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

 

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. 

Enjoy The PErfect Day of Winter Activity in Sault Ste. Marie with Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing and Fat Biking.

By Sault Tourism

Hiawatha Highlands IS winter. Take the 10-minute drive from downtown Sault Ste. Marie on any winter’s day and discover this for yourself. The parking lot outside the iconic Soo Finnish building will be buzzing with activity; people hurrying to get skis on, unloading fat bikes from trucks, lacing up boots and snowshoes. There will also be an unmistakably buoyant and friendly atmosphere because whatever your chosen activity is, you’re about to experience winter the right way. 

Cross-Country Skiing

The favourite activity at Hiawatha is cross-country or Nordic skiing. Over 50km of professionally groomed trails, for both classic and skate skiing, on three unique systems offers something for all abilities. 

The Pinder system has 10km of green and blue trails with just a hint of elevation; perfect to learn those cross-country skills. The beautiful Red Pine system is more of a challenge for those looking for some hills and climbs, and with up to 15km of trails, this system is great for a workout! The third system is the stunning Crystal Creek trail network, which offers a variety of graded trails surrounding the creek and waterfalls. You can choose to ski up to 23km of green, blue and black trails, including the extension to Mabel Lake, making this system a favourite.

If you like night skiing then check out the 2km Kinsmen lit section of the Crystal Creek system, perfect for an evening workout. Hiawatha Highlands also runs lantern ski events at various times of the year. Keep an eye on the website or on social media for details of this beautiful event! 

Skiing at Hiawatha Highlands, Sault Ste. Marie
Skate Skiing the Mockingbird extension on the Pinder System
Hiawatha Ski Trails
Ski Trail Map

SnowShoeing

A fun activity and a great way to experience winter is to snowshoe! There is more than 9km of snowshoe trails at Hiawatha that run parallel to the ski trails. The Pinder trails are relatively flat and take you through the beautiful Hiawatha forests. If you are looking for a real winter-workout then head to the Crystal Creek trail for 4km of vigorous ups and downs and heart-pumping exercise!

Check out the ski trail map here or above for more info. 

Snowshoeing at Hiawatha
Snowshoeing at the start of the Crystal Creek Trail
Snowshoeing at Hiawatha
Snowshoeing in the Hiawatha forests

Fat Biking

Fat Biking has grown in popularity in the last few years and there is now over 9km of trails at Hiawatha Highlands to enjoy. Trails are located within the Crystal Creek system (within Kinsmen Park) and are keenly maintained by the Sault Cycling Club. For a longer ride, you can choose to head out to Mabel Lake on trails shared with skiers. Fat Bikes are also now available to be rented at the clubhouse also. 

Hiawatha Fat Bike Trails
Fat Bike Trails at Hiawatha
Fat Biking at Hiawatha Highlands, Sault Ste. Marie
Fat Biking at Hiawatha

PASSES, RENTAL AND CLUBHOUSE​

Hiawatha Highlands has a cozy clubhouse where you can buy passes, refreshments, or warm up before or after your activity. The clubhouse is also where you can rent skis, poles, boots or snowshoes. Visit the ‘Passes’ page to get all the information on daily and seasonal passes and rental equipment.

Clubhouse at Hiawatha
Clubhouse
SKI03481_TN
Ski and snowshoe rental
Clubhouse at Hiawatha
Kiosk for passes and refreshment

COME FOR A VISIT!​

Come and see for yourself why Hiawatha Highlands is one of the most popular places to experience winter in Sault Ste. Marie.  And be sure to check out our ski page for information on other cross-country skiing areas, downhill and backcountry skiing areas!

Have you ever tried winter surfing?

By Narcity

Say hello to ice-frosted trees and streets, snuggly scarves, puffy jackets and cozy nights in by the fire. The snowy season is nearly here, which means Ontario is about to transform into a winter wonderland.

