Lake Superior Provincial Park
Located on the east shore of the world’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Superior Provincial Park was created in 1944 as a result of concerns raised by residents of Sault Ste. Marie for the need to protect a significant portion of the Lake Superior shoreline. From Lake Superior’s rugged coast, this park moves inland over mist-shrouded hills and deep canyons whose breathtaking beauty and rich autumn colours inspired Canada’s Group of Seven artists.
The park office is in the northern part of the park at Red Rock Lake. Senior staff, including the superintendent, can be reached at the park office between 9AM and 4PM during summer months.
The park's visitor centre at Agawa Bay provides information about the park and surrounding areas. There are washrooms and a gift shop open to the public from May through September. The visitor centre has a display area about the history of the park and the influence that Lake Superior Park had on the fur trade, the Group of Seven artists and shipwrecks in the region. There are trailer storage opportunities available, but arrangements must be made with senior staff at the park office.
Park Officephone: +1 705 856-2284 (year round)
Agawa Bay Campground and Visitor Centrephone: +1 705 882-2026 (May to mid-October)
The park's high, rounded hills are the remains of ancient mountain ranges, worn down by glaciers and covered by glacial sediments. Rushing rivers drop rapidly from the highlands to the shoreline, creating rapids and dramatic waterfalls. Faults shaped the magnificent Agawa Canyon, Agawa Rock, and Old Woman Bay.
The most common rocks in the area are granite and gneisses. Lava rock from Precambrian volcanic activity, diabase dykes along the shoreline, and relatively young Cambrian sandstone, are all relics of the park's geological past.
The park is in a transitional zone between two forest regions—the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence, and the Boreal. The transition is particularly striking in the autumn when the brilliant colours of the southern deciduous trees contrast with the dark green boreal evergreens.
Flora and fauna
There is a large abundance of wildlife in the park. Larger mammals include moose, commonly seen in the park, timber wolf, Canada lynx, bears, and white-tailed deer, whose numbers are limited because of deep snow and severe winters; smaller mammals include red squirrel, red fox, beaver and marten. More than 250 species of birds have been identified inside the park boundaries, and 120 species nest there. Great blue heron, gulls, loons and several varieties of warblers are among the most common feathered residents.
By carThe park is 120 km north of Sault Ste Marie (Ontario) and 20 km south of Wawa along the Trans-Canada Highway/Ontario Highway 17.
By trainPassenger trains operated by Canadian National Railway provide the only access to the Agawa Canyon and some of the canoe routes along the eastern park boundary. Train tours are available.
Ontario NorthlandA daily bus leaves Sault Ste Marie at 11:40AM for Agawa Bay (2 hr, $30) in the park (and continues through the park to Wawa). A daily bus leaves Wawa at 8:30AM and travels through the park to Agawa Bay (1 hr, $30).
The nearest airport with scheduled service is in Sault Ste Marie.
Fees and permits
- The Agawa Pictographs: At Agawa Rock, near the mouth of the Agawa River, there are pictographs created by the early Ojibwe people of this region. The figures are painted on the rock with a mixture of powdered hematite and animal fats and are estimated to be 150–400 years old. The records are visual representations of historical events and legendary figures. A short trail leads to the pictographs, which are on a sheer rock face on Lake Superior. Several of the pictographs can be seen only from the water.
- There is an amphitheatre in the Agawa Bay campground, and park staff make presentations here in the summer months.
- Attend the park staff presentations - evening programs, cocktail parties, guided hikes, spirit walks and guest speakers. At Agawa Rock, interpreters are scheduled to talk about the pictographs and natural history of the park.
- Fish: in the lakes and streams within the Park as well as on Lake Superior - there are good populations of lake and rainbow trout, whitefish and three species of salmon as well as good opportunities for catching lake and brook trout. To help prevent the introduction of non-native species, live-bait fish is banned on interior park lakes.
- Go canoeing - canoe routes range from easy to challenging and often involve stretches of white water. Any boating on the open water of Lake Superior is recommended only for those experienced enough to recognize and handle rapidly changing conditions. Motorboats are permitted on Lake Superior but not within the park, except at Sand Lake where motors no bigger than 10 horsepower are permitted. Canoes can be carried on the Algoma passenger trains (not the tour trains) to provide access to the eastern part of the park.
- Swim - there are beaches in each of the three park campgrounds - Agawa Bay, Crescent Lake and Rabbit Blanket Lake.
- Enjoy the park in winter: the park is gated but accessible for skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing. Snowmobiles are prohibited in the park except on Frater Road to access the Algoma Central Railway.
- Some of the most spectacular hiking in Ontario is offered on the Coastal Trail: a challenging triple along the beautiful Lake Superior coastline. It is very demanding and can take between 5 and 7 days to complete. The Coastal Trail is part of the long-distance Voyageur Hiking Trail. There are basic backcountry campsites on secluded bays. The stretch north of Katherine Cove away from the Trans-Canada Highway is the most peaceful, but also the most strenuous. For experienced hikers only.
- The hiking trails in the park can be accessed from Agawa Bay, Crescent Lake, or Rabbit Blanket Lake campgrounds, or from Highway 17. The 11 trails offer a wide variety of distances and difficulty from short half-hour hikes to multi-day trips. Orphan Lake Trail is a moderate difficulty trail that has a variety of terrain over a 8 km loop and takes approximately 2–4 hours to complete.
- Train tours to Agawa Canyon are offered from Sault Ste. Marie.
Buy, eat, and drink
LodgingThere are motels and hotels in Wawa or Sault Ste Marie.
- Agawa Bay has 152 campsites. There are two comfort stations in the campground equipped with showers, laundry facilities and flush toilets. All the campsites are within walking distance to Lake Superior. There is a premium for campsites beside the beach. Permits are obtained at the Agawa Bay gatehouse. Firewood and ice is available for purchase at the Agawa Bay gatehouse.
- Rabbit Blanket Lake has 60 campsites. There is one comfort station in the campground equipped with showers, laundry facilities and flush toilets. Firewood and ice can be purchased at the Rabbit Blanket gatehouse or the park office.