Lake Superior in Algoma Coutry

Spectacular Northern Ontario Road Trip Itinerary

The shores of the Great Lakes in Ontario hide such beautiful treasures for a nature lover. I set out on a 12-day Northern Ontario road trip to explore some of the hiking trails around Lake Superior; a captivating experience! 

During my Northern Ontario travels, I travelled from town to town, experiencing the culture and history. I also spent time in provincial or national parks for much-needed outdoor adventures. Find my itinerary below. 

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Épingle d'un guide de voyage pour une itinéraire d'un road trip dans le nord de l'Ontairo montrant les eaux bleues du lac Supérieur et les rivages boisées.

Northern Ontario Road Trip Itinerary

Why Visit Northern Ontario?

This region is heaven to all outdoor enthusiasts. There is an outdoor adventure for everyone, from open waters, canoeing or kayaking, lake fishing, hiking and backpacking trails, bird watching, and camping. Hiking is my main reason for this trip. I want to inspire you to get out and explore this beautiful region around Lake Superior.

A Bit of History

This young Canadian ran a marathon a day to raise money for cancer. Unfortunately, his run ended prematurely. To commemorate his Marathon of Hope, a statue of Terry Fox stands tall near the last kilometre where he was forced to abandon after his cancer had returned. Though he never got to finish his run across Canada, Canadians have since been running in his honour, and the Terry Fox Foundation has raised well above Terry’s goal of 1 $ per Canadian.

A group of artists called the Group of Seven travelled along this route, painting different landscapes. They spent a lot of time in Algoma, which has beautiful panoramas and fantastic scenery. This hiking adventure follows the same route on Highway 17 E along the shores of Lake Superior.

Day 1 In Northern Ontario – Sault Ste Marie

How To Get To Sault Ste Marie?

Where To Stay In Sault Ste Marie?

There are numerous hotels and motels in Sault Ste Marie, as well as Airbnb. You will find the usual brand-name hotels.

The top-rated hotels in Sault Ste Marie:

I usually stick to camping because it is more affordable, and campgrounds are generally closer to the hiking trails I plan on hiking. I prefer the more remote accommodations to the city ones.

Camping In Sault Ste Marie

Sault Ste Marie KOA Holiday

  • Cabin rentals and campsites
  • pool
  • dog park
  • nature trails
  • bike rental

Ojibway Park

  • cabin rentals and campsites
  • on the shore of Lake George
  • nature trail
  • scenic lookout
  • beach

Glenview Cottages and Campground

  • cottage rental and campsites
  • pool and hot tub
  • hiking trail
  • large pond

Mark’s Bay Cottages

  • cabin rental
  • nature trails
  • near Ste Marie’s River and Mark’s Bay Conservation Area

Hiking Near Sault Ste Marie

Gros Cap Conservation Area is situated west of the city. Gros Cap Trail, part of the Voyageur backpacking trail, overlooks Lake Superior from the 200-metre cliffs. It is an easy 4 km loop.

If you want to extend your hike from the same parking area but on the opposite side, the Walls Lake Loop is an easy 4 km trail that takes hikers through a forested area and around the Big Carp River.

Fort Creek Conservation Area has a system of easy multi-use trails featuring small wildlife and beautiful forested areas. A bike ride on the tracks of this park is also delightful.

Hike one of the many trails in Hiawatha Highlands. The trails vary in length, with many options for different loops. They are mostly easy to moderate.

Things To Do In Sault Ste Marie

If you have more time to visit, here are some exciting activities around Sault Ste Marie:

  • Visit the Canal National Historic Site.
  • Take a stroll on the Waterfront Walkway. The boardwalk is suitable for walking, running, biking, or rollerblading. Fishing docks extend along the way. The walkway also features historic plaques where you can learn about the town’s history.
  • Visit the Bushplane Heritage Centre for fun and interesting exhibits about the history of bushplanes, their role in forest fire protection, and many more. 
  • Relax at Pointe des Chenes Beach

Day 2  In Northern Ontario – Pancake Bay Provincial Park

I drive about one hour (75 km) north of Sault Ste Marie on Highway 17  for the second day of hiking in Pancake Bay Provincial Park.

Stops Along The Way

  • Batachawana Bay Provincial Park has a beautiful beach.
  • Chippewa Falls is a beautiful sight after a short hike of a couple hundred meters, and it is well worth the stop if you have the time.

Where To Stay Near Pancake Bay Provincial Park?

