Discover Ontario’s best trails at a mountain bike event in Sault Ste. Marie

By Conor Mihell

An epic trail network and incredible terrain is rapidly making Sault Ste. Marie a hub for mountain biking. Ontario cyclists are buzzing about the new trails in the Hiawatha Highlands, only a few minutes north of Sault Ste. Marie’s city centre. Hiawatha has it all: Over 50 km of trails include a mix of impeccably-built, flow trails with fun tabletops and banked corners; old-school, lovingly handbuilt trails with steep drops and rooty climbs; a pump track; and a challenging and scenic backcountry route that blends machine-built features with handmade technical sections.

Three events scheduled for this spring and summer promise to showcase Sault Ste. Marie mountain biking and reveal why this bustling city in Northern Ontario is emerging as one of Ontario’s best cycling destinations.

Skeeter Slam, June 15-16

You may have heard that June is mosquito season in Northern Ontario. But mountain bike competitors at the Ontario Cup races in Sault Ste. Marie will leave biting insects in their slipstreams as they flow along Ontario’s most exciting network of single-track in the Hiawatha Highlands, in the third stage of these province-wide mountain bike events.

Skeeter Slam – Ocup #3, presented by Ontario Cycling and the Sault Cycling Club, is scheduled for June 15-16, and it features something for everyone: a grueling 45-km XC Marathon on Saturday morning, high-speed Short Track racing for all ages on Saturday afternoon, and a full day of OCup age-bracket racing for kids, youth and adults on Sunday.

“The races are open to anyone,” says Travis Anderson, one of the event organizers. “We’re hoping to get people who want to try racing for the first time, all the way up to some of the best up and coming racers in the province—the future World Cup and Olympic racers. We’re really positioning the event as a fun-filled event highlighting our world class trail system, rather than your conventional OCup.”

Hiawatha’s outstanding trails will be the centrepiece of this Ontario mountain bike event. Ontario Cup racers will be challenged by rocky uphills and thrilled by flowing descends. Out of towners will surely fall in love with the area’s wilderness feel—yet it’s so close to great accommodations and dining in Sault Ste. Marie. “I think the new trails are a great fit for the event,” adds Anderson. “They’re the perfect combination of fun, fast and technical with features that you won’t see on any other race courses in Ontario.”

  • Register online for the 2024 OCup Mountain Bike #3, hosted by the Sault Cycling Club at the Hiawatha Highlands

Salty Marie Trails Festival, July 27

Last year, Sault Ste. Marie cyclist Graham Atkinson and a few friends came up with a clever play on words to name the city’s newest mountain bike event, hosted in the Hiawatha Highlands. The Salty Marie is a nod to “people not being able to pronounce ‘Sault’ Ste. Marie,” Atkinson says. “Turns out ‘salt’ names are also easy to come up with for different races.”

Atkinson was blown away with the support for the inaugural Salty Marie, which attracted over 200 participants last year, including 50 visitors from Ontario and the United States. Registration is already booming for this year’s event, scheduled for July 27, and Atkinson is anticipating an even larger contingent of out-of-towners as Sault Ste. Marie gains recognition as a top destination for mountain biking in Ontario.

“Last year’s success showed us that the city was ready for something like this,” says Atkinson. “This year we’ve decided to double down, and we think a lot of our growth will come from cross-pollination with the OCup races in June and Crank the Shield in August.”

The Salty Marie is equal parts “trails festival” and a “party in the woods,” Atkinson explains. There are multiple mountain bike race options, ranging from the beginner friendly 2 km Saltine Shred to the epic 50 km Big Brine (further evidence that Atkinson and the team of organizers take their salt puns seriously). Mid-distance 10- and 25-km events are also available so anyone can test their limits while having fun. What’s more, you don’t need to be a mountain biker to participate, with 10- and 21-km trail running events also on the schedule.

“It’s a trails festival for everyone,” says Atkinson. “The racers are going to love it, but you can have just as much fun attending as a spectator, with live music, great food, beer and races to watch.”

  • Register online for the Salty Marie Trails Festival, hosted by Red Pine Tours and the Sault Cycling Club at the Hiawatha Highlands
Racers at the start line
Racers preparing to race
Racers receiving medals
Winners on the podium
Racers enjoying drinks
Enjoying some relaxing drinks afterwards!

