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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!

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.


 

18 Photos that will make you want to visit Algonquin in the Spring

What better way to kick off spring that with a camping trip to on of Ontario’s favourite and most popular provincial parks – Algonquin Provincial Park. Located just north of Huntsville, Ontario this beautiful 7,653 km² provincial park is enormous and could take weeks to explore every inch of this gem of Ontario which makes coming back each time so much fun as there are always so many new trails and places to explore.  We packed up and headed to Algonquin for 2 nights in early May to try some spring camping. Algonquin in the spring is such a beautiful place to be – the crowds are few and far between, the wildlife are just starting to come out of hiding from the winter, and there was even some snow to still be seen throughout the park! We stayed in Mew Lake Campground as that was the only campground open before the Victoria Day Long Weekend and it was relatively busy but still felt very remote since there was no other campground open.  We had a beautiful waterfront site where we could watch the sunset each night as the fire burned and could hear the loons call out to each other all day long.  Camping or even a visit to Algonquin in the spring provides tranquility and offers the park at its true beauty when the large crowds are not around. Even though there was still some snow and the nights were chilly it was well worth the trip north to visit Algonquin Provincial Park. 

17 Photos That Will Make You Want to Visit Pyramid Lake in Winter

Located 15 minutes from downtown Jasper the beautiful Pyramid Lake is tucked away on but well worth the trip in any season.  Located at the foot of Pyramid Mountain, Pyramid Lake is 1.2 square km in the area.  It is well known for its island in the lake that is connected by a wooden foot bridge that takes you onto the island to offer incredible views.

During the winter months Pyramid Lake freezes over and offers a wide variety of things to do during your visit. From skating, cross-country skiing, curling, snow-shoeing and sleigh rides are just some of the many things you can do at the beautiful hidden gem found in Jasper National Park. Playing a game of pond hockey with the beautiful mountain range in the background does not get more Canadian than that.  Make sure to take a walk over to Pyramid Lake Island the view of the island from anywhere around the lake is breathtaking especially as you walk across the bridge.  If you are in need of some warming up the be sure to pop into the Resort and have some incredible food.

If you have made the trek up the Ice Fields Parkway in the winter then this stop at Pyramid Lake should be a must do on your list during your visit to Jasper National Park.

Here are 14 photos that will inspire your to visit Pyramid Lake in Winter in the beautiful Jasper National Park.


Nicole over looking the Pyramid Lake on the bridge out to the Pyramid Lake Island in Jasper, Ontario. Hockey nets sit on the empty Pyramid Lake early in the morning in Jasper National Park during winter. Frozen whiskers on one of the horses that pull the sleds for tours at Pyramid Lake in Jasper National Park. Sled rides outside of Pyramid Lake Lodge during the winter in Jasper National Park. Sled rides being offered in Pyramid Lake outside of Jasper National Park. The bridge leading to Pyramid Lake Island at over Pyramid Lake in Jasper National Park. Beautiful frozen Pyramid Lake

Visiting Athabasca Falls in WInter

As you head north on the Icefields Parkway do not forget to stop at the beautiful Athabasca Falls! The most powerful of all the waterfalls in the Canadian Rockies although not the largest they are quite the sight to see!  In the winter if you are lucky the falls will not be quite frozen and you will have the opportunity to see the beautiful turquoise water that flows over the rocks.  You can see the Athabasca River as you drive along the Icefields Parkway which all funnels through the three metre canyon.   As we drove up the Icefields Parkway we ensured to pull off at the stop off and walk the short distance to see this incredible sight.

Getting to Athabasca Falls

Athabasca Falls is located 33 km south of Jasper just of Highway 93A.  There is pull off that is well marked with plenty of free parking.  Depending on how recently the snow has fallen the parking lot may not have been ploughed so drive in four-wheel drive if possible is ideal.

 

Seeing Athabasca Falls Close Up

In the winter one of the biggest perks about visiting Athabasca Falls is that you can walk almost right up to the roaring falls!  The Athabasca River freezes over the course of the winter allowing you to walk out onto the river and right up into the canyon where the falls are located.  It is quite the sight to see the falls right from the base of where the water is coming out.  Make sure to take a good listen as you can hear the water rushing underneath the frozen ice!  Make sure to be careful though while walking on the ice as some areas may not be as thick as others especially close to the open water.