The Pancake Bay Camping has car camping and one camp cabin available. In addition, there are campsites with service and wild camping. A section of the campground is radio-free.

If you want to rent a room or a cabin, check out Voyageur’s Lodge or the Lake Shore Salzburger Hof Resort.

Hiking In Pancake Bay Provincial Park

The Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail wanders mostly through a mixed forest, crosses a river, falls and features a lookout over the park and Lake Superior.

hiking trail bordered by trees in Pancake Bay Provincial Park
View of Lake Superior and the vast forest of Pancake Bay Provincial Park from the Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout
View of Lake Superior and the vast forest of Pancake Bay Provincial Park from the Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout

Other Activities In Pancake Bay Provincial Park

The park offers many more activities, such as mountain biking, canoeing and kayaking, swimming and fishing. For more information about the park, visit the Ontario Parks website.

Day 3 And 4  In Northern Ontario – Lake Superior Provincial Park

I spend the next two days on Lake Superior Provincial Park trails. This park occupies a much larger area 45 minutes (60 km) north of Pancake Bay on Highway 17 N. It is a beautiful drive from one park to the other, with views of the lake and its rocky shoreline.

Stop Along The Way

Before reaching Lake Superior Provincial Park, there is a small pull-out by the road called the Alona Bay Scenic Lookout. It is worth the few minutes to stop and admire the clear blue lake.

Clear blue water of Lake Superior with rocky bottom and shore at the Alona Bay Lookout

Where To Stay In Lake Superior Provincial Park

There are two campgrounds in the park: 

Agawa Bay Campground (south entrance)

  • On the shore of Lake Superior
  • Sandy beach
  • radio-free zone
  • Showers and laundry
  • Outdoor amphitheatre

Rabbit Blanket Lake Campground

  • On an inland lake
  • Beach
  • Showers and laundry

If a room or a cabin is more your style, these are good options to choose from:

  • Twilight Resort in Montreal River Harbour is 12 minutes south of the park’s Visitor Centre. They rent cabins and campsites.

North of the park, you will also find a few motels or cabin rentals:

Hiking In Lake Superior Provincial Park

There are numerous hiking trails in Lake Superior Provincial Park. One could spend a week there and discover something new every day. However, I had to make some choices as I was only in the park for two days.

Cobble beach in Lake Superior Provincial Park
View of the half-moon bay and Lake Superior from the lookout on Orphan Bay Trail

Other Activities In Lake Superior Provincial Park

When the waters are calm, kayaking and canoeing are popular activities. Of course, there is also fishing and swimming.

Old Woman profile carved in the hills seen from the sandy beach on the shores of Lake Superior

Don’t Miss

Don’t miss the Agawa Scenic Lookout, the Sand River Falls and Katherine Cove.

I particularly liked sitting on the beach in Old Woman Bay and watching the old woman’s profile at the end of the cliffs. Having my feet in the water after a long hike was incredibly relaxing!

Day 5 In Northern Ontario – Wawa

After exploring the park for two days, I make my way to Wawa, about 15 minutes (15 km) north of the park border on Highway 17 N. Wawa is mainly known for its giant goose that overlooks the highway, but it also offers great activities for any outdoor enthusiast.

“Wawa, the town so nice, they named it twice!”

Where To Stay In Wawa?

There are many motels and inns in the city. These are the top-rated ones according to previous visitors’ evaluations:

As per my preference, I stayed at the Wawa RV Resort and Campground. The campground is by the Magpie River, with some sites on the water. You can paddle the river or swim in their outdoor pool.

Hiking In Wawa

The High Falls to Silver Falls Trail is a 5 km out-and-back trail that is part of the Voyageur Trail and takes approximately 2 hours to complete.

Things To Do In Wawa

There is plenty to do and visit in Wawa to fill a day. The town is rich with history and shares it through exhibits.

Scenic High Falls is quite a wondrous scene. The high and wide falls are pretty impressive. You can enjoy a picnic and wander around reading and learning about the town’s history and local culture.

Scenic High Falls in Wawa

If you enjoy waterfalls, you can also catch the Silver Falls and Wawa Creek Falls, both accessible through short trails.

Silver Falls in Wawa
Signpost in  Wawa with different town and city from all over the world with the distance in kilometres for each

Wawa also has a few beaches that are worth mentioning.

Sand of Rose Beach and Wawa Lake  with the hills in the distance beyond the lake

Right in town is Dr. Rose Beach by Wawa Lake. This beach is quite busy during the day. Go for a swim or a paddle, or enjoy lounging in the sand. It is an excellent place for a picnic.

