The Gitchee Gumee Trail follows a portion of the Great Lakes Heritage Coast from Heyden to Lake Superior Provincial Park. This coastal area contributes to one of nine "Signature Sites" recognized for their significant natural, cultural and recreational heritage values as set out by the Ontario Government in its Living Legacy Program. Many of the names that a traveller encounters on this scenic drive can be traced to their native origins. The name Gitchee Gumee (Ke-che-gum-me) has been derived from the Algonquin native language. Gitchee means "all powerful" and Gumee means "lake". Lake Superior was known by the native people as the "All Powerful Lake". As you travel north from Algoma's Water Tower Inn & Suites, you'll see and visit nature's best-- including Montreal River, Alona Bay, Mamainse, Pancake Bay Provincial Park, Batchawana Bay Provincial Park and Chippewa Falls. Stop for a hike, enjoy scenic and wildlife viewing or perhaps even take a refreshing plunge from one of Lake Superior's many sand beaches or rocky bays. You will have many bragging rights to share with your friends!
A ride up the Tribag Mine Road, adjacent to the Batchawana River, is an extraordinary experience particularly during the fall colour period. Here you can see rugged rock cliffs, swirling rapids, and cascading waterfalls. The blazing colours of the maples, oaks and birches are spectacular. You might also wish to explore the Tilley and Turkey Lakes area. If you go you should ensure that you visit the Batchawana Mountain fire tower site for an extraordinary panaroma of the Algoma Highlands landscape. Here below you are the rolling uplands and the deep cold water inland lakes that personify this landscape.
A drive along Highway 17 north of Sault Ste. Marie to Lake Superior Provincial Park and beyond to Wawa will provide the visitor with awesome views of the rugged Lake Superior coastal area. Visitors can also stop to explore adjacent attractions like the Canadian Carver and Agawa Indian Crafts retail outlets. You may wish to explore for agatized rock and rare shore vegetation along the coast. Photography and painting opportunities abound! This a "must do" drive during the fall colour period but is always a scenic trip.
Pancake Bay Provincial Park has two hiking trails. You may also wish to stroll along the Park's spectacular sandy beach. If you do decide to visit, you will need to acquire a day permit and receive instructions from staff at the gate house on how to reach the trail heads. The Voyageur Trail Association is presently expanding its trail system through this area and will be connecting King Mountain to the Montreal River areas.
Rivers and streams flowing into Lake Superior are favourite locations for anglers to fish for rainbow trout (steelhead) and brook trout. Stokely, Chippewa, Batchawana, and Pancake Rivers are favourites for many anglers. Inland deep cold water lakes provide lake trout and brook trout angling opportunities. The more shallow lakes are home to smallmouth bass and northern pike. The bays of Lake Superior can be fished for lake trout, rainbow (steelhead) trout, and salmon. Goulais Bay is a favourite location for yellow perch and whitefish.
Kayakers can explore the protected waters of Goulais and Batchawana Bays. Offshore Islands like North and South Sandy Islands require more skill and good weather. Strong currents occur between Batchawana Island and Sand Point. This is the basis for the name "Batchawana".
Canoeists can explore sheltered offshore waters or popular canoe route rivers like the Goulais and Batchawana.
Resource access roads like the Tribag Mine and Carp Lake roads provide opportunities for exploring the rugged inland interior of the Gitchee Gumee coastal area.
Throughout this area are excellent locations for winter snowshoe excursions. Abandoned logging roads on Provincial Crown lands are good choices. Once you have experience, you may wish to bushwack away from the roads to discover new attractions and solitudes.
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