Lake Huron's North Channel: A Road Trip

The fun of a road trip is that you can quickly pack and go.

The summer road trip below is one you can plan quickly and change on the fly if needed.

This route follows the Canadian part of the Lake Huron Circle Tour from Sault Ste. Marie to Spanish. You'll experience scenic views of Lake Huron, sandy beaches, interesting stops, hikes to lookouts, great places to eat, festivals and events along the way. It’s a nice little getaway for couples or friends.

Day One

Head east from Sault Ste. Marie on Hwy 17 then turn onto Hwy 638 (Church Street) into Echo Bay to see the Loon Dollar Monument. Affectionately called a “loonie,” the loon image on Canada’s One Dollar coin was designed by local artist Mr. Robert R. Carmichael. The Loon Dollar Monument was created to recognize him. You can also visit the nature boardwalk and the EKOBA Historical Site and Museum.

(Photo credit: Algoma Country/Photo credit: Rob Stimpson)

Continue east on Hwy 17 to St. Joseph Island, situated in the North Channel of Lake Huron, accessible by a toll-free bridge. Visit Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site, Adcocks Woodland Gardens or the St. Joseph Island Museum. Have lunch on the Island, stop for ice cream, visit shops or participate in events and festivals.  
Lunch: Black Bear Cafe (Richards Landing) or MadJacks Cafe (Hilton Beach)

Inside the interpretive centre at Fort St. Joseph. (Photo credit: Algoma Country/ Rob Stimpson)

The final destination of Day One is Bruce Mines (a nice place to stop for a hike is the Kensington Conservancy in Desbarats).

The Bruce Mines Museum has lots of interesting artifacts like the 1876 Slot Machine and the Yakaboo Canoe. Bruce Mines was Canada’s first hard-rock copper mine; visit the Simpson Mine Shaft to walk in the footsteps of the miners in the actual sloop mine. Find fun vintage, retro and antiques, or pick up some artisan pieces and locally made products in the local shops.

Bruce Mines Museum (Photo credit: Algoma Country)

Dinner: Bobbers Restaurant for a Bobber Burger, Wing Night (Fridays) and save room for ooey-gooey homemade butter tarts. Go for ice cream at the Red House Ice Cream Parlour.

Bobbers Restaurant (Photo credit: Matt M., Trip Advisor)

Stay: Bruce Bay Cottages & Lighthouse or St. Joseph Island (Fred’s Trailer Park)

Day Two

After breakfast at Bobbers (and butter tarts for the road) continue east on Hwy 17 through rolling farmland and views of Lake Huron. Head towards Thessalon.    
Must Stop Selfie: big Algomy Red Muskoka Chair on Hwy 17 before Thessalon.

To hike to Aubrey Falls, a remote waterfall, turn onto Hwy 129 and drive along one of the most scenic highways in Ontario: Mississagi Valley. An interpretive panel tells the story of painter Tom Thomson and the area’s connection to the Group of Seven

One of 16 panels located in Algoma and North Shore of Lake Superior (Photo credit: Fontasy Signs)

Trading Posts were where the trading of goods took place and a meeting place for people to exchange news of the world long before newspapers, television and the internet. Buy fuel, snacks, and souvenirs and perhaps get news of the world at the Tunnel Lake Trading Post.

Don’t want to hike? Visit the Heritage Park Museum on Hwy 129 which offers a glimpse of life over 100 years ago with authentic displays.

Lunch in Thessalon: Carolyn Beach Inn & Restaurant

(Photo credit: softshell21, Trip Advisor)

The final destination is Iron Bridge. There are three 12-sided barns in Canada, two of which are located in Algoma and along this route. The Cordukes/Weber Barn is located in Sowerby. Both are architecturally stunning -- great for photos!

Best Kept Dinner Secret: Red Top Motor Inn    
Stay: Red Top Motor Inn

Club Sandwich and Fries, Lentil Salad. (Photo credit: George-Patsy E, Trip Advisor)

Day Three

After breakfast, visit the Iron Bridge Historical Museum to learn about early pioneering and farming in the area. Highway 17 winds along the Mississagi River to Blind River. Visit the Timber Village Museum and the Art Gallery. Enjoy a nature walk on the Boom Camp Trails. Grab a takeaway from the chip wagon or restaurant and relax on a secluded beach.

boom camp trails
Boom Camp Trails (Photo credit: Blind River)

Takeaway: The Pier Sports Bar, JR’s Pizza, 17 Restaurant, get a Tim Horton’s fix   
Beaches: Fourth Sand Beach (Blind River) or Lauzon Beach (Algoma Mills)

The final stop is the city of Elliot Lake. Visit the Fire Tower Lookout, a replica fire rangers station with a 360-degree panoramic view of the area that includes the North Channel and Manitoulin Island.

deer trail trailhead
The Deer Trail Touring Route Trailhead (Photo credit: Algoma Country)

Dinner: Fireside Classic Grill   
Stay: Laurentian Lodge or Dunlop Lake Lodge

Day Four

Have breakfast and enjoy a nature walk at the Sheriff Creek Wildlife Sanctuary, visit the Nuclear and Mining Museum, the Gallery at the Centre and the Miners’ Memorial Park. Return to Hwy 17 eEastast and stop at Kennebec Falls, a roadside waterfall across the road from the Serpent River Parkette.

kennebec waterfalls
(Photo credit: Rob Stimpson)

Stop at the Serpent River Trading Post to visit the gift shop to buy First Nations arts and crafts, or souvenirs. The onsite art gallery features works by local First Nation artists.

(Photo credit: Serpent River Trading Post)

Stop at the town of Spanish and end your trip with an outstanding view of the Spanish River Delta when you hike the Shoreline Discovery Trail.

scenic lookout
(Photo credit: Rob Stimpson)

Lunch: Lucky’s Snack Bar for a great Canadian poutine

Road Trip Tips

  • Make sure to bring a small cooler to hold snacks and drinks, sunscreen, a beach blanket, and bug spray (it’s Northern Ontario, you'll need this)
  • 18 Road Trip Hacks
  • Points of Entry into Canada - If travelling from the US: International Bridge at Sault Ste. Marie, or enter at Port Huron, Michigan drive up into the Bruce Peninsula and take the MS Chi-Cheemaun Ferry at Tobermory to South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island
About Heather Bot

I'm a staff writer for Algoma Country and I hope my articles entice you to plan your next vacation in Algoma. Our beautiful area has everything you need for a true outdoor adventure: fishing and hunting, epic touring routes and breathtaking outdoors. We are home to many awesome places to eat, cool places to shop, museums and galleries, festivals and events. 

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