In Sault Ste. Marie, you can truly embrace the best of the cold weather. Located seven hours north of the GTA by car (or a short plane ride), this action-packed Ontarian town is one of the province’s best destinations for a snowy getaway.

Nestled between Lake Superior and Lake Huron on the banks of St. Marys River, Sault Ste. Marie (affectionately known as “the Soo”) is packed with opportunities to ski, snowboard, skate, snowshoe and even surf (yes!) your way through the winter.

Whether you arrive by plane or by road trip, these nine activities will keep you busy on your adventures through Sault Ste. Marie’s idyllic winter landscape.

Click here to read more…

With a vast network of trails on land, lake and river, Sault Ste. Marie is Ontario’s best Trail Town

By Sault Tourism

Cradled by the ancient mountains of the Canadian Shield and the biggest fresh water lake in the world, Sault Ste. Marie is home to some of the best trails for hiking, biking or paddling in Ontario.
 
Hike trails that will lead you to incredible lookout vistas, or along the largest fresh water lake in the world. Bike on newly built machine-cut mountain bike trails, or along some quiet yet beautiful gravel roads. 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, peddle or paddle, we’ve got a trail for you.
 
So keep reading and get inspired by a sample of these routes ready make for hiking, biking or paddling, and learn why Sault Ste. Marie is known as ‘trail town’. 
Odena Loop at Hiawatha
Hiking the Voyageur Trail
Canoeing
Paddling Inland Lakes
Mountain Biking
Biking at Hiawatha

Hiking

From the stunning Lake Superior coast to the rugged mountains of the Canadian Shield, Sault Ste. Marie has easy access to a vast network of hiking trails. Our mixed hardwood and conifer forests provide a vibrant canopy of colour in the summer and fall months, and are starkly beautiful and perfectly quiet in winter.

The Voyageur Trail at the Hiawatha Highlands
  • Length: 20km                          
  • Difficulty: easy to intermediate    
  • Must See: Crystal Falls

The Voyageur Trail is a public hiking trail consisting of almost 600km of wilderness style trails in Northern Ontario. The Hiawatha Loop (which goes past the stunning Crystal Falls), Odena Loop, Beaver Loop and Mabel Lake Loop make up around 20km of trails in this area.

Lots of information is available on the Voyageur Trail Association website here. With maps of the trails at Hiawatha here. 

King Mountain Via Robertson Cliffs
  • Length: 12km                          
  • Difficulty: Intermediate    
  • Must See: Robertson Cliffs Lookout

This there-and-back trail in the Algoma Highlands takes you past one of best lookout hikes in Ontario, on the way to one of the higher mountains in Ontario. The trail begins at Robertson Cliffs road and takes you to three incredible south and west facing lookouts. From there you head through beautiful maple forests of the Algoma Highlands to King Mountain. 

The trails are owned and cared for by Algoma Highlands Conservancy, a not for profit organization that is run by local volunteers. To access maps of the trail system click here.

Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout
  • Length: 13.5km                          
  • Difficulty: Intermediate    
  • Must See: Lookout over Pancake Bay

The Edmund Fitzgerald lookout trail is another trail with a spectacular lookout. This one overlooks Pancake Bay Provincial Park (in which the trail is situated), Lake Superior and even as far as place where the Edmund Fitzgerald ship tragically sunk in 1975.

The trail system has 3 hikes available; 6km, 10.5km and 13.5km, with the latter hikes taking you to waterfalls and the inland Tower Lakes. For further information click here.

Lake Superior Coastal Trail
  • Length: 65km                          
  • Difficulty: Difficult    
  • Must See: The Rugged Beauty of the Big Lake

For those seeking true adventure, consider this spectacular and rugged coastal trail. It extends from Agawa Bay in the south to Chalfant Cove just north of Warp Bay in the north and will give you a true experience of Lake Superior. Local experts recommend taking 5-6 days because many sections require climbing over rocky headlands and cobble beaches, which can be technically challenging and require a steady pace for safety.

