Camping at Lake Superior Provincial Park

Length of stay: 2 days
Visited: September 2021

Lake Superior Provincial Park is one of the oldest and largest provincial parks in Ontario. It is located along the eastern shore of Lake Superior between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa. Lake Superior offers a variety of recreational activities including canoeing, swimming and hiking. It also provides a few different options for car camping and backcountry camping.

Day 1: Beaches

We approached Lake Superior Provincial Park from Wawa. Naturally we stopped in Wawa to see the giant goose. It’s located right off the highway and isn’t hard to miss. There are a few signs here which highlight the history of Magpie River, the Trans-Canada highway that runs through the area, and how the town was named.

The first reference to the word wawa was made by early prospectors while searching for gold with the help of their local Ojibway guides. Wawa Creek was called wawank, which is Ojibway for “clear water springs”. This stream flowed out to a lake called wawagonk, which means “place of clear water”. This was then shortened by the European settlers to Wawa. Somewhere along the way wawa may have been mistranslated to wild goose instead of wewe, which means “snow goose”. This then resulted in the Wawa’s legendary Wawa Goose, which was built to symbolize the town’s name.

We then made one other detour to Sandy Beach Eco-Interpretive Park to find a Moments of Algoma art installation. This required driving down some sketchy gravel road, but it was worth it. From the parking lot there’s a short boardwalk that leads to a beautiful sandy beach. It was super windy and the water wavy, but the scenery looked incredible.

In 1918, Algoma became a place of inspiration for the Group of Seven. One of the members, A.Y. Jackson co-owned a cottage here on Sandy Beach from 1955 until he died in 1974. The painting featured in this Moments of Algoma installation shows a scene that is at the end of Sandy Beach in a tiny cove.

By the time we passed the Lake Superior Provincial Park entrance sign, it was just after 6p.m. We planned to spend the next two nights at the Agawa Bay Campground, which is located on the other side of the park, so we still had some driving to do. But that didn’t prevent us from making a couple of stops along the way since the weather was fabulous.

We first stopped at Old Woman Bay to check out one of the three beaches in the park. Legend has it that the face of an old woman among the towering cliffs looks out over the bay.

We then stopped at Katherine Cove, another beach sandy beach located within the park that contains a Moments of Algoma installation. The cove is sheltered by the Lizard Islands and is reputed to have warm and shallow waters.

By the time we arrived at the Park Office at the Agawa Bay Campground, it was just after 7pm. We drove to our site, which was situated right on the beach. As we were setting up our tents, we were rewarded with great views of the sunset right from our campsite.

Day 2: Pictographs and Views

We woke up bright and early at 7a.m and decided to start our day off at the Agawa Rock Pictographs (0.5km loop, rated moderate) to beat the crowds. The trail leads to a rock ledge along the shore of Lake Superior and contains red ochre paintings which are believed to be 150 to 400 years old from generations of Ojibwe that recorded their dreams and spirits. The site can usually only be accessed from mid-May to mid-September when the lake is calm, so we weren’t sure what to expect since it was mid-September.

It’s a short, but steep path down to the rock ledge. Along the way there are a few signs that contain more information about the geology of the area and history of the pictographs. The water was a bit wavy and the ledge slippery, so we only made it about half-way along the ledge and didn’t see all of the pictographs. There is a chain in place to help shuffle across the first half of the ledge. There’s also a few ropes that dangle into the water that can be used in case you fall in. Since we visited early enough in the morning, we had the ledge all to ourselves. I have no idea how it’s even possible to pass anyone along the ledge.

We then drove to Trapper’s Trail (1.5km loop, rated easy) to squeeze in another early morning hike in the hopes of seeing some wildlife. The trail is relatively flat and follows the shore of Rustle Lake. It features two viewing platforms and a floating boardwalk. When we hiked along this trail last summer, we spotted a moose at one of the boardwalks, but unfortunately we didn’t have as good of luck this time.

Afterwards we drove to the Rabbit Blanket Campground and found an empty campsite near the water to make breakfast. Darker clouds were moving in, which wasn’t ideal, but at least it was still warm outside.

