The Top of Lake Superior is well known for its scenic hiking trails, exceptional culinary offerings, fantastic waterfalls, and so much more. One beautiful late summer’s day, my husband and I, along with a couple of our friends, set out to explore the wonders of the region.
The Township of Nipigon sits at the most Northern point of Lake Superior and is located in the middle of Ontario’s Superior Country Region. This beautiful town is our home base in exploring the top of the greatest Great Lake. From here we set out on our adventure to hike, dine, and take in the beauty of Northern Ontario.
The Edgeview Restaurant
Just past 11am on a sunny Friday morning, we began our day at the Edgeview Restaurant in Nipigon. The Edgeview over looks the Nipigon Bay of Lake Superior with a remarkable view. Being such a beautiful day, we opted to sit on the patio to enjoy the scenery from our table. We were jubilantly greeted by the manager/server, Germaine Banning. Taking Germaine’s suggestions, we ordered our meals, which were just as remarkable as the view. It was the perfect beginning to fuel the adventures we had in store that day.
Bridgeview Lookout Tower
After finishing our meals, we ventured across the street to the Bridgeview Lookout Tower. The tower had been designed to be a similar structure as the newly developed Nipigon River Bridge. It was hard to believe that the view could be even more impressive than the one from the Edgeview’s patio! The panoramic landscape of the north shore of Lake Superior, the Nipigon River Bridge, and Lake Helen is truly phenomenal. A visit to the Top of Superior wouldn’t be complete without climbing this incredible structure.
Pelletier’s Gas Bar & Native Art Gallery
While walking back to our vehicle, we began planning the rest of our day. We decided that we would fill up our gas tank at Pelletier’s Gas Bar, a quick two-minute drive to the Red Rock Indian Band. The attendant began to fill our SUV so we decided to browse. Walking through the door we noticed the wide array of Native Arts. We spent several minutes admiring the impressive hand-crafted moccasins, mukluks, paintings, and wood carvings before setting out to carry on with our adventure.
Kama Cliffs Waterfall
Our next stop was the Kama Cliffs. We had heard the trail itself offered spectacular views of the region. Unfortunately, due to our packed itinerary for the day, we only planned to visit the waterfall. After a short 25-km drive east from Nipigon, we arrived at the trailhead. As soon as we stepped out of the car we could hear the familiar sounds of rushing water.
Just past the trailhead was a narrow path leading towards the sound. We all but ran along the trail as we were so excited to see our first waterfall atop of Lake Superior. Shortly after we got to the stream, we came upon the enchanting Kama Falls. It was as if it had been untouched for centuries. Foliage surrounded it and hung in-front of falling water. They were not the highest we had ever seen, but they felt so tucked away that it was as if they were out of a fairy tale. After witnessing the falls, our excitement had been heightened once again. We couldn’t wait to visit the next waterfall on our list.
We left Kama Falls driving west back towards Nipigon. We turned north onto the gravel “Camp 81 Road.” Each kilometre is marked with a sign. As we continued along the road, we quickly noticed our surrounding landscapes: small lakes, cliffs, red rocks, and ponds that littered the countryside. Just past marker 17, we pulled into the trail opening.
As we walked along the trail, mossy grounds began to take the place of shrubbery and the sound of rushing water was quickly apparent. We entered a small clearing where we could instantly feel the mist of the falls. The water crashed with such force that multiple small rainbows formed in the mist. Next we made our way to the top of the falls. Arriving at the summit was extremely easy and instantly gratifying. Mother Nature’s placement of rocks and plant life made it very easy to get up close and personal with the water while not leaving a trace. We were truly in awe.
Palisades Hiking Trail
Next on our list was to visit the Cascade falls. We drove back towards Nipigon and just before the Nipigon River Bridge turned North onto highway 11. After a short drive we entered one of Canada’s largest municipalities; Greenstone. Known for its vast geographical size and breathtaking scenery we were extremely excited to see why Greenstone was named “Nature’s Home Town”. As we came closer to our destination, we saw a sign for the Palisades Hiking Trail. Knowing that the Palisades was a challenging hike that would bring us to the top of the Cascade Falls, we made a last-minute decision to conquer Greenstone’s 7-km, 150 metre-high hike instead of simply visiting the bottom of the falls.
The trail began as an uphill challenge. Through rocks and narrow pathways we reached the first of two set of stairs. The stairs were breathtaking both in appearance and physical demands. We couldn’t help but ask each other how the trail builders managed to haul so much lumber into the forest to build the steps. As we are not in the greatest shape, the trek to the top took us close to two hours. Once we reached the top the work wasn’t over. It was quite some time before we approached the first scenic lookout.
The beauty of Greenstone was instantly apparent as we looked out from the Palisades scenic lookouts. None of us could believe how high we had come and how far we could now see. Boreal forest, cliff faces, Orient Bay, and Brouse Lake stared back at us as we looked out across the countryside.
We continued past the lookouts and finally came to our destination: the waterfall! The stream was no wider than a piece of paper as not much water is running in the middle of summer. We laughed at ourselves and promised each other to return again in the spring. We took a well deserved break next to the stream before trekking back down the trail. After a 7-km, five-hour hike, we were on our way back to Nipigon.
This marked the end of our day. Although we were extremely exhausted we were excited to continue experiencing more hikes, bites, and sights from atop Lake Superior! Stay tuned for part 2 of my North Shore adventures.