Cup and Saucer Trail and More Hikes on Manitoulin Island

Georgian Bay’s shores are full of hiking adventures. However, the islands in its waters are the same. Part of a road trip brought me to explore the trails on those islands full of wildlife and gorgeous views. One of my stops included the world’s largest freshwater island, Manitoulin Island. Hiking Manitoulin Island trails is a fun adventure. I hope this article inspires you to explore the trails on Manitoulin. My first stop was exploring Cup and Saucer Trail, but then I moved on to hiking and sightseeing around the island. I highly recommend this fun enjoyable experience!

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hiking trails on Manitoulin Island
Guide de randonneés sur l'île Manitoulin

How to get to Manitoulin Island

Manitoulin Island is a big island in the northern part of Georgian Bay in Ontario. The access road for the island (Highway 6) off the TransCanada Highway is about 70 kilometres east of Sudbury or 230 kilometres west of Sault Ste Marie. Go south on Highway 6 through Espanola. The first town you reach on the island is Little Current.

Manitoulin Island Ferry

Another option is to take the ferry from Tobermory. Tobermory is a small town north of the Bruce Peninsula, roughly 280 kilometres north of Toronto. From Tobermory, it is a 2-hour ferry ride to the island. Reservations are required for passengers and vehicles.

Cup and Saucer Hiking Trail

  • Distance: 9 km loop (or the shorter 4 km loop)
  • Elevation gain: 260 m
  • Estimated time: 2-3 hours
  • Trailhead: from the Cup and Saucer Trail parking lot off Highway 540
  • *rated moderate
  • Dogs welcome on a leash
  • Appropriate for children (I recommend the shorter 4 km loop)

A Bit of History

The Cup and Saucer hiking trail is also known as the Michigiwadinong, the bluff in the shape of a spearhead, is the site of an Ashnishnaabe legend that tells the story of a giant, Nenabozhoo, dropped his spearhead while being chased by Mohawks. These amazing landscapes are part o the Niagara Escarpment. 

Lookout on the Cup and Saucer hiking trail on Manitoulin Island

The trail starts in a forested area and will stay under cover of trees for most of the loop, except for the lookouts, where it gets hikers close to the edge of the cliffs. It is a wide dirt-parked trail with rocks and roots covering the path. Appropriate footwear is recommended. 

There is a giant sign of the trail map at the start; I like to take a picture of those signs to refer to it on the trail if need be.

The elevation is mainly gained at the first 1.5 kilometres. There are ups and downs after but nothing major. We made the loop clockwise, but either way is acceptable. Note that we enjoyed the lookouts at the beginning of the loop. If you would rather keep this as a reward near the end, plan on making the loop counterclockwise. 

At every lookout, the trail opens to views as far as the eye can see. Be careful as you step to the edge and keep your children close. The view of the vast forest is magnificent, especially in the fall. You also get a glimpse of Lake Manitou in the distance, the lake on an island on a lake. 

Lookout on Cup and Saucer Hiking Trail on Manitoulin Island in Ontario
View of the Bluffs on Cup and Saucer Hiking Trail on Manitoulin Island in Ontario

Adventure Trail

If you are hiking the Cup and Saucer Trail, I highly recommend making the Adventure Trail side trail. It is a short 500-meter side trail. It is fun and adventurous (hence, the name!).

If you choose to make this trail, you can follow the sign from the main trail. You will climb boulders, squeeze through tight slots in the rock walls, and go through natural rock tunnels. We had so much fun; it was the highlight of our day!

Descending in cave on the Adventure Trail from the Cup and Saucer hiking trail
The trail is a narrow path between two rock walls on the Cup and Saucer hiking trail
makeshift ladder on Adventures Trail section of Cup and Saucer hiking trail

Bridal Veil Falls Trail

The Bridal Veil Falls is a lovely sight. The spot gets pretty busy in the summer. You can hike this Manitoulin Island trail on both sides of the Kagawong River, using the footbridge to cross the river. The trail is a short 1 km one-way to reach the falls. This is a mostly flat and well-maintained trail and is rated easy. 

Here too, you will find a sign at the trailhead with the trail map. Again, I take a picture of the trail system just in case. 

You can start this trail near Mudge Bay and the Old Mill Heritage Centre on Old Mill Road or from Kagawong Park Centre.  

The trail along the Kagawong River on Manitoulin Island
Bridal Veil Falls on Manitoulin Island

More Manitoulin Island Trails

M’chigeen Trail

  • Distance: 5 km 
  • Elevation gain: 130 m
  • Estimated time: 1-2 hours
  • Trailhead: from Anishnabe Way
  • *rated moderate
  • Not recommended for dogs 

This is not a maintained trail; markers are only sometimes visible so a GPS map would be helpful. However, the trail has fantastic views and some fun scrambling with a rope to make the adventure extra fun. 

Lookout on a Manitoulin Island hiking trail

Lewis Twin Peak Trail

This trail is on private property, so please be respectful. The loop leads hikers to two rocky peaks overlooking Bass Lake and Ten Mile Point. The trail is short and easy, but the views are gorgeous. 

Alvar Coastal Trail 

Alvar Inland Trail 

Whether you decide on the shorter inland or, the longer coastal loop, both trails have a bit of everything for every taste. The hikers walk through forested areas, meadows, and on the wonderful Georgian Bay shoreline with amazing views of the infinite blue water. 

coastal trail in Misery Bay Provincial Nature Reserve on Manitoulin Island

More things to do (besides hiking) on Manitoulin Island

Visit the Old Mill Heritage Museum. On the same occasion, you can see the Kagawong Marina Lighthouse at the marina. Then, play a game with the Lifesize Board Games in Kagawong.

View of the Karawong Lighthouse with the Old Mill Heritage building by the water

Visit the Manitowaning Lighthouse and Heritage Park. The shore docks a gigantic old ship, and it is pretty impressive.

an old ship in Heritage Park on Manitoulin Island

Drive to the East Bluff Lookout for a beautiful view over Gore Bay. The rest area also has picnic tables, perfect for a quick lunch or a snack.

East Bluff Lookout over Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island

View High Falls from the High Falls Rest Area. This is a quick stop, but the falls are beautiful.

High Falls in Manitoulin Island

Spend some time on Monument Road Beach on Lake Mindemoya, a lake on an island in a lake.

beach on Manitoulin Island

Stop at the Little Current Lighthouse as you come to the island or before leaving Manitoulin Island. It is a perfect way to end the exploration of this beautiful island.

More Aventures like the Cup and Saucer Hiking Trail

If you enjoy adventures like the ones the Manitoulin Island hiking trails bring, you will also like these other hiking adventures around Georgian Bay:


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