can all be found in one centralized area. The vibe of the Canal District is warm and inviting and perfect after a day of riding.

Whitefish Island and the St Marys River Waterfront

Take a side-trip along Whitefish Island’s boardwalks and trails where you will get a spectacular view of the international bridge as well as the famous Sault Ste. Marie rapids.

Back on the Hub Trail and riding along the waterfront you might notice some of the many pubs and restaurants in the area. Fluid Restaurant has great food as well as beautiful views of the rivers. At the Bondar Pavilion you can hop on a 2-hour river cruise of the newly launched Miss Marie Sault Locks boat. Or if you’d like to enjoy the waterfront a different way, visit the Waterfront Adventure Centre. The WAC rents canoe, kayaks and SUPs; great for exploring the waterfront.

Microbreweries and post-ride hyrdration

By now though you may be craving some great post-ride hydration, and the Soo has a great pick of watering holes. Outspoken Brewing and Northern Superior’s Tap Room are great microbreweries if you’re looking to try some local suds. Both often have local bands playing and the vibe is great!

So consider a mountain biking trip to Sault Ste Marie. Come with friends, come with family, come by yourself. Ride our awesome new trails and stick around after and check out the sites of the city!

Thanks again to Canadian Cycling Magazine and Charlotte Batty from Minii Adventures!

By Sault Tourism

 

How to Experience Ontario's Awesome Fall colours

Sault Ste Marie is well-known for its breathtaking beauty during the fall season. Nothing can compare to the vivid colours of the leaves, the numerous trails that can be explored, along with views that will never be forgotten that capture Mother Nature’s true-beauty. From mid-September to mid-October you can find so many ways to enjoy the best of fall in our northern community. In the meantime we have narrowed it down to the top five ways that won’t disappoint!

Come to Sault Ste. Marie and experience Ontario’s awesome fall colours as you’ve never seen them before!

Ride The Agawa Canyon Tour Train

This attraction is a bucket-list adventure and a big tourist favourite when it comes to seeing the fall colours in its prime. Hop on this day-long journey that starts in our Canal District and travels 114km into the Agawa Canyon; along the way you will be immersed by wilderness and its array of oranges, reds and yellows. Once you reach the Canyon you will get to walk around and explore various trails that will take you to beautiful scenic lookouts and various waterfalls where the Group of Seven once painted some of their iconic paintings. This can’t miss experience will certainly be one for the books!

Take A Tour with the True North Adventure Bus

Take a day guided tour on the True North Adventure Bus and witness the fall colours you’ve seen on Instagram. Paddle on some of the most beautiful inland lakes in Ontario, and hike to one of best vistas for fall colours anywhere. The True North Adventure bus offers you these experiences. Experienced tour guides Forest The Canoe offer all day adventure tours to some of the most beautiful places in Ontario. Click here to read more. 

Hike Robertson Cliffs

To escape to this beautiful scenic lookout, you only need to travel about 20 minutes north of the City. This intermediate hike will not only get your blood flowing but will guide you through the colourful brush and trees. A helpful tip is to make sure you dress accordingly and be prepared to be in awe once you reach the top! When you have completed this 5km hike on Ila’s Trail, you will come upon the breathtaking fall scenery of the boreal forest. You will undoubtedly want to make sure you capture this view with a picture, as the vibrant colours will take your breath away!  

Go guided with Thrive Tours who offer fall colour hikes, as well as and canoe and kayak tours throughout the Algoma region.

Hike or Bike Hiawatha Highlands / Kinsmen Park

You don’t have to venture far to experience what Fall is all about in Sault Ste Marie. Located just north of the city you will find bridges and paths in Kinsmen Park that will take you through a network of trails, such as the Crystal Creek System, where you will see Fall in all its perfection. You can also explore and visit Crystal Falls at one end of the park and then follow the trails to Minnehaha Falls at the other end.

Another must-do fall experience, are the Hiawatha Highlands via the Pinder System or Red Pine System, these pristine trails, whether traveled by foot or on wheels, will be certain to take your breath away and will surely have you wanting to catch all of the fall colours on camera.

