The beach at Old Woman Bay wayside - Lake Superior Provincial Park
Traveling east of Marathon the highway moves away from Lake Superior for about 120 miles until Wawa, Ontario. While the roadside landscape is not unattractive in its own right, it lacks the mountains, beaches and terrific panoramic views of Lake Superior one gets used to seeing from Duluth, Minnesota to Marathon, Ontario. So this remains a good stretch to listen to "books on tape" or engage in other entertainment to break up the boredom.
There are two provincial parks along this route: White Lake Provincial Park and Obatanga Provincial Park. White Lake is a large reservoir that feeds the White River and is a regular put-in for canoe or kayak trips down the scenic White River to Pukaskwa National Park and Lake Superior. It was rated one of the ten best canoe trips in Ontario by Outdoor Canada Magazine. Overall the park looked more used by boat fisherman as White Lake is quite large and is known for its fishery. Obatanga is also on water with access to a smaller chain of lakes. Neither of our visits to these two parks found them full, so if you are camping or RV-ing during a busy time of the season, you are more likely to find openings here than at Wawa and Lake Superior Provincial Park.
We've only had a brief chance to explore Marathon. In 2004 we arrived in a driving rainstorm and sought shelter and breakfast at the Country Cafe in the Zero 100 Motor Inn. A good score! Good food, attractively decorated, and friendly, attentive service. I see more recently (Dec 2013), it scored a very good review on TripAdvisor so they are still putting out good food and service. After breakfast, it was still raining hard so we headed down the road - a good time to make tracks towards Wawa.
Some of the travel literature on Marathon promotes the hiking trail to Hawk's Ridge as offering a spectacular view of Gitche Gumme (Lake Superior) and Pebble Beach as a great place for Rock Hounds. We'll have to try both on our next trip.
About 5 miles east of Marathon is the road to the First Nation communities of Heron Bay and Pic River and a little bit further the Hattie Cove Campground of the Pukaskwa National Park. While somewhat off the beaten path, on a later trip around the Big Lake, we found this is a very attractive park with scenic hiking and nature trails.
Your first stop in Wawa should be the Tourist Info Center at the intersection of Hwys 17 and 101. Look for the famous Wawa Goose > > >
The attractive Visitor Center offers some interesting exhibits plus brochures and very helpful staff.
Our last visit to Wawa was in 2014. We did a drive though downtown to see if there had been any changes since we were last there. We were pleased to see Wawa has undergone an economic rebirth since we last visited.
On the way into the downtown Wawa from the Visitor Center, one stop you ought to make is at Young's General Store on the right hand side of the road.
Young’s is a fun stop . . . mixing all the offerings of the old fashioned general store with gobs of northwoods and Canadian themed gift items (most made by “local” artisans who have strangely migrated to China!). We enjoyed some of their homemade fudge, ice cream, and fresh popped popcorn - which for sure didn’t come from China.
Another worthwhile stop is the Lion's Waterfront Park along Wawa Lake. It has been recently upgraded and is a nice spot for a picnic or a walk along the lakefront boardwalk. There is free Wi-Fi here if you are looking for an Internet connection.
Lodging in Wawa: The Beaver Motel ( www.beavermotel.com ) appeared clean and well kept. Dining is available across the street at Wally's Steak House and there other cafes nearby. The Wawa Motor Inn ( www.wawamotorinn.com ) also presented a well kept face and has its own dining room and lounge. A few miles south of Wawa on the way to Michipicoten River is a very attractive motel we have stayed at - Mystic Isle Motel - with a great view and convenient to hiking, dining, and waterfalls.
Hiking and Waterfalls near Wawa
The Voyageur Hiking Trail (aka Magpie Trail) runs south from Wawa past the impressive Magpie High Falls and then to Silver Falls near the village of Michipicoten River. Magpie Falls can also be reached down a 2 mile long sand road off Hwy 17. Silver Falls can be reached by road by going north through the village of Michipicoten River. Silver Falls is actually a series of 3 falls; only the middle falls can be seen from the road. Parking at the Silver Falls bridge and hiking up to Magpie High Falls and back would be an easy day hike (2-3 hours).
It was still raining when we arrived at Magpie High Falls.
I took this shot from underneath the picnic pavillion. > > >
< < < The middle Silver Falls taken from by the trail head by the bridge.
Crossing the bridge for another view of the falls. > > >
Lake Superior is one of the largest parks in Ontario. It abounds with a variety of scenery and outdoor enjoyment opportunities: inland lakes, rivers, waterfalls, mountains, forests, Lake Superior bays, hiking trails, canoe routes, boating, fishing and camping.
< < < Waterfalls on the Sand River about a mile upstream from the wayside picnic area off Hwy 17. Further upstream is Lady Evelyn Falls which would require a very ambitious day hike to reach and return.
We enjoyed picnicking and beachcombing for rocks and agates at the Old Woman Bay day use area (near the northern entrance to the park). The nearby Nokomis Hiking trail provides scenic lookouts over the bay and can be done in 2-3 hours. Several other short walks and hikes are available (as well as day long and multi-day trips).
For helpful information, stop by the new Visitor Centre at Agawa Bay near the southern end of the park. If you are coming from the north, you can get info on Lake Superior Park at the Wawa Visitor Center.
Agawa Bay, in the southern region, is the largest of the three park campgrounds. It has several pull-thru sites suitable for larger RVs and just about all of the sites have a view of the lake. The campground stretches in 3 to 4 rows of sites parallel to the long sandy Lake Superior beach, which the afternoon sun warms the waters enough for swimming. The other two campgrounds, Rabbit Blanket and Crescent Lake (now closed), are on smaller interior lakes and are a better choice for canoeing or fishing enthusiasts. [RV ers take note: Rabbit Blanket does have some electric sites and a dump station]
There are several canoe routes in the park, but very few loops. So you'd have to arrange a pickup at your take out point by positioning a second vehicle or arranging transportation with an outfitter. Some of the routes can be accessed via you and your canoe riding the Algoma Central Railway to your put-in spot.
Just south of Lake Superior Provincial Park are two other Ontario parks. These are similar to Agawa Bay with expansive sand beaches and mature pine forests. Pancake Bay has a full service campground with showers. Of its 325 sites, 160 have electrical hookup. Batchawana Bay Park is a day use picnic and swimming area with no overnight facilities. We found a nice motel facing Batchawana Bay: the Voyageur Lodge. They also have a cookhouse restaurant and pizza parlor on the grounds. Access to the beach is just a short walk across the highway.
A few miles down the road from Batchawana is Chippewa Falls. The Falls can seen from the rest area. There is also a hiking trail that goes above the falls.
From Pancake Bay south to Sault Ste. Marie, there are a number of tourist facilities - lodging, places to eat, and places to shop.
An interactive tourism guide offers more information on attractions in the Batchawana Bay area.
Next Stop: The "Soo" - Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Links & Information
Going south towards Sault Ste Marie & into the US
SuperiorTrails.com - Reinhold Development - 2017
Lake Superior Camping
& Campground Directory
Camping along the Lake Superior Circle Drive.
North Shore Fall Colors from the top of Moose Mountain.