The Lake Superior Circle Tour is the Perfect Canada 150 Trip
So Canada is such a big place. It is second only to Russia in land size. It takes approximately 6.5 hours to fly from one end of the country to another. I reiterate – this is a big place. So why not celebrate its 150th birthday big too with the an undescribable Lake Superior Circle Tour? A 2000-km trip that takes you all the way around the largest fresh lake in the world and through both Canada and parts of the USA. Yes my friends, why not embark on something this epic?
The Superior Facts…
So pack your bags, fill the tank, and start heading up Northern Ontario for the start of one of the most incredible trips you will ever take. Lake Superior (formerly known as Gichigami – Ojibwe for Great Big Sea) is such a large lake (the largest of the Great Lakes to boot). It is over 82000 square kms and covers quite a bit of North American territory. When you embark on this wonderfully scenic journey, prepare to take at least 2-2.5 weeks to allow for photo opps, scenic outlooks, picnics, wildlife encounters, scenic selfies, and pit stops.
Lake Superior is such a revered body of water. It has legends and folklore attached, plus, it was inspiration for Canada’s artistic geniuses “The Group of Seven’s” many beautiful paintings. If this weren’t enough to convince you to go, just read on.
Let the Driving Begin!
(*note that this route starts and ends in Toronto . If you are starting from a different city, do plan the same route around the lake, but alter the route to get you to the circle’s first stop.)
1- Head from Toronto on the way to Thunder Bay
This is a 2-day drive my friends. Yep, Ontario is this large as mentioned! But the scenery will captivate you forever in my mind 🙂
On the way to Thunder Bay, Ontario offers many scenic backdrops for documenting your trip. My first suggestion is to stop in Sudbury, Ontario, approx. 5 hours from Toronto.
Here, take a gander at the glorious Giant Nickel! Famous here in Sudbury, the Giant Nickel represents this mining town and the exports to which it delivers. Especially for this year, the Nickel will be aglow every night of red and white to commemorate Canada 150.
2- Check out Science North
If you would like to spend more time here in Sudbury, I highly recommend a stop at Science North. An interactive facility for adults and children, this educational stop will have you testing theories and pushing buttons galore. For a decent experience, plan on at least 2-3 hours here to play around with the exhibits and get your inner Einsteen working.
3- Next, continue on to Sault Ste. Marie
This really cool Northern Ontario city is jam-packed with things to see and do! Try and stay a day or two here to take in the sites and enjoy your surroundings.
Check out the Sault Ste Marie canal, an historical Canadian site, the Algoma Art Gallery, and the Northern Bushplane Centre to name a few.
If you have extra time, you will seriously want to consider the Agawa Canyon Tour Train. This is a huge highlight this year for Canada 150 and should be on everyone’s Circle tour itinerary.
4- Head to Wawa Ontario and Stop to see the Large Goose
After spending the night in Sault Ste. Marie, head North to Wawa. Have a photo stop with the giant Canada Goose statue!
5- From here, head to Marathon, Ontario
Make your way from Wawa up to Marathon! It is right on the circular edge of Ontario and full of small-town charm. Stay here for the night and rest up for the arrival to Thunder Bay the next day.
6- Arrive in Thunder Bay
One of the most incredible cities in all of Ontario, Thunder Bay pulls at the heartstrings of many Canadians. It was where the beloved Terry Fox, one of the most heroic individuals ever to live, was forced to stop his marathon. He was diagnosed with cancer at a very young age and to raise funds for research on this terrible disease, he set forth on a trek across Canada. Stop at his memorial statue while here and pay your respects to a loved Canadian hero.
Enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Canadian Shield as you drive through this beautiful precious town that Ontarians love to visit.
A couple of other sites to consider in Thunder Bay:
- Fort William Scenic Park
- Mount McKay Scenic Lookout
7- Wave at Winnie in White River
You have made it now to the top of Ontario and are ready to start heading South down the loop 🙂 Once you have spent quality time in Thunder Bay, you will begin your journey to White River!
Here in White River check out the large Winnie-the-Pooh Statue! This little township just South of Thunder Bay is best known for inspiring AA Milne’s adorable hunny-eating bear.
There is also a heritage museum that holds quite a bit of Winnie memorabilia for you to see and enjoy.
8- Back to Sault Ste. Marie to cross into the USA.
Time to cross into the USA for a few legs of the tour! Make sure you have packed your passport and bring all the documentation you need in order to continue your circle tour!
When you cross the International Bridge in to the USA, do pause and take in the incredible scenery and views. They are quite memorable while upon the bridge.
9- Welcome to Sault Ste. Marie Michigan!
After you cross the International Bridge, you will be in the United States of America. This quaint twin city has many activities for the outdoor enthusiast as well as tours of the famous Soo Locks – a canal way used for 150 years by many watercraft. The lock drops six metres in elevation between Lake Superior and Lake Huron! Take a boat tour through the locks, or if you have children, embark on an engaging scavenger hunt.
Here in Sault Ste Marie Michigan you are not far from the Shipwreck museum. Don’t forget to pay homage to the crew lost on the ill-fated Edmund Fitzgerald. More on this story and tragedy at our post here.
10- Marquette Michigan
Need an escape from the wilderness? Stop in Marquette for a little shopping, rest, and perhaps a gastronomic masterpiece. This little town has everything you need before heading off once again along the I-75 surrounded by National Parks.
11- Mount Marquette
This glorious Mountain offers views from 260 metres high of the quaint town where you just went shopping! If you are an outdoor sportsperson, enjoy hiking and cross-country skiing trails of all levels along the shores of Lake Superior.
12- Head through Hurley Wisconsin
Once you have had a good view and taken many a photo of Mount Marquette, cross into Wisconsin! Pass through Hurley and head to Big Manitou Falls. Next, take a rest stop in the town of Superior that boasts a lovely 5-mile beach for swimming and sunbathing.
13- Last Leg Before Home – Duluth Minnesota
After spending quality time in Wisconsin, head to Duluth Minnesota! There are many activities available to experience so plan for a couple nights stay. Visit the Historic Congden Estate of the early 1900’s, national parks, shopping malls, and more. In the morning, start fresh as you head back to Thunder Bay.