Of all the parks we have had the opportunity to explore over the years, Lake Superior Provincial Park in Ontario has got to be one of my favourites. There’s just something about Lake Superior that appeals to me; from the wide-open waters to the towering rock, I just love this place.
Lake Superior comes by it’s name honestly: it is the largest freshwater lake in the world (by surface area). It is so big, it even has its own tides and whales have been seen on the lake. Some dispute the whale sightings but a quick look at the website for North Shore Visitor, well those look like whales to me.
At 16810 hectares, it is one of the larger parks we have had the pleasure to visit and even though we have visited several times over the years, we have yet to hike all the trails.
Things to Do In Lake Superior Provincial Park
There are two campgrounds in Lake Superior Provincial Park: Agawa Bay campground and Rabbit Blanket Lake campground. There are approximately 200 backcountry camping sites as well.
Agawa Bay Campground is on Lake Superior and one of the best campsites I ever had was on the beach. Literally on the beach. Unfortunately some of the sites are next to Highway 17 and if you think you won’t hear a lot of traffic overnight, you are wrong. There are 147 campsites including 38 that have electrical service. It is closer to the south end of the park and is where you will find the Visitors Centre.
Rabbit Blanket Lake Campground does not have the sweeping views of Lake Superior but the sites don’t get booked up as quickly and are often considerably larger and more private. There are 20 electrical sites of the 60 in this campground. Rabbit Blanket Lake Campground is closer to the north end of the park and the town of Wawa (home of the giant Canada Goose).
Both campgrounds have comfort stations with flush toilets, showers, laundry facilities, and trailer dump and fill stations.
Dogs have to be kept on leash everywhere in the park except for leash-free areas at the north end of the beach at Agawa Bay campground and at Old Woman Bay in the north end of the park. They are allowed on all of the trails except for the Agawa Bay Pictograph Trail.
The 130 km of hiking trails in Lake Superior Provincial Park range from short and easy hikes to extremely challenging multi-day excursions. The terrain can be rugged in places and the weather can change rapidly. The trails are very obvious and well-marked with small signs. The exposed rock is often worn down which means it does not have the sharp edges that risk cutting into dog paws but you will have to watch for splits in the rock that can catch feet or paws and the smooth rock can be slippery when wet. Sturdy shoes are a must as I destroyed the soles of my running shoes hiking around Lake Superior. Wearing footwear with good ankle support will help to keep from turning a great hike into a visit to the hospital.
On the longer or more challenging hikes, bring water and snacks (for humans and canines), a waterproof shell, sunscreen, and bug spray. Of course it goes without saying that your dog should be fit enough for the hikes you want to do and used to carrying a backpack if they will be helping carry the load.
On a side note: when they say a trail is challenging, they mean it! Even the sections of the Coastal Trail along the beaches can be difficult because you walk almost entirely on a thick layer of rounded beach rocks.
A great way to explore the park is by canoe. There are eight routes which range from easy day trips to more challenging multi-day routes for experienced paddlers. Some routes do have several portages so make sure you take the fitness level of everyone in your party into account when planning your trip. Canoeing along the coastline is one of the routes but should only be attempted by experienced paddlers due to unpredictable weather and limited places to land.
While there are many lakes in the park, powerboats are only allowed on Lake Superior and Sand Lake. There is no restriction on motor size on Lake Superior but Sand Lake has a limit of 10 hp or less. Lake Superior can be a dangerous place for boats with over 350 recorded shipwrecks. If you do venture onto the big lake, be prepared for rapidly changing weather and water conditions.
Fishing and Hunting
Cast a line into the waters for Lake, Rainbow, and Brook Trout or one of three species of salmon that can be found in the lakes and streams of the park. Keep in mind that to prevent the introduction of non-native species, the use and possession of live bait is prohibited.
Hunting for moose, grouse, and Varying Hare is permitted in a portion of the park.
During the winter months, the campgrounds and park roads are closed but that doesn’t mean that you cannot visit the park. Visitors to the park can still brave the cold to ice fish, ski, and snowshoe the trails.
The TransCanada Highway, Highway 17 at this point, is the only road that goes through the park. Unless you canoe in from one of the rivers or off the shore, that is the only way to get there. It takes approximately 90 minutes to drive north from Sault Ste. Marie to the Visitors Centre or over six hours if you drive south from Thunder Bay.
There are outfitters outside the boundaries and the town of Wawa is close to the north end of the park. However, it can take almost an hour to go from one end of the park to the other so there are no quick stops for anything.
Do you want to know more about planning a Great Lakes Adventure? We spent most of the 2018 road trip season driving around all five Great Lakes and you can read about those trips starting here. Visit the Lake Superior Provincial Park website here.