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Nicole Amos

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Getting to Bathtub Island in Lake Superior Provincial Park

Bathtub Island has become a hotspot in Northern Ontario lately so much so that there are lines of cars parked along the street near Katherine Cove to check out this incredible place. Bathtub Island is a bucket list worthy adventure while visiting Lake Superior Provincial Park but there is no map on how to get here. This secret gem of Lake Superior Provincial Park is not marked on any of the Ontario Parks maps but any of the park staff will be happy to tell you how to get there. After driving past the long line of cars mutiple time during the late morning throughout the entire day and never able to get a parking spot we decided we would go for just after sunrise in hops of having no one else exploring Bathtub Island.

Getting to Bathtub Island

If you are travelling north on Highway 17 you will enter Lake Superior Provincial Park. Make sure to stop in at the visitors centre at Agawa Bay to pick up your day pass if you are passing through or your camping pass so you have a valid park permit – otherwise you will get a ticket! While visiting the visitors centre makes sure to grab a map of Lake Superior Provincial Park so you can see where all the other great hikes are! Head north again towards Katherine Cove where you will want to park in the parking lot if there is room. If there is no room in Katherine Cove is full you can also park in the Sand River parking lot. You will often see cars parking along the shoulder of Highway 17 between Katherine Cove and the entrance to Bathtub Island but OPP often patrol this area and will give a ticket so we suggest not doing this!

Once you have found a parking spot if you are coming from Katherine Cove you will want to walk back out the parking lot entrance where you will find yourself at Highway 17. Make a right turn and walk along the shoulder of the highway until you can make it down the hill into the sandy area. You will pass another open area that has a beautiful beach where you can swim, keep walking past this area and follow the cowpath that leads towards the thick forest. There are a few areas that look like you could enter into the forest and head back towards the water but the actual entrance is a few minute walk past the second cove you just passed and once you get on the trail there is an official parks sign as seen in the photo below.

Head along the path until you reach the beautiful sandy beach where you will see Bathtub Island off to your left.

Now that you have arrived at the beach we headed down the sandy shoreline until we were almost directly in front of the beach. We headed out into the water and never went more than just above knee deep as we cross over to Bathtub Island. Keno was able to walk almost most of the way with a short swim to the island!

Once we were on the island we were so fortunate to spend almost an hour here before anyone else join us on the beach. Bathtub Island was not as warm as your typical bath but it certainly far warmer than Lake Superior! All three of us really enjoyed our time sitting on this beautiful island looking around at all the beauty Lake Superior has to offer.

A few things to note when visiting Bathtub Island is the dunes you cross are incredibly fragile – tread lightly and only on the path worn to the beach.  There is also no garbage bins or toilets on the bath to the beach or at the beach. Make sure to pack out all the garbage you bring with you

To see all our photos from our time on Bathtub Island make sure to check out our post here!

Visiting Bathtub Island: A Photo Guide

The elusive island, Bathtub Island, in Lake Superior Provincial Park is a hidden gem amongst the park. Located on a foot path half a kilometre south of Katherine Cove which you can see our instructions on how to get to Bathtub Island here. Perfectly named for the depression at one end of the island that water from Lake Superior flows in when the waves are high enough. Located only two hours north of Sault Ste. Marie, this are of Lake Superior is an untouched beauty than so many people as they drive north on Highway 17. This unique and beautiful island that is so close to shore offers us a glimpse of the rugged and pure charm that is Northern Ontario.

The water is certainly a bit warmer than Lake Superior itself as it sits in the shallow pool all day but is sure is not warm like a bathtub! Many people think Bathtub Island will be as warm as your typical bath or may be a place to soak like hot springs but it is not that kind of bathtub! It is a natural eroded rock that the water warms up as it basks in the sun in the shallow pool. Despite its cooler waters this all-natural basin is perfect to spend some time relaxing and taking in the incredible views of Lake Superior Provincial Park. We went first thing in the morning out to Bathtub Island shortly after sunrise so we could hopefully spend some time on the island without anyone else there and we were successful! Are we came out of the forest to see not another soul on the beach. People call Bathtub Island a hidden gem, but with is popularity growing on social media and on large blog posts it is a well known ‘hidden’ gem. But none the less it is still an incredible site to see and explore the island and if you get lucky to explore the island on your own you truly will get the feeling of the magic of Northern Ontario.