Check out Fort Creek Conservation Area on the Hub Trail

Enjoy fall in at its best right here in the heart of Sault Ste Marie! The John Roswell Hub Trail is a 22.5km trail that surrounds our beautiful city, with paved paths that you can walk or bike on. One of our favourite parts of the hub trail in the fall specifically, is the Fort Creek section. You can park at the Fort Creek Conservation Area and take the trail through the forest where you will come upon some incredible bridges that overlook the stunning ravine. This simple trail system is nice laid-back one hour walk from the Conversation Area to the Third Line section and back.

Another activity to do in Sault Ste. Marie is take a Sault Locks boat tour. They leave every day until the middle of October at 1pm. Click here for all the info. 

Enjoy your visit to the Soo!

By Sault Tourism

 

How to Experience one of Ontario's best lookout hikes

Robertson Cliffs, just 30 minutes north of Sault Ste. Marie, is one of best lookout hikes in Ontario. These cliffs offer views from several incredible lookouts that stretch for miles across Bellevue Valley towards the Goulais River and as far as Lake Superior. 

The cliffs are owned and cared for by Algoma Highlands Conservancy, a not for profit organization that is run by local volunteers. Clearly marked trails are maintained through donations and memberships. To support this organization click here

Where Are Robertson Cliffs?

AHC’s Robertson Cliffs are located about 30 minutes north of Sault Ste. Marie, just east of the trans-Canada highway, highway 17. Click here for a Google Maps link to directions to one of the car park areas. 

Where Can I park?

There are three parking areas at the trail heads, these are shown in the below maps. 

Robertson Cliffs near Sault Ste. Marie
Road to Algoma Highlands Conservancy towards Robertson Cliffs
Robertson Cliffs near Sault Ste. Marie
One of the eastern parking lots

How Long Does the Hike Take and How Difficult Is It?

The route to the top can take between 45 minutes and 2 hours depending on which trail you take, and then the same on the way back. So allow yourself at least 2 hours as a minimum.

It’s described a ‘moderate’ difficulty because there is some scrambling over rocks, small streams and occasion trees. Click on the below images to see some maps of the area. 

Map of Robertson Cliffs
Map of local area
Robertson Cliffs near Sault Ste. Marie
Crossing a stream
Map of Robertson Cliffs
The trail map, easily found along the routes

What Routes are there and Are the trails well marked?

There are 3 routes that will get you to the top. The Blue route is a 300 metre route that links up with the white route. It begins at the western parking lot. 

The White route is a 2km, 45 minute route which begins at one of the two eastern parking lots. Well marked trails lead through the Great Lakes St. Lawrence forest before meeting up with the blue trail. Once the blue and white trail meet the trail does get a little steeper as it ascends to the lookout points. 

The yellow trail is a longer 2.5km trek that takes you along beautiful waterfalls. Allow 2 hours for this hike to the cliffs. 

Robertson Cliffs near Sault Ste. Marie
White and yellow trail, trail head
Robertson Cliffs near Sault Ste. Marie
White and Yellow routes diverge
Robertson Cliffs near Sault Ste. Marie
The Blue route marker
Robertson Cliffs near Sault Ste. Marie
Hiking through the forest
Robertson Cliffs near Sault Ste. Marie
More route signs
Blue route trail-head

What about the lookouts and what is view like?

There are 3 main lookouts with several others you can find along the way too. The views… judge for yourself. 

Robertson Cliffs near Sault Ste. Marie
Western lookout
Robertson Cliffs near Sault Ste. Marie
Eastern lookout

Are there any Tour guides?

Three awesome local tour guides can show you the way and also give you some stellar insight into the area. Thrive Tours, Forest The Canoe and Blaq Bear Adventures

How Can I Help Maintain this area?

A huge thanks to the Algoma Highlands Conservancy and its volunteers for maintaining these beautiful trails. You can donate or volunteer to the Conservancy here!

Robertson Cliffs near Sault Ste. Marie
Algoma Highlands Conservancy
Robertson Cliffs near Sault Ste. Marie
QR code to donate

By Sault Tourism

 

Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect destination from where to explore the beautiful Lake Superior Coast

What can you say about Lake Superior? It is wild, it is rugged, it is beautiful. It can be angry and violent, it can be calm with glassy water reflecting a perfectly clear blue sky. The sunsets can be some of most beautiful anywhere, and the maple forests that hug the coastline put on a fall colour display of bright reds, oranges and yellows so spectacular you’ll be telling your friends for years.