Sandy Beach is a short drive from town. It features a story-telling pavilion where visitors learn about the culture and the history of First Nations in the area. Sandy Beach is also one of the places the Group of Seven visited and painted a hundred years ago.

Sandy Beach in Wawa on the shore of Lake Superior

Don’t Miss:

The Wawa Giant Goose. You absolutely have to take a selfie with the goose in the background! This is a Wawa right of passage!

I would also strongly recommend stopping by Young’s General Store for a bag of their famous pickles. They are juicy and enormous, making for a good snack!

Wawa Goose with its wings spread on a big boulder
barrel of dill pickle with sign that says We have pickle just ask

Days 6 and 7  In Northern Ontario – Pukaskwa National Park

From Wawa, I drive North on Highway 17 for 2 hours. Pukaskwa National Park is approximately 190 km from Wawa, just before reaching the town of Marathon. 

The  Park occupies a vast territory on the shores of Lake Superior. It protects forests and rocky shores for kilometres on end. I recommend at least two days to explore the park and its fantastic hiking trails, which offer stunning views of the lake and the coast.

Where to Stay near Pukaskwa National Park?

Hattie Cove campground is Pukaskwa National Park’s campground. The campsites are available on a first-come basis; no reservations are needed. 

The park also offers Parks Canada oTENTik cabins. The sites are available for reservations either by phone or online.

canvas tent with small wooden porch
interior of tent small counter and two double beds
two double beds and table with four seats inside the Otentiks in Parks Canada

Hiking in Pukaskwa National Park

Pukaskwa National Park is well known for its backpacking Coastal Trail along Lake Superior. The trail is a perfect challenge for any adventurer. Several day-hiking trails in the park can be enjoyed as a family over the two days. Most trails offer splendid views of Lake Superior and its infinite blue waters.

  • Combined Trails – 6km
  • Hattie Cove Fire Walk – 1 km
  • White River Suspension Bridge Trail – 18 km
A Trail in Pukaskwa National Park with views of Lake Superior and its infinite blue waters and rocky shores.
View of a sandy beach and vast forest of Pukaskwa National Park in Northern Ontario
Parks Canada red chairs overlooking a bay in Lake Superior
boardwalk along marshes heading towards a dense forest in Pukaskwa National Park

Other activities in Pukaskwa National Park

  • Paddling adventures on Lake Superior or the park’s two rivers, Pukaskwa River and White River.
  • Geocaching adventure for the whole family or the young at heart. You can find out more information here.
  • Sun tanning and swimming on Horseshoe Beach.

Day 8 In Northern Ontario – Marathon

From Pukaskwa, my road trip takes me just 25 minutes North to Marathon. 

Where to Stay in Marathon?

Dreamscapes Inn is a bed and breakfast highly recommended for town accommodations.  

As always, camping is my first option. Penn Lake Park is the municipal campground in Marathon. The campground has shower and laundry facilities. It also offers sites by the lake and nature trails and features a beach, a playground, and volleyball courts.

Hiking near Marathon

Hiking trails in and around Marathon will satisfy any nature lover. From forested areas to lakes and shorelines and walks on the beaches, there is a trail for you in Marathon. 

  • Hawk Ridge Trail – 5 km out and back trail, trailhead marker at the end of Hemlo Ave
  • Penn Lake Trail – 2 km easy loop around the lake in Penn Lake Park
  • Pebble Beach to the Lagoon Trail – 6 km out and back trail from Pebble Beach

Things to do in Marathon

If you have more time to spend in Marathon, you might want to include these:

  • Relax and watch the sunset at Pebble Beach
  • Visit the Marathon Museum
  • Golf at the Peninsula Golf Course
  • Have a picnic at the Cummings Beach and Boat Launch.
Sun setting over the hills on the far side of the shore of Lake Superior in Marathon, Northern Ontario

Day 9 In Northern Ontario- Neys Provincial Park

After exploring part of the beautiful Pukaskwa National Park, it is time to head to another park— Ontario Park. Neys Provincial Park stretches on the shores of Lake Superior, with Pic Island in the distance.

Stop Along the Way

Mink Creek Falls is worth the five-minute walk to the lookout and admiration of its cascading water. First, park on the north side of the highway and look for the “Use trail at own risk” sign across the street. Then, follow the sound of the falls.