Photo Guide to Visiting The Indigenous Archaeological Site of Agawa Rock Pictographs

The breathtaking Agawa Rock Pictographs located in Lake Superior Provincial Park is one of the most visited indigenous archaeological sites in Canada. The majority of these The red ochre paintings that were hand drawn on the stone are believed to date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. After the short 400m hike to the sacred Ojibwe site there is a sign that shows you all of the drawings that have been discovered and can be seen today. Many of the drawings continue to fade into the stone from the wind, sun and other natural elements. You can very visbily see the canoes, familiar animals including bear, deer, moose and caribou but the most reconigizable painting is known as the ‘Misshepezhieu’. The Misshepezhieu also known as the Great Lynx is the spirit of the water which was known to work for and against humans depending on the day. He would calm the waters as well as bring on great storms and winds on Lake Superior by thrashing his tail. This hike is one of the best things we did during our trip to Lake Superior Provincial Park and left us not wanting to leave this beautiful and sacred site that is Agawa Rock Pictographs.

Please enjoy our picture guide to visiting Agawa Rock Pictographs!

To see more details on exploring the Agawa Rock Pictographs in Lake Superior Provincial Park make sure to read our post here!

Exploring the Agawa Rock Pictographs in Lake Superior Provincial Park

Ancient drawings painted on the stone cliffs along the shores of Lake Superior tell the stories of generations Ojibwe.  These magical hand drawn paintings date back between 150 and 400 years ago. Dramatically rising straight out of Lake Superior is Agawa Rock where red ochre figures painted on the stone to record the stories of generations of Ojibwe. Agawa Rock Pictographs in Lake Superior Provincial Park is an absolute must see whether you are passing through Lake Superior or stopping in for a few nights.


Getting to the Agawa Rock Pictographs in Lake Superior Provincial Park

Located about a ten minute drive north of the Agawa Bay Campground in Lake Superior Provincial Park there are signs that are well marked on the highway make a left turn into the parking lot. From the parking lot the Pictograph trail is not a long one but the ground is not even so ensure you are wearing proper hiking footwear. As you wind down the path you pass through different geological formations which are all worth stopping to take a look at.  After crossing though eroded diabase dyes and large broken boulders you arrive at the stone shelf that slopes into the crystal clear waters of Lake Superior underneath the towering cliff that is home to the pictographs.


The History of the Agawa Rock Pictographs in Lake Superior Provincial Park

Agawa Rock is a sacred and spiritual site for the Objibwe that tells stories of celebration, great events and triumps as well as religious and ceremonial purposes. It is thought that some of the drawnings could have been drawn to represent the different Ojibwe Clans or possibly following a vision quest that was often done to obtain help from the spirits when things became dire. The drawings were believed to be done during the Spring and Summer months. Although the exact age of the drawings are unknown the images we see today tell the stories of generations of Ojibwe.  Historians believe this is true and reinforced by the varations of styles of painting and subject matter drawn.  The red ochre paint has proven it can stand the test of time and the harsh weather conditions of Lake Superior but the paintings are nevertheless fading and perishing as time wears on. The sun, wind, waves, ice and human touch are causing them to disappear.


Things to Note When Visiting the Agawa Rock Pictographs in Lake Superior Provincial Park

 

If Lake Superior is wavy or there is a strong wind coming off the lake it could cause for very unsafe conditions to visit the paintings. The sloping rock that drops straight off into the very cold Lake Superior is already a small steep crossing on the day with best conditions, when the waves begin to lap up onto stone conditions become very slippery and dangerous. The Visitor Centre is the best place to check in to see the conditions of the Lake before you head out.

Please do not touch the pictographs! As a lover of history and want to see things preserved for many generations to come it breaks my heart when I see people rubbing their hands on these red ochre paintings. They already have to battle Lake Superiors ever changing weather conditions but to touch them makes it even worse.  Ontario Parks suggest that touching the paintings damages their surfaces and will ultimately make them disappear faster.

If Lake Superior is calm and the waves are not lapping up onto the rock the best way to cross the rocks is actually in your barefeet. The rocks are becoming slippery from the amount of shoes that are crossing it every year and barefoot really seemed to give us a better grip. Nicole started the crossing in her hiking boots and found it much easier to cross in barefeet.

Dogs are not allowed on this hike.


The short trip to Agawa Bay Pictographs in Lake Superior Provincial Park was well worth the rocky hike up and down boulders to this beautiful sacred site filled with history and mystery.


To see more of our photos from our visit too the Agawa Bay Pictographs in Lake Superior Provincial Park make sure to check out our photo guide here!