Crank the Shield, August 16-18

The passion for “adventure cycling” oozing from Sault Ste. Marie native Sean Ruppel is a big reason why the area has become prominent on the Ontario mountain bike map. Ruppel’s 3-day Crank the Shield stage race has earned a reputation for being a seriously challenging mountain bike event, with rugged climbs, river crossings, incredible vistas and the feel of a long-distance adventure race through remote backcountry. Ruppel scoured the Algoma wilderness north of Sault Ste. Marie to weave together Canadian Shield trails, double-track and flowy single-track to create Ontario’s toughest mountain bike event.

Adventure remains a central element of the 2024 Crank the Shield, slated for August 16 to 18. But this time, Ruppel has tweaked the race itinerary with more focus on single-track, creating a more accessible event and taking advantage of the smooth and flowing machine-built Sault Cycling Club trails in the Hiawatha Highlands.

“Crank the Shield opened people’s eyes about the great mountain biking in Northern Ontario,” Ruppel says. “Now it’s time to showcase the great trails that the city has put so much investment into. This year, the pitch is more single track than ever.”

Crank the Shield has always given riders an excellent cross-section of mountain biking in Sault Ste. Marie This year is true to form. Day One follows a 52-km route through the backcountry of Stokely Creek and the Algoma Highlands Conservancy, a wilderness network of single- and double-track with plenty of climbing and hidden swimming holes along the way. Day Two makes a 35-km link from Stokely to Hiawatha, including the challenging handbuilt trails at Bellevue Tower, which ranks amongst the longest downhill single-track for mountain biking in Ontario. Day Three is brand new for Crank the Shield, featuring over 55 km of riding in the Hiawatha Highlands.

Besides running great mountain biking events, Ruppel also knows how to put on a serious party, and apres Crank the Shield doesn’t disappoint with food and beer at the awards ceremony and post-race dinner at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Museum.

  • Register online and check out accommodations options for Crank the Shield 2024
Mountain Bike Racing
Racers at the start line
Mountain bikers enjoying the view
Racers enjoying the view
Mountain bikers descending
Racers on a downhill
Racers at the podium
Racers on the podium

Make a weekend of it!

Come for a races, stay for the weekend! Enjoy a 90-minute river cruise on the Miss Marie Soo Locks Tour boat! If you are just looking to relax and enjoy some local drinks, check out our own microbrewery Northern Superior.

Check out our famous Bushplane Museum featuring 24 real Bushplanes to explore! Inside the Bushplane Museum you’ll also find Entomica Insectarium, complete with a host of real life insects and bugs you can actually hold! 

Have you ever tried axe throwing? Check out one of our newest and most fun indoor activities! Missing golf and still need a fix? The Up and Down Lounge has state of the art golf simulators, which can be booked by the hour. 

Get info about hotel stays or any other info by visiting the respective page on our website… and enjoy the races!

By Sault Tourism

 

adventures just steps away from your hotel or downtown

Sault Ste Marie has a number of well known hiking, lookout and fall-colour viewing areas just outside the city including Robertson Cliffs, King Mountain or Lake Superior. But you actually don’t have to travel as far to see some pretty spectacular sights! You can stay within the city limits and still get lookout views, see incredible waterfalls or enjoy beautiful, glassy in-land lakes. 

So keep reading to learn about these mini-urban adventures in Sault Ste. Marie

Crystal Creek Waterfalls: Part 1

The beautiful Crystal Falls at Kinsmen Park, with a total height of around 80 metres, is one of the most popular visitor spots in Sault Ste. Marie, attracting thousands of visitors each year. Easily accessible from the Kinsmen Park parking lot at Hiawatha Highlands, a boardwalk with handrails leads to the base of the falls with steps leading up to several viewing platforms. 

Click here for a link to a google map pin!

CRYSTAL CREEK WATERFALLS: PART 2

On the other side of Thayer Reservoir, in Kinsmen Park, are the lower Crystal Falls, including the delightfully named Minnehaha Falls. Access to these falls requires a little more work than the higher ones, with some hiking and exploring just off the multi-use cycling/hiking trail TLC, but the rewards are worth it! 

