Highway 17: A Northern Ontario Gem

A long day's ride along the shore of the world's biggest freshwater lake is a destination unto itself

I’ve had the opportunity to run this 700-km section of highway multiple times over the past couple of years. Loading up the saddlebags on the Suzuki Canada motorcycles allowed me to explore both hotels and camping along the way. The ride offers scenic views, winding roads, home-cooked meals, and memories that will keep you coming back to Algoma Country.

I start at one of my favourite starting points, in Sault Ste. Marie at the Water Tower Inn, and finish in Thunder Bay at the Best Western Plus. It’s an enjoyable two-day ride for any motorcycle enthusiast. Join us as we ride one-third of the famous Lake Superior Circle Tour.

One of many rest stops along the way on Highway 17

Road expectations 

It’s no secret that construction comes into play when travelling during the summer months. There are certain sections that are down to one lane for short periods, but for the majority of stretch the roads are in great condition. It isn’t hard to notice the amount of work that has gone into maintaining the highway. Smooth corners, plenty of space for passing, and great elevation changes would score this road an 8/10 in its current condition. I have no doubt that this will approach a higher rating within the next couple of years.

I’m Hungry!

Whether you’re starting in Sault Ste. Marie or Thunder Bay, there are plenty of options for dining while on the road. Both regions are large centres offering restaurants from fast food to fine dining. One of my favourite places to stop was Voyageurs’ Lodge and Cookhouse in Batchawana Bay. Great home-cooked meals, gas pumps on location, and a convenience store, all on site. The pulled pork is hard to beat, so don’t miss out on this place, only an hour’s ride north of the Soo. Drifters Restaurant in Terrace Bay offers everything from breakfast to a steak and seafood dinner. There is a patio where you can enjoy the outdoors while admiring your motorcycle over a delicious meal. 

Now I’m tired!

After a long day on two wheels, you’ll be looking for a place to lay your head. For those that are on a budget and a little more adventuresome, motorcycle camping should be on your list. Ontario Parks have all the amenities that you’ll need while away from home. Pancake Bay, Lake Superior Provincial Park, and Sleeping Giant are picturesque parks on the shores of Lake Superior that welcome motorcyclists.

If hotel-style lodging is more your speed, then the Wawa Motor Inn offers rooms or cabins for those traveling with larger groups. There is a restaurant on site and fuel is close by, which makes Wawa a great place to spend the night.

Highway 17 Highlights

Riding along the shore of Lake Superior offers plenty of places for photo opportunities. There are many lookouts and places to pull over for a rest along Highway 17. Aguasabon Falls should be a place to recharge and stretch those legs. With plenty of parking and a boardwalk down to the outlook, the views are worth the stop. 

Let’s not forget about Wawa’s famous Canadian Goose monument. If you have visited this area in the past, you can understand that the goose is a landmark in the Wawa area. Coming south into Thunder Bay hosts one of our Canadian icons’ monuments. Terry Fox was forced to stop his run in Thunder Bay on August 31, 1980. Overlooking Highway 17 and panoramic views of Thunder Bay gives one time to reflect on cancer research and the Marathon of Hope. 

Relaxing on the shore of Superior with the Suzuki V-Strom 1000

Algoma Country is one of my favourite places to visit time and time again. Twisting the throttle along the shores of Lake Superior has so much to offer any powersports enthusiast. Lean into those corners, take in the views, and enjoy all that Northern Ontario has to offer. 

Check out our series on Ontario’s Best Roads:

About Ryan Hawkins

Ryan Hawkins (Canuck Powersports) eats, sleeps, and breathes snowmobiles and motorcycles. As a freelance writer and aspiring photographer, he can be found carving up twisty roads and trails year round.

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