Entrance to see the frozen falls. Ice bubbles forming at the bottom of the pool in Athabasca Falls. Water flowing through Athabasca Falls along the Icefields Parkway.

Hiking the Tonquin Trail in Tofino, BC

The beautiful Tonquin Trail in Tofino, British Columbia is a must do trail while you visit the coastal town.  Offering beautiful views of Clayoquot Sound the trail begins at Tofino Community Hall and winds through the old-growth forest to Tonquin Beach and Third Beach.  If you are looking to a beautiful but easy trail to hike while visiting Tofino the Tonquin Trail is must do!

Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia

Here is our guide to hiking the Tonquin Trail in Tofino, British Columbia!

Getting to the Tonquin Trail

There is three access points onto the trail which allows you to do a loop instead of having to double back on the same trail which is what we suggest!

The first access point is off Arnet Road by Tofino Community Hall.  Drive to Arnet Road off 1st Street and head west.  This is a dead end road that will take you up a hill to the parking lot.  You can park here and start from the top of the trailhead.  There are two access points here one takes you to the beach more directly and the other winds you through the forest towards Third Beach.

Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia

The second access point is where Leighton Way and Peterson Drive (off of Arnet) meet.  There is a gravel path at the corner of Leighton and Peterson where you can walk straight down the gravel trail where it meets up with the path from the first access point off Arnet Road.

The last access point is where the road forks at Arnet Road and Tonquin Park Road.  At the fork stay left and head down Tonquin Park Road where you will come to a set of wooden stairs and bridge that gives you the first look of Tonquin Beach.  Head along the wooden pathway where you will come to a set of concrete stairs that the trees have grown thick around and on the other side you will end up on Tonquin Beach!

Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia

Our suggestion for a complete loop and the easiest loop is park along the side of Arnet road before the hill and walk up towards Tofino Community Hall and take the path on your right.  You will walk down a series of hills on the gravol path that will take you to the stairs leading down to the beach.  If you want to extend your trip and see all the view points along the trail towards Third Beach keep left and make sure to stop at each of the view points and see the beautiful views of the Clayoquot Sound.  You will have to double back on this extension of the trail and then head down the stair to the beach and watch the waves roll in onto the sandy Tonquin Beach.  To have an easier hike back out take the third access point back towards Tonquin Park Road where you will only have to deal with a series of staircases and no stairs and hills if you head backtowards Tofino Community Hall.  This way you also get the opportunity to see more of the trail!

Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia


Distance of Hikes on Tonquin Trail

The Tonquin Trail in its entirety is 2.6 kilometres round-trip.  The distance from Community Hall to Tonquin Beach is 850m and Community Hall to Third Beach is 1.3km.  The difficulty of this hike is easy to moderate as there are some areas with steep gradient and a series of stairs.

Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia


Must See Spots While on the Tonquin Trail

Tonquin Beach – Tonquin Beach is a must see location – this wide sandy beach that is perfect to swimming or just exploring the sandy coast line.  The beach offers beautiful views of the Clayoquot Sound.  Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia Tonquin Trail Tofino British ColumbiaMaze Lookout – Maze lookout is probably the nicest lookout along the trail.  With its nice boardwalk that juts out over the water overlooking Templar Channel, Wickannish Island and Lennard Island. The bent trees hanging low off the trail are part of the iconic look of the area.

Tonquin Trail Tofino British ColumbiaTonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia

Bridge Leading to Tonquin Park Road  – This bridge was difficult to find but we were determined to find it.  From Tonquin Beach there is a small opening with old concrete steps leading into the forest – here you will find a beautiful wooden bridge that offers a great lookout spot back onto Tonquin Beach.

Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia


This beautiful Tonquin Trail is an absolute must do while visiting Tofino!  Where is your favourite spot to go while hiking the trail?

Hiking the Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia

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