Lake Superior Provincial Park turns 75 years old this year. It was as good of an excuse as any to camp out there for the week and take in the park’s beauty. It’s one of my favourite places to hike, paddle and pitch a tent.
Here are my top six things to see and do while visiting Lake Superior Provincial Park:Kevin Callan
Watch an Agawa Bay Sunset
Choose your site carefully at the Agawa Bay Campground. Some spots are set a stone’s throw away from the busy highway. Others are along the beach, overlooking the expanse of Lake Superior. The views from those campsites are stunning. Pack a wool hat and an extra sweater—pitching your tent alongside Superior can get a bit chilly at night. But the sunsets are incredible.
Visit Agawa Rock Pictographs
These are some of the most striking First Nations paintings along the entire coast of Lake Superior. There’s a short, 400-metre trail that leads to them from the parking lot along Highway 17. The last bit can be extremely dangerous, especially if the waves of Superior are crashing against the granite cliff face that houses the 400-year-old red ochre rock paintings. There’s an iron chain to hold onto, and ropes dangle down into the frigid cold waters of Superior in case you go for an unsuspecting swim.
If the wind is calm, I much prefer to paddle to the spot. There’s a side road off the parking lot that leads to a boat launch at Sinclair Cove. From there, paddle out of the protected bay and then south, down the coastline of Lake Superior. A twenty-minute paddle will take you to the painting site (you’ll find a giant sturgeon, war party, and Mishipeshu: the Great Lynx). Paddle a little further and check out more elaborate paintings that can only be seen from the water.Kevin Callan
Paddle South Old Woman River
Rabbit Blanket Campground is inland from Superior, so you don’t get to gawk at the gorgeous sunsets across the world’s largest freshwater lake. But you do have the pleasure of a much quieter and quainter place to pitch your tent. You also have an incredible paddle along a short but scenic stretch of the South Old Woman River.
Paddle across Rabbit Blanket Lake, which is bordered by a rich boreal forest and a jumble of boulders. The entrance to the river is a little tricky to find. Look for the channel to the far left. The downstream run takes you through a soft current, ever twisting and turning. Peat Mountain can be seen in the distance and brook trout gobble up flies off the surface of the water. Less than an hour’s paddle will take you to a portage. Continue if you want, following a chain of small lakes, or paddle back to your campsite on the shores of Rabbit Blanket.
Hike Nokomis Trail
This is a loop trail that begins across the highway from Old Woman Bay parking area. It’s on the park’s northern ridge, not too far from the town of Wawa. The trail is five kilometres long and takes about two to three hours to complete. It’s also one of the steepest climbs in the park, with an elevation gain of 200 meters.
The view of Old Woman Bay and Lake Superior is absolutely stunning and worth the uphill effort. A bonus is the rich boreal forest you’ll be hiking through. Old Man’s Beard moss dangle from spruce trees and the forest floor is carpeted by bunchberry, twinflower and wood sorrel.
There are 200 backcountry sites in Lake Superior Provincial Park. They’re first-come, first-serve, and are scattered along the Superior coastline and beside interior lakes and rivers. It would take about a week to paddle the entire park. My favourite routes are out from Old Woman Bay to the north or one of the cluster of sites spread out along Gargantua Harbour (the road in for this one is a little rough).
One of the best interior lakes to canoe and camp on is Mijinemungshing Lake. It’s the largest inland lake in Lake Superior Provincial Park. It’s easy to access and has some perfect island campsites to pitch your tent. A second best is Belanger Lake, located off Gargantua Road. It’s a hidden gem where you have a fairly good chance to catch a trout and loons serenading you before bedtime.
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