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

 

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 Gabriela (gabynocanada.com)

 

Take a day trip from the Soo to some incredible Sandy Lake Superior beaches

We are crossing Canada this summer and we had to include Sault Ste. Marie in our itinerary. We were impressed with the city when we visited Northern Ontario last year (see details here). But this time we decided to do something different: we explored the beaches around the city. Sault Ste. Marie is a super green city and full of parks and beautiful beaches around it, so this time we decided to visit some of these places and in this post. I will bring a list of 3 beaches that we visited in the region and that we recommend for everyone.

I think it’s important to highlight that not all the beaches you visit here in Canada are the way we are used to in Brazil: with sand, shallow water and easy access. Some beaches have rocks instead of sand (i.e. it is very difficult to walk), others have very rough water and some have difficult access… Some of those beaches are not suitable for families with children. The 3 beaches we visited in Sault Ste. Marie are family friendly, so it’s worth highlighting this here before writing about them below.

Harmony Beach

Harmony Beach is located in the Haviland Bay, and is the first beach you will come across when traveling north from Sault Ste. Marie via the Trans Canada Highway along the shore of Lake Superior. This public beach is the favorite of people that live in the region (and was crowded when visited). The place is just a half hour drive from Sault Ste. Marie, so if you’re in town and want to get a taste of Lake Superior beaches this might be an option. The beach has 3.2 km of sand and is considered a great place for swimming.

Batchawana Bay Provincial Park

This provincial park is a day use park only, which means it does not have camping sites and you cannot spend the night there (click here for more details). Even so, it is VERY worth the visit, being only 50 minutes north of Sault Ste Marie. The park has several picnic tables on the beach and also restrooms, so I liked the fact that it had this structure (which helps a lot when visiting with children) but looks very remote. The sandy beach is 5km long and the water in this bay is shallow, which makes it warmer.

Pancake Bay Provincial Park

This provincial park is just 1 hour north of Sault Ste Marie and 10 minutes from Batchawana Bay Provincial Park (the drive is beautiful so you won’t even notice that 1 hour go by). This park is super popular with its 3km beach, a beautiful 3.5km trail (Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout hiking trail where you can have a panoramic view of the entire region), the super blue Caribbean style water and 476 campsites. By the way, the camping sites are close to the beach so if you camp this would be a very special place to spend the weekend. Click here to learn more about the location.

The coastal Drive to or From Sault Ste Marie

The beaches are just one stop of many on the beautiful Lake Superior coastal drive.

The Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail in Pancake Bay Provincial Park offers a beautiful view across a luscious maple forest all the way to the big lake. You may also see the final resting place of the Edmund Fitzgerald ship.

A little further north of Pancake Bay is the Lake Superior Provincial Park, which includes the Agawa Bay visitor centre. Read all about this area here!

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
Lake Superior Visitor Cen
Lake Superior Visitor Centre
Agawa Crafts
Agawa Crafts and the Canadian Carver
Voyageurs' Lodge and Cookhouse
Voyageur Lodge
Chippewa Falls
Chippewa Falls

I hope you enjoyed this post and if you can, visit this region of Ontario: beautiful and relatively close to Toronto. For more information about Sault Ste Marie visit the Sault Ste. Marie Tourism website.

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

By Sault Tourism

 

How to Experience one of Ontario's best lookout hikes

The Edmund Fitzgerald lookout trail, in Pancake Bay Provincial Park, is the perfect day trip activity from Sault Ste. Marie. 

Just an hour north of the city, it’s one of best lookout hikes in all of Ontario. A beautiful woodland walk through towering maple trees leads you to spectacular views of Lake Superior, as far out as the resting position of the Edmund Fitzgerald ship

WHERE IS THE TRAIL LOCATED?​

The lookout trail is located just a few minutes north of Pancake Bay Provincial Park along highway 17. There is ample parking located about a hundred metres off the highway. Click here for a Google Maps link to directions.

The trail, parking and trailhead are all within the park, so day-use fee applies. You can get your daily vehicle permits in advance online here – both Pancake Bay and Batchewana Bay are both currently offering the advance daily permit online. And of course by buying a day pass you can have a swim at the beach after your hike! 

