7 Dazzling Lakes in Lake Superior Provincial Park

Lakes so lovely, you’ll want to see them all.

Lake Superior Provincial Park’s namesake lake garners a lot of attention. That makes sense—Lake Superior is the greatest of the Great Lakes, clean and clear with a wilderness coastline, more than worthy of the title of freshwater sea. Lake Superior is a bucket list destination for experienced paddlers, offering world-class sea kayaking and big-water canoe tripping for those who are skilled and knowledgeable enough to travel its cold, unforgiving waters.

Such a big and brawny headliner means the dozens of other—albeit much smaller—lakes in Lake Superior Provincial Park’s 160,810-hectare interior fall beneath the radar of most park visitors. I discovered wilderness canoeing in Lake Superior Provincial Park, and over the years have nurtured a relationship with special lakes in the park backcountry, places I return to year after year. Decades later, all of the best lakes in Lake Superior Provincial Park are still gems.

Living in the nearby communities of Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa, Lake Superior Provincial Park has always felt like my backyard. For those arriving from further away, it’s a great next step for paddlers looking to develop their canoe tripping skills beyond the friendly surroundings of Algonquin and Killarney, or for intermediate to advanced sea kayakers wishing to expand beyond Georgian Bay.

Here’s an overview of my 7 favourite lakes in Lake Superior Provincial Park, as well as a condensed planning guide to help you prepare for your next trip.

Lake Superior

The sheer expanse of Lake Superior can be intimidating, especially in places like Lake Superior Provincial Park’s Agawa Bay Campground, where exposure to so much water and sky makes the viewer feel pretty insignificant. It’s true, Lake Superior is cold and vast and can behave like the ocean, with massive waves possible at any time of year. However, the lake warms up to less chilly temperatures and is most often calm in the summer months, making it a welcoming destination for experienced paddlers with a keen eye on the weather and a cautious outlook on decision-making.

On a favourable day, nearly anyone can launch a kayak, standup paddleboard or canoe and paddle along the endless sand beach of Agawa Bay. Just north, Sinclair Cove is another good place for an easy Lake Superior day trip, with access to the Indigenous pictographs at Agawa Rock. Other fine put-ins for a short paddle include Katherine Cove and Old Woman Bay.

Lake Superior Provincial Park offers backcountry campsites for paddlers along the Lake Superior coastline between access points. The southern half of the park is generally more forgiving, with more shelter, easier landings and contingency access points, than the northern portion. Experienced sea kayakers and canoeists should plan on four days to paddle from Gargantua Harbour to Sinclair Cove, and set aside a week to make the 120-kilometre trip from Michipicoten to Agawa. Guided sea kayak trips, vehicle shuttles and sea kayak and canoe rentals are available from Naturally Superior Adventures.

Moon rising over a calm lake.
 Moonrise over Mijinemungshing. Photo: Jeff Dixon // @jeffvisualart 

Mijinemungshing Lake

Mijin is a mid-sized lake with a complex shoreline of islands, bays and arms, making it a gateway to Lake Superior backcountry canoe trips or a great destination for a basecamp paddling trip. It’s a favourite for families and anglers—and you’re best to reserve a campsite in advance on summer weekends. Mijinemungshing’s deep, clear water is home to both lake and brook trout, and its many islands and beaches offer outstanding campsites.

The south end of the lake narrows into a massive wetland that is a great spot to observe moose; water levels vary here throughout the year. The lake is equally appealing to canoeists and kayakers. Rental canoes are available from Lake Superior Provincial Park at the launch site; contact the park office for more details.

Fenton Lake

Located in the north end of Lake Superior Provincial Park on the Trans-Canada Highway, just south of Wawa, Fenton Lake is the starting point for one of the best canoe routes in Lake Superior Provincial Park. Short portages (all are 150 metres or less) connect a handful of scenic backcountry lakes along a 16-kilometre loop that’s surrounded by boreal forest, with great campsites available for an easy overnight canoe trip. You can catch a variety of fish on the Fenton-Treeby canoe route, including lake trout, brook trout, walleye and northern pike.