Exploring Ontario’s Hidden Gem – Manitoulin Island

As you cross over the swing bridge into Manitoulin Island into Little Current (or maybe you have come from Tobermory on the Chi-Cheemung) you are greeted with views of the crystal clear blue almost Caribbean like waters that is Georgian Bay. You have now entered the largest fresh water island in the world, Manitoulin Island and your adventure has only begun.  There are endless opportunities to do on Manitoulin Island from hiking, biking, boating, swimming, relaxing and so much more.

We had never been to Manitoulin before. Chris had boated to the island as a kid but never really got the opportunity to explore the island to its fullest so we decided to drive the entire island while on our time here and we were not disappointed.  We stayed in South Baymouth at South Bay Resort on one of their beautiful waterfront campsites. From here we began our trip around the island heading west towards the most western point on the island, Meldrum Bay. The majority of the drive between South Baymouth and Meldrum bay is on the interior of the island passing some of the inland lakes but it is mainly flat farmland which offers an incredibly peaceful and relaxing drive.


What to see from South Baymouth to Meldrum Bay:

Our first stop enroute to Meldrum Bay was the beautiful waterfront town of Providence Bay. We pulled over along the shores of Lake Huron and were instanstly greeted by a warm breeze off Lake Huron and the beautiful rocky coastline and Caribbean like blue waters. This is the perfect place to spend a full day or even more relaxing on the beach or swimming in the waters. For our full guide on what to do while visiting Providence Bay check it out here. From Providence Bay we headed up Highway 542 and then 540 West towards Evansville.

Providence Bay Beach on Manitoulin Island, Ontario.

Shortly after passing through Evansville we pulled off to go for a hike in Misery Bay Provincial Park. This beautiful 860 Hectares provincial park is the only provincial park on the island and is day use only. With over 16km of hiking trails you could spend a full day exploring the park. Unfortunately with the water levels being very high in Misery Bay we were not able to cross the beach to continue along to the remainder of the trails. Misery Bay Provincial Park is perfect for both hiking as well as spending the day on the beach and swimming in the warm bay. To read more about our time in Misery Bay Provincial Park check it out here.

Exploring Misery Bay Provincial Park on Manitoulin Island, Ontario.

After departing Misery Bay we began straight to Meldrum Bay to visit the Mississagi Lighthouse. It is just under an hour drive on windy roads to Mississagi Lighthouse. Once you turn onto the road for Mississagi Lighthouse the road turns to gravel for the last 6km.  The lengthy drive is 100% worth it for the incredible views that the shoreline of the Mississagi Straight has to offer.  If you have ever been to Tobermory the Mississagi Straight along the Mississagi Lighthouse Trail look exactly like Bruce Peninsula National Parks coast line with the massive boulders, clear waters but without all the tourists. To learn more about visiting the Mississagi Lighthouse read about it here.

Mississagi Lighthouse on Manitoulin Island, Ontario.

 

Leaving Mississagi Lighthouse we stopped in to visit the Worlds Largest Dream Catcher and Peace Pipe in Zhiibaahaasing First Nation located right in their community square. 15 minutes off Highway 540 was worth the short detour to see these unique items. From here to get to the next area of the island you have to backtrack on Highway 540 to Evansville and then head north on Highway 540 towards Barrie Island and Gore Bay.

Dreamcather park on Manitoulin Island, Ontario.


Meldrum Bay to M’Chigeeng First Nation:

Gore Bay is the quintessential little cottage town on the North Channel. This town has something for everyone from the large marina for boaters, Split Rail Brewing Company is located here in town, the beautiful wooden boardwalk that follows the North Channel through Gore Bay, Janet Head Lighthouse and so much more. Our entire adventures in Gore Bay can be found here.

Janet Head Lighthouse with the sun setting behind it in Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island, Ontario.

From Gore Bay we headed towards Kagawong along Highway 540 which is best known for being home to Bridal Veil Falls. Here you could spend hours hiking around the falls, swimming in the pool of water coming from the falls and relaxing in the warm summer sun. After cooling down at Bridal Veil Falls we headed off 15 minutes down the road passed the town of M’Chigeeng First Nation to climb one of Ontarios Top 5 Hikes, The Cup and Saucer.

 

Image result for bridal veil falls manitoulinThe Cup and Saucer Hike is not something you want to miss while visiting Manitoulin Island. If there is only a few things you have time to do while visiting the Island this should be one of them. Taking only 1.5-2 hours depending on how long you spend exploring the top it is well worth the climb. To read our full guide on the Cup and Saucer Hiking Trail don’t miss it here.