IS THERE A MAP AND HOW LONG DOES THE HIKE TAKE?

A clearly marked trail-head sign with route information and a map marks the start of the trail. The hike to the lookout and back is around 6km and takes 2-3 hours. Longer side routes are available taking you to Pancake Falls or Tower Lakes. 

HOW DIFFICULT IS IT AND ARE THE TRAILS CLEARLY MARKED?

The route to the lookout is a mix of flat hiking through forests, with some occasional up hill sections. All trails are well maintained by Parks Ontario crew!

The trails are clearly marked with blue signs, and there are maps at each trail intersection. The trails is described a ‘moderate’ difficulty because there may be some scrambling over rocks or small branches. 

Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail
Trail towards the lookout
Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail
Clearly marked trail signs
Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail
Maps are available along the way
Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail
Maps show you where you are

The climb to lookout...

The most strenuous part of the trail is the climb up the wooden stairs to the lookout itself…

TOP TIP – Spend a few minutes reading the information sign in the middle of the climb as a way to gather your breath before the final ascent. 

Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail
Approaching the steps
Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail
The ascent
Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail
Information sign / resting spot

WHAT ABOUT THE LOOKOUTS AND WHAT IS VIEW LIKE?​

There are a couple of lookouts before you reach the actual top… and when you reach the top the views are simply stunning.

A Beautiful drive South

It won’t take long before you’re back at your car, and a beautiful drive south back to Sault Ste. Marie awaits. Why not stop for an ice cream at Agawa Crafts and the Canadian Carver? They also have some fantastic souvenirs. The Voyageur Lodge also has some great souvenirs and food options. Chippewa Falls is a great spot for a break and the falls are right beside parking lot just off the highway. Check out the Group of Seven art easel while you are there.  

Or maybe you’ll spend the drive planning your return trip in a different season…

Agawa Crafts
Agawa Crafts and the Canadian Carver
Voyageurs' Lodge and Cookhouse
Voyageur Lodge
Chippewa Falls
Chippewa Falls

Picture this view in the fall… 🙂 

Ice Creams, Parks, Waterfalls and More!

By Gabriela (gabynocanada.com)

As part of our family trip to Northern Ontario in partnership with Attractions Ontario, we visited and explored the city of Sault Ste Marie. We’d passed it a few times on trips we’d taken to the USA in years past, but we never stopped to explore. I remember driving over the International bridge and looking at that super blue water down there and thinking: we must visit this place. During this first official visit to SSM we spend 2 days and our impression was amazing: the city is incredible and worth a visit.

Here are some ideas to enjoy your stay in the city with your family. It is worth mentioning that we did this tour with 2 children (3 and 5 years old) and a puppy dog, so many of the tips will be family-oriented.

Visit the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site and Whitefish Island

The Sault Ste. Marie Canal, built in 1895, was the world’s longest lock, the first to operate using electricity, and the last link in a Canadian shipping chain from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Superior. It is still operating, and it also brings history and beauty to the region. It’s certainly a must-see and it’s really cool to read the signs and learn about the history of the place. A super cool activity you can do in the area is to rent a fat bike and explore the region around the St Marys River, including Whitefish Island and South St Mary’s Island (Attikamek Trail). There are several trails there and you even go under the bridge that connects the United States and Canada. If you go hiking around Whitefish Island, be sure to look for “fairy doors”, which are small, colorful doors scattered throughout the park.

Make the kids happy at Bellevue Park

You won’t believe Bellevue Park: it has about 7-8 playgrounds, one next to the other. In addition, the place also has a brand new splash pad and trails for you to walk on the edge of the St Marys River. When we parked the car, I looked at a playground and thought it was fantastic. Then I looked the other way and there were two more and then I looked towards the river and, guess what?, another one. I’m not exaggerating: there are MULTIPLE playgrounds (and all huge and super equipped). The boys were so excited, they did not know where to go. They played in all the playgrounds and also went to the splash pad, which we thought it was super good for the little ones. Ella (our puppy) and I also walked around the river and even saw some turtles. It is a delightful place to stroll around the city.