Gamitagama Lake

Gamitagama Lake is a gateway to the rugged interior of Lake Superior Provincial Park, or a worthy destination for a weekend canoe trip. This long, narrow lake boasts an outstanding island campsite and a diverse shoreline, with great lake trout fishing and clear water. The lake’s southern arm leads experienced (and hardy) canoe trippers on a strenuous multi-portage route to Old Woman Lake.

This route isn’t for the ill-prepared; you’ll find many steep and challenging portages, so it’s best to pack your overnight gear efficiently. Gamitagama itself is reached by way of a 200-metre uphill and rocky carry that will give you a taste of what’s to come.

Old Woman Lake

My personal favourite, Old Woman Lake is a gorgeous body of water surrounded by high hills and graced with several islands. It always feels satisfying to make it here: the route consists of seven difficult portages (the last one into Old Woman Lake is particularly steep and long) from Gamitagama Lake.

When you arrive, you’ll discover some of the best trout fishing in Ontario and fantastic campsites on rocky shores—with the option of extending your trip through a series of smaller lakes to the Sand River or circling back to Mijinemungshing Lake (water levels permitting, check with the park office).

Snow on trees lining lakeshore.
Even a wintertime paddle on Rabbit Blanket Lake is lovely. Photo: Christine Tan // @discovering_ontario

Rabbit Blanket Lake

This pretty lake is surrounded by boreal forest lowlands and hardwood-clad hills, making it one of the most scenic places in the Lake Superior Provincial Park interior. A quiet campground off the Trans-Canada Highway offers spacious campsites and a base for day trips by canoe, kayak and along several hiking trails.

Paddle to the western end of Rabbit Blanket Lake to explore a series of shallow channels and wetlands, which provide excellent wildlife-viewing opportunities—as well as challenging portage options to adjacent wilderness lakes. Trout fishing is also outstanding.

Crescent Lake

Once the site of a small campground, Crescent Lake is now a simple day use area with a short hiking trail and a half-day canoe route, located in the extreme southern end of Lake Superior Provincial Park. The Crescent Lake canoe route consists of four lakes and three easy portages, and takes about four hours to complete.

It’s a beautiful, underrated and infrequently travelled loop with wonderful scenery, clear, spring-fed water and decent trout fishing. Agawa Bay is the nearest option for tent and RV camping; backcountry campsites are not available on this route.

Planning Your Trip

Lake Superior Provincial Park is a great next step if you’ve already experienced central Ontario’s Algonquin and Killarney provincial parks and you’re looking for a greater challenge. Camping here, whether it’s in a drive-in campground or especially in the backcountry, has a more remote and rugged vibe.

The park’s options for canoe routes are limited compared to more popular destinations, but they’re challenging, scenic, rewarding and far less crowded than other parks. Lake Superior itself, meanwhile, is a world-class sea kayaking destination. The experience of paddling the park’s wilderness coastline ranks among Canada’s best places to sea kayak. Here’s a quick overview to get started planning your trip.

Access

Lake Superior Provincial Park is bisected by the Trans-Canada Highway, offering plenty of options for entering the backcountry between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa. Popular starting points for Lake Superior coastal trips include Agawa Bay, Sinclair Cove, Katherine Cove, Old Woman Bay and Michipicoten (located just north of the park boundary), all of which are found short distances off Highway 17 on paved roads. Gargantua Bay is another good starting point, but it’s located 14 kilometres down a rugged gravel road. Most 2WD vehicles can handle the Gargantua Road, but beware it’s a long and bumpy ride.

Crescent Lake, Rabbit Blanket Lake and Fenton Lake are all located on the Trans-Canada Highway. Gravel roads lead to Mijinemungshing and Gamitagama lakes. You’ll find space to park your car for an overnight or multi-day trip at all access points.

Sea Kayak and Canoe Rentals, Outfitters and Guided Trips

Check out Naturally Superior Adventures in Wawa for a guided Lake Superior Provincial Park sea kayak trip. Weekend getaways and six-day wilderness trips are available; leave all the planning to someone else and practice your skills with an experienced guide. Naturally Superior Adventures also offers vehicle shuttles and canoe and sea kayak rentals, with delivery available.

Canoe rentals are available from Lake Superior Provincial Park at the Agawa Bay and Rabbit Blanket Lake campgrounds, as well as through the Park Office.