We then returned to Old Woman Bay to hike along the Nokomis Trail (5km loop, rated moderate). We parked at the Old Woman Bay day-use area and crossed the highway to get to the trailhead. The trail winds through the boreal forest, along an old river bed filled with lots of pebbles and rocks and features a number of scenic viewpoints over Lake Superior and the Old Woman River Valley.

After the first lookout, the terrain levels out considerably. There are still some minor ups, but mostly downs. From the last scenic lookout, it’s a steep descent down the rocky terrain and back to the trailhead.

Once we wrapped up our hike, we drove back to the Agawa Bay Campground. Along the way we stopped at the Visitor Centre to check out the swag and to find another Moments of Algoma easel. The Group of Seven used to visit this region even before Lake Superior Provincial Park was created.

After checking the weather forecast, we decided to pack-up early. It was windy and overcast and we were supposed to get 10mm of rain overnight, plus some more the next morning. And we didn’t want to pack up in the rain. So we instead decided to drive to Sault Ste Marie and stay in a motel.

L

My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here

54 thoughts on “Camping at Lake Superior Provincial Park

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The rock ledge to view the pictographs was super dodgy. I pretty much clung to the edge and held on for dear life. There is no way I would have attempted to walk along it if there were other people there. Luckily we were able to take our time and managed to see a few of the pictographs before turning around. Thanks for reading. Linda

      Liked by 1 person

  1. ourcrossings says:

    Wow, what a beautiful place to camp, Linda 🙂 For many campers, there’s no other place they’d rather spend their hard-earned holidays than by the sea or by the lake. There’s something alluring about setting up camp by the lake especially if there is direct access to the water. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We were lucky to have snagged a campsite right on the beach. I find being by the water so peaceful. The views were beautiful, especially of the sunset, and it was really soothing to fall asleep to the sound of the waves. This was easily one of our favourite campsites that we stayed at during our two week road trip. Thanks for reading and enjoy your weekend. Linda

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      There are so many great viewing platforms and scenic overlooks along Lake Superior. It’s such a beautiful area with lots of great hiking trails and places to camp. I always thought it was funny how there is a Canadian Sault Ste. Marie and an American Sault Ste. Marie and that they are located pretty much right beside each other. Because that’s not confusing at all.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      There are so many great hiking opportunities in Lake Superior Provincial Park and the surrounding area, many of which provide gorgeous views of the lake. I could probably spend a whole week at this park and never get bored. The scenery is just outstanding. Plus it doesn’t hurt that we had an awesome campsite on the beach.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Lake Superior is always a highlight. I just can’t seem to get enough of this park or just Northern Ontario in general. The last two times we visited Lake Superior PP we stayed at Rabbit Blanket Campground. It was nice to finally snag one of the sites along the beach at Agawa Bay though.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The Wawa goose monument is right off the highway, so we couldn’t resist stopping to check it out. It was neat to learn more about the history of it and how the town came to embrace its name. Hopefully you’re able to make it here someday as the Lake Superior area is gorgeous.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Josy A says:

    What a beeeeautiful area for you to camp! I love the giant goose, those amazing pictographs and all the stunning views. Nokomis Trail must be incredible in the fall as some of the leaves change colour…

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      This was one of my favourite campsites that we stayed at during our two week Northern Ontario road trip. It’s always a huge bonus to camp by the water. The hiking at Lake Superior Provincial Park is top notch. I still can’t get over the views from Nokomis Trail. Agreed, I bet the scenery looks spectacular when the leaves are changing colour.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ab says:

    This was a wonderfully enjoyable post to read, Linda. Thank you. 😊

    It brought back so many happy memories of the places we visited. I’m glad you stopped by Sandy Beach in Wawa. It was incredible for us to have the beach all to ourselves during our visit.

    Old Woman Bay looks incredible. We drove by it and the view from the highway was stunning. I can only imagine what it’s like in person. We plan to stop by next time.

    I had a smile seeing Katherine’s Cove. That was one of our stops on our drive back from Thunder Bay.

    Lake Superior Park looks amazing. Good thing you woke up early and got the Pictograph Ledge to yourself. It is a popular and well photographed spot. I really hope to check it out one day.