Explore the beautiful nature around the city

As soon as you arrive in Sault Ste Marie you will notice how green the city is. And if you do some research before leaving, you will find out that around the city there are many beautiful parks and trails for you to explore. Among the most popular is the Hiawatha Highlands, which is a 3000-acre park with several trails. There is also Crystal Falls, which is located inside Kinsmen Park (north of the city). I must confess that we almost gave up visiting the place because we couldn’t find the entrance (you should look for the park in your GPS and not the waterfall). When you arrive at the park’s parking lot, you will take a super short walk along a platform and you will arrive at the waterfalls: beautiful! There are several observation areas and after arriving at the waterfall you can even follow the trail for more, but we chose to play in the park (including the playground) and enjoy the incredible nature of the place.

Learn about history at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre

You must visit the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre when in The Soo. This is a super interactive museum about planes that land on the water. The Centre has 29 planes and several other attractions such as a 3D cinema, a space for children to learn and even the Entomica Insectarium, which has several insects and you are invited to touch and learn about them. Many of the exhibitions on the day we went were focused on forest fires and I found it super interesting. The boys loved it and didn’t want to leave. There’s a part of the museum where a real mechanic is fixing the planes: he was there and had a little chat with us. 

And on your way out, don’t miss the Tap Room at Northern Superior Brewing Co., one of the city’s many breweries and the patio is pet-friendly too!

Eat lots of ice cream

You cannot get to know a city without going to a local ice cream shop. And Sault Ste Marie has several amazing ice cream shops, which have great reviews and are well worth a visit. See the list below of the most famous ice cream parlors in the city. We ended up choosing to have ice cream at Holy Cow, which was close to the hotel and further from the center, so we thought it was a great option for a late afternoon dessert. The boys ordered the Spiderman flavor – which was a mixture of various fruits and very colorful. They loved it!

Other places to visit in SSM

Agawa Canyon Tour Train: An all-day train ride from Sault Ste Marie (99 Huron Street) to the Agawa Canyon region, which is only accessible this way. The journey is beautiful and people always do it at the fall to see the autumn colors. All reviews and posts I’ve read said that this is an unforgettable experience.

The Breakfast Pig: breakfast restaurant super famous for its food and for using only local ingredients. It has been showcased on TV shows and just seeing the menu made me want to try it. We didn’t go, but I already included it here so next time I will not miss it.

The Mill Market: this is a farmer’s market from producers in the Algoma region. The market is open on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Visiting city markets is always a great way to learn more about the region, as well as delight in local products.

The Boiler Room: restaurant with a super nice patio and wood-fired pizza in the Canal District region. In this area, old buildings were restored to become restaurants and shops (same vibe of Toronto’s Distillery District).

Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site: A historic site with historic houses (from the 1800’s) located in the heart of SSM. We stopped by and took some pictures (see photo of Clergue Blockhouse below) but we still want to go inside and explore more about the history of the area.

Family and Pet-Friendly Accommodation: The Water Town Inn

We stayed at The Water Town Inn. The hotel was perfect for us because the city’s Tesla chargers are in their parking lot, so we didn’t have to drive far to charge our car. We also find the room very spacious and with easy access to the street, which is perfect for those traveling with dogs and also during the pandemic. The room was super clean and we loved the pool area, because it had a children’s pool (boys played a lot). Our room was pet-friendly and had water plate and even snacks for Ella.

It was AMAZING to explore SSM for the first time and we cannot wait to come back and see more.

For for blogs and travel ideas from Gaby and her family, visit their website gabynocanada.com

Para ler este blog em português clique aqui!

Algoma’s trail running event has a challenge for everyone

By Conor Mihell

Nick Brash uses one word to describe the vibe of the 2021 Ultra Trail Stokely Creek: “Joyous.” That’s the overwhelming memory for Brash in organizing his second gathering of 175 running enthusiasts in the Algoma Highlands, just north of Sault Ste. Marie. Indeed, after a year’s hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a welcoming mood of happiness, relief and camaraderie emanates from photographs and videos from the much-anticipated UTSC, held last September amid perfect autumn weather and vibrant colours in the hardwood-clad hills.  