There are various spots for beach camping along the trail; you’ll enjoy incredible coastal scenery during the day and perfectly dark starry skies from your beached down tent at night.

Paddling

Nestled between the Great Lakes, Sault Ste. Marie has wild rivers, majestic channels, hidden coves, stunning waterfalls and, of course, more freshwater lakes than you could ever count. Here are 4 mouthwatering paddling routes to wet your appetite.

St. Marys River
  • Length: 1-10km                          
  • Difficulty: Easy    
  • Must See: Lake Superior ‘Lakers’

There are a number of entry points to the river including Pine St. Marina, Bondar Marina and the Waterfront Adventure Centre (which has rentals). A paddle west will take you to the historic canal, rapids and International Bridge. East will take you towards Bellevue Park and Topsail Island. Keep an eye out for the formidable Lake Superior ‘Lakers’ who use this waterway daily. 

 

Gros Cap and the Lake Superior Water Trail
  • Length: 10km                          
  • Difficulty: Intermediate    
  • Must See: The Rugged Superior Coastline

Lake Superior is a huge draw for paddlers, and the Water Trail maps out the 1,000km Canadian route from the Bobbi Bennett Memorial Park in Gros Cap to Lorne Allard Fisherman’s Park in Thunder Bay. Paddling west from Gros Cap’s entry point provides an immediate glimpse of Lake Superior’s rugged shoreline; you’ll see spectacular cliffs, gravel beaches and a vast, open horizon along the 10-km section to Red Rock.

Goulais River
  • Length: 70km                          
  • Difficulty: Intermediate to difficult    
  • Must See: The Goulais River Falls

A backcountry paddler’s dream; 70km of winding river from Witchdoctor Lake in the heart of Algoma to Lake Superior’s Goulais Bay just north of Sault Ste. Marie. The full route can take up to 5 days with numerous portages to get past some pretty lively waterfalls. A logging road leads to the Witchdoctor Lake, though there are of course many other entry points. For a half day paddle consider starting at Mountain View Lodge and paddling to Kirby’s Corner in Goulais. This section includes Class I and II rapids, as well as plenty of swift water, making it suitable for novice whitewater paddlers. Paddling in spring or fall is best when water levels are high.

Jarvis Circle Route
  • Length: 30km                          
  • Difficulty: Intermediate to difficult    
  • Must See: Tiny moss-topped islands perfect for camping

The Jarvis Circle Route is a perfect inland-lake paddling route, and with all the shore-lined maple trees, a great route to paddle in the fall. The full loop is 30km long, with fifteen rugged portages along the way varying from 50 to 750 metres. You start and end at Northland Lake then take a clockwise or anticlockwise route through numerous small lakes including Jarvis, Reserve and Clearwater.

Check out this great video below: 

Biking

Sault Ste. Marie has world-class mountain biking trails on newly machine-built flow trails as well as challenging cross country climbs over the Canadian Shield. For gravel riders we have flat open gravel roads where you can burn through the kilometres while enjoying picturesque Northern Ontario countryside.

Mountain Bike trails at Hiawatha
  • Length: 40km                          
  • Difficulty: easy to intermediate    
  • Must See: Newly built trail ‘Berm Baby Berm’

More than 40km, over three unique systems; Crystal, Red Pine and Pinder. A mix of newly machine built trails, and older traditional single-track trails, alongside (and over) beautiful creeks, waterfalls and towering forests. Trails are available for all skill levels, plus there is a new skills park!

Get all the info including trail maps and videos on our Mountain Bike page here

Farmer Lake Trail
  • Length: 7km                          
  • Difficulty: Intermediate to difficult    
  • Must See: The view across Farmer Lake

This 7km out-and-back trail through the stunning Canadian Shield will take you to the beautiful Farmer Lake. Navigate the technically challenging Climb to Canyon section, climbing almost 50 metres, then take on the many berms and hairpin turns of Farmer Lake trail. On the way back advanced riders may want to test their skills on the new Crazy Train trail; an adventurous and aptly named downhill trail which has enough vertical to keep any adrenalin junky interested.