Where to Stay in Neys Provincial Park

Neys Campground contains four areas with campsites by the coastline and many with a fantastic lake view.
The park also offers a rustic cabin for rent. You can make reservations online here or by phone.

Hiking in Neys Provincial Park

The park offers many hiking trails along Lake Superior, taking hikers to lookouts to admire the surroundings. Pic Island Lookout is highly recommended. The island was made famous when it became the subject of a painting by one of the Group of Seven.

Easy trails:

  • Dune Trail – 30 minutes
  • Point Trail – 1 hour
  • Lookout Trail – 1 hour

Moderate trails:

  • Under the Volcano Trail – 5 km
  • Kopa Cove Trail – 5 km
  • Pic Island Overlook Trail – 9 km

To fully experience the park’s trails, combine the Pic Island Overlook Trail with the Kopa Cove Trail, the Under the Volcano Trail, and the Point Trail to form a 14-kilometre loop. However, this route would be considered demanding; plan accordingly. To ensure you have the proper equipment for a safe hike, check out my essential hiking gear list.

Other activities in Neys Provincial Park

Boating and canoeing are popular activities in the park. Experienced kayakers will head out to Pic Island and admire the beautiful island with its particular shores in Lake Superior. Amateurs will kayak the Little Pic River instead.

Rocky shore of Lake Superior in Neys Provincial Park

Make time to visit the remains of the prisoner-of-war camp. You can also see the model of the POW camp at the Visitor Centre.

Visitors will also enjoy the two kilometres of sandy beach for swimming or catching the sunset.

Day 10 In Northern Ontario- Terrace Bay and Rainbow Falls Provincial Park

Driving west of Neys Provincial Park for half an hour, you will come to the charming town of Terrace Bay. The day can be split between the town and Rainbow Falls Provincial Park, 20 minutes away. Some sightseeing in town paired with a picnic and hiking in the park will fill the day with fantastic adventures.

Where to Stay Near Terrace Bay?

Check out the Norwood Motel or the Drifters Motel if you prefer a room.

If you are like me and prefer campgrounds in more remote areas, you should check out Rainbow Falls Provincial Park, 20 minutes west of Terrace Bay on Highway 17. 

  • Whitesand Lake Campground offers shaded sites.
  • Rossport Campground is on more open, grassy land with views of Lake Superior.

Hiking near Terrace Bay and Rainbow Falls Provincial Park

Casque Isles Hiking Trail is 53 kilometres long and can either be backpacked or hiked in sections. Read this brochure for more information on each section of this amazing trail. The McLean and Schreiber Channel sections are part of Rainbow Falls Provincial Park.

Besides the Casque Isles Trail segments that are part of the park, you can also hike shorter and easier hikes:

  • Back Forty Trail – 5 km
  • Rainbow Falls Trail – 2 km

Don’t Miss

Take some time to visit Aguasabon Falls and Gorge, and maybe enjoy a picnic while admiring the flowing water falling a hundred feet below. The falls are on Aguasabon Rd, off Highway 17, west of Terrace Bay.

Day 11 In Northern Ontario – Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

The next road trip stretch takes me 2 hours west on Highway 17 from Rainbow Falls Provincial Park to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. This park sits at the edge of the mesa in Lake Superior. It owes its name to the mesa shape, which oddly resembles a man lying on his back, hence the sleeping Giant. The park features multiple hiking trails around Lake Superior. In addition, the inland lake is perfect for water activities.

View of the Sleeping Giant across from the bay in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park in Northern Ontario

Stops Along the Way

The Karma Bay Lookout from the highway is worth the stop if you need to stretch out your legs. A few more scenic lookouts and rest areas along the way offer beautiful views of Lake Superior or the surrounding lakes and bays. 

If time permits, you could also hike the Karma Cliffs Trail. It is a 6-km loop that takes you to a fantastic lookout over Lake Superior.

Where to Stay near Sleeping Giant Provincial Park?

Marie Louise Campground has campsites right by the lake; the views are a bonus. It also has more remote sites on the other side of the lake. 

The park has five rustic cabins available for rent. You can book either online or by phone.

Hiking in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

This park is known for its stunning hike to the top of the Sleeping Giant, rated one of Ontario’s top hikes. It is a long hike, but standing on the Giant’s knees and looking over the vastness of the blue waters of Lake Superior makes the effort worthwhile.

