Atikokan: On the doorstep of Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park
The Town of Atikokan, known as the "Canoeing Capital of Canada", is located about 200 km west of Thunder Bay and 130 km east of Fort Frances, Ontario and about a half an hour from famous Quetico Park. The town has roughly 2,800 people which are some of the most resilient people I know. Through the years Atikokan has seen many industries come and go, but one thing remains is their fighting spirit. They continue to succeed in bringing business to the small community.
Another thing that has not changed is the wilderness and beauty that surrounds Atikokan. With it comes plenty of outdoor recreation, fishing, and many things to do.
Here is a list of the top 10 things to do in Atikokan:
1 - Little Falls
Little Falls (shown in the top photograph) is a scenic natural falls located near the golf course. Park at the Walleye Hatchery and walk down the short path to see the falls. There's a sheltered picnic area as well as benches and picnic tables as you explore around the falls. If you walk over the bridge it will take you closer to a second set of waterfalls.
Enjoy a round of golf at the "most challenging course in Northwest Ontario". The Little Falls Golf Course is a beautiful course consisting of rolling hills, off camber shots, and creek crossings. You can even see the waterfalls from Hole 7.
Quetico is a wilderness park filled with towering rock cliffs, majestic waterfalls, virgin pine and spruce forests, picturesque rivers and lakes. It's famous in the paddling circles for its backcountry canoeing and kayaking in over 2,000 lakes and 460,000 ha of remote wilderness. Paddle for a few days or a few weeks. I'll bet you'd be hard pressed to see many other canoeists or kayakers. If you do, it'll be only in passing. You certainly won't see any motorized boats as they are banned in the park, making your wilderness backcountry trip all that more remote and quiet. There are over 2,200 interior sites throughout the park which you can reserve through the Ontario Parks Reservation Service up to 5 months in advance or by calling 1-888-668-7275 or 1-519-826-5290 (Outside of Canada & U.S.)
For families that don't wish to have such a remote experience, the drive-to Dawson Trail Campgrounds in Quetico Park is located 30 minutes east of Atikokan on Highway 11. There are many hiking trails, a beautiful beach, a playground, Heritage Information and Pavilion, camping and RV sites as well as a few rustic year-round cabins if you like to explore Quetico on skis in the winter.
Dawson Trail Campgrounds map. Download a high res version from Ontarioparks.com under maps.
The Charleson Recreation Area was named after the original Canadian Charleson Iron Mine, which operated sporadically on these grounds from 1958-64. The CRA has recreational opportunities for snowmobilers, motocrossers, 4-wheelers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, anglers, hikers, picnickers, snowshoers, skiers and more! Enjoy one of the events such as the Mudfling or use one of the many recreations trails in the area. View the maps of the trails in the Charleson Recreation Area to see just how extensive they really are.
5 - Walleye Fish Hatchery
The Walleye Hatchery is operated by the Sportsmen's Conservation Club. The club started in 1958 with a group of dedicated volunteers, and their efforts over the last 50 years have dramatically improved the walleye population in local lakes.
The fish hatchery is part of the Atikokan River system and uses fresh water from the falls to provide a perfect habitat for the eggs and fry as they develop. Tours can be arranged.
The Atikokan Bass Classic dubbed as the "Funnest Bass Tournament" is held mid-August each year. Even if you're not fishing in the tournament there are plenty of activities in the days leading up to and during the tournament. There's a free to enter ABC Kids' Fishing Tournament, free swimming, Teddy Bear Picnic, BBQs, fish fry, mixed golf night, the parade of boats, pie sale, busking, an age of majority dance, weigh-ins and much more.
Learn about Atikokan's logging, mining and pioneer history including the exhibit of the Steep Rock Iron Mine, a world renown engineering and diversion project. Visit the museum itself or wander around the Historical Park where you'll find a collection of heavy equipment from Atikokan's early logging, mining and railroad days. The Shevlin-Clarke engine is one of only six surviving Lima Shay logging locomotives in Canada! Follow the Centennial Museum on Facebook for upcoming exhibits and events.
The Pictograph Gallery is located in the Voyageur Mall, Lower Level at 115 Main Street. The gallery is a volunteer driven, non-profit gallery that showcases the work of local and regional artists. The gift shop is filled with handcrafted artwork, art cards, jewellery, pottery, and woodwork. Workshops are often held in the gallery as well.
During the winter, life in Atikokan doesn't stand still. The Beaten Path has some of the best cross-country trails in Ontario! Just minutes south of Atikokan you'll find more than 50 km of trails. Quality groomed skate lanes and track-set classic trails provide skiers different options to experience wilderness surroundings on safe challenging trails in any weather conditions. Visit the Beaton Path website for more information and for a map of the cross-country ski trails.
10 - Snowmobiling
The Atikokan Sno-Ho Snowmobile Club maintains the beautiful trails near Atikokan in OFSC District 17. They maintain 500 kms of snowmobile trail including a section of the Provincial A Trail. A couple of the more popular snowmobile loops in the area are the NWOSTA Wilderness Loop and the White Otter Loop. Whether you are heading out ice fishing on snowmobile or just doing some sledding, you'll really enjoy the snowmobiling in the Atikokan area.
For more information on Atikokan contact:
- visitatikokan.com or their Facebook Page
- Atikokan Economic Development Corporation: Website, Facebook or call 807-597-2757 or 888-334-AEDC
- Town of Atikokan: Website or call 807-597-1234
- Atikokan Chamber of Commerce: Website, Facebook or call 807-597-1599 or 888-334-2332
- Atikokan Resorts and Lodges and Canoe Outfitters
If you'd like a map of Atikokan and more information on the area. please order the free Ontario's Sunset Country Travel Guide & Map and it will be mailed directly to your door.