A drive along the coastline from Sault Ste. Marie will let you experience all of this. Get out of your car, RV or motorbike at any of the many stops along the way. Fill your camera up with countless shots of this beautiful coast. Visit in spring, summer, fall or winter for a different experience each season. Be inspired by the incredible Lake Superior coastal drive from Sault Ste. Marie.

Sawpit Bay
Highway 17 at Sawpit Bay. Photo by Colin Field
Sawpit Bay
Sawpit Bay in the fall. Photo by BrownVanLife
Lake Superior Coastal Drive
Click here for link to Google Maps

Haviland BaY

Driving north on highway 17 from Sault Ste. Marie, your first close up view of Lake Superior will be at Haviland Bay. Haviland is a small community with a public beach and a great eatery, the Havilland Shores Kitchen and Bar. As you drive through Haviland you’ll pass over a causeway, which offers spectacular views of the lake on one side, and rugged, forested hills of the Canadian Shield on the other. 

Haviland Bay
Haviland Bay. Photo by Elizabeth Rozario

Chippewa Falls

Continue driving north from Haviland and soon you’ll reach Chippewa Falls, the halfway point of Trans Canada Highway, highway 17. Chippewa Falls is also a significant spot on the Group of Seven driving tour, with the falls inspiring a number of famous paintings including “Streambed, Lake Superior Country”. and J.E.H. MacDonald’s ‘Batchewana Rapid‘.

The falls can be seen from the viewing bridge near the parking lot, or you can take a short hike alongside the waterfall. Please proceed with caution as trails can be challenging beside this fast moving water!

Chippewa Falls
Highway 17 and Chippewa Falls. Photo by Tony Felgueiras
Chippewa Falls
Chippewa Falls

Batchawana Bay and the Voyageur Lodge

Batchawana Bay, in Batchawana Bay Provincial Park, is another beautiful stop along the Superior coast. The 4km long sandy beach is the star of the show, with some of the warmest water in Lake Superior making it a popular spot for swimmers and beach goers. 

Stop by the Voyageur Lodge for some famous apple fritters, lunch, or a souvenir from the gift shop. 

Lake Superior Coastal Drive
Highway 17 at Batchewana Bay. Photo by Colin Field
Batchewana Bay
Batchewana Bay Beach
Voyageur Lodge
Voyageur Lodge
Voyageurs' Lodge and Cookhouse
Deli and coffeeshop
Voyageur Lodge
Giftshop

Pancake Bay, Agawa Crafts and the Canadian Carver

Just a few kilometers further along the highway from Batchawana you’ll reach Pancake Bay, Agawa Crafts and the Canadian Carver. Pancake Bay, also within a provincial park, is the perfect spot to get out, explore and stretch your legs if you wish. The beach is simply immaculate; 4km of perfect white sand and crystal clear water, great for swimming in and generally relaxing on. Then there is the Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout hike trail, a 2-3 hour round trip that takes you up to an incredible view of the Superior coast. You may even catch a glimpse of the resting place of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which tragically sunk during a November storm in 1975. 

Agawa and Crafts and the Canadian Carver is an impressive stop, with some beautiful one-of-a-kind carvings, painting and other crafts offering the perfect souvenir for visitors. 

Pancake Bay Beach
Pancake Bay Beach. Photo by Colin Field
Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail
Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout
The Canadian Carver
The Canadian Carver
Agawa Crafts
Hand-made crafts
Agawa Crafts
One-of-a-kind carvings

Sawpit Bay and the Drive North

Continuing past Pancake Bay, highway 17 turns north again, and the coast leaves the relative shelter of Whitefish Bay. Now, more exposed to the westerly winds and storms of Superior, the shoreline becomes more rugged, more rocky but just at beautiful as further south. Sawpit Bay and the roadside Wilson Lake are perfect examples of the Superior coast’s fascinating landscape. 

Sawpit Bay
Sawpit Bay. Photo by Colin Field
Wilson Lake
Wilson Lake alongside highway 17

Alona Bay

Fifteen minutes north of Sawpit Bay lies Alona Bay, a beautifully rocky Lake Superior Beach. Alona Bay lies inside two of the additional, southerly parts of Lake Superior Provincial Park. A roadside rest-stop allows visitors to get out and enjoy the stunning scenic lookout across Alona Bay. 

