There are numerous hiking trail options along Lake Superior. The fantastic landscapes created by the rocky shores of the lake and the surrounding forests attract hikers from across the province. Pancake Bay Provincial Park is one of the many parks established around Lake Superior. Hiking in Pancake Bay Provincial Park is just one of many outdoor activities offered by the park.
About Pancake Bay Provincial Park
Pancake Bay Provincial Park sits on the shores of Lake Superior about one hour north of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. The Pancake Bay campsite is a coveted place with three kilometres of sandy beach and blue water. The park’s name comes from old stories of voyageurs baking pancakes on the beach on their way to Sault Ste Marie. You can find out more about the park on the Ontario Parks’ website.
Visitors are required to buy a day pass in order to spend time in the park. You can find out more about fees here.
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About the Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail
The Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail in Pancake Bay Provincial Park comes highly recommended. It is a 14-kilometre trail if done in its entirety. However, some hikers prefer to go to the lookout and back to cut the distance in half.
- distance: 7-14 kilometres
- elevation gain: 200 meters
- estimated time: 2-4 hours
The parking is off Highway 17, about 2 kilometres north of the Visitor Centre.
The hiking gear you will need will depend on the length of time you will spend on the trail. Since you have the option of different distances, consider your choice when deciding how many sacks to bring or how much water you will need. Check out this article for a list of essential hiking gear.
The trail wanders through a mixed forest where maple, oak and birch are evident among pines and hemlock. You will come to an intersection after just over one kilometre and a half.
If you want to make the loop, you can go either way. However, if you plan on going to the lookout and back, you have to turn left here.
Turning left at the intersection, you will wander in the forest for another 20 minutes before coming to a staircase that leads to two platforms 110 metres above the lake. At the top of this staircase, you can admire the rest of the park and the lake beyond.
The sun reflecting on the lake’s waters gives it a serene colour. Interpretive signs provide information on the surrounding vegetation and wildlife.
Other signs tell the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald wreck. Lake Superior, visible from above, is known as “the graveyard of the Great Lakes”. The lookout faces where the ship Edmund Fitzgerald was wrecked in 1975 after braving high winds and waves over three metres high, and where it still lies today.
After admiring the panorama, hikers can turn back or keep going on the path where two loops of 10 km and 14 km are possible. The loop eventually comes to the Pancake River and runs along with it. After a few kilometres in the forest following the river, you will hear the rumbling of the Pancake Falls. It is the perfect place to snack, sitting on a rock admiring the water cascading down the river.
After the falls, the trail continues in and out of the forest and through meadows with tall grass. You eventually come back to the intersection to close the loop and make your way back to the parking lot.
More Trails in Pancake Bay Provincial Park
The Pancake Bay Nature Trail is an easy 3,5-kilometre trail near the park’s campground.
At the start, you will hike along Lake Superior for the first few hundred metres. The pristine shoreline and the blue waters of the lake make for a fantastic landscape. The trail then moves away from the coastline to bring you through the forest. The forest eventually turns into wetlands, and the trail turns into a boardwalk. The last part of the trail follows Black Creek. It will bring you back to the campground.
More Hikes around Lake Superior
- Stunning Hike in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
- 3 Best Hikes in Lake Superior Provincial Park
- Exceptional Hiking Trails in Pukaskwa National Park