Experience Motorcycle Touring in East Algoma
Planning a Northern Ontario motorcycle tour often starts with a destination, Lake Superior, Wawa and beyond. Thanks to Ontario’s vastness, what these places have in common is distance and plenty of it. What it all boils down to is getting there requires some long days in the saddle. Take the Lake Huron North Channel and Highway 17 that follows it, for example. Perhaps the most popular route to access the spoils of the north but often seen as a means from point A to B. But it doesn’t have to be this way; here are a few reasons to stop along the North Channel.
Spanish Municipal Marina
What does a marina have to do with motorcycles? From the seat of your bike, nothing. However, step off and climb the staircase to the pavilion above and experience perhaps the best Lake Huron North Channel view anywhere. Want a more unobstructed view of the area? Follow the Shoreline Discovery Trail that starts just behind the gazebo and enjoy just that, along the trail’s rugged 2.5 km length. On the practical side, the marina also offers access to bathrooms.
Serpent River Park and Kennebec Falls
There are many beautiful rest areas along Highway 17, but few match the setting of Serpent River Park and Kennebec Falls. Nestled amongst a growth of old pines and the sound of rushing water of the nearby rapids, the atmosphere is pure northern Ontario. Be sure to follow the sound of rapids and the path under the highway to experience the power of Kennebec Falls. For a more soothing water’s edge experience, head to the back of the rest area.
Lake Lauzon Beach
On the outskirts of Algoma Mills, you will find Lake Lauzon Beach. A lovely public beach with washroom facilities, picnic tables, BBQ pits and parking all here to take care of your along-the-road needs. The beach is a popular swimming spot, and Lake Lauzon is well known for its boating and fishing opportunities, including the elusive Muskie. If you want to mix in some fishing into your moto tour, local guide Adam Vallee from Angling Algoma can hook you up, no pun intended. Also, be sure to follow the signs to the nearby lookout for another grand view of the North Channel.
With its inviting main street, Blind River deserves a stop. Grab a bite to eat, relax in the riverside park and browse the many shops. The Blind River Marina offers bathroom facilities, and water access and houses the Timber Village Museum, where you can explore the history of the local industries and early pioneers. If you like your beach on the wild side, follow the signs to the near by Boom Camp Interpretive Park. The trails at the western entrance lead to some of the most spectacular beaches in the area.
Dean Lake Bridge
Photo op, anyone? Spanning 300 feet across the Mississagi River, the impressive steel bridge has been around for over a hundred years. Just a few meters off the highway, the detour is minimal. Although the road beyond the bridge will continue your journey west, the surface is gravel, so grab your shot and head back to Highway 17.
Thessalon and Hwy 129
We have options here; in town, you can grab a bite to eat, take in some beach time, and fill your tank at the new service center at the west end of town. Turning north onto Highway 129 and onto Little Rapids Road, you have a chance to walk through another time at the Heritage Park Museum, which offers a glimpse of what life would have been like in the area over 100 years ago. For easy navigation, follow the Waterfront Trail signs to Bruce Mines.
The historical theme continues at Bruce Mines with a Group of Seven interpretive panel overlooking the St. Joseph Channel at the marina. As far as I am aware, this is the only Group of Seven panel locations that you can view from your bike seat. If you are lucky enough to view the setting under the brooding sky, you will find that the scene still matches the painting precisely over 100 years later. For food, I love the Copper Bean Cafe and of course the famous Bobbers Restaurant.
St. Joseph Island
Another fantastic rest spot set amongst rock and wind-shaped pines greet you at the edge of the island. Once over the bridge, Highway 548 is a pleasant 70 or so kilometres circumnavigation of the island. Along the way, you can visit Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site, smell the flowers at Adcock’s Woodland Gardens and enjoy some patio time in Richards Landing or Hilton Beach. Gas is scarce on the island, so be sure you have what you need.
Loon Dollar Monument
You can find the monument along Highway 17B in the Village of Echo Bay, a short detour from Highway 17. The structure was constructed in 1992 and is a dedication to Mr. Robert R. Carmichael, the artist responsible for creating the Loon Dollar design and a Township resident. And yes, it makes for a great photo op. From Echo Bay, you can follow Highway 17B west to Sault Ste. Marie.
Yes, the Lake Huron North Channel and Highway 17 might be the most popular route to access the spoils of the north and is often seen as a means from point A to B. But with so many reasons to stop and explore, it doesn’t have to be that way.
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