Click here for a link to a google map pin!

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. 

Click here for a link to a google map pin!

BEAVER LOOP (FARMER LAKE TRAIL)

Checkout the Beaver Loop, an out and back 4km loop with a beautiful lookout at Farmer Lake – also part of the Voyageur Trail at Hiawatha Highlands. The trail head is at the end of Connor Road, where there is ample parking, then the trail heads north and east, initially along the route of the Odena Loop before forking off to the right. The trail is a multi-use trail so you’ll find hikers and cyclists alike!

Click here for a link to a google map pin!

Attikamek trail on Whitefish Island

The Attikamek trail on Whitefish Island is a beautiful and easy-paced hike, perfect for enjoying nature. Parking is at the trailhead, located at Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site, from where you can access the Island across the famous locks. Batchewana First Nation Whitefish Island Reserve is a traditional territory and meeting ground of the Anishinaabe peoples of the Great Lakes due to the abundance of natural resources and fish in the St. Marys River

Click here for a link to a google map pin!

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. 

Click here for a link to a google map pin!

Tour Boat, train, trails and outdoor adventures aplenty. Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect Summer Destination

By Sault Tourism

Miss Marie Sault Lock Tours

Introducing The Miss Marie Sault Lock Tours Boat, which last year officially launched for its first full year and is back in 2024!

The Miss Marie takes passengers on a 90-minute cruise up and down the picturesque St Marys River. Enjoy the downtown sights of both Canadian and US Sault Ste. Marie, then pass through both set of historic locks and underneath the spectacular International bridge. Wave to Lake Superior ‘lakers’ as well as pleasure boat riders on this famous waterway, or just can sit back and relax and take in the many sights of this beautiful boat ride.

Take a bucket-list train ride

The Agawa Canyon Tour Train is one of North America’s iconic train rides. See the boreal forests, rivers, and waterfalls that inspired Canada’s most iconic artists – the Group of Seven. If traveling in latter part of summer, witness some of the most incredible colours as the maple forests create a stunning palette of reds, oranges and yellows. 

This year’s tour season will be from Aug. 1 through Oct. 13. More details on pricing and purchasing tickets can be found on the Agawa train website.

Discover Awesome new Mountain Biking Trails

Sault Ste. Marie is the best destination for mountain biking in Ontario. Discover trails for every age, ability or style from jump and flow trails to enduro-style trails carved out of the Canadian Shield. Come and see why Sault Ste. Marie is being called Ontario’s new bike town. 

Visit the Hiawatha Highlands, with over 55km of trails including 12km of newly built world-class trails — just a short ride from downtown. Visit out new Mountain Bike page for more info or check our out post on spending a weekend mountain biking in the city. For mountain biking events, read more here!

Explore our incredible hiking and paddling trails

Cradled by the ancient mountains of the Canadian Shield and the biggest fresh water lake in the world, Sault Ste. Marie is Ontario’s best Trail Town.
 
Hike trails that will lead you to incredible lookout vistas, or along the largest fresh water lake in the world. Or paddle one of our many and varied waterways, from winding rivers to portage-friendly inland lakes, or course the Big Lake, Lake Superior. Whatever your own personal mode of transport is, be it foot or paddle, we’ve got a trail for you.

Enjoy The best Sandy Beaches In Ontario

Sault Ste. Marie has some of the best sandy beaches in Ontario. Our beaches are incredible! All around our city you’ll find perfectly beautiful, long sandy beaches with crystal clear water that are perfect for a swim, a play in the sand or just to relax and soak up the sun. Great beaches are just one reason Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect place for a summer vacation.

Click here to check out 6 of the best sandy beaches in Ontario, all just a short drive from Sault Ste. Marie.  

Enjoy so many unique events

Sault Ste. Marie has so many fun events happening all through the summer. From the three mountain biking races to Rotary Fest and the much-loved Queen Street Cruise. Looking for a show or musical performance? Check out all the events listed at the Sault Community Theatre website.

As well as three biking races, we also have a number of running events happening in June; Run The Great Lakes as well as the Community Strong Festival – a series of races over a weekend in June, including a Boston Marathon qualifier!

We also have the Fringe North Festival and an Italian Festival, which are very popular with locals and visitors alike. Stay up to date by visiting our Events page here!

