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Hiking and Walking in Sault Ste. Marie

If you like to venture on foot or just walk your dog, Sault Ste. Marie/Algoma is the destination for you. It doesn’t get better than this. From city and park trails to wilderness paths, anyone who laces up their sneakers or hikers will find the perfect adventure. Sault Ste. Marie proper offers manicured paths to wilderness trails, and beyond the city, you’re 5 minutes into forest and lake hikes. You can walk the paved John Rowswell Hub Trail in the city itself, with 7 distinct sections from urban to wetland, two of which are directly accessible from the Inn. Hiawatha Highlands, a conservation area of 3,000 hectares within the city, has 35km./(22mi.) of nature trails meandering through ancient pines and cascading waterfalls. Beyond the city, there are provincial parks and Lake Superior coastline trails to explore. One kilometre or 30 kilometres…test yourself. Our Trailhead Adventure Hosts can help you plan the perfect outing for your level and interest.

The John Rowswell Hub Trail

The Hub Trail is restricted to walking and other self-propelled activities such as cycling. It connects historical, cultural and natural points in Sault Ste. Marie, and engages the user with its mix of urban areas and nature-significant areas. The Hub Trail incorporates a paved trail combined with a few short stretches of designated street. The entire distance is 25 km./15.5mi., but there are 7 sections with different access points. The north and east sections are directly accessible from Algoma’s Water Tower Inn & Suites. Users can snack in picnic areas or enjoy a rest on park benches. In its more urban neighbourhoods like the downtown waterfront boardwalk, you can access restaurants, bars, and destinations like the Bushplane Museum or the Art Gallery of Algoma, among others. The Inn’s Trailhead Adventure Hosts can give you a map and recommend the right section for your hike or walk.

St. Mary’s River Downtown Waterfront

French Jesuits established a mission on the banks of the St. Mary’s River in 1688, naming the settlement Sault (translated rapids) Ste. Marie. First nations people called the rapids Bawating (water flows over rocks), and met here for the annual whitefish harvest. The International Bridge arcs over the rapids, connecting to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. To accommodate Great Lakes shipping, the rapids are bypassed by the renowned Soo Locks canal system. From the boardwalk along the river, you can see the remnants of the mighty rapids that at one time were said to be 1.6 kilometres (1 mile) long and 1.6 kilometres (1 mile) wide, and during the spring runoff roared so loudly that it was difficult to carry on a conversation. Algoma's Water Tower Inn & Suites Trailhead Adventure Hosts can provide you with a map, and fill you in on the heritage sites along the St. Mary’s River you can visit.

Parks Canada Canal Historic Site

This trail system is a walk through thousands of years of history. You can access both the Whitefish Island and the Attikamek Trails, and also walk the park grounds of this significant heritage area. The area can be accessed from the waterfront boardwalk. Whitefish, an island in the St. Mary’s River, was an ancestral fishing station to the Anishenabek people of the Great Lakes for over 2,000 years and is in their stewardship still. At the park’s Visitors’ Centre, you can learn about the deep history of this area as well as gain an understanding of how the locks work and even watch as boats pass through the system. You access the trails by crossing the gate bridge over the Canadian Canal, built in 1897, and now used only for recreational vessels. You can also walk out along a very long pier to view Lake Superior. The trails here meander among wetlands and streams often dammed by busy beavers. There is much birdlife to view, and there are lookout platforms along the way. Overhead arcs the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge linking the two Saults. At one point you skirt the roaring rapids of the St. Mary’s River. If you explore all the paths and viewpoints, you can work your way up to a 10-km. hike.

Bellevue Park

A tranquil green space on the St. Mary’s River east of downtown Sault Ste. Marie, this 42 acre park provides a great view of the Great Lakes Freighter traffic using the Soo Canal system. This is an easy 2.4 km. walk on paved trail and the dirt path that circles Topsail Island. There are bridges, a duck pond, and botanical gardens and a visitor’s greenhouse. You’ll see the fenced grave near the pond, that of Colonel John Prince (1796-1870), who built a house there and called it Bellevue. Combine your walk with the waterfront boardwalk. You can get drive directions and a map from one of our Trailhead Adventure Hosts.