Alona Bay
Sawpit Bay. Photo by Colin Field

Lake Superior Provincial Park Visitor Centre at Agawa Bay

Lake Superior Provincial Park Visitor Centre is located at the south end of ‘the Park’, as locals call it, roughly 90 minutes north of Sault Ste. Marie and just north of the Montreal River. The visitor centre is a great stopping point on the Superior coast, with lots of information about the area, paths to the beautiful Agawa Bay beach, helpful staff and a giftshop. The centre itself is filled with interactive displays that highlights the “Power of Lake Superior” as well as the park’s cultural history and natural ecosystems. You’ll also find a display about the Group of Seven, a replica lighthouse and more here. 

Lake Superior Visitor Cen
Lake Superior Provincial Park
Lake Superior Visitor Cen
The main entrance and information desk
Lake Superior Visitor Cen
Displays about the local ecosystems
Lake Superior Visitor Cen
A boardwalk to the beach
Lake Superior Visitor Cen
Agawa Bay beach
Group of Seven easel

Agawa Rock Pictographs

A short drive north from the visitor centre takes you to the Agawa Rock Pictographs. A clearly marked sign on the highway directs visitors to a parking area at the trail head – map coordinates here.

The Agawa Rock Pictographs is one of the most famous pictograph sites in Canada and is one of the most visited indigenous archaeological sites too. It is a sacred site where generations of Ojibwe have come to record dreams, visions and events. Please respect and preserve the pictographs by not touching the paintings.

The images visible today, include canoes and animals such as moose, deer, bear and caribou. The most recognizable painting consisting of a spined-horned animal said to be “Misshepezhieu”, or the Great Lynx, the spirit of the water. Read more about this important area here.

Guided Tours of the Superior Coast

Sault Ste. Marie has expert tour guides who can provide interpretive tours of the coast. Forest The Canoe operate a True North Adventure Bus in August and the fall months, and they also offer year round tours that can be tailored to visitor’s needs. Thrive Tours also offer tours of the local area including the Superior Coast, visit our Tours & Guides page for more information. 

True North Adventure Bus
Forest The Canoe
Explaining Powwow customs
Thrive Tours

The Lake Superior coast – something you have to explore. 

Lake Superior coastal drive
Photo by Colin Field

A Vibrant Celebrations of Indigenous Life

Are you interested in going to a powwow but not sure about going on your own? Thrive Tours, an Indigenous-owned and operated guide company, offers Learn to Powwow Tours in the Sault Ste. Marie area. These tours introduce non-Indigenous tourists to powwows and will teach you everything you need to know.

Our family was able to join Brad and Amanda, owners of Thrive Tours, on a Learn to Powwow Tour and had an incredible experience together! Our tour group included Sault Ste. Marie locals, Ontario tourists and travelers from around the world. We came together as a group of all ages to learn to powwow and experience a celebration of Indigenous culture.

Our tour began with an introduction to powwow history, tradition and etiquette. Our guides taught us the cleansing practice of smudging and invited us to participate in this traditional ceremony. Along with our guides, we also had special guests from the Indigenous community come and speak to us.

Powwow at Sault Ste. Marie
Batchewana Powwow Tour, June 2022

Experience a celebration of Indigenous culture

When settlers came in, the local Indigenous people were no longer allowed to practice their culture. The sacred ceremonies and songs had to continue deep in the bush and underground. Despite this oppression, the tradition and the heartbeat of the drum carried on and continues today. Although often looked on as traditions of the past, Brad shared with us that they “are not people of the past, but people with a past. [We] have an amazing history and an amazing future!”

During our introduction we were also honoured to have Chief Dean Sayers of Batchewana First Nations come and speak with us. He shared some of the history of the Indigenous people of the Sault Ste Marie area, also referred to as Bawating, meaning ‘place of the rapids’. Chief Sayers welcomed us to come on in and celebrate!