Experience Lake Superior

Lake Superior is wild, rugged and 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.

Visit The Bushplane Museum

The Bushplane Museum, or the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre to give its full name, is one of Sault Ste. Marie’s top attractions. Perfect for kids to learn about bushplanes, women in aviation, forest fire prevention, plus, kids can run around, climb into planes and have fun exploring. For adults, it’s a museum full of beautiful and fascinating aircraft that shows the important history of bushplanes in Ontario. 

Check out Entomica while inside the museum; a wonderful Insectarium where you can meet and hold some pretty interesting creatures!

Other cultural attractions include: Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site, The Sault Ste. Marie Museum, Art Gallery of Algoma and Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site

Immerse yourself In Indigenous Culture

Traditionally known as Bawating (“the place of the rapids”), Sault Ste. Marie is a place of cultural importance. Follow this long weekend itinerary to experience and learn about Anishinaabe culture in our city. 

Thrive Tours offer interpretive eco-tours offering a guided experience of vibrant celebrations of Indigenous life. Metis Tours offer walking and paddling tours that connects historic and community points of interest between the Sault Ste. Marie and and the St. Marys River. Walk Among The Trees specializes in simple, 3 hour walking tours Through an Anishinaabe cultural lens, participants will learn about the natural and cultural history, experience ceremony, storytelling, teachings and cuisine for creating important long-lasting memories

Visit our Indigenous Tourism page for more info. 

Relax, Dine and Drink

After a day of adventuring you’ll want to refuel and recharge, and we have some great restaurants serving some fantastic food for any taste. From Syrian Shawarma to spicy Indian, delicious Italian or sizzling steak, the Sault has so many great restaurants

We also brew our own beer! Northern Superior and Outspoken offer craft beers with names including ‘Rabbit’s Foot’, ‘Maglia Rosa’ and ‘Gitche Gumee’. Great beers, great atmosphere equals great times. 

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!

Robertson Lake
Robertson Lake

1. 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!

2. Hike Robertson Cliffs

There are so many hikes in and around Sault Ste. Marie that it can be difficult to narrow it down to just one. But if you are only looking to do one hike, try the Robertson Cliffs lookout hike.

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!  

3. 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 new mountain biking trails located in the same area of the Hiawatha Highlands. Check out fall colours while you enjoy our new flow trails, berms, jumps, techy climbs and more. 

4. 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.

5. Take a river cruise on the Miss Marie Sault Lock Tours

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 10am and 1pm. Click here for all the info. 

Want the expert touch? Go guided!

Sault Ste. Marie has excellent, experienced, informative, trained guides to help you get the most out of your time in the city. 

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. 

Go guided with Thrive Tours who offer fall colour hikes, as well as and canoe and kayak tours throughout the Algoma region. Red Pine Tours offer bike tours, Walk Among The Trees specializes in simple, 2- to 3-hour hiking tours sharing Indigenous teachings, culture, ceremony and language. Metis Tours shares Metis history in Sault Ste. Marie and Blaq Bear Tours do culinary and walking tours of the area!

How else can I experience fall colours?

Sault Ste. Marie is a great destination to experience incredible fall colours, with countless other ways to see spectacular reds, oranges and yellows. A scenic drive through the Bellevue Valley to Goulais River is a great way to some stunning colours. Or check out this blog post featuring 4 more ‘unknown’ spots

We hope you enjoy your time in the Soo! 🙂 

Bellevue Valley Road
Bellevue Valley Road

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

 

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

 

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 as 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

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

Fall Rendezvous Festival, at the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site, is a 4-day event, hosted each September by the Friends of Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site. The festival, this year occurring September 20th – 23rd, is a chance to immerse yourself in the history of the war of 1812 and the daily life of the early 1800’s, through a number of live reenactments including; canon and musket fire, Indigenous storytellers, workshops and more!

Keep reading to learn more about the Fall Rendezvous Festival.

Fall Rendezvous Festival

Four Days of Festival

The Fall Rendezvous Festival starts on Wednesday, September 20th and will run for four days until Saturday, September 23th, 2023. The event is open to the public, as well as for groups including School Groups, from 10am to 4pm for each day. 