Hiawatha Highlands

Escape from the city within the city limits. Towering pines, rugged rocks, and sparkling creeks and waterfalls punctuate this incredible trail system. A network of nordic ski trails crisscross this 3000 acre conservation area, open for walking and hiking during the summer months. You can drive directly to the large pond/beach area, then climb the stairs alongside the cascades of Crystal Creek. Sit on a rock and dangle your feet in one of the still pools. You can walk the easy 2km. trail (a choice for families) and return to the picnic/playground area. Or tackle one or more of the 5km. ski trails. The trailhead is just a 5-minute drive from the Inn. Our Trailhead Adventure Hosts can provide you with detailed trail information.

Wilderness Walking/Hiking beyond Sault Ste. Marie

Ten minutes from the Inn, and you are in the most profoundly beautiful wilderness area you can imagine, set along the eastern coast of Lake Superior and its beautiful rivers and forests. Highway 17 North (the TransCanada Hwy.) is your corridor to amazing trail hikes at Pancake Bay and Lake Superior Provincial Park. Talk to our Trailhead Adventure Hosts about maps and routes.

Pancake Bay Provincial Park

Two interesting facts about Pancake Bay:

  • This Lake Superior bay was the last stop for Voyageur paddlers, who had journeyed endless miles by canoe on their return from the western territories with the season’s pelts. It was the last stop before the trading post at Sault Ste. Marie.  By then, they had just enough flour left to make pancakes before restocking supplies…hence, named Pancake Bay.
  • When you hike to the outlook over Lake Superior and Batchawana Bay, you are viewing the waters where the SS Edmond Fitzgerald sank in 1975 with a loss of 29 crew, an event made famous by Canadian folk singer Gordie Lightfoot.

There are two trails you can hike here:

  • The Pancake Bay Nature Trail… a shoreline and lowland walk of 3.5 km.
  • The Lookout Trail…a moderate 14km. to the outlook and back. Two lookout platforms offer spectacular views of Lake Superior and Pancake Bay.

Pancake is a 65 km./40mi.  drive from the Inn. Our Trailhead Adventure Hosts can assist you with maps and information. You can also visit www.ontarioparks.com/park/pancakebay. After a day in the park, stop at Agawa Crafts at Pancake Bay, a famous traveller stop along the way, buy some smoked lake fish, and enjoy an ice-cream cone.

Lake Superior Provincial Park

Lake Superior Provincial Park is one of the largest provincial parks in Ontario, covering about 1,550 square kilometres (600 sq. mi.) along the northeastern shores of Lake Superior between Wawa and Sault Ste. Marie in Algoma District. True to its namesake, it follows the coast of the world’s largest lake, but also encompasses many watershed rivers and inland lakes. There are 11 marked trails for all levels of hiker, and many sites of special interest; for instance, the Agawa Rock Pictographs, a sacred site where generations of Ojibwe have come to record dreams, visions and events. The Orphan Lake Trail is a Trailhead favourite with a picnic stop at the falls of the Baldhead River, and the sun-warmed cobblestone beach at the river mouth. Our Adventure Hosts can provide you with maps and tips for hiking LSPP. You can also visit www.lakesuperiorpark.ca for an excellent overview of park facilities and trail descriptions. The park is a 2-hour drive from the Inn, but so worth the journey just for the vistas of Lake Superior along the route. After a day in the park, stop at Agawa Crafts at Pancake Bay, a famous traveller stop along the way, buy some smoked lake fish, and enjoy an ice-cream cone.

Call 1-888-461-7077 for more information on packages, adventures and more, or book online.

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My first stay at the Water Tower Inn was after a family trip across Canada. We pulled in to the brand new facility in the wee hours of the morning after 5 weeks of camping. It was heavenly!!!! So much so that it became our first and last night stop whenever we headed west. Those stays are something of a legend in my family and this July I had the chance to show my son why. On a cold rainy day, coming back from Thunder Bay, we ditched the tent and checked in on our last night. I wouldn't have thought it could be better than my memories but it was. From the warm welcome at the front desk to the 2 hours we spent in the water. Thanks to the wonderful staff, facility and service the legend continues!

- Dawn

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