Late Season Adventure On The Edge Of Superior

Rock Island Lodge on Lake Superior offers the perfect backdrop for a late season getaway.

Location, location, location: the well-used mantra seems to be stuck on replay in my head as I peer out the big picture window, stunningly impressed with the scene beyond. On this late October day, the view is a collection of grey shades of a changing season, but still no less impressive. Located on a rocky point along the northern shore of Lake Superior, perched just a few steps from the water's edge, Rock Island Lodge has been wowing its guests with that picture window view for 25 years now.


The intimate B&B-style lodge includes four rooms, each with a private washroom and some with direct entry. While the rooms offer a relaxing sanctuary, the meals are a communal experience, eating around the kitchen table or in the front room, with good food and good company.


While I could happily spend hours sitting by the fireplace and watching the sun and waves dance on the horizon, there is more to Rock Island Lodge and the surrounding area than meets the eye. Adventure is what I'm after, and I don't have to go far to find it.


While the lodge offers solace, its other personality, Naturally Superior Adventures, is all about, well, the adventure. During the summer season, the grounds are buzzing with activity related to all things paddling. Kayaks and voyageur canoe and standup paddle-boards fill the waters and along the shorelines, be it for a one-hour lesson or a multi-day excursion.


This late in the season, most of the paddling gear is put away for winter, but it's also the time when Lake Superior is at its most challenging. If taking your paddling skills to the next level is what you're after, then you're in luck. With October swells rolling in and colliding with the river current courtesy of the Michipicoten River, the waterfront adjacent to the lodge is a kayaker's playground.


If a walk on the beach is more your style, you can practically start at your door. But to experience the area's best, venture a few kilometres down the road to Sandy Beach, a spectacular ribbon of white sand bordered by swaying grasses, clear water and the rugged cliffs of Lake Superior. The beach and the setting are so impressive that Group of Seven painter A.Y. Jackson found it worthy of his canvas when he painted Shoreline, Wawa, Lake Superior. Enjoy the stroll along the beach and the boardwalk, but be sure to check out the storytelling pavilion that teaches visitors about the First Nations who settled the area.


A bit further afield, Old Woman Bay is impossible to miss as you drive south along Highway 17. As the road gently turns and falls away to the left, the view spectacularly presents itself. A sand beach peppered with driftwood, Lake Superior stretching to the horizon, and a backdrop of steep rock cliffs where on close inspection, you can see the face of an old woman. On this day, ours are the first footprints on the beach in the fresh snow.


Lake Superior Provincial Park, during the summer months, is one of the most popular parks along the north shore, and Orphan Lake is one of the park's favourite hiking trails. Today, we enjoy the trail in the company of no one. The moderately challenging 8-km hike passes through hardwood and evergreen forests, climbs to spectacular lookouts over Lake Superior, follows the pebble beach shoreline, and visits rushing waterfalls.


Located a 10-minute drive from the lodge, a visit to Wawa is more tourism than adventure, but if in the area, a selfie with the Wawa Goose is practically mandatory. A stop at Young's General Store is another tourist favourite. Here you will find an older version of the Wawa Goose, a life-size moose, and excellent ice cream. For a bit of in-town adventure, take a stroll on the new boardwalk along the shore of Wawa Lake and be sure to check out the exhibit celebrating the area's mining history, located at the north end of the trail.


Back at Rock Island Lodge, a glass of wine in hand, the fire crackling in the fireplace, I turn my gaze back toward the window and the lake beyond. Location, location, location: be it the view or the adventure, those words could not be more applicable.

About Martin Lortz

Martin Lortz is a freelance photographer/writer specializing in the outdoor lifestyle. Whether he is covering adventure motorcycling, kayak fishing or family oriented outdoor pursuits, his passion for capturing the beauty of nature and the people that partake in it, is evident in his work. His photos and articles have appeared in magazines such as Ski Canada, Explore, Bike, Mountain Life, Couloir, Kayak Angler and Family Camping, as well as in calendars, catalogs and brochures.

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