The North shore of Lake Superior is the most rugged, captivating, and magnificent adventure destination. There is so much to see and do with limitless options as you navigate down Highway 17. Maybe that is why the Lake Superior Circle Tour is such a popular and incredible summer journey. This year my family decided to do a weekend trip to visit Lake Superior Provincial Park and Batchawana Bay.
We left from Nipigon with the whole family, our adventure dog and camping gear loaded in the 4-Runner and set off to my favourite campground in all of Ontario, Agawa Bay in Lake Superior Provincial Park. We travelled along the Trans-Canada-Highway and made a pit stop in Schreiber to get treats and delicious coffee at Breeze Bakery. This homegrown treasure always has a fantastic selection of baking and amazing food. Be sure to try their Perogie flatbread, and signature “Superior Fog” tea latte. Both are incredibly delicious and absolutely worth the stop.
When we road trip along the North shore, it seems like a shame to drive past all the amazing communities, sights, and things to do. Rainbow Falls, Schreiber Beach, Aguasabon Falls, Casque Isles Hiking Trails, Terrace Bay Beach, Mink Falls, Pebble Beach in Marathon, Pukaskwa National Park, just to name a few. This trip I had to dreamily gaze out the window remembering adventures past, as these are all places we visit often, and we were excited to get to our destination.
We drove down the sun-soaked highway until our next stop, which when heading East, is always in Wawa. It is tradition for our family to stop at Young’s General Store and get pickles out of their giant barrel and their famous summer sausage. This is another famous Northern icon, filled with great finds, delicious treats, and purely Northern souvenirs. We also stopped at Algoma Highlands Wild Blueberry Farm and Winery. I discovered this gem a few years ago, specifically for the amazing strawberry wine that they make there. In July, they have pick your own strawberries, or you can do like we did and purchase a basket to go. We hit up the Wawa Goose on the way out of town and continued towards our destination.
The drive after Wawa is always my favourite and would argue that it is the most scenic drive in Ontario. Past the beautiful Michipicoten and into Lake Superior Provincial Park. Lake Superior Provincial Park is one of the largest provincial parks in Ontario, covering about 1,550 square kilometers. There is so much to see and do here. Hiking, canoeing, camping and the most amazing beaches.
One of my favorite places to stop includes Old Woman Bay. This beautiful beach is super accessible with a large parking area. It is the perfect spot for a roadside picnic, exploring or a chilly swim. If you do stop here, make sure to check out Nokomis trail for a beautiful look-out of this iconic spot. We didn’t end up stopping this trip, because we were planning on a beach adventure at another favourite place, Bathtub Island.
Bathtub Island just past Katherines Cove, we pulled off and parked along the side of the highway. This spot used to be a hidden gem, but has turned into a popular place, especially on weekends. Thankfully, it wasn’t busy the day we went, and found a place to safely park near the entrance trail. We hiked through the sand dunes to a breathtaking white sand beach. The sun was shining, and it was a beautiful, calm, bright day. We made our way down the beach and walked out into Lake Superior to the amazing Bathtub Island. It is a small rock island in the sand bar with a shallow pool in the middle that is filled by the waves of Lake Superior. On calm sunny days the water in the natural pool warms up and it is the perfect spot for a beach day adventure. We explored the island, sat in the warm pool, enjoyed the beach and made our way back to the car.
We were getting hungry and excited to set up our campsite, so we continued on to our destination. However! A few other incredible places to stop between Wawa and Agawa are Sand River Falls and the Agawa pictographs, we’ve stopped at these places many times before and they really are amazing. At Sand River, you can pull over for a photograph or hike up the trail to see three waterfalls. It is one of my favourite hikes because you can scramble along the rocks and get a close view of the falls and Sand River. The Agawa pictographs are also along this stretch and they are an incredible sight to see. It is a short hike from the parking area to see them and well worth it. They are some of the most vivid, beautiful, and incredible pictographs in the North. But for this trip, again, I gazed out the window remembering the exciting times of past road trips visiting these extraordinary places.
When we finally arrived at our destination, we checked into our site, purchased firewood, and made our way through the campground. Agawa is my favourite Provincial Park in Ontario. It’s not as busy as Pancake Bay and Batchawana but is has the most beautiful beach and there are loads of sites that are right on or adjacent to the shoreline. This makes Agawa the ultimate camping spot for peaceful, Lake Superior sunsets.
We set up our tent and lit the campfire to make supper. Our family’s favourite camp meal is gnocchi and sausages over the fire with rose sauce, and let me tell you, there is mothing more delicious than eating it outside in the fresh air. We ate the baking we picked up at Breeze for desert and hit the beach. For sunset, we brought our SUP down to the lake and took a paddle. The water was calm in Agawa Bay and was illuminated vibrant orange and gold in the last light of the day. It was so magical. After the sun went down we sat around the campfire and roasted marshmallows and crawled into our sleeping bags early.
The next day, we had a lazy morning at our campsite. We made coffee, walked the beach and decided to hit the highway to check out the Canadian Carver. This iconic stop is a must do on the Northeast shore. It is a fantastic place to pick up souvenirs, get snacks and meet up with other travelers. The drive through the Agawa highlands is epic. You cross an almost unworldly section of boreal forest with wind turbines stretching out alongside the mountains. Then the Pancake Bay and Batachawana area is filled with its own sandy, lake side charm. There are a few shops to stop at, including the Voyagers Lodge. There, they make the best homemade apple fritters in the entire world. So, we most definitely went there to stalk up! We also came across a super cool roadside shop that had records and vintage clothes. We stalked up on some cool antiques and made our way back to Agawa.
That evening we made another delicious supper over the fire and brought out lawn chairs to the beach to watch the sun go down once more.
The North Shore really is the most iconic weekend destination with so much to see and do. It is the epitome of the rugged, magical experience of Lake Superior. We had so much fun and can’t wait to visit Lake Superior Provincial Park and Batchawana Bay again!