M’Chigeeng First Nation to South Baymouth:

 

After hiking the Cup and Saucer we continued our journey to Little Current to visit the Heritage Swing Bridge you may have entered to Manitoulin Island on.  There are several view points to look out towards Strawberry Island and its lighthouse. After we grabbed some ice cream we continued on our way back to South Baymouth.

Driving past our campground we drove right into the town of South Baymouth at sunset to see the sky turn aglow and light up the lighthouse that sits on the rocks that guides boaters into the marina.  The boardwalk that loops around the trees overtop of the rocky shoreline offer views of Lake Huron are the perfect place to end your day.  Here in South Baymouth is where the S.S. Chi-Cheemung comes from Tobermory to bring visitors to and from the Island.  The town offers a few great options for food including incredible pizza as well as a pub. On our way out of town we stopped to look at the Little School House Museum, the only one-room school left on the island.  To see more photos from our time in South Baymouth make sure to check them out here!

 

Our drive of the incredible Manitoulin Island make us fall in love with our province all over again. With so much to do on the island you could easily spend a week or longer here and still not see everything. We only scratched the surface with what we were able to see in a few days on the island and cannot wait to come back again. The only area of the island we did not get to explore was the eastern arm, Wiikwemkong Unceeded Territory but will for sure be doing that on our next trip there.


Note: The entire island can be driven in one very full day of driving with limited time spent at each of the stops but we choose to drive the island over three days so we could spend some time at each of the major attractions we were interested in seeing so we could enjoy yourselves and really experience what this hidden gem in Ontario has to offer.

Staying at South Bay Resort on Manitoulin Island

Located on the southern shores of Manitoulin Island this little slice of heaven is the perfect place to stay whether it be for a few days or a few weeks while visiting Manitoulin Island. We had the opportunity to stay here for a few nights in one of their waterfront sites and it was hands down one of our favourite campsites we have ever stayed in! It is not very often you get to camp right along the waters edge and with an incredible view of the sunset every night to top it off. Our stay at South Bay Resort left us not wanting to leave and we cannot wait to return.


Getting Here:

Located minutes outside of the main area of South Baymouth staying at South Bay Resort is the perfect place to stay if you are coming or leaving the island from the ferry.  You can also easily take a 15 minute walk from the campground to South Baymouth for shops and restaurants.


Amenities:

South Bay Resort has a lot to offer including electric and water hook ups, picnic tables and fire pits, washrooms with hot showers and flush toilets. There is also laundry on-site which is perfect for those doing a longer stay or people like us who are on a road trip and need to try and minimize how much we bring!

Free wi-fi is available at the main office and can get a weak signal across the rest of the campground.

South Bay Resort also offers Paddle boat, canoe, rowboat and kayak rentals for you to explore the crystal clear waters of South Bay. Additional to the rentals there is a great kids park onsite for children to play in and a floating dock with a slide which looks like a ton of fun!


Accommodations at South Bay Resort:

South Bay Resort does not offer just camping they also have cottages and cabins for rent.  The campground and cabins happen to be pet friendly for those who are travelling with their four footed friends. We stayed in a waterfront campsite with water and 30 AMP power. All the campsites were great size and the waterfront sites had incredible views!


We really enjoyed our stay at South Bay Resort on Manitoulin Island and cannot wait to return for more incredible views and some R&R.

A Picture Guide to South Baymouth, Manitoulin Island

Chris and I got the opportunity to camp at South Bay Resort on Manitoulin Island and so one evening during our stay we decided to venture into South Baymouth for some dinner at the local pizza joint and we got the opportunity to watch the beautiful sunset over Georgian Bay. Here is some of our photos as we watched the sunset with wooden boardwalk that wraps around the rugged shoreline to give you great views of the open waters as well as one of the lighthouses on the island. Enjoy our photo guide to South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island.

Mississagi Straight: Manitoulin’s Oldest Lighthouse

Standing tall on the rugged shores of the Mississagi Straight at the south-west end of Manitoulin Island is the oldest lighthouse on the island – the Mississagi Lighthouse. Built in 1873 the Mississagi Lighthouse guided ships through the difficult, rocky straight that separates Manitoulin Island from Cockburn Island.  A magnetic reef off Cockburn Island would interfere with ship’s compasses causing far too many shipwrecks. Now today the Mississagi Lighthouse now is home to a museum and campground where is an absolute must visit during your stay to Manitoulin Island.


Getting Here:

From anywhere on Manitoulin Island you want to start heading West towards the far west side of Manitoulin Island. One you hit Evansville you will want to stay heading West on Highway 540. From here you will travel 50km on Highway 540. You will turn left onto Mississagi Road and stay on this road until you reach the campsite. Mississagi Road is a gravel road that lasts for about 8km that can be very dusty so make sure to take it slow.  The Mississagi Lighthouse and Campground have done a wonderful job marking the way on Mississagi Road with mile markers and signage so you ensure you know where you are going.