Gravel Biking the Sylvan Valley
  • Length: 140km                          
  • Difficulty: Intermediate    
  • Must See: Fall colours and wide open vistas

Just east of the city is the relatively flat and fertile Sylvan Valley, with almost endless kilometers of picturesque and winding gravel and backcountry roads. One popular day ride, at around 140km is the Rock Lake loop. The route threads through Sylvan Valley road, south along McCarrel Lake, circles Otter Lake then back north past Rock Lake, before returning to Sault Ste. Marie. Of course, Google maps and the many plan-your-route apps means you can tailor any version of this route to your own tastes.

Go Guided or Get outfitted

Sault Ste. Marie has expert guides to help you get the most out of your adventure. Visit our Tours & Guides page for more info. 

Needing to get outfitted? We have plenty of stores with the latest and best equipment to help you out. Visit our Outfitters page for more info. 

The Event is Adventure Riding At Its Finest

By Conor Mihell

Crank the Shield is a 3-day mountain biking event held in the Algoma Highlands just north of Sault Ste. Marie. With the city having some of the best mountain bike trails in Ontario, bringing the race back is in 2022 is a perfect fit for the community. Registration for this year’s event, being held from July 29-31, is now open. Sault Tourism spoke to event organizer Sean Ruppel about this year’s installment. 

Backcountry Adventure Riding

In the three years that have passed since the last installment of the Crank the Shield mountain bike stage race, organizer Sean Ruppel has had plenty of time to reflect on what makes this three-day event so special to him. “It’s always been about the type of riding,” says Ruppel, the Muskoka-based owner of Superfly Racing. “It’s all about backcountry adventure riding, out in the wilderness with real mountains and pristine rivers. There’s no better mountain biking anywhere else in the province.”

The long, pandemic-caused wait for the next Crank the Shield event has built up a lot of enthusiasm in Ruppel and race participants. Ruppel’s business plans, coordinates and hosts adventure races across Ontario. In the inaugural, 2018 Sault Ste. Marie event, Ruppel felt like he was sharing a secret treasure with the broader mountain biking community. Ruppel envisioned an epic 230-km route on many of the rugged Algoma trails he had been exploring all his life from a family cottage on Lake Superior. “Make no mistake—this is as ‘real’ as mountain biking gets!” he wrote in the race prospectus.

Rugged Algoma Trails

Ruppel’s mission was accomplished: 180 participants were awestruck (and seriously exhausted) by the expansiveness of the terrain, which included grinding climbs to some of Ontario’s highest peaks, obscure logging roads, multiple river crossings, and swooping single-track. Crank the Shield starts with a wilderness train ride aboard the famous Agawa Canyon Tour Train, and includes overnight stops at Stokely Creek Lodge and Searchmont Resort before wrapping up in Sault Ste. Marie’s Hiawatha Highlands. The 2019 sequel only added fuel to the fire. “It’s like suddenly mountain bikers from elsewhere in Ontario were aware of how epic the off-road riding is up here,” Ruppel notes. “People were starting to look north.”

Then, of course, came all the confusion and uncertainty of Covid-19, which put Crank the Shield on pause. Now, as pandemic restrictions are lifted, Ruppel is equal parts thrilled and refreshed to return to organizing the event July 29 to 31, 2022. Besides the personal pleasure of returning to his own favourite landscape of Canadian Shield mountains, wild rivers and labyrinthine trails, Ruppel believes lockdowns revealed the sense of freedom and great adventures available in Northern Ontario. “So many people have had an awakening,” he says. At the same time, Sault Ste. Marie made huge investments in mountain biking trail infrastructure, expanding the network of single-track at Hiawatha Highlands and investing in new machine-built flow trails for riders of all levels. “The Soo has always been super welcoming and friendly,” Ruppel notes, “but now it’s an even cooler vibe. The city has embraced cycling and the local community of riders is growing rapidly.”

