Lake Superior Provincial Park is one of the most popular parks in Ontario, and for good reason – it’s absolutely stunning and there’s so much to do!
Whether you’re looking for a scenic hike, stunning scenery, or a day on the beach with the kids, there are plenty of things to do in Lake Superior Provincial Park with your family.
Lake Superior Provincial Park is one of the largest provincial parks in Ontario. It covers over 1, 500 square kilometres along the shores of Lake Superior in Northeastern Ontario, Canada.
With challenging hiking trails, like the Lake Superior Coastal Trail, backcountry camping and multi-day canoe routes, there are bound to be some epic adventures waiting for you at Lake Superior Provincial Park.
But many of these experiences, while amazing and bucket list items for sure, aren’t great or realistic if you are travelling and exploring with young kids.
I’m not saying that kids CAN’T do some of these experiences.
In fact, my kids did complete some epic hikes this summer that I didn’t think were realistic for kids, but many of the multi-day experiences in Lake Superior Provincial Park aren’t what you would think of as kid-friendly.
So this post isn’t about those amazing experiences; we’ll save that for when my kids are a bit older.
Instead, it’s about some of the best things to do in Lake Superior Provincial Park with kids and the whole family.
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About Lake Superior Provincial Park
Lake Superior Provincial Park takes its name from the Great Lake that its located on – Lake Superior, which is the largest freshwater lake in the world. The park is one of the oldest provincial parks in Ontario, and it also one of the most popular.
The Trans Canada Highway (Highway 17) runs through the middle of the park, and many people drive through it as part of a Northern Ontario road trip.
And while it is a scenic drive, there’s also so much more to experience in the park. We suggest taking a few days, or even a week to explore all that the park has to offer.
Lake Superior Provincial Park has sandy beaches, scenic trails and waterfalls, and of course, plenty of hiking trails through the forest. It’s also home to moose, lynx and bears, as well as otters, beavers and bald eagles.
And while that might seem daunting, don’t worry – there are plenty of day-use areas and short walks and hikes that are perfect for families with young kids.
Fun Things to do in Lake Superior Provincial Park with Kids
1. Enjoy the Beach at Old Woman Bay
Old Woman Bay is at the northern end of Lake Superior Provincial Park and it’s a popular spot to picnic, swim or enjoy the beach with kids.
While the water in Lake Superior is pretty chilly, even in the summer, Old Woman Bay is in a bit of a sheltered cove and the water is slightly warmer than other spots on Lake Superior. The water is also calm and shallow, making it a great spot for kids.
Old Woman Bay gets its name from the shape of a woman’s face that can be seen in the cliffs on the south shore.
It’s a great spot to stop after you hike the Nokomis trail that’s right across the highway.
2. Hike the Nokomis Trail
Directly across from the Old Woman Bay parking lot is the entrance to Nokomis Trail.
While this is a bit of a tricky trail and there are some steep sections, it’s still doable with kids.
Obviously you know your kids best, but if they’ve done other technical trails (not a flat, groomed trail), then this one should be ok.
It’s about a 5km hike, and took us just under 1.5 hours to complete.
There are several lookout spots along the way with some excellent views of Old Woman Bay – but be warned, the lookouts are just a large, flat rock, not a dedicated lookout viewing platform.
Orphan Lake trail is another good trail for families. The 5km loop follows Old Woman River and there are plenty of scenic lookouts over Old Woman Bay.
3. Visit Katherine Cove
Katherine Cove is a lovely little spot on the shores of Lake Superior towards the southern end of the park.
With clear water and a fine sand beach, it’s a great spot to spend a day with the kids. The water is quite cold, even in the summer, but it’s shallow and perfect for kids to play in.
Or, if you’d rather not take a dip in the water, a walk along the beach is a great way to enjoy the views.
The Lake Superior Coastal Trail passes through Katherine Cove and you can hike this part of the trail along the beach or continue around the next point where you’ll be able to see Bathtub Island in Lake Superior.
4. Take a Dip in Bathtub Island
Bathtub Island is a small island just offshore from Katherine Cove. As the name suggests, there’s a “bathtub” on the island that’s filled with water – and it’s actually really refreshing!
To get to Bathtub Island, follow the trail from the beach at Katherine Cove.
At the south end of the beach, there’s a trail that leads around the point to yet another sandy beach and if you continue on a little further south, you’ll come to another beach with a rock island not too far out from shore.
This is Bathtub Island! To get to the island, you’ll have to wade out through the water – which is why it’s refreshing on a hot day!
The water levels will vary, but it was only waist deep on my (short) kids when we went in July, and not even to the bottom of my shorts. Once you’re on the island, enjoy the views and then take a dip in the “bathtub”! The mini pool is refreshed constantly with water from Lake Superior, so it’s safe to take a dip in, although I’ll warn you – it’s a bit chilly!
5. See the Agawa Rock Pictographs
The Agawa Pictographs are Indigenous rock paintings and are a must-see when you’re in Lake Superior Provincial Park. These ancient rock paintings were created by the Ojibwe people and depict different scenes, animals and stick figures.
The pictographs are only a short 500 metre hike from the parking lot, but the trail is not easy and may not be great for younger kids.
There are several information boards along the trail, providing background and history of the pictographs.
The pictographs are accessed from a rock ledge and can only be viewed when the lake is calm.