Admission is by donation (pay what you can) and includes entrance to the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site heritage buildings and grounds, as well as interaction and knowledge sharing with 36 heritage performers including Francophone and Indigenous storytellers. See the Red Coats and the flash in the pan, smell the gunpowder as the muskets and cannons ignite, hear the drumming and our storytellers, taste Algoma Country’s culinary samplings. Immerse yourself!

Fall Rendezvous Festival
Fall Rendezvous Festival

Canon and Musket Firing

A fun part of the Fall Rendezvous Festival is the historical reenactments from the period surrounding the war of 1812. Restored canons and muskets from the era are fired at regular intervals throughout the festival, with groups of onlookers and spectators kept at a safe range. 🙂 

Expect the canon to fire every hour or more frequently when groups are on tours!

Fall Rendezvous Festival
Fall Rendezvous Festival

Heritage Performers & Activities

There are 36 heritage performers and exhibits present at the Festival. These include Coureur du Bois, Voyageurs, Métis, quill work, canoe building, drumming & Indigenous song, sacred plants and teachings – all in live performance! 

Saturday will also see the addition of the Algoma Maker’s Market, tasty local samplings from Hogan’s Homestead, Thinking Rock Community Arts, Beaver Tails food trailer and culinary arts by members of Buy Algoma, Buy Local.

The site is accessible with parking, boardwalks, washrooms and audio tours.

Festival Schedule

Check out the festival schedule below!

Wednesday to Friday

9am-4pm

  • Cannon firing every 15 minutes: 9am – 2pm, then again at 3pm and 4pm (talk and demonstrations)
  • Mini Militia – learn the drill of an 1812 soldier
  • Canoe building – the art of birch bark canoe
  • Meet the Voyageurs and the Coureur du Bois
  • Learn about the important linkage with Fort St. Joe
  • Indigenous Allies – drumming and sacred plants
  • Women of the Era – the clothing and their roles

Saturday

10am-4pm

  • Cannon firing on the hour from 10am – 4pm
  • Same great stations as Wednesday to Friday
  • Beaver Tails food trailer 11am – 3pm
  • Algoma Makers Market 10am – 4pm
  • Thinking Rock Community Arts 1pm – 4pm
  • Hogan’s Homestead maple tasting 1pm – 3pm
  • The Soup Witch
  • Centre Francophone

THE ERMATINGER CLERGUE
NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE

Fall Rendezvous Festival takes place on the grounds of the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site; where two of the oldest stone buildings in Ontario are Sault Ste. Marie’s only remains of the fur trade era, and home to the earliest European settlers. 

Learn about the war of 1812 through interactive displays, enjoy an audio tour to help guide you through the site. There is also a gift shop filled with local artisan products and memorabilia from Sault Ste. Marie. Read more about visiting Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site here. 

Thanks to our Partners!

The Fall Rendezvous Festival is hosted by the Friends of Ermatinger National Historic Site and funded by the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario and the City of Sault Ste. Marie. 

Downhill and Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, skating, Snowmobiling, Fat Biking, Ice Caves and more - Sault Ste. Marie is a true Winter experience

By Sault Tourism

Sault Ste. Marie is a true winter paradise with so many outdoor activities to choose from. We have one of the highest vertical downhill ski hills in Ontario, over 150km of incredible cross-country Skiing, an abundance of stunning snowshoe trails… Plus we have beautiful woodland skating trails, a new  snowmobiling day loop, groomed fat biking trails and Sault Ste. Marie has some iconic, and awe-inspiring ice caves. This winter visit Sault Ste. Marie for your true winter experience. 

Getting to Sault Ste. Marie is easy too with several flights a day from Toronto, Sudbury and Thunder Bay and rental cars waiting at the airport. And course you can drive on the Trans-Canada highway, which is well maintained over the winter months. 

Ski One Of The Highest Verticals in Ontario

Big vertical, rugged terrain, Searchmont Resort has some of the best downhill skiing in Ontario. And… new snowmaking equipment means a planned November 23rd opening day – potentially the earliest in the region!