One of the most challenging days ever spent on a bicycle

Ottawa-based cyclist Rob Parniak was pushed to his limits by previous installments of Crank the Shield. “The route was harder than I expected,” recalls Parniak. “The first stage with rough trails, river crossings and lots of climbing was one of the most challenging days I’ve ever spent on a bicycle. Getting through it felt like a commendable accomplishment.”

For Parniak, a Sault Ste. Marie native, Crank the Shield was a reunion. He always recognized the city’s outdoor potential, and was blown away when it was put on full display. “I see a sort of scrappy pride in a lot of Sault people of my generation,” says Parniak. “It’s as if they’re determined to defy the stereotypes. They’re creating their own happiness by building their own place. The cycling scene–the bike shops, the trails, the club, this race–are tangible examples.”

The 2022 Race

Ruppel says the 2022 Crank the Shield race, (July 29-31) will fall back on what made it so successful and impactful in the past, including great hospitality at Stokely Creek and Searchmont and a vibrant after-party at the Bushplane Museum on the waterfront in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. But mostly, Ruppel insists Crank the Shield is all about the riding. “It’s a niche event,” he says. “You have to be a serious off-road rider to take on three days of this type of distance in this kind of terrain.”

Tweaks to the route bring the cumulative three-day distance to 200 km. Upgrades include: an optional climb to the summit of Batchewana Mountain, capped at 20 participants, for those seeking a high-adventure, quad-pumping climb to Algoma’s highest point that won’t be counted in total race time; improved single- and double-track segments in the Algoma Highlands and Searchmont portions of the race; and a velvety smooth, fast finish on 35-km of purpose-built mountain bike trails at Sault Ste. Marie’s Hiawatha Highlands on day three. 

“This event has made such an impact on everyone who has ridden it,” says Ruppel, “and after the few years away, I’m excited to get back at it. This is my opus, my dream race. I can’t wait to provide riders with an introduction to my favourite place on earth.” 

Visit the Crank the Shield website for more information including how to register. 

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!

7 ways to enjoy the Soo with Kids

Whether you’re road-tripping through Northern Ontario or looking for somewhere to get away for the day, Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect place for family adventure! There are so many exciting things to do in Sault Ste. Marie, from biking and boating to eating delicious treats and enjoying local artwork! With all these great places to visit in Sault Ste. Marie (nicknamed “the Soo”), this will be a day that everyone in the family will love!

Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site

Start your day off with some coffee from The Machine Shop and then head over to the Soo Canal. When the lock was built here in 1895, it was the longest in all of Canada. Today, pleasure watercraft are transported up and down the river through the lock to bypass the St. Marys River Rapids. Here you can enjoy watching the boats lock through as you walk along the canal.

Next, grab your bicycles and get ready to explore the Sault Ste. Marie waterfront. Bikes can be rented at the canal or from the Roberta Bonda marina in town during summer months. 

Whitefish Island

Take one of the bridges across the canal lock gates to get over to Whitefish Island. Bike or hike along trails and boardwalks as you take in views of the rapids along St. Marys River. You can learn about the island’s culture and history by reading the information signs along the trail. Make sure you also keep a lookout for the fairy doors painted around the island!

The main loop will take a family with young kids around 45 minutes to complete by bike or an hour hiking. Side trails are available if you want to extend your adventure – like going under the international bridge! There are plenty of trail maps to keep you on track. 

The Hub Trail

After exploring Whitefish Island, you can continue your bike ride or stroll along the John Rowswell Hub trail. This beautiful trail & boardwalk provides you with amazing views of the St. Marys River as you pass significant landmarks along the waterfront. Stop to eat a sweet treat at BeaverTails located right on the boardwalk and enjoy the lively atmosphere.

