Lake Superior and Algoma by Motorcycle
We got in touch with the father/son team so find out all about their trip. It turns out, Przemek Kedzierski has been biking for a long time—in fact, he and his wife Iwona spent their honeymoon riding across Europe!
We chatted with Przemek about his 7-day Ontario ride, why he chose Algoma, and some of the trip highlights (including remote beaches, ice cream, and some amazing twisty roads).
how long have you been riding and what kind of bike do you ride?
I've been riding motorcycles since I obtained my drivers license at age of 17. I started with a 250cc 2-stroke MZ-ETZ and gradually switched to larger bikes. Growing up in post-communist Poland it wasn't easy to get motorcycles from Western European or Japan. My first bigger motorcycle was a 15-year old Yamaha Maxim 550, brought to Poland from... Canada! We went on a honeymoon on this motorcycle—a 5000 km round trip through the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Monaco, France, Switzerland, and Germany.
I discovered that I like motorcycle touring the most, but I also use motorcycles for commuting, so eventually I started looking for a sport-tourer that would be the best for everyday use and for longer trips. I have tried various bikes and at the moment I own a BMW F800GT.
where do you live?
We came to Canada from Poland in 2009 and we've lived in Mississauga since then.
how did you hear about motorcycle touring in noRthern Ontario?
Ever since I bought my first motorcycle in Canada, I have tried to find the best routes for shorter and longer motorcycle trips. Let's be honest, the roads around GTA aren't the most exciting—flat, mostly straight. They get a bit boring, especially if you have ever travelled in the Alps, Dolomites, or the Italian and French Riviera. Finally, I found a list of the top ten Ontario rides on the internet with a link to the Algoma Country travel website and I ordered the free Algoma travel guide. There I found maps with tour routes in Algoma.
how did you plan your trip?
We started planning the trip to Algoma right after I received the Algoma guide. In June 2020 we had to cancel our family trip to Europe, due to Covid-19. Suddenly we had 2 weeks of holidays to use in July, so our first thought was—let's go to Algoma! I knew I wanted to do the Grand Algoma Tour, the question was if we can find any affordable accommodations in a short time. Ultimately we had to modify the itinerary based on motel availability—for example, in the week we were planning to go, we found an affordable room in Wawa for only one night, so we had to plan around that. Finally our trip took 7 days:
- Day 1 – Mississauga to Sault Ste. Marie through Sudbury (Hwy 401/400/69/17)
- Day 2 – Sault Ste. Marie to Wawa (Hwy 17)
- Day 3 – Wawa to Sault Ste. Marie (Hwy 17)
- Day 4 – round trip from Sault Ste. Marie to Old Woman Bay (Lake Superior P.P.) - Hwy 17
- Day 5 – Sault Ste. Marie to Bathtub Island (Lake Superior P.P.) and back to Thessalon (Hwy 17)
- Day 6 – round trip from Thessalon to Aubrey Falls (ON-129)
- Day 7 – Return from Thessalon to Mississauga
where did you stay?
Our first night was in the Sleep Inn in Sault Ste. Marie. Second night was at Parkway Motel in Wawa. Third and fourth night in Quattro Hotel in Sault Ste. Marie, and finally the fifth and sixth night in Carolyn Beach Inn in Thessalon.
Sleep Inn is a clean affordable hotel located within walking distance to the waterfront boardwalk and shopping mall. Parkway Motel is small, but very clean motel near Wawa, and don't let the word motel fool you. Rooms are freshly renovated, spacious and equipped with fridge and microwave. The motel is small, so you need to book in advance. Quattro Hotel is modern with very nice spacious rooms. Due to the Covid restrictions we could not use the pool and other facilities, so our rate was discounted. Carolyn Beach Inn & Restaurant in Thessalon is a typical family owned motel, but it's located at the waterfront and each room has a nice view of the North Channel of Lake Superior.
where did you eat?
We were not sure how the Covid-19 restrictions affect restaurants availability, so we took our camping cooking gear. As my wife and children followed me in the car, we took all the equipment we needed. We were able to prepare our meals at beautiful spots, right on the beaches of Lake Superior. Carolyn Beach Inn & Restaurant offered take-out meals, so we had a nice pizza in our room for dinner. We highly recommend to stop at the little ice-cream shop Red House Ice Cream in Bruce Mines (Hwy 17).
what were some of the best parts of the trip?
All the twists on Hwy 17 and On-129 and the all the well known spots at Lake Superior, that you can find in the guides, like Old Woman Bay, Agawa Rock Pictographs, etc. But we would like to recommend lesser known spots:
Stone Beach—beautiful small beach located between Cottrell Cove and Sawpit Bay, approx 6km west of Pancake Bay Provincial Park.
Bathtub Island—a tiny island accessible by walking, located approx. 15 min walk south from Katherine Cove parking lot. Parking lot there is small and usually crowded. Some people park on the side on the road, but it's illegal and not safe. The entrance to the beach is not marked and there is a narrow path through the forest (watch out for mosquitoes and flies!). Once on the beach just go to the spot where there is the shortest distance to the island and you will find a sandbar that creates an underwater bridge to the island (you will get wet from waist down).
Beautiful sandy beach on Hibbard Bay—just 1km south of the pass between tiny Wilson Lake and Lake Superior, there is a small spot for parking. Access to the beach is via a short walk through the forest.
All these points are not marked on the road, so they are very easy to miss.
any favourite stretches of road?
Hwy 17 from Harmony Beach to Old Woman Bay and highway 129 from Tunnel Lake to Aubrey Falls, especially sections along Mississagi River.
anything you learned on your trip?
We finally found beautiful roads in Ontario worth spending a week, or two on.
- Plan your refuelling points, especially if you have a smaller gas tank. There are sections without any gas stations.
- Cell phone reception along Lake Superior Provincial Park and on route 129 is very poor.
- Don't rush it, explore—there are many hidden gems that are not found in maps or in guides.
- Call local motels directly for accommodation. Many of them are not available on popular booking websites. By calling directly you can usually get a better price than booking online.
- If you are not riding off-road or adventure bikes, check that the road is suitable for your bike. Some of them are loose gravel and may be tricky to ride (for example, the road to the parking at Aubrey Falls or High Falls near Wawa).
- If you don't have to, don't travel at night—there is a lot of wildlife.
- Don't forget to pay for the permits at the Provincial Parks—they are not expensive and you are helping to maintain these beautiful parks.