Brad and Amanda at the Powwow
Brand, Amanda and Lucia from Thrive Tours joined by Chief Sayers
Smoking cedar at a Powwow
Cleansing practice of smudging

Learn Different types of powwow dancing

Lucia, who has been dancing at powwows since she was a young girl, shared with us the dos and don’ts of the powwow. She told us that it is customary to stand at the beginning of the powwow, as a sign of honour, while the dancers enter the circle during the Grand Entry. Taking photos and videos during the Grand Entry is not allowed, but Lucia shared with us the proper way to take photos at other points during the powwow.

Our guides explained to us the different types of powwow dancing and the significance of the dancers’ attire, called regalia. Our guide Brad is a powwow singer and drummer who has been powwowing for about 15 years. He shared with us the history and significance of drumming and how the beat of the drums honors the heartbeat of Mother Earth.

Dancing at a Powwow
Batchewana Powwow Tour, June 2022
Dancing at a Powwow
Batchewana Powwow Tour, June 2022
Garden River Powwow
Garden River Powwow, August 2021

the sacred fire

After our time of learning we went as a group to the powwow. On our way to the circle we passed by the sacred fire. This fire is lit before the powwow starts and burns until the end. Fire keepers sit around the fire to make sure it continues burning. We honored them and the fire by putting tobacco in the fire and saying ‘Miigwetch’, which means ‘thank you’.

The powwow we attended, Gathering at the Rapids at Algoma University, was an indoor Competition Powwow (differing from a Traditional Powwow). There were a number of drum groups and dancers of all ages competing in different categories. As we entered the building, the Grand Entry was underway. We could feel the heartbeat of the drums resonate within us and stood as the dancers entered the circle. The intricate designs of the dancers’ regalia was amazing to see – bright colours, feathers, tassels, beading and jingling cones. After representatives carried in flags and veterans were honoured, the competition began.

We listened and watched as different drum groups took turns singing and drumming while the dancers made their way around the circle. We saw different categories of dances – traditional, jingle, grass, fancy – and watched as each age category took their turn, from the tiny tots to the golden age dancers. Our guides were available throughout the powwow to answer any questions we had and shared more information with us about the different dances.

Explaining Powwow customs
Explaining Powwow customs
Sacred fire at a Powwow
About to put tobacco on the sacred fire
Drumming at a Powwow
Drumming at Batchewana Powwow, June 2022

Take part in inter tribal dances

One unique experience that we had not been expecting, was the opportunity to join in on the dancing! Throughout the powwow there are inter tribal dances, where everyone from every background is invited to come into the circle and dance. Our children have been learning about Indigenous culture and powwows in school and to actually be there and take part was a very special experience.

In addition to the drumming and dancing, there were also Indigenous vendors set up at the powwow. We admired the handmade goods, enjoyed some lemonade and ate delicious food!

As a non-Indigenous person, I’ve been hesitant about attending a powwow in the past. I didn’t know what the proper etiquette was and didn’t want to be disrespectful in any way. It was so great having our guides from Thrive Tours to show us around and answer all of our questions! The whole powwow environment was one of total inclusivity, positive energy and people coming together to celebrate!

Powwow at Sault Ste. Marie
All are welcome at intertribal dances
Vendors at the Powwow
Indigenous Vendors
Food at the Powwow
Delicious food!

Learn to Powwow Tours

There are several Powwows during spring and summer in and around Sault Ste. Marie, and if you are interested in going you’ll definitely want to check out Thrive Tours’ Learn to Powwow Tours. Learn about the history, people, food and traditions; dancers, drums, singers and teachings. Half or full day experiences are available. Contact Thrive Tours for more info. 

And read our other blog post from summer 2022 about spending a day exploring Indigenous culture with the family in Sault Ste. Marie here!

From Powwows to Art and Places of Learning, Sault Ste. Marie is a city rich with Indigenous culture

Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect place to spend some time together as a family. Also referred to as Bawating, meaning “place of the rapids”, the area is rich in Indigenous culture and history. From the whir of excitement at a local powwow to the somber history of the residential school system, there is so much for you to learn and experience together in Sault Ste. Marie.

