Never visited Lake Superior?
Let us introduce you to this stunning body of water with a park that shows just how great this lake is: Pancake Bay Provincial Park!
If you’re traveling from the east or south, Pancake Bay is the first provincial park with camping you’ll find in Superior.
Located less than an hour north of Sault Ste. Marie, this park is perfect to begin or end your Lake Superior adventures.
Check out these five reasons to visit Pancake Bay Provincial Park:
1. Discover the unique history of the park.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, hardy French-Canadian travelers rowed huge 10-metre-long birch bark canoes across the Great Lakes from Montreal and back, transporting trade goods and furs.
This was the era of the Canadian fur trade.
Legend has it that travelers called this beautiful curved stretch of sandy beach “Pancake Bay” as it was their last stop before reaching Sault Ste. Marie. Marie (where they would restock) for pancake breakfast in the morning.
While it is mostly legend, there is some truth to the story: they rarely had luxuries like flour with them, but they did have them on at least one occasion.
The long sandy beach here was a perfect place for travelers to camp: they needed a shallow place to unload their three tons of cargo from the birch bark canoes before taking them to the beach.
Today, people are still drawn to the beach and some probably eat pancakes from time to time, but these adventurers are campers and hikers.
2. See the stunning Lake Superior
When it comes to its size, Lake Superior lives up to its name. Did you know that water from the other four Great Lakes could easily fit into Lake Superior? Lake Superior looks more like an inland sea than a lake!
Lake Superior is so large, more than 300 kilometers from end to end, that when you look west across its waters from the shore, you can see the curvature of the Earth!
At dusk, the sun slowly sinks into the waters of the lake to enjoy an unbeatable sunset. So where can you capture these views?
As you drive north on Highway 17, Pancake Bay and the stretch of road just north of the park is the first place you’ll see the open lake.
There are many ways to experience Lake Superior. Try driving north on Highway 17 for incredible views – the Eastern Lake Superior drive has been called one of the best scenic routes in Eastern Canada!
Do you prefer rowing adventure? Explore the incredibly clear waters of Pancake Bay.
Hike the Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail in the park for scenic views or one of the many hiking trails in Lake Superior Provincial Park, an hour north, but more on the trails later—it’s time! to go to the beach!
3. Enjoy the longest beach on Lake Superior
Pancake Bay is known for its 3.5 km of fine, almost white sand beaches that line the bay.
On a sunny day, the turquoise waters make it look almost tropical!
The waters of Lake Superior may be cool, but the shallow waters of Pancake Bay are warmer, and Batchawana Bay (a day-use provincial park 10 km from Pancake Bay) is even more sheltered and warm for swimming.
At 3.5 km (over a mile and a half), there is plenty of room for bathers to spread out and have their own space. One section of the park’s beach is even designated as an off-leash pet beach!
For many years, Lake Superior Magazine’s “readers’ poll” named Pancake Bay as one of the best beaches on both sides of the US-Canada border!
And to add to those accolades, Sault Tourism named Pancake Bay the best of the best as its best beach in Ontario.
4. Take a hike!
High on a rocky hill above Pancake Bay, the park Edmund Fitzgerald Trail It takes you to an impressive viewpoint.
The trail and overlook are named after the Edmund Fitzgerald, one of the largest freighters on the Great Lakes at over 700′.
Nicknamed “Big Fitz”, she sank in a terrible November storm while transporting a cargo of iron ore from the west end of Lake Superior, south to Lake Erie.
Climb the stairs to two viewing platforms and learn about volcanoes, ferns, and how Lake Superior moderates the park’s forest climate.
Once you’re at the top of the first overlook, you’ll see how big Superior really is: Whitefish Point in Michigan is visible in the distance, but beyond that is just a huge expanse of blue water.
It’s 300 km to the other end of the lake!
An interpretive panel tells the story of the Fitzgerald and many more ships and vessels that have been claimed by the lake’s waters.
At the second overlook, Pancake Bay and its beach lie below, forming a long sandy curve in the distance.
This is a great place to view fall colors in late September and October, with a wide panorama that takes in the Algoma Hills, Batchawana Bay, and Lake Superior’s Whitefish Bay, which stretches beyond the horizon.
5. Sault Ste. Marie Tour Marie Country and Algoma!
Pancake Bay is an ideal base for exploring Sault Ste. Marie. Marie and Algoma Country.
“The Soo” (as it is affectionately called) calls itself “Ontario’s best adventure town.”
When the city’s attractions are combined with the picturesque landscapes of Algoma’s Lake Superior shoreline, you are in a world-class resort region.
Check out these unmissable tourism opportunities:
Sault Ste. increase
- Hop aboard the Miss Marie for a tour of the locks of The Soo! Discover the history and operation of locks up close and personal.
- The Bushplane Museum houses a collection that tells stories about the importance of these aircraft to northern Ontario and Canada.
- Algoma Art Gallery – An art collection that includes paintings by the influential and iconic Group of Seven that was formed after painting trips to Algoma.
Along the shore of Lake Superior
Lake Superior Provincial Park Visitor Center
- Lake Superior Provincial Park: Your Pancake Bay camping permit is good for free day use on Lake Superior, just an hour north on Highway 17. Numerous hiking trails, picnic spots, and trails are worth visiting! an excellent visitor center!
Photo: Algoma Country
- Wawa and the Big Goose – This northern town, an hour and a half north of Pancake Bay, is famous for its roadside attraction: Big Goose, a selfie must-see!
Photo: Algoma Country
- The Algoma Central Railroad departs from Sault Ste. Marie and travels north through the rugged Algoma Hills, with many scenic views and a stop at “Canyon Park,” a favorite painting location of the Group of Painters. Seven.
- Fall Colors – The fall colors in Algoma Country are exceptional. Along with Pancake Bay’s Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout and Trail, Robertson Cliffs south of Batchawana Bay, and trails in Lake Superior Provincial Park, fall hiking is as good as anywhere else in Ontario. You can also drive and enjoy the autumn scenery!
- For more information about activities and services in the area, visit the Algoma Country website.
Are you planning a visit?
About half of Pancake Bay’s 313 campsites offer electric hookups. There are a variety of sites to accommodate a variety of trailer sizes, as well as five group camping sites that can be reserved.
Three comfort stations with toilets and hot showers are located in the center of the park.
Your camping cabin offers comfort and warmth with all the amenities you need for a relaxing getaway. Pancake Bay Beach is just steps away from the beach.
Watch the sunset on your accessible terrace with clear front railings.
Pancake Bay is open until October 10, 2023.