manitoulin island


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.

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.

Hiking the Cup and Saucer Trail

Overlooking the thick evergreens of Manitoulin Island is the Cup and Saucer the highest point on Manitoulin Island. This highly sought out trail is known as one of the top 5 hikes in Ontario to do. The Cup and Saucer Trail has been on our bucket list for quite sometime probably since we hiked the Crack in Killarney and wanted to continue hiking the other big 5 in Ontario.

One of the biggest things when we were trying to find out more information about hiking the Cup and Saucer was there did not seem to be a detailed guide on how long the most direct route to the top was, the general difficulty of the trail, could we bring Keno along on the hike with us, etc.  So here is a detailed guide to hiking the Cup and Saucer Trail in Manitoulin Island.

Getting to the Cup and Saucer Parking Lot:

If you are coming from Sudbury, take highway 17 West and turn south onto Highway 6 through Espanola. From Espanola continue 52km to get onto the island by crossing the Swing Bridge in Little Current.  From Little Current the parking lot is located 18km west at the junction of Highway 540 and Bidwell Road.

If you are coming from Tobermory via the ferry you will arrive in South Baymouth and want to head take 6 North and then take a left onto Highway 542 West (Signed for Ontario 542/Sandfield/Mindemoya/Gore Bay/Tehkimmah), after 4.3km turn right onto Gibralter Road, then after 2.5km right left onto Rockville road which will take you to Highway 551 North which you will turn right onto.  From here youwill turn right onto Little Current Road/Ontario 540 E and the Cup and Saucer Hiking Trail will be on your right about 5km up.  The address if you want to punch it into your GPS is 6301 Bidwell Road, Sheduiandah, ON.

The parking lot has lots of room for parking and also has garbage bins and two washrooms.

Hiking the Cup and Saucer Options:

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

There are two main trails that take you to the highest point on the Cup and Saucer Trail – The Main Loop (Red Trail) and the South Loop (Blue Trail). There is also a 500m Adventure Trail that adds on to the main trail for those looking for an extra challenge.

The trail map for hiking the cup and saucer trail in Manitoulin Island.

The Main Loop (Red Trail) starts from the parking lot and is a 4km round trip hike. The hike itself was much easier than we had initially thought and would consider it a moderate hike as there is some elevation gain and some areas where your footing is not always great but overall it was a very pleasant hike.  The first quarter of the hike is mainly flat winding through the forest and then you begin to climb in elevation. The trail is incredibly well marked with signage pointing you to the viewpoint as well as they have a map located at each of half km, 1 km, 1.5 km and the end of the trail so you can see your progress and where you are.  For those of you that have climbed the Crack in Killarney we expected it to be similar to that where you have to scale boulders towards the end to reach the top but we were mistaken this was a much easier hike than that.

The South Loop Trail (Blue Trail) is a 9km round trip loop that takes you the entire red loop but you go much deeper into the forest before coming along the east side of the Niagara Escarpment.  This trail is recommended to take 3-4 hours round trip depending on how fast you are moving.

The Adventure Trail – This 500m loop off the Main Trail takes you down some difficult terrain, a wooden ladder and more.  We were unable to do this short loop as we would not have been able to get Keno up and down the ladder. But we were told if you are looking for a bit more a challenge than this is the additional loop for you!

Bringing Pets – Keno was able to very easily get around the entire trail without any issues, there is a set of tall stairs you have to climb on the Main Trail at the .5km mark so for a smaller dog it could prove to be difficult but being a Husky she had no problems.

Our Experience Hiking the Cup and Saucer

We started off early in the morning around 8am so we could beat the crowds and hopefully be the only people at the lookout so we could enjoy the view and take a moment to ourselves.  As we started off on the trail we were pleasantly surpised to see the nice flat trail that winds through the moss-covered forest. At the quarter mark we hiked the steep staircase and began the gentle climb towards the viewpoint.  The trail gives you peaks of what is to come with breaks amongst the trees along the edge that reveals the top of the trees that stretch out for what seems like miles in front of you all the way to the edge of the island to Lake Huron. The Niagara Escarpment juts in and outs creating beautiful scenery and perfect places to stop and take in the incredible view but don’t go to close to the edge its a long way down!

The path itself is incredibly well marked with signs at each quarter on the red trail letting you know where you are on the map and signs guiding you towards the viewpoint.  Additionally to being well marked the path is well groomed and there are no overgrown areas which makes for an enjoyable hike to the top. Once we reached the top there was not another soul in sight and we easily were up at the top for almost an hour enjoying the view before we were joined by other hikers.  Hiking the Cup and Saucer Trail was incredibly enjoyable and we would only consider this trail to be moderate as there were no overly difficult steep inclines.


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