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7 ultimate backcountry adventures in Sault Ste. Marie

Discover the spots that are putting Sault Ste. Marie’s backcountry on the map
OrphanLake (6)
Konrad Wojick

Whether you’re dreaming of the ultimate single track experience, paddling the waters of an ancient inland sea, or prefer to explore the wilds of the backcountry, Sault Ste. Marie has endless options for outdoor adventure

The best part is, these world-class experiences are accessible to all ages and skill levels, can be found within a few kilometres of city limits, and are all within proximity to local amenities. There’s a reason why Explore Magazine is calling the Sault one of Canada’s best adventure towns

Now is the time to plan your ultimate backcountry weekend in Ontario. It’s easy. Here’s a small taste of what’s waiting for you and how you can get started. 


Mountain Biking Hiawatha Highlands

190711596Martin Lortz

Sault Ste. Marie is home to Hiawatha Highlands, the region’s best mountain biking trail network. 

Hiawatha boasts 31 kilometres of single-track that range from smooth, twisting, tree-lined beginner trail and flowing-fast intermediate trails, to heart-pumping single track filled with adrenaline-inducing downhills and technical features that will test the skills of the most advanced rider. 

The trails are set among old-growth pine forests, along the edges of rushing rivers and across the rocky outcropping of the Canadian Shield. Trails transition from the region’s legendary dark, tire-gripping dirt to raw rock formations that will keep you on your toes. 

This amazing mountain biking experience is going to become even better in 2021. The City of Sault Ste. Marie has recently embarked on a huge $667,000 plan to further develop Hiawatha Highlands to become Ontario’s premier mountain biking trail network.

Hiawatha Highlands is a short, 10 minutes from the centre of the city, close to local restaurants, patios, bike shops, breweries, and accommodations. 

Take a self-guided tour or enlist local adventure-by-bike specialists, Red Pine Tours for a personalized experience. Bike rentals and trail recommendations can be found locally at Velorution.

Up for some adrenaline-filled downhill mountain biking? Check out this recent video highlighing Bellevue Valley trails.

Urban cycling adventure 

SSM Tourism_OutspokenRandie Leanne
Breweries, bustling patios, great food and scenic views are all part of your urban cycling experience in Sault Ste. Marie.
Take a craft brewery and patio cycling tour on the John Roswell Hub Trail, a 25-kilometre paved multi-use trail system that hugs the curving shores of the St. Mary’s River, connects you to national historic sites and cuts through the forest of the scenic Fort Creek Conservation Area. 

On your ride, visit the Northern Superior Brewing Company’s taproom and learn about the storied history of brewing in Sault Ste. Marie while tasting a selection of local beer, some derived from century-old recipes. Stop in at Outspoken Brewing’s tree-covered patio, backdropped by one of many artist-commissioned urban murals found around the city, for a flight of thoughtfully crafted ales, lagers, or seasonal beer releases. And kick back along the edge of the St. Mary’s River at Fluid Patio and watch boats, canoers, and Great Lakes freighters cruise by while you sip and snack.

For something sweet, grab a Beavertail along Sault Ste. Marie’s riverfront boardwalk or cool down with handmade, local ice cream from Elliot’s Ice Cream.

Bike rentals and information are available locally at Veloruion, Algoma Bicycle Company and the Duke of Windsor


Big Canoe Tour 0519-211Tourism SSM
Embark on a guided big canoe tour with the Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy and paddle the waters of the St. Mary’s River from the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site on Whitefish Island past riverfront attractions, docking at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.  
Get a glimpse of Sault Ste. Marie’s historic lock, spot a variety of local wildlife along the footpaths of South St. Mary’s Island, and experience the St. Mary’s rapids - one of the world’s premier angling destinations and a place Ernest Hemmingway dubbed as having, “The best rainbow trout fishing in the world.”

Paddling Lake Superior Provincial Park

Old Woman Bay4Greg Sacco

Lake Superior Provincial Park spans 81 kilometres along Highway 17 between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa and accommodates world-class canoeing adventure. The park is home to in-land lake and river systems that make up a network of among the most beautiful and challenging backcountry canoe routes in Ontario. 

Canoe routes accommodate single day-excursions to advanced multi-day adventures. Experience the thrill of exploring untouched shores or connect with a piece of history by venturing along original Hudson’s Bay fur trade routes. 

Canoe rentals are available at multiple locations throughout the park.

Stand up paddleboard tours

Waterfront Adventure Centre 7Tourism SSM
Get connected with the coast of Lake Superior and the rivers that feed it. A scenic drive up Highway 17 north, you will find pristine sand beaches, plunging cliffs, ancient rock formations and some of the clearest waters in Ontario all waiting to be explored by paddleboard.

Take a guided paddleboard tour of Superior’s coast and learn about the great lake’s storied history or use your own equipment to access Sault Ste. Marie’s thousands of crystal-clear inland lakes and river systems. 

For information on where to explore by paddleboard, contact Superior East Board Shop.


Robertson Cliff Trail


Head up Robertson Cliff Trail for views of the largest freshwater lake in the world and witness the splendour of the Algoma region mere minutes from town.

This intermediate-level, family-friendly five-kilometre trek carries you to a natural lookout 150 metres above lush Boreal Forest where you’ll take in dramatic views of Lake Superior and the rolling hills of Algoma country. 

Experience tumbling waterfalls, seas of wildflowers and a majestic forest canopy that will transport to a raw, untouched world.   

Lake Superior Coastal Trail

agawa0939James Smedley / Algoma Country

Hike among towering cliffs dramatic rock formations, and beaches of boulders and driftwood. 

You don’t have to fly to the west coast of Canada to experience world-class backcountry hiking. A short drive from Sault Ste. Marie is the gateway to the Lake Superior Coastal Trail, an awe-inspiring 65-kilometre hiking trail system that follows the shoreline of the largest freshwater lake in the world.

Traverse across unique sections of trail that feature volcanic flows, ancient banded rock formations, chasms, white-sand beaches, perched boulders and some of the most Instagram-able views for your adventure log. 

Backcountry campsites are available and are shared by hikers, paddlers and adventure-seekers.

Start planning your next adventure

Sault Ste. Marie offers the perfect setting for your ultimate backcountry experience big, small or at any skill level. 

This is just a small selection of adventures you can have by visiting Sault Ste. Marie. For more backcountry adventure inspiration check out @sault.ste.marie on Instagram or visit