Mississagi Lighthouse & Campground:

Imagine falling asleep to the sound of the water smashing up onto the rocky shoreline, looking up and seeing the milky way, the next morning waking to the smell of nothing but nature and the views of the Caribbean blue waters of the Mississagi Straight well that is all possible when you stay at the Mississagi Lighthouse and Campground!

Make sure to book early to one of the coveted waterfront sites. They offer a total of 38 sites on the campground from pull in, private unserviced sites, large sites to fit big RV’s. In our opinion the waterfront sites are where you want to stay as they felt more private and offer a view that cannot be beat. The interior forest sites felt very open and barren which you can see from the photo above.


Exploring the Mississagi Lighthouse Trails:

There are a lot of trails that wind along the shoreline, through the thick forest, over the rocks that drop into the crystal clear waters of the Mississagi Straight that are all well worth exploring.  We probably spent well over two hours climbing along the rocks, enjoying the view as the water smashed onto the rocky beach area and just relaxing. We were the only people on the trails that day and it felt like we were totally in our own world – so peaceful and perfect!


We could have easily spent a few days at the Mississagi Lighthouse and Campground relaxing, taking in the pure beauty of the area and exploring every inch of this hidden gem.  The drive to the west side of Manitoulin Island might seem far but it is well worth every minute in the car once you arrive you will not want to leave!

A Picture Guide to the Cup & Saucer Trail on Manitoulin Island

We had an absolute blast hiking this bucket list of a trail on Manitoulin Island. The Cup & Saucer Trail is a well known hike not just on Manitoulin Island but across Ontario. Being deemed on of the top hikes to do in Ontario we knew we could not pass up this chance for some adventure as well as some breath taking views as we were not disappointed! The main trail is a 4km round trip loop that we would rate as moderate.  The hike is equally as beautiful as you wind through the forest and travel up along the Niagara Escarpment until you get to the top where the trees start to open and you can get incredible views of Manitoulin Island stretching for what seems like miles in front of you.  We hope you will enjoy hiking the Cup & Saucer Trail as much as we did and we hope these pictures will give the inspiration to make this one of your next adventures! To check out the full directions and our experience hiking the trail make sure you head over to our Guide on Hiking the Cup & Saucer Trail here!

Here is our picture guide to hiking the Cup & Saucer Trail on Manitoulin Island!

Looking at the trail map before hiking the Cup and Saucer Hiking Trail in Manitoulin Island, Ontario. The trail map for hiking the cup and saucer trail in Manitoulin Island.

Exploring Misery Bay Provincial Park on Manitoulin Island

Misery Bay was definitely not miserable! Filled with thick forests, winding trails and beautiful sandy shores along the waterfront it is the perfect place to go for a day trip. Misery Bay Provincial Park is the only provincial park on Manitoulin Island and is for Day Use only – there is no camping available. This 860 hectare provincial park on the south shore of Manitoulin Island offers a trail network of eight trails totalling around 16km one way and ranging in lengths from 0.2km to 4.8km (one way).

 

Located near Evansville Misery Bay Provincial Park is worth the drive no matter where you are staying on the island. You enter along a dirt road and can park in the parking lot. The visitors centre is located 300m from the parking lot where you have to pay your admission fee of $2.00/adult for the day.  From here the Ontario Parks guides in the Visitor Centre are incredibly helpful in finding you the perfect hike for your ability and time restrictions.

Visitors Centre at Misery Bay Provincial Park in Manitoulin Island.

We hiked the main trail to the beach that was approximately 1.3km one day to the main beach area and were hoping to be able to cross the bay to continue along to the rocky shoreline on the otherside and find the beautiful boardwalk we had seen in photos. Unfortunatly Lake Huron’s water levels are very high this summer and the only way to get to the other side of the park and continue along their trail system at the moment is to either swim or wade across the bay in areas that are quite deep.  We decided to enjoy our time along the beach instead walking as far as we could before the normal sandy shores were covered in water.

We turned around on the same trail we came in on and headed back to the parking lot where we would continue our route along exploring all of Manitoulin Island.  Although we only spend about two hours in Misery Bay Provincial Park you could spend an entire day here exploring all their trail systems and relaxing on the beach. Regardless of how long you are looking to spend at Misery Bay Provincial Park it is well worth the visit to the only provincial park on Manitoulin Island!

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