Ontario Lake Superior Circle Tour Travel Planner
Marathon to Thunder Bay
Ontario North Shore Travel
North of Superior Touring Area – Marathon to Thunder Bay
From Marathon, it’s about 49 miles to Terrace Bay; about 10 miles less if you stayed at Neys. At Terrace Bay, don’t miss Aguasabon Falls and Gorge at the western edge of town. Rainbow Falls Provincial Park is 16 miles further down the road. A good park for hiking, canoeing, and boating. The trail to Rainbow Falls will require about a half an hour; you can extend the hike to a scenic lookout over Lake Superior by going another kilometer.
Six miles down the road is the turnoff to the village of Rossport. Worth a visit, particularly if you are looking for a place for lunch or dinner. The scenic and protected Rossport Islands are a popular kayaking area. Our next recommended stop (26 miles) is the Kama Bay wayside lookout. Great views of the Nipigon Bay islands. Continuing on past Nipigon (23 miles), if you have time and are in the mood for a hike, take the turnoff to Red Rock and find the southern trail head for Red Rock-Nipigon River Recreation Trail. An hour round trip up and down a moderately steep trail will take you to two nice lookouts over Nipigon Bay. Twenty miles from the Red Rock turnoff is the road leading to Quimet Canyon Provincial Park. The walking paths to the canyon overlooks are handicap accessible. The turnoff to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is another 15 miles. Here you have to choose whether to include Sleeping Giant in your itinerary or not because it is a 30 plus mile side trip to the main part of the park and Silver Islet village. At this point you are from 3 to 6 hours out from Marathon depending upon how many stops you have made.
Due to being at least 30 minutes off the main highway (Hwy 17), visitors to Sleeping Giant should have at least 4 hours to spare to even begin to sample what it offers. Our visits to the park have always entailed an overnight or several day stay at their campground. The Giant offers several day hiking and nature trails, plus a number of longer backpacking trails and back country campsites. There are also mountain bike trails and a handful of interior lakes for canoeing. The village of Silver Islet is an interesting excursion and history lesson. If you are planning to overnight in the park and it is the peak season, call first for reservation status (1-888-ONT-PARK) to insure you don’t make the 30 mile trip only to be turned away.
If you bypass Sleeping Giant, you’ll reach Thunder Bay in another 33 miles.
Thunder Bay, Ontario (see pictures & more info here)
Chamber Website: www.thunderbay.ca
Hwy 17 runs along the western edge of Thunder Bay so it is fairly easy to drive straight through without seeing much of the city. We’ve stayed overnight in the area many times, either at a motel or a campground. The best motels seem to be near the airport; The city operated campgrounds, Chippewa Park and Trowbridge Falls, in our opinion are only adequate – although Chippewa appears to be renovating their facilities so the camping may improve. For cleanliness, service and convenience, we gave the KOA campground on the north side of Thunder Bay high marks. The Provincial Park campground at Kakabeka Falls is very nice (about 15 miles west of Thunder Bay on Hwy 11). Figure 2 – 4 hours in Thunder Bay if you elect to see some of the sights. Add another 1 – 3 hours if you take in Fort William and/or Kakabeka Falls.
Recommended places and things to do in Thunder Bay, Ontario:
- Prince Arthur Marina Park – lake walks, harbor tours, great view of Sleeping Giant peninsula, pavilion with outdoor restaurant overlooking lake and ice cream parlor, overpass to downtown Port Arthur (now north Thunder Bay).
- Shopping: Intercity Shopping Center and nearby Canadian Tire store along Fort Williams Road
- Boulevard Lake/Centennial Park: picnic areas and walking trails.
- Lodging: Best Western, AirLane Travelodge, Victoria Inn, Valhalla Inn (in ascending order of price $$$ and amenities) all near airport and Hwy 11-17. Food service either in facility or nearby. However, I think the best value in lodging could be the Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel & Suites near Marina Park (our favorite stop in Thunder Bay)
- Kakabecka Falls – nice boardwalks, good views of the falls, nature trails. (15 miles west on Hwy 11)
- Fort William Historical Park
It’s 42 miles on Hwy 61 to the Ontario Visitor Center on the border at Pigeon River; slightly longer if you took the side trip to see Kakabeka Falls.
Total mileage from Marathon to Thunder Bay is 188; from Marathon to the Minnesota border is 230 miles.
(note: If you are heading south and west into Minnesota you’ll have to read the Minnesota Circle Tour Trip Planning Reports backwards as they plot a west to east trip!)
Get Acquainted with current Passport Regulations – There are new requirements for motor travel between the United States and Canada.