The whole loop is 22.5km and a great ride for the adventurous family, but equally, you can divide and conquer smaller sections too. The Fort Creek section is a beautiful 6km there-and-back trail with three awesome bridges that take you high over the ravine below. Parking is available at the south end. 

Bellevue Park

Next, head into town to get some lunch or continue along the Hub Trail to Bellevue Park to enjoy a picnic. With 7 separate playground structures, Bellevue Park is a kid’s dream come true. Along with its impressive playgrounds, the park also includes a splash pad, beautiful paths along the waterfront and picnic areas.

Bellevue Marina Kayak / Canoe Launch Dock

Now it’s time to experience Sault Ste. Marie from the St. Marys River! You can launch your canoe or kayaks from the accessible boat launch located at Bellevue Marina, making it easy for you to get in the water and explore the river. Don’t have your own boat? No problem! Canoes and kayaks can be rented from the Waterfront Adventure Centre or from Thrive Tours who operate from the same building. 

City Murals and Incredible Ice creams

After enjoying your time on the water, head downtown to see the incredible mural artwork around Sault Ste. Marie. These murals have been painted by local and visiting artists, adding vibrant character to the city! If you are visiting during the month of June, you can watch new murals being painted as part of the Summer Moon Festival.

While you’re downtown, be sure to stop by Elliot’s Ice Cream for a treat that not only tastes delicious but also looks like a work of art!

Crystal Falls

Crystal Falls is located in Kinsmen Park at the North edge of Sault Ste. Marie. The falls are a short walk from the parking lot and can be accessed by walking along a wooden boardwalk. The amazing views keep coming as you walk up a series of steps to viewing platforms and experience the many layers of this waterfall.

If you have time, you can continue your hike along some of the many great trails nearby into the Hiawatha Highlands and the Voyageur trail system.

Now it’s time to relax while eating supper at one of the many delicious restaurants in town. Finish off your day by watching the sunset over the St. Marys River and then get some well deserved rest at one of Sault Ste. Marie’s hotels.

After such a great day of family fun and activities, the whole family will want to come back and do it all again! Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect place for family adventure.

Check out more Adventures From The Hills here on Instagram and here on web!

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 officially launches for its first full year in 2023!

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 as well as being a Destination Canada signature experience. 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. 3 through Oct. 15. 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 40km 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

Explore our incredible hiking, biking or 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. Bike on newly built mountain bike trails, or along some quiet yet beautiful gravel roads. 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, peddle 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.  

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. Or if you are visiting in June, experience the Summer Moon Festival featuring real-time creation of large-scale public art, including works by Indigenous artists. 

Visit our Indigenous Tourism page for more info. 

Enjoy so many unique events

Sault Ste. Marie has so many fun events happening all through the summer. From the Summer Moon Festival 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.

For the outdoor adventure enthusiast we have the Salty Marie trails fest happening in July, or race in our Summer Strong Festival, which is a series of races over a weekend in June, including a Boston Marathon qualifier!

Stay up to date by visiting our Events page here!

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. 

Escape the city and rediscover the magic of the snowiest season

By Toronto Life Magazine

Remember how much you loved winter when you were a kid? Eagerly awaiting every snowfall, playing outside in the snow for hours, and then hurrying in for supper — exhausted in the best way — before drifting off into the kind of deep, restful sleep that comes after a carefree day spent outdoors in the fresh air?

What if you could recapture that feeling, and trade slushy, sloppy city streets for pristine picture-perfect snow, boundless nature, and outdoor fun that recharges your spirit and rejuvenates your soul? In Sault Ste. Marie, you can.

A quick flight or scenic drive from Toronto, Sault Ste. Marie is Ontario’s premier winter destination — a nature and recreation paradise on the shores of Lake Superior, where you can savour the season as it should be.

Here are five reasons “the Soo” in Algoma Country makes for a fantastic winter getaway:

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