    Ahh. One day closer to summer. 😊

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. Lake Superior Provincial Park is one of my favourites. I’m glad to hear that it brought back fond memories of your road trip up north. Even though it’s a far drive, I love that there are so many scenic overlooks and viewpoints along the way. There just never seems to be enough time to see it all. But hey, it provides a good excuse to return to see something new.

      I would never have attempted to walk on the ledge at the Agawa Rock Pictographs if there were other people around. It was sketchy enough as is when we were by ourselves, largely because the rocks were all wet from the waves. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how to even pass someone on this thing. I clung to the edge for dear life. I managed to take one picture while out on the ledge, and that was after asking K to hold onto me just in case!

      While summer isn’t here just yet, at least it’s the weekend!! Have a good one.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ab says:

        I first learned of the pictograph ledge when it was featured one summer on the cover of the Ontario Parks magazine. It looks so beautiful. But like you, I can only imagine how sketchy it is when there are lots of people there, as there would be given it’s a social media posters dream come true. 😆

        Hilariously enough, I was playing the Wheel of Fortune last night on the phone. I kid you not, three of the puzzles were: “Provincial Parks” “A Trip to Lake Superior” and “Algonquin Provincial Park”. I think my phone and all those algorithms were trying to rub it to me. 😆

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s always a huge bonus to camp by the water. You are pretty much guaranteed a front row seat to a gorgeous sunrise or sunset (assuming it’s not complete overcast). This was easily one of our favourite places where we camped (and hiked).

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s a far drive to get to Lake Superior, but at least it’s super scenic. It always helps to have blue skies and sun when spending time outdoors. As an added bonus, we snagged one of the awesome campsites right on the beach. The views don’t get much better than that.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We were a bit concerned about what the weather in Northern Ontario would be like in September during our road trip, but it turns out it was fabulous. The scenery around Lake Superior is simply stunning. Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful weekend. Linda

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Lake Superior is super scenic. It was quite the drive to get here, but it was all part of the adventure. There were lots of great overlooks and hiking trails to see more of the lake and surrounding area. It really is a beautiful area and provincial park.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. Lake Superior is such an awesome park and there’s a bit of something here for everyone. Even the drive is super scenic. We managed to reserve a campsite right on the beach at Agawa Bay, which was one of the best sites we’ve ever had. Hopefully you’re able to make it there this summer. You’ll have a great time.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. BrittnyLee says:

    That’s amazing that those drawings are still on those rocks, wow. I could imagine the sense of history felt there, must be intense. The area looks so beautiful. I also enjoyed the information you provided about the wewe being lost in translation and Wawa being used for goose. That’s awesome. I love the giant goose they have. Aw. I really enjoyed this post.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for commenting. It is pretty incredible about how the pictographs are still clearly visible along the ledge of Lake Superior. It was neat to learn more about their history and the meaning of some of the drawings. Agreed, the history of the how the town of Wawa got its name and became associated with the goose was pretty interesting.

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      • BrittnyLee says:

        You’re welcome. It definitely is interesting. I’m grateful the pictographs lasted. I hope they can remain there for many more years. Remembering and learning history is such a beautiful dying art

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Agreed. It’s a neat way to learn more about our history and of the people who first inhabited the area. We’ve been trying to make more of an effort to visit the places in Ontario that feature pictographs and petroglyphs.

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      • BrittnyLee says:

        Yes!!! I try to always add something new to look for, too! It does help to make things even more exciting, especially when visiting places you have been a few times. 🙂

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      • BrittnyLee says:

        Me too !!!! It is always different 🙂 I love that too, especially the contrast between spring and winter or even fall and winter. Both are such stark differences of each other

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        It’s pretty amazing how the landscape can change so quickly between the seasons too. We just had a fresh snowfall over the weekend, but it’s supposed to reach a high of 18C on Thursday! That’s practically shorts wearing weather!

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      • BrittnyLee says:

        Wow !!! It’s doing the same here !! We got almost 6 inches of snow on Saturday and today it was in the 50s and tomorrow will be 60 haha. I’m breaking out my sandals. Yeah it’s blowing my mind. I guess our areas are in the same weird weather pattern haha

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