“It was like, ‘finally,’” recalls Brash. “We could gather and be one as a community again. Local runners are the driving force of the event. We’re all so excited to show off our backyard. That’s what makes it so inviting for people coming from elsewhere.”

Official Qualifier for UT Mont Blanc

The 2019 UTSC, held at Stokely Creek Lodge in Goulais River, about 30 minutes north of Sault Ste. Marie, included 5km, 15km, 32km, 55km and 83km courses. The inaugural event attracted a sell-out crowd of 150 runners from across Ontario and the U.S. Midwest. Brash admits he was floored by the turnout—and equally surprised when the event claimed a Northern Ontario Tourism Innovator award later that year. 

Perhaps the greatest accolade, however, came when the prestigious Ultra Trail Mont Blanc, a world-renowned trail race held annually in France, accepted Brash’s upstart, grassroots event as an official points qualifier. The UTSC was red hot and expectations were sky high—escalating into even greater, pent up anticipation when Brash finally received clearance to deliver the sequel in 2021.

To meet UTMB requirements Brash added a 170-km category for 2021, attracting 15 hard-core entrants (only five managed to finish the punishing long-distance course). Regardless of the race distance, they’re all meant to be tough, the organizer insists. The UTSC routes exploit “every scrap of elevation gain” in the rugged Algoma Highlands, including swooping single-track through intimate hardwood forests, exposed granite ridges and technical rocky climbs and descents.

One of Ontario’s Highest Points of Land

With few (if any, depending on the distance) road segments, an overwhelming sense of wilderness pervades and runners must keep close track of trail markers. The popular 17km category ascends King Mountain, one of Ontario’s highest points of land, affording views to Lake Superior. Brash, an avid runner and founder of Bear in Mind Running, a local trail race organizer, mapped routes with all of his favourite heart-pounding climbs and jaw-dropping lookouts for his flagship UTSC event. 

But all the challenges come with definite rewards. “I tried to include everything that I would want to see if I was a runner coming here for the first time,” adds Brash. “I wanted to make sure to include every possible view that needed to be seen out there.”

World-class Scenery

Having travelled across Canada for running events, it was natural for Sault Ste. Marie-based runner Mir Shafiee to support a race in his own backyard. Shafiee, who has participated in both installments of the UTSC, contends the Algoma Highlands scenery is truly world-class. “Last year, I remember scenes of sunrise, quiet lakes and thick fog,” says Shafiee, 53, who ran the 56km event in 2021. “It felt like I was running in the clouds on Robertson Cliffs.

“Trail running is always a challenge because of the uneven footing,” he adds. “But I never grow tired of it. Stokely is a challenging course. But it will teach you how to be persistent, and how to keep going forward.”

A Race for Everyone

As much as Brash, who has run the epic 100-miler at UTMB in France, admires the long-distance competitors, he maintains that the UTSC is for everyone. The shorter races are popular with youth, first-time runners and high-school athletes alike. As the buzz continues to grow around Stokely’s “ultra”-length races, Brash says continued interest amongst recreational runners in the 5km and 17km categories will ultimately drive registration to his goal of 300-plus participants when UTSC returns on September 23-24, 2022. 

For Ramin Emad, the 5km event at Stokely was a perfect way to wrap up his first season of trail running. Emad, 40, who moved to Sault Ste. Marie from Toronto in 2020, recalls being nearly overwhelmed by the initial uphill climb—and then equally awestruck from the scenery as the trail levelled off. “It’s like you’re on top of the world, surrounded by all the fall colours,” he says. “I had to stop to enjoy the view and just take it all in.”

Of course, Brash is far too busy on race day to lace up his own running shoes. But he shares in the thrilling sense of accomplishment runners feel as they cross the finish line. “It’s like a tailgate party,” he says. “It’s a celebration, not a competition.”

Emad recalls feeling just that as he completed his first UTSC. “It was so friendly and there was such great camaraderie,” he says. “The cowbells were ringing and I felt great.”

Visit the UT Stokely website for more information including how to register. Stay up to date on all the events in Sault Ste. Marie by visiting our Events page here