7-Day Road Trip in Northern Ontario

The shores of Lake Superior hide such beautiful treasures for a nature lover. The areas near the Canadian shores of the lake are protected by several provincial parks and a national park. I set out on a 7-day road trip in Northern Ontario to explore some of the hiking trails around Lake Superior, one of the most captivating experiences! Superior Country in Northern Ontario is perfect for a road trip and hiking adventures!

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View of Georgian Bay on top of the Giant in Northern Ontario
l'eau bleu du Lac Supérieur dans le nord de l'Ontario

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Where is Superior Country?

Superior Country is part of Northwestern Ontario. It sits along the northern shores of Lake Superior from Wawa all the way west of Thunder Bay near Manitoba’s border.

Why Visit Northern Ontario?

Northern Ontario offers countless outdoor activities. Fishermen, hunters, kayakers, canoeists, and campers will have more than their share of lakes, rivers, and forests. But, of course, my interest lies more in the numerous hiking adventures in this region. So, I planned on exploring the many hiking trails near 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.

Terry Fox Memorial near Thunder Bay in Northern Ontario

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Day 1 Road Trip in Northern Ontario – My hiking trip starts in Marathon, Ontario.


How to get to Marathon?

  • From Ottawa – Highway 17 West then North for 1200 km 
  • From Toronto – Highway 400 North and Highway 17 North for 1100 km

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. In addition, it 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
sunset over Lake Superior in Northern Onatio

Days 2 and 3 Road Trip in Northern Ontario – Pukaskwa National Park


Pukaskwa National Park occupies a vast territory on the shores of Lake Superior, 25 minutes south of Marathon. It protects forests and rocky shores for kilometres on end. I recommend a minimum of two days to explore the park and its fantastic hiking trails with 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.

the yurt or tent-like cabins in national or provincial parks
the kitchen cabinets with cookware inside a yurt
dining table and chairs with the beds in the back inside a yurt

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 of the 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
View of Lake Superior from hiking trail in Pukaskwa National Park
View of Horseshoe Beach from a hiking trail in Pukaskwa National Park
Parc Canada Red Chairs overlooking Lake Superior in Pukaskwa National Park
White River Suspension Bridge hiking trail 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 4 Road Trip in Northern Ontario – Neys Provincial Park


After exploring part of the beautiful Pukaskwa National Park, it is time to head out to another park, but it is Ontario Park this time. 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 it will take you to get to the lookout and admire the cascading water of this waterfall. 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 counts 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 comes 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

For a full experience of the trails in this park, you can combine the Pic Island Overlook Trail with the Kopa Cove Trail,  the Under the Volcano Trail and lastly, the Point Trail to form a loop of 14 kilometres. 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.

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 either for swimming or catching the sunset.

Rocky Beach on Lake Superior in Neys Provincial Park, Northern Ontario

Day 5 Road Trip 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 up 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 the campgrounds in 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 even enjoy a picnic while admiring the flowing water falling a hundred feet below. You can find the falls on Aguasabon Rd off Highway 17, west of Terrace Bay.

Day 6 Road Trip 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 that oddly resembles a man lying on its back, hence the sleeping giant. The park features multiple hiking trails around Lake Superior. In addition, the inland lake is perfect for water activities.

the Sleeping Giant across the lake 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. There are a few more scenic lookouts and rest areas along the way that 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, and 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. This hike is rated one of the top hikes in Ontario. 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 an effort all worthwhile.

Hiking view of Lake Superior in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
on top of the giant
rocky shore of Lake Superior on the Kabeyun Trail
shore of Lake Superior
View of the Sea Lion rock formation from the trail in Northern Ontario
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 7 Road Trip in Northern Ontario – Last stop, Thunder Bay, Ontario


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 and relax in the sun or catch a sunset on the water. 

Hike up 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 popular swimming hole if you feel like going for a dip.

Where to Stay in Thunder Bay

Camping

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 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; 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 – a 5-kilometre moderate to challenging trail to the top of Mount Mckay. You will find the trailhead 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. There are a few lookouts along the route with views of this 150-meter-wide canyon with 100-meter-high cliffs.

Ouimet Canyon in Thunder Bay, Northern 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

Terry Fox memorial in Thunder Bay, Northern Ontario

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 to come, he remains an icon of courage and perseverance. 

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

Kakabeka Falls near Thunder Bay in Northern Ontario

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 hike in Northern Ontario
Longest suspension bridge in Canada in Eagle Canyon
The Eagle Canyon suspension bridge seen from below

Final Words on this Hiking Trip near Lake Superior

This brings my hiking adventure in Northern Ontario to an end. The hiking trails around Lake Superior will forever attract any hiker and nature enthusiast with their fascinating scenery and amazing lookouts.

More hiking adventures await you around Lake Superior in Algoma Country. If you haven’t been, make sure to add this hiking destination to your list.

“The mountains whisper for me to wander; my soul hikes to the call.”

-Angie Weiland-Crosby

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