Potholes Provincial Nature Reserve

Potholes is an easy to get to and makes for a great day trip.

Have you ever seen photos of something and thought "this is really interesting and something I would like to see in person?" That happened to me as I looked at a few photos by James Smedley he took of Potholes Provincial Nature Reserve. With that concept in mind, I went ahead and last summer decided to embark on a short trip from Sault Ste. Marie to Potholes Provincial Nature Reserve.

It was the peak of summer, and the weather was great for driving north. As we headed north I stopped at Pancake Bay Provincial Park to purchase a day pass to visit Lake Superior Provincial Park and Potholes Provincial Nature Reserve. If you haven't been to Pancake Bay, it’s worth stopping just to see the clear water and sandy beach. There is also a Group of Seven interpretive sign to visit.


Pancake Bay's sandy beach is one of the best beaches on Lake Superior. (Photo credit: Rob LaRue)

Upon leaving Pancake Bay we headed up to Lake Superior Provincial Park. The drive heading up Montreal River hill is always a thrill as you head up into the rocky hills. The view is fantastic and every time I drive it, it never disappoints. The next stop was Wawa, where we visited the Goose Monument and the visitor centre.

Visiting the famous Wawa Goose Monument and visitor centre.

Leaving from Wawa, it's a short drive to Potholes, which is located on Hwy 101 between Wawa and Chapleau. Driving along Highway 101, there wasn't a lot of traffic. As part of the Grand Algoma Tour, it's easy to understand why visitors really enjoy this tour. It helps you escape and explore the wilderness.


Highway 101 between Wawa to Chapleau.

Once we arrived at Potholes Provincial Nature Reserve, we went and headed to the hiking trail towards the lookout. The walking trail was easy to navigate so if you weren't crazy about walking through the wilderness it was a short distance to the boardwalk.


(Photo credit: Algoma Country)

One of the interpretive signs is located along the trail.

The rushing water flowed down the cavern or "pothole," which was formed by glacial erosion. The small waterfall flows into the Kinniwabi River which opens out further away from the rocks. We carefully explored climbing the rocks and looking to get a peek at this strange formation.


(Photo credit: Algoma Country)

From certain vantage points, we could see directly into the rock and the water flowing down. There were a few other trails close to the Potholes Nature Reserve. We spent a few hours exploring the area and decided to head to Chapleau.


(Photo credit: Algoma Country)

(Photo credit: Algoma Country)

Chapleau isn’t far from Potholes Provincial Nature Reserve, it’s a nice quiet town to stop and relax. After visiting the museum to see the iron horse steam engine, we headed home down Highway 129. The scenery along this highway is incredible with the tall, towering trees. As you head further down, the road starts to follow the Mississagi River, which produces some bending and curving scenic views.


(Photo credit: Algoma Country)

(Photo credit: Algoma Country)

The experience of seeing the Potholes Nature Preserve made me appreciate how diverse and rugged the Algoma landscape is. For those who are looking for something different to do and are in the Algoma region, this is worth the trip.

What to Know About the Nature Reserve:

  • t's a day-use-only park.
  • There’s no overnight camping.
  • There are privy toilets on site and a parking lot.
  • This is a great place to have a picnic.
  • Check the Ontario Parks website for opening and closing dates.
About Rob LaRue

I'm a staff writer for Algoma Country and enjoy the great outdoors Algoma has to offer. Our beautiful region has everything you need for a true outdoor adventure: fishing and hunting, epic touring routes and breathtaking outdoors.

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