The high cliffs of the Sleeping Giant overlooking Lake Superior
On top of the Giant
shores of Lake Superior on the Kabeyun Trail
Shore of Lake Superior
the Sea Lion Rock formation in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
Sea Lion rock formation

Other Activities in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

  • There are a few biking trails in the park:
    • South Kabeyun trail
    • Sawyer Bay Trail – 12 km
    • Sawbill Lake Trail – 4km
    • Burma Trail – 23 km
    • Pickerel Lake Trail – 23 km
    • Thunder Bay Lookout Rd – 9 km
    • Marie Louise Lake Rd – 12 km
  • Canoeing, kayaking or paddleboarding on Marie Louise Lake are popular activities in the park.
  • You can enjoy swimming in Marie Louise Lake on a hot summer day.

Day 12 In Northern Ontario – Thunder Bay

The last stop of this beautiful road trip across the remarkable Superior Country brings us to Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Stop Along the Way

Mackenzie Point Conservation Area is the perfect place to admire Lake Superior, relax in the sun, or catch a sunset on the water. 

Hike the easy 2-km trail to Mackenzie Falls. The trailhead is just past the Mackenzie Inn on Highway 17. The trail follows the Mackenzie River to the falls. It also passes a famous swimming hole if you want to take a dip.

Where to Stay in Thunder Bay


KOA Holiday Campground

  • Campsites and cabins
  • driving range and minigolf
  • soccer field and basketball court
  • shuffleboard and horseshoes
  • Auqazone and jump pads for children
  • pool
  • snack bar

Trowbridge Falls Campground

  • on the shore of the Current River
  • hiking and biking trails
  • shower and laundry facilities

Chippewa Campground

  • Community kitchen
  • Shower and laundry facilities
  • Chippewa Park features amusement rides, scenic picnic areas
  • Concession and small grocery store

Of course, Thunder Bay has a few chain hotels if you are looking for a room: Holidays Inn, Comfort Inn, Days Inn, and Travel Lodge, among many others.

Hiking near Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay offers many hiking opportunities. Some hiking trails follow Lake Superior, while others are through canyons or lead to fantastic lookouts.

Rabbit Mountain Lookout – a 30-minute hike up to a lookout over the city. You can park on the roadside of Belrose Road; the trailhead is at  Kemble Road.

Mount McKay Scenic Lookout is a 5-kilometre moderate to challenging trail to the top of Mount McKay. The trailhead is on Mountain Road. (You can also drive to the top of Mt McKay for a fee per vehicle.)

Centennial Park has a system of nature trails, including the Bluffs, an easy 3-kilometre loop with beautiful views.

Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park is a popular spot for its lookouts. The trail is a short one-kilometre loop. A few lookouts along the route offer views of this 150-meter-wide canyon with 100-meter-high cliffs.

Ouimet Canyon with the high rock wall and dense forests at the top near Thunder Bay in Norther Ontario
Ouimet Canyon

Things to do in Thunder Bay

  • Visit Thunder Bay Museum to learn about the region’s history.
  • Visit the Centennial Botanical Conservatory and walk among the plants and flowers.
  • Go for a walk or picnic in the Cascades Conservation Area; admire the Cascade Falls and learn about the surrounding fauna and flora.
  • Visit Fort William Historical Park and learn about Canada’s explorers and fur traders.
  • Go on a catamaran or zodiac tour with Sail Superior.
  • Relax on Sandy Beach near Chippewa Park.

Don’t Miss

Make sure to spend a few minutes at the Terry Fox Monument on Highway 17, near where this Canadian hero had to abandon his Marathon of Hope. Yet, to this day and undoubtedly for many generations, he remains an icon of courage and perseverance.

Terry Fox Memorial on Highway 17 in Northern Ontario

Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park is situated just west of Thunder Bay. A short walk on the boardwalk will take you to the lookout of the beautiful falls, with raging waters falling 40 meters in the gorge below. This fall is the second-highest one in Ontario.

Rushing water on the wide Kakabeka Falls in Thunder Bay with the bridge over the river on top of the falls

While in the Thunder Bay area, you must stop by Eagle Canyon Adventures to walk across the longest suspension bridge in Canada. They also offer exciting zip lining, and nature walks along the canyon cliffs.

Eagle Canyon iwth the suspended bridge in between the two rock walls
view of the long suspended bridge extended towards the over side of Eagle Canyon

Final Words on this Northern Ontario Road Trip

This concludes my Northern Ontario travels. Hiking around Lake Superior has many charms. The blue waters and rocky shores will never cease to amaze viewers. If you haven’t yet, add this amazing hiking adventure to your list!

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