4 Parks Canada Sites along the Lake Superior Circle Tour
Parks Canada is responsible for protecting nationally significant examples of natural and cultural heritage and sharing the stories of these treasured places. You can discover nature and connect with history as you explore the many sites that Parks Canada has to offer, as you make your way through the Lake Superior Circle Tour in northern Ontario.
Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site
Whether you are starting in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario or passing through, discover an urban oasis at the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site. Once part of the busiest commercial shipping lock system in the world, today the Sault Canal is a premiere tourist attraction.
New this year in 2021, Parks Canada is excited to welcome you, for the very first time to our new Visitor Centre, exhibit and gift shop at the Sault Canal, located in the restored historic Blacksmith’s Shop and Stores building. Your historic experience starts in the Visitor Centre, where you will learn about the cultural significance of the canal and its Canadian achievements, as well as how this impacted the Indigenous Peoples of the area. Continue your learning journey on the Attikamek Trails and on Whitefish Island. Enjoy the wonder of quiet woods and wetlands by foot or on bike, with over 3 km of trails to explore. As you make your way to the St. Marys River Rapids, you can take in the spectacular views and watch locals catching fish!
Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site
Your natural and cultural experience doesn’t stop here! Situated on the North Shore of Lake Huron, about 90 km south of Sault Ste. Marie, Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site served as the base for the first British military maneuver against the Americans in the War of 1812. Immerse yourself in history and culture as you engage with costumed interpreters, or hike the nature trails around the Fort ruins on your own.
Pukaskwa National Park
Ready for a true north wilderness experience yet? Continue your journey along the Lake Superior Circle Tour, about 400 km from Sault Ste. Marie up to Pukaskwa – Ontario’s only national wilderness park! Not just a day stop, you can easily spend a week camping in the backcountry or at Hattie Cove Campground. Pitch a tent, park your trailer, or stay in one of our oTENTiks, a roofed accommodation that sleeps up to six people. While the front-country Hattie Cove campground, with 67 camping spots is first-come, first-served, the oTENTiks and backcountry sites are available for online booking.
So you’re staying in Pukaskwa, now what? Trails! Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll, a moderate hike, a challenging experience, or all three; Parks Canada has it all in Pukaskwa! For those looking to catch some rays, stroll over to Horseshoe Beach for some fun in the sun. For those looking to learn something new or to immerse yourself in culture, wander over to the Anishinaabe camp. For those up for a challenging adventure, venture out 9 km down the Coastal Hiking Trail to take in the views of the Chigamiwinigum Falls from the White River Suspension Bridge. This hike is not for the faint of heart. We strongly recommend wearing appropriate footwear and taking food, water, sunscreen, bug protection and consulting a map with any of our friendly staff.
Okay, I think it’s time to get out onto the water! Rent a canoe, a stand-up paddleboard, or bring your own to explore Hattie Cove from the water. Keep an eye out, and you’ll be able to spot some of the animals that call Lake Superior home.
Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area
It’s time to say goodbye to Pukaskwa, but don’t say goodbye to the Big Lake just yet! As you continue your journey along the circle tour your next Parks Canada experience is the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, and the many communities that act as gateways to this big body of water. You’ll get your first glimpse of the marine conservation area approximately 100 km west of Pukaskwa when you reach Terrace Bay Beach and splash in the waves. You’ll also want to check out the brand new Parks Canada Terrace Bay Beach Centre opening summer, 2021!
Next, you’ll pass through Schreiber, where you can visit the new Schreiber Rail Discovery Centre before reaching the cute and quaint coastal village of Rossport. Here, you can get out on the water in kayaks with Parks Canada and Superior Outfitters for the Rossport Fishtails: A Sea Kayak Safari program.
As you make your way to Nipigon and Red Rock, don’t forget to stop in and experience Pays Plat. Coming into Nipigon, you’ll reach the new Bridgeview Lookout Tower that offers stunning views of Nipigon Bay. Continue down to the marina to explore the nearby trails or join in on our Campfire Programs, led by one of our friendly staff. Next up is Red Rock, a short 20 km drive from Nipigon. Visit the Red Rock Marina and Interpretive Centre showcasing an interactive fish species smartboard, a stunning large bull moose, and a virtual underwater submarine tour of the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area!
Okay, before you jump back into your vehicle to make your way to Dorion and Hurkett, I think it’s time for a hike with views that you will not forget! The Nipigon River Recreation Trail starts in Red Rock and ends in Nipigon. However, you don’t need to do the full one-way adventure to take in some amazing views. 1.3 km from the Red Rock Trailhead, you’ll reach Lloyd’s Lookout, where you can enjoy your packed lunch from the viewing platform or hike a few extra minutes up to the Parks Canada Red Chairs.
Next stop, Hurkett Cove Conservation Area! Explore the trails and try to spot one of over 180 bird species that have been observed at this site, coined the “Pelee of the North.” An easy, short walk with little elevation brings you through the forest, along the shores of Lake Superior’s Black Bay, to the rich marshland that draws so many of these birds during their migration.
We are nearing the end of the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, but this last location will not disappoint. Silver Islet, immediately adjacent to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, was home to the richest silver mine in the world from 1870 to 1884! Dip your toes in the water at the newly reconstructed Silver Islet Marina, or hop on a boat tour to Porphyry Island to visit a Canadian heritage light station.
Well, there you have it – this impressive region has so much to offer! Don’t forget to fill your personal itinerary with Parks Canada experiences, and the many other activities and sites to see along the way, by using the trip planner on the Lake Superior Circle Tour website. We cannot wait to welcome you to these special places!