Here are 7 ways you can experience Indigenous culture in the Soo:

Go on a Learn to Powwow Tour

Whether you’ve been to a powwow before or want to experience one for the first time, you will love the Learn to Powwow Tour with Thrive Tours. Your tour guides will start you off with an introduction, covering powwow history and etiquette, and explain how you can engage in the celebration as a non-Indigenous person. You will also learn the significance of the music and about the different kinds of dances. After your powwow intro, you will join your guides for the spectacular Grand Entry where you’ll watch the dancers enter the circle in their regalia and listen as the drummers echo the heartbeat of Mother Earth. To complete your experience, make sure to try some food, explore the vendors and maybe even join in during an intertribal dance!

Powwow at Sault Ste. Marie
The Powwow Tour
Powwow at Sault Ste. Marie
Brad from Thrive Tours explaining Powwow customs
Powwow at Sault Ste. Marie
All are welcome at intertribal dances

See the Indigenous Art Murals

As you make your way through the buildings and streets of Sault Ste. Marie, you will notice the many large murals painted throughout the city. Many of the murals you’ll find here have been painted by local Indigenous artists. This display of artwork adds a splash of color and vibrancy to the city that everyone in the family will enjoy! Each June, during the Summer Moon Festival, you can watch new murals being painted around the Soo and experience many other Indigenous arts & culture workshops, exhibits and performances.

Explore Whitefish Island

Grab your bikes or walking shoes and spend some time exploring the Indigenous history of Whitefish Island. Whitefish Island is a territory of the Batchewana First Nation and a National Historic Site of Canada. Plaques located around the island provide information about the history and significance of the area, dating back hundreds of years. Once home to many, Whitefish Island was a significant site for fishing and trading throughout history. Now, the island is a popular birding location and the well-maintained trails and boardwalks allow visitors to easily access and enjoy nature.

Paddle on the St Marys River

Get out on the river in a kayak or canoe with Thrive Tours. Your adventure begins with acknowledging the history of the land and showing respect to the water by saying “Miigwetch”, which means “thank you”. Next, you will receive instruction on paddling and water safety before getting in your boat and setting off on the river. Boats, paddles and life jackets are available for both adults and children. While on the water, you will learn about the history of the area and you may even be treated to a traditional song sung by your tour guide.

Canoes for Conservation also offer interpretive tours of the St Marys river in their popular ‘big canoe’. Dip your paddle into the famous Whitefish Rapids at Bawating, one of the most significant cultural gathering places of the Anishinaabe People since time immemorial. These tours are popular with groups and families and expert guides provide a rich description of the area. 

Take a Residential School Tour

The Shingwauk Residential School in Sault Ste. Marie was operational from 1875 until 1970. Join Thrive Tours to see the residential school grounds and buildings, now part of the Algoma University campus, and learn about the residential school system. You will hear about the devastation the system had on the Indigenous people in the not-so-distant past and the inter-generational trauma affecting communities and families today. If you are touring with kids, information is shared in a truthful yet age-appropriate way. Learn about what is being done for healing and restoration and what you can do in this process as an ally.

Hike to See the Agawa Rock Pictographs

Take a beautiful drive along the Trans Canada Highway to see the Agawa Rock Pictographs in Lake Superior Provincial Park. Located about 1 hour North of Sault Ste. Marie, this 0.5km loop trail will take you right along the shore of Lake Superior to the Indigenous archaeological site where you can see sacred Ojibwe paintings dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. The hike is rated as moderate, but some scrambling over rocks is required. To see the pictographs, you’ll need to walk out on a sloped rock shelf beside the lake. The views are definitely worth it, but please take caution as the rocks can be slippery!

Enjoy a Meal at Chummy’s Grill

After working up an appetite during your Sault Ste. Marie adventures, stop by Chummy’s Grill for a delicious meal. This local Indigenous-owned and operated family restaurant has a wide variety of delicious food available. The restaurant has a great kids menu and even has all-day breakfast (except Friday 4-8pm). While here, make sure you spend some time admiring the wood carvings located throughout the restaurant.

Now it’s time to get your family and come explore Bawating! With so many different ways to experience Indigenous culture in the Soo, you’ll want to keep coming back for more.

And read our blog post from summer 2021 about spending a day with the family in Sault Ste. Marie here!

