It only took one camping trip to Lake Superior Provincial Park for it to become my favourite provincial park in Ontario! It may take 12 hours to drive there from my house, including stops, but it is well worth the drive. At Lake Superior I have car camped, canoe tripped and done backpacking trips. I cannot wait to return.
Here are my 10 favourite things to do while camping at Lake Superior Provincial Park, in no particular order:
1 – Visit Bathtub Island
On the recommendation of one of the Park Naturalists, we parked our car along the highway, and walked through a well worn path to an under-utilized beach. From there, we walked through knee deep water to Bathtub Island, where a pool of water collects and warms (sort of, depending on the weather of course). One year, we even brought our backcountry stove and baked brownies on the little island! We have also gone swimming there. [Update: I just found out that this area is in fact extremely environmentally sensitive. Thank you to the kind reader who pointed this out. I would highly recommend that instead of visiting Bathtub Island, you consider parking at an access point to the Coastal Trail along Highway 17, or in one of the many larger parking lots, and just walk the trail a short way to find your own place to explore. We have done this many times, and are always amazed at the adventures we have! In fact, this is how we ended up finding bald eagles!]
2 – Hike the Orphan Lake Trail
This 8 km long trail starts in a parking lot along Highway 17, makes its way around Orphan Lake, then down to Lake Superior. It’s not an out and back (there’s a loop), so there’s lots to see. More information on this and other hiking trails can be found here in a park guide. There’s a very pretty little spot along the Baldhead River that is perfect for a rest stop and a snack. One year, my daughter “caught” her first leech (on her leg) where the Baldhead River opens out into Lake Superior. Some random stranger helped us get it off of her. This trail has scenic lookouts and it joins the Coastal Trail. We like to swim in Lake Superior at this point – despite the river outlet and leeches!
3 – Watch the sun set on Agawa Bay
It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve watched the sun set on Agawa Bay – it is still gorgeous!!
4 – Attend programs at the Visitor Centre
We have participated in some fantastic programs at the Visitor Centre, from learning about the Ministry of Natural Resources canine unit, to laying on the beach looking up at the night sky, to “ask an interpreter” nights, to listening to a guest speaker’s paddling adventures on Lake Superior, to watching a Bill Mason video. We have learned so much through the excellent daytime and night time programs.
5 – Visit the pictographs at Agawa Rock
As stated on the Friends of Lake Superior Provincial Park website, “The Agawa Rock Pictographs are enduring messages from the past. This is a sacred site where generations of Ojibwe have come to record dreams, visions and events.” You can see the pictographs by hiking a short distance of about 500 m, or you can access them by canoe or kayak. Note, though, that the wet rocks can be treacherous, and caution must always be taken when viewing them. One year, my daughter was convinced she was going to die while looking at them – i.e. that she would be swept away by a wave – she was so worried that she wanted us to take a “last” photograph together.
6 – Swim in Burnt Rock Pool along the Towab Trail
The Towab Trail is a 24 km return trip, but you don’t have to go that far! If you hike about 4 km, you come upon Burnt Rock Pool, which is where the Agawa River opens up a bit and makes for a great swimming place. There’s a current, so it can be quite fun to float down river! It’s an easy hike from the parking lot to this spot. The trail gets tougher later on, and if you’re looking for an overnight hike, consider staying in one of the campsites at the very end of the trail. My husband and I stayed in the one on top of the waterfall – it’s the only one there – and it was amazing!
7 – Do an overnight backpacking trip along the Coastal Trail
We have had such fun hiking along the Coastal Trail to backpacking sites along Lake Superior. One year, the only visitor we had was the resident otter! The hike was tough going though, as it was more like bouldering than hiking. Add big packs to our backs and our balance was a bit off. It was, however, a great experience. The coast of Lake Superior is incredibly beautiful.
8 – Watch for wildlife
We have been lucky enough to spot some incredible wildlife at Lake Superior, including a bear while out running alone (terrifying, not exactly lucky!), and juvenile bald eagles along the Coastal Trail.
9 – Explore the rugged coastline of Lake Superior
Pick a spot, any spot, and go for a hike. Check out the rocks – see the history! Such a beautiful shoreline.
10 – Swim in the huge waves at Agawa Bay
We love swimming in Agawa Bay, but it takes us a few days to get accustomed to the frigid water! The most fun is when the waves are huge.
Trust me when I say that Lake Superior Provincial Park is an amazing place. And then, go see for yourself!
You might also want to check out:
- My 10 favourite things to do while car camping at Grundy Lake Provincial Park
- My 10 favourite things to do while camping at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
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