Northern Ontario's Algoma Country is a wild place, far removed from the crowds to the south, yet still within a day’s drive of the Greater Toronto Area. Last fall, I drove west across Northern Ontario all the way to Manitoba and saw some amazing natural wonders in Ontario’s northwest. Thankfully, there are also spectacular places to explore in the near north, on a loop tour from Sault Ste. Marie to Wawa, Chapleau, and Elliot Lake. I have cherished memories of camping in these idyllic northern locations—so much so that I’ve put together this itinerary with highlights you can incorporate into your next northern getaway!
Sault Ste. Marie to Lake Superior Provincial Park
From Sault Ste. Marie, head north along the TransCanada Highway—enjoy the stunning views around Batchawana Bay and overlooking Lake Superior. Within 90 minutes, you will arrive at Agawa Bay Campground in Lake Superior Provincial Park. This unique campground offers tree-covered camping directly adjacent to a smooth stone beach on the deepest of the Great Lakes! Wander along the rocky shore south from the campground and marvel at the crystal clear blue water and stunning multi-coloured quartz shield, which spans above and below the surface. The lake is crisp but swimmable and immensely refreshing on a hot summer day.
Lake Superior Provincial Park has lots to offer including endless shoreline, multiple waterfalls, and a variety of trails. Our favorite spot to visit on a warm day is Bathtub Island. You can walk there by trail south from the Katherine Cove parking area, but many people park right along the highway and take the shorter trail west through the trees to access the beach directly across from the island. From there, wade waist deep about 100 metres out to a small island of smooth rock on this inland sea. From there you can dip in shallow pools, climb up to an overlook, and sunbathe by the lapping waves.
Lake Superior Provincial Park spoils visitors with 11 trails to choose from. If you only have time for one good hike, the 8-km Orphan Lake loop trail samples a little of everything in the park, including a beach section, high elevation lake, forest trails, and a multilevel waterfall where you can sit by the water (or in it—if you bring your bathing suit).
Wawa and On
Continuing north, the small town of Wawa, Ontario is a great spot to restock groceries and supplies (at Valu-mart and Canadian Tire, respectively), and do a little touring. Browse the souvenirs, treats, and supplies at Young’s General Store for a quintessential small-town experience. Grab a photo with their moose and take advantage of their free dump station if needed!
No trip to Wawa is complete without a visit to the famous Wawa Goose, recently rebuilt with a visitor centre, and ample big rig parking. You can stay in town with full hookups at the Wawa RV Resort and Campground. For those who prefer dry camping, you can overnight in the gravel parking area adjacent to the massive Scenic High Falls, which offers a covered picnic area, pit toilet, and even a small waterfall behind the parking lot (where you can access non-potable water).
Chapleau and Aubrey Falls
Continuing east on Highway 101, the Town of Chapleau is a launching point for fishing and hunting at the Chapleau Crown Game Preserve. Potholes Provincial Nature Reserve is a stunningly beautiful day-use park located right in town. Walk the trails and boardwalks to see incredible potholes in the bedrock formed by glacial erosion and multiple waterfalls along the Kinniwabi River. After, treat yourself to dinner at the popular Dominion Family Restaurant, a favourite with locals and visitors alike.
For overnight camping options in the area, 45 minutes north of town, the beautiful Racine Lake Campground offers full-hookups on wooded and waterfront lots with nightly and weekly rates. Borden Lake Campground is 20 minutes east of Chapleau off Highway 101 and also has a few transient RV sites. Or, continue south about an hour and 20 minutes to Wakami Lake Provincial Park, open from early May to late September. With 59 sites in four campgrounds, while they don’t offer electricity, they make up for it with gorgeous waterfront views from many campsites.
Continue south on 129 and plan enough time to stop in at Aubrey Falls Provincial Park for an easy 2-km loop scenic hike. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at picnic tables by the multiple waterfalls along this trail.
Elliot Lake and Mississagi Provincial Park
For overnight camping, continue to Mississagi Provincial Park, but ignore your GPS and avoid Black Creek Road as it is not RV friendly! Instead, from 129 south, head east on 554, then turn left on 546. These are well-maintained gravel roads and 546 skirts a river for 36 km, offering some amazing views. If you prefer to stay on paved roads, take 129 south to the end, continue east on the Trans Canada Highway, then cut back north on Highway 108 toward the town of Elliot Lake. Watch out for some tight, hilly corners on the bottom half of the 129.
Mississagi Provincial Park is located 20 minutes north of Elliot Lake and offers secluded, wooded campsites, many with access trails directly to the sandy beach on Semiwite Lake. This stunning natural environment park protects 12,000 acres of mixed forests, lakes, and rocky ridges—and is a hiker’s paradise. Try the beautiful Helenbar Trail, a 7-km loop trail which starts near the campground. Or, for a bigger challenge, tackle the Cobre Lake Trail (an 11-km loop) just north of the park. Either way, you can’t go wrong: both trails include shimmering lake views, towering trees, and a cliff-top lookout.
The stunning geology, endless mixed forests of maple, birch, and pine, and sparkling lakes and waterfalls along this Northern Ontario route will dance in your memory for years to come. Like me, you will find the North never truly leaves you, and will continue to beckon you back to its wilderness paradise.