Goulais River-based Forest the Canoe offers guided day trips and canoe instruction just north of Sault Ste. Marie, as well as canoe rentals. Great Lakes Outfitters in Sault Ste. Marie is a great place to gear up and tap into the local knowledge and passion of its experienced staff.

Two people in kayaks.
Lake Superior Provincial Park is full of paddling opportunities. Ryan Walker // Forest the Canoe 

Camping Permits and Regulations

Backcountry camping permits are required to travel and camp in Lake Superior Provincial Park. Make a reservation online or stop by the Agawa Bay Visitor Centre to purchase your permits in-person. It’s recommended that you book in advance for summer weekends. The maximum group size is 9 people per campsite and you must stay at designated campsites. Lake Superior Provincial Park enforces a can and bottle ban and encourages campers to adhere to Leave No Trace guidelines to protect the park for future visitors to enjoy.

Other Attractions

Lake Superior Provincial Park is a big reason why the 690-kilometre drive along the Trans-Canada Highway from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay is one of the prettiest road journeys in Ontario. There are plenty of places to stop for a paddle along the way, and many great hiking options, too. Be sure to make the easy one-hour walk to the Agawa Rock Pictographs, just north of Agawa Bay. If you have more time the Orphan Lake Trail is a scenic, moderately challenging 8-kilometre day hike. The Nokomis Trail at Old Woman Bay includes a steep climb and stunning views along its 5-kilometre loop.

The Agawa Bay Visitor Centre is well worth a stop with great interpretive displays and a park store featuring local artists. Outside of the park, stop at the Voyageurs Lodge and Cookhouse in Batchawana Bay for a hearty meal inspired by Canada’s fur trade history. Stay at Rock Island Lodge in Wawa and visit the Algoma Highlands Wild Blueberry Farm and Winery for a taste of northern Ontario. Young’s General Store offers a unique shopping experience (and generous helpings of hand-scooped ice cream) in Wawa.

Discover the wild beauty of Lake Superior Provincial Park

There’s more to Lake Superior Provincial Park than the greatest of the Great Lakes. Plan a trip into the park’s interior to discover its scenic and quiet backcountry lakes, where you’ll find pretty campsites, great fishing and wildlife viewing and rejuvenating solitude.

About Conor Mihell

Conor Mihell is an award-winning environmental and adventure travel writer based in Sault Ste. Marie. Read his work in the Globe and Mail, Explore, Cottage Life, Canoe & Kayak, ON Nature, and other magazines and newspapers. He's been a sea kayak guide on Lake Superior for close to 20 years, and has paddled from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay. 

Recommended Articles

Ontario’s Blue-Water Lakes

So blue you won’t believe your eyes.

Ontario’s Moose Hotspots

Your best chance of seeing a moose is by paddle.

Philip Edward Island Camping Guide

The inside scoop on this Georgian Bay gem.

Best Family Canoe Trips

7 overnight canoe trips kids will love.

The Missing Link of "the Great Trail"

Find out how it was completed.

Paddling Laws

This is what you need to know about safety on the water in Ontario.

Go Ahead, Be a Joiner

Find a Facebook Paddling Club that's right for you.

SUPreme Adventure

Best paddleboarding destinations for beginners.

Temagami Canoe Trip Routes

6 top trip options.

Ultimate Paddling Day Trips

11 can’t-miss provincial parks for paddlers.

It's Time for a Paddle

Canoe and kayak rentals that are perfect for your next paddling adventure.

Easy River Tripping

The French River will delight canoeists of all ages.

Find Wilderness South of Algonquin

Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park

Best Sites on the French River

Where to stay on your canoe trip.

Top 10 Easy Canoe Trips

Go guided and learn canoe and camping skills in Northern Ontario.

Missinaibi River Canoe Trip

Learn how to plan a canoe trip down this famed wilderness river.

Skip The Crowds

18 Excellent Alternatives to Algonquin Park

Level Up Your Paddling

Get a backcountry boost with these outdoor skills-based courses and trips.

Explore Kenora by Kayak & Canoe

7 perfect places to get on the water near Lake of the Woods.

Backcountry Camping on Georgian Bay

The Massasauga Provincial Park