St. Joseph Island, or “The Island” (as it is locally known), is the third largest island in the Great Lakes system next to Isle Royale and Manitoulin. Sitting on the border of two countries and two lakes, the Island is among the most diverse areas in the Algoma District.
You can locate the island approximately 45 km (28 mi) east of Sault Ste. Marie after taking the exit off Highway 17 onto the island’s only access point – Highway 548 – you approach the Bernt Gilbertson Bridge. Just before crossing there is a beautiful rest area on Bamfort Island that overlooks St. Joe’s and gives a better view of the bridge itself. It’s a great spot for picnics, fishing, photography and is a great place for some rest and relaxation. Once you’ve crossed the bridge and followed Highway 548 onto the island, be sure to make your first stop at Mom’s Restaurant for a great meal before your trip!
From farmland to thick-forested areas to beachside views, Highway 548 takes you on a 75-km continuous loop around St. Joe’s. Be sure to keep all eyes on the road, as the island is rich in wildlife: deer, bear, and turkeys are not uncommon to cross paths with on your journey. The population on the island is less than 2,000 people, spanning two beautiful small towns, Hilton Beach and Richards Landing. Both have accessible marinas for travelers, boaters, and fishermen. The surrounding water bodies are a fantastic place for fishing: walleye, northern pike, salmon, perch, and bass are just some of the species that can be found, as well as many more.
As the seasons come and go, different recreational activities on the island emerge but they never stop, each season brings a unique opportunity for different sporting activities and adventures -- hunting and fishing are open year-round on the island.
During the Spring, the island is most famous for its maple syrup, be sure to stop in at Gilbertson’s Maple Products for a delicious pancake breakfast and freshly made syrup. When Summer comes around, the island becomes a hotspot for camping, swimming, and even golfing! As the warm weather starts to fade, the lush green landscape fades into the most beautiful colours of Autumn. The trees change into the most spectacular shades of reds, oranges and yellows, this is an absolute sight to behold; a drive around the island is a must and comes highly recommended.
Although the Algoma region encounters harsh winters, there is no time for rest. The Winter season becomes a playground for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and skiing. The snowmobiling trail around the island links Michigan and Ontario giving access to out of country residents to enjoy our beautiful Algoma area and experience the north the way we know best. Some of the most beautiful scenes come during the winter months, when the snow has freshly fallen and covers the trees in a thick white blanket. There's nothing better than grabbing a friend and enjoying a warm fire with a cup of hot chocolate.