On top of the 703 feet of vertical, 26 runs, 100 acres of rolling mountain, terrain park, 4 lifts, snow school, Searchmont is also a fully equipped resort with a restaurant, bar, shop, ski and snowboard rentals and accommodations. Escape the crowds and the lift queues of jam-packed southern Ontario ski hills and get away to this stunning, adventure-packed mountain.

If you like your vertical off the beaten track, check out the incredible backcountry skiing at Bellevue Valley Lodge.

Cross-Country Ski over 150km of Groomed Trails

Sault Ste. Marie offers some of the best cross country skiing in North America. Stokely Creek Lodge has 100km of trails, groomed for both classic and skate skiing and spread over 12,000 spectacular acres of the Algoma Highlands.

Breathtaking scenery including frozen lakes and waterfalls, endless forests, and amazing vistas like the one at the top of King Mountain, make Stokely a bucket-list destination for nordic skiers. Enjoy Scandinavian lodging and stay warm in one of the six warming huts along the way; it’s an experience that will bring you back year after year.

Situated just 10 minutes from downtown, Hiawatha Highlands offers more than 50km of beautiful skiing in towering Pine forests. Click here for a link to all trail and maps or read more about all that Hiawatha Highlands has to offer! Top-tip: enjoy a nighttime lantern ski, which happens a few times a season!

Bon Soo, Sault Ste. Marie's winter Carnival is BAck in 2024!

The Bon Soo winter carnival is back for its 61st edition! Join from February 2nd to 10th for this iconic Sault Ste. Marie event! 

All the details are on the Bon Soo website. Look out for: Bum Slides, Brett Kissel, Polar Rush, Polar Bear Dip and so much more! 

You can also read our breakdown of the event here via our Bon Soo 2024 Travel Inspiration page

Try Ice Climbing!

Steve Foster, from Sault Ste. Marie, is a certified, highly experienced, expert ice climber who will help you have the best possible adventure. His company, Steve Foster Adventure Instruction, offers half day experiences for all abilities, to enjoy these beautifully frozen ice structures.

 

Axe Throwing and Golf Simulators

Sometimes you just need a break from the snow and cold. Well, have you ever tried axe throwing? Check out one of our newest and most fun indoor activities!

Missing golf and still need a fix? The Up and Down Lounge has state of the art golf simulators, which can be booked by the hour. You can also grab a drink and some food to be able to make an evening of this fun winter activity!

Sled our new Snowmobile Day Loop

Sault Ste. Marie has a new day loop for riders! The Soo Highlands Loop starts in the city and goes north to Searchmont and the surrounding area. Sledders can explore the natural beauty of Algoma Highlands, and its rugged landscapes just north of Sault Ste. Marie, in this 169 km loop. 

For inspiration watch Cristy Lee enjoy her recent sledding experience in the Soo here!

Ride our Groomed Fat Biking trails!

Sault Ste. Marie is on its way to becoming an epicentre for Fat Biking, one of the fastest growing winter sports.

The Soo has perfectly groomed trails to the north of the city at Hiawatha Highlands and Crimson Ridge. Enjoy some challenging elevation in the beautiful Hiawatha forests as well as the picturesque trails at Crimson Ridge. 

Downtown, the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site has easy fatbike trails for use on St. Marys and Whitefish islands, adjacent to the St. Marys Rapids. In addition, the St. Kateri Outdoor Learning Centre has around 3.5 km of fat biking trails. 

Get your skates on!

Sault Ste. Marie has a number of some skating rinks and trails, all within a walk or drive of downtown. Check out our new downtown plaza and it’s brand new skating rink!

The City also maintains five over outdoor rinks including the popular waterfront Clergue trail (pictured). 

Snowshoe on the Canadian Shield

Snowshoeing is one of the best ways to experience winter in Sault Ste. Marie. We have well-marked and beautifully scenic trails all over the city, including at Hiawatha, Crimson Ridge and Stokely Creek.

We also have some expert tour guides who can not only show you the way, but can also provide information about the area and its cultural significance… you may even be treated to a cup of hot chocolate 😉

Check out our Tours & Guide page for all the info!

Relax, Dine and Drink

After a day in the snow and ice you’ll want to refuel and recharge, and we have some great restaurants serving some fantastic food to warm you right up!

From Syrian Shawarma to spicy Indian, delicious Italian or sizzling steak, the Sault has so many great restaurants