Although there is a rope attached to the rock wall, if there is wind or waves, it’s not recommended to walk out on the ledge.
Be sure to have good footwear, as the rock can be slippery!
6. Hike the Sand River Trail
The Sand River trail, also known as Pinguisibi Trail is one of the most popular Lake Superior Provincial Park trails.
This trail follows Sand River and passes waterfalls along the way. It was a 2,000 year-old Ojibwa route between their winter and summer camps and it’s a great trail for families, as it’s relatively easy and flat.
The trail is 6km but it’s an out and back trail, so you can hike as much as you want and then turn back.
7. Relax at Agawa Bay Beach
Agawa Bay Beach is a beautiful beach located in the Agawa Bay Campground.
Whether you’re staying at the campground or just visiting for the day, this is a great spot to relax on the beach or go for a swim.
The beach is sandy, but there are plenty of pebbles as you enter the water and water shoes might be a good idea.
Since it is Lake Superior, the water can be a bit chilly but it’s refreshing on a hot summer day!
And the sunsets are fantastic here, so if you are at the beach in the evening, you’ll be treated to a beautiful show.
8. Join the Discovery Program
The Discovery program offers kid-friendly activities throughout the summer months and is a great way to keep the little ones entertained.
Programs vary each day but range from activities such as art in the park or learning about animals in the park – all programs educate kids about the natural world around Lake Superior.
Check the park activity boards for times and descriptions of the events.
*As Lake Superior is a large park, some of the events are held at different locations throughout the park!
The park also offers other family programs and guided hikes.
9. Camp Overnight
Of course, no trip to Lake Superior Provincial Park would be complete without camping!
There are back country campgrounds in the park, but if you’re looking for car camping (also known as front country camping), there are 2 campgrounds to choose from.
Rabbit Blanket Lake campground and Agawa Bay each have sites for tents and RV’s, but there are no otentiks and yurts, as there are in other provincial park camping sites.
Rabbit Blanket campground is in the north area of the park, near Old Woman Bay. It’s the smaller of the two campgrounds, with 60 sites, and shower and laundry facilities.
Agawa Bay is the larger campground with 147 sites, and is located at the south end of Lake Superior Provincial Park, where the Visitor Center is located.
It also has laundry and shower facilities, and a radio free area. Many of the sites here have fantastic views of the water.
We were lucky enough to get a campsite right on the beach, although the weather wasn’t great during our stay and we didn’t have the fantastic sunsets that I’d heard about, but even in the rain, it was still a great view.
For more information on Lake Superior Provincial Park camping sites and to book a reservation, click here.
How to Get to Lake Superior Provincial Park
Lake Superior Provincial Park is located in Northern Ontario, just under 6 hours from Thunder Bay and 9.5 hours from Toronto.
The Trans-Canada Highway (17) runs right through the park and is the main route to get here from whichever direction you are coming from.
Wawa is the nearest city to the north and Sault Ste. Marie is the closest city to the southern edge of the park.
And be sure to fill up with gas before you drive this section of the TransCanada. The distance from Wawa to Sault Ste. Marie is 225km, and there are no gas stations within Lake Superior Provincial Park, so it’s best to fill up in Sault Ste. Marie if you are heading north or Wawa if you are heading south.
Where to Stay at Lake Superior Provincial Park
When visiting Lake Superior Provincial Park, there are two main options for places to stay; a motel outside of the park or stay at a Lake Superior campground.
For those that don’t want to try camping along Lake Superior, Wawa is the closest town and there are a few motels to choose from.
Mystic Isle Motel is a great choice with clean, comfortable rooms.
Algoma Motel is also a good spot to stay. Although the rooms were a bit more basic, they had fresh baked muffins each morning.
We’ve stayed in both motels at different times and would recommend either. Both are about a 20 minute drive to Old Woman Bay and the Nokomis trail.
Another option is to stay overnight in Sault Ste. Marie, which is about a 1.5 hour drive to Agawa Bay and the Visitor Center.
Or you can camp at one of the 2 car camping campgrounds within the park – Rabbit Blanket Lake or Agawa Bay.
If you are planning to camp, I would recommend making a reservation in advance as the campgrounds can fill up, especially on weekends during peak season. We stayed at Agawa Bay campground and were lucky to get a fantastic site right on the water.
You can check available sites and make reservations on the Ontario Parks site.
What to Pack when Visiting Lake Superior Provincial Park
If you are planning to camp at Lake Superior Provincial Park, you will need to bring all of your gear with you.
Read more | A Printable Checklist for Camping with Kids
Be sure to pack layers as the weather can change quickly, especially near the water. It can be cool even in the middle of summer, so a light jacket or sweater is always a good idea.
If you are staying in a motel or hotel and just visiting the park for the day, you will not need camping gear but I would still recommend packing clothes for both warm and cool weather.
Hiking boots or comfortable walking shoes are also a good idea as there are many great trails to explore in the park.
Final Thoughts: Things to Do in Lake Superior Provincial Park with Kids
Lake Superior Provincial Park is a fantastic place to explore with kids and it’s an ideal destination for a memorable outdoor adventure. Whether you’re camping under the stars, hiking the trails for stunning views or having a picnic on the beach, there are plenty of fun things to do in Lake Superior Provincial Park.