Spirit of Superior

A motorcycle trip around Lake Superior isn't just a sweet ride. It's a deep dive into the past, an encounter with inspiring natural beauty, and a connection to what's important.

While each of the Great Lakes offers the rider scenic Ontario roadways, Lake Superior possesses an innate spiritual draw. Much of the route passes through wilderness—forests, rocks, sand, and water. Sacred sites dot her shores. 

As the largest of the Great Lakes, there’s plenty of surface area for reflection. When she’s calm, riding along her shores is perfect for introspection. When she’s wild, she demands your full attention, skills, and courage. 

What begins as a circle route when you ride around Lake Superior, becomes a spiral. As the deepest of the Great Lakes, she will lead you deeper into yourself. She’ll teach you that no matter what is happening on her surface, the treasures are in her depths. She’ll show you what you’re ready to know.

Crossing into Michigan from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, you begin gently, clockwise, unaware she is leading you into new inner territory. The cliffs at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore stand testament to her fierce side. She’s sculpted striking landforms from the rock, exposing veins of ore and millions of years of history. She reminds us that not only can hardship and change expose our inner beauty, but outward changes can be spectacular in unexpected ways. 

New discoveries on Old 13 Road in Wisconsin 

Sand Point, about 6 km northeast of Munising, Michigan, offers a direct contrast to the ruggedness of Pictured Rocks. Sand beaches, shallow water, and grasses that dance in the breeze call you to park your motorcycle, remove your boots and socks, and dip your toes in the water. Then walk barefoot in the sand, communing with Mother Earth as she cradles the Lake. It’s such a simple, yet profoundly powerful connection. 

Presences from the past

Lake Superior’s legacy extends onto her shores and a colourful cast of characters who have left their mark on the land and her people. On a bluff overlooking Keweena Bay in L’Anse, Michigan, is a shrine to Roman Catholic Bishop Frederic Baraga, known as the Snowshoe Priest. A 60-foot statue has him clutching a seven-foot cross in one hand and supporting 28-foot snowshoes with the other. A native of Slovenia, he established a mission here in 1843. Fervent in his duties, he travelled as much as 700 miles in the winter. He was fluent in eight languages, including Chippewa; nonetheless, serving the diversity of people in the area, which included Indigenous people, French-Canadian settlers, and German and Irish immigrant miners, was a challenge. 

Whether one agrees with his religious beliefs or not, one can’t help but be inspired by the courage and commitment he demonstrated to his calling. He was tested physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and he endured, leaving a lasting, far-reaching legacy.

Clearly visible from Thunder Bay, Ontario's shoreline is the Sleeping Giant. The rock formation in the shape of a man with his arms folded across his chest rests in Lake Superior’s waters. Legend says it’s Nanna Bijou, the spirit of the Deep Water who was turned to stone for revealing the location of a silver mine to the white man. However you view it, it evokes feelings of awe and power.

One of the views of the Sleeping Giant along the
Ride Lake Superior route

You can’t visit the Terry Fox Memorial and Lookout east of Thunder Bay without being humbled by the courage and strength of a young man. The nine-foot statue is testament to his larger-than-life presence. Twenty-three years old when he died, he inspired a country to action that continues to this day. His drive and determination in the face of insurmountable odds show us what one person can accomplish when we follow our heart’s calling. 

Lake Superior often shows her underlying strength—the rocks of the Canadian shield—as you ride from Nipigon to Marathon. Even a glimpse is enough to remind us the power we all possess, even though we may not always acknowledge it. 

Be prepared for the ride from Algoma to just north of Sault Ste. Marie to be the pièce de résistance of Lake Superior’s splendour. The raw beauty of the vistas is staggering. The spiritual energy is palpable. Ancient rock paintings and sacred sites are vestiges of the First Nations people who have been making pilgrimages here since time began. Learn more about the history behind Lake Superior

Lake Superior has long been accepting of what comes her way. For eons, people have plied and paddled her water for travel, trade, hunting, and fishing. 

Two-hundred rivers pick up seeds, sediment, and minerals from a 49,300 square miles/127,700 km2 area. Unfortunately, they can pick up harmful elements. For as strong as she is, her ecosystem is vulnerable and fragile. As the head of the Great Lakes, her health and well-being are essential to life in Lakes Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario, and the people who live around them. 

The Great Lakes from space courtesy of NASA

It’s a reminder of how important it is to nourish our body and spirit with healthy food, thoughts, and experiences. Toxic substances, including relationships, will ultimately harm us and those around us. 

Lake Superior is generous with her gifts. Riding around her shores, you can’t help but get to know yourself a little bit better. Each time you visit, your experience will be different. 

Use this interactive map planner to give you an idea of all she offers. You can set out with a route, or let the energy and your motorcycle take you where they will. Guaranteed, her wisdom will touch you in ways you can’t imagine.

This story is dedicated to Lori Johnson, Director of Tourism, Wawa, who passed away on July 7, 2017. Lori was one of the original supporters of Ride Lake Superior and involved in developing the Circle Tour. More than that, she was an inspiration—always kind and thoughtful, and a keen advocate for motorsports tourism. Thank you Lori. May you rest in peace.

About Liz Jansen

Liz is a healer, writer, speaker, and adventurer. She's the author of Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment and Life Lessons from Motorcycles. When she's not practicing her arts or riding, she's teaching others to ride at Humber College.

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