By Sault Tourism

 

Agawa Bay is The perfect stopping point on the Lake Superior Coastal Drive

Lake Superior Provincial Park Visitor Centre is located at the south end of ‘the Park’, as locals call it, roughly halfway between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa, and just above the Montreal River. The drive up the coast from Sault Ste. Marie makes for a perfect daytrip, with several worthy stopping points along the way. More about this is available at the bottom of this article.

The park is known for its 150 km of maintained canoe routes, 11 hiking trails of over 130 km, fishing for Lake Trout, Rainbow Trout, Salmon, and backcountry camping. There are 163 backcountry campsites in Lake Superior Provincial Park which are divided into 76 zones. You can get all the information on it by visiting the website here

The visitor centre is a great stopping point, with lots of information about the area, helpful staff and a fascinating recount of the history of Lake Superior. 

WHERE IS THE VISITOR CENTRE LOCATED?​

The visitor centre is around 90 minutes north of Sault Ste. Marie. Click here for a Google Maps link to directions. The centre is open from early May until late October. Exact opening days and hours can be found here

What can I see and Do in the Visitor Centre?

As you enter the visitor centre you are greeted by a beautiful high-ceilinged room with an information desk, map of the area, notice board of daily information and bathrooms. 

A short walk takes you a room filled with interactive displays that highlights the “Power of Lake Superior” as well as the park’s cultural history and natural ecosystems. You’ll also find a display about the Group of Seven, a replica lighthouse, plus there are large number of buttons and knobs for kids to press – perfect for a raining day activity for the little ones 🙂 

Lake Superior Visitor Cen
The main entrance and information desk
Lake Superior Visitor Cen
Maps and artwork of the Lake
Lake Superior Visitor Cen
Displays about the local ecosystems
Lake Superior Visitor Cen
Information about local history
Lake Superior Visitor Cen
A replica lighthouse
Lake Superior Visitor Cen
The Group of Seven display
Lake Superior Visitor Cen
A Bushplane!

Is there anything else to see?

The visitor centre is located on Agawa Bay beach, and there are some beautiful trails that lead to the water and the surrounding area. Located close to the entrance you’ll also find a Group of Seven easel, just one of many on the ‘Moments of Algoma’ Group of Seven Driving Tour. 

Lake Superior Visitor Cen
A walkout deck
Lake Superior Visitor Cen
Trail to the beach
Lake Superior Visitor Cen
A boardwalk to the beach
Lake Superior Visitor Cen
Agawa Bay beach
Group of Seven easel

There's also a giftshop

Just behind the information desk there is a gift shop with lots of interesting souvenirs and apparel, and all Lake Superior themed of course.  

Agawa Rock Pictographs

A short drive north takes you to the Agawa Rock Pictographs. A clearly marked sign on the highway directs visitors to a parking area at the trail head – map coordinates here.

The trail to the site of the Pictographs is short but rugged; it contains slippery steps and rocks to climb over and around – so take care!

The Agawa Rock Pictographs is one of the most famous pictograph sites in Canada and is one of the most visited indigenous archaeological sites too. It is a sacred site where generations of Ojibwe have come to record dreams, visions and events. Please respect and preserve the pictographs by not touching the paintings.

The images visible today, include canoes and animals such as moose, deer, bear and caribou. The most recognizable painting consisting of a spined-horned animal said to be “Misshepezhieu”, or the Great Lynx, the spirit of the water. Read more about this important area here.

The coastal Drive to or From Sault Ste Marie

The Visitor Centre in the Provincial Park is just one stop of many on the beautiful Lake Superior coastal drive.

Heading south you may wish to make your next stop the Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail in Pancake Bay Provincial Park. A beautiful view across a luscious maple forest all the way to the Superior coast reward those who hike the 6 km round trip.  You may also see the final resting place of the Edmund Fitzgerald ship.

Beautiful souvenirs and ice-cream treats are available at Agawa Crafts and the Canadian Carver further south and The Voyageur Lodge also has some great souvenirs and food options. Chippewa Falls, the famed halfway point on the trans-Canada highway is a great spot for a break. The falls are right beside parking lot, just off the highway. Check out another Group of Seven art easel while you are there.  

Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail
Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail
Agawa Crafts
Agawa Crafts and the Canadian Carver
Voyageurs' Lodge and Cookhouse
Voyageur Lodge
Chippewa Falls
Chippewa Falls