I recently (and admittedly a little reluctantly) spent two nights in Wawa for work. Home to about 3,000 people, Wawa is a typical small northern Ontario town that looks like it has seen better days. Located on highway 17 between Sault Ste. Marie and White River, it is know for being home to Canada’s largest goose, the last place to buy fuel for many kilometers in either direction, and a hitchhiker’s worst nightmare. Until my recent work trip, the extent of my explorations of the area were very limited. Wawa just never struck me as the “We have to stop here!” kind of place.
It turns out it’s worth a stop. The beautiful scenery found in Lake Superior Provincial Park (located to the south) and Pukaskwa National Park (located to the north) doesn’t skip this part of the coast. Here are some of the gems I recently discovered and am planning on going back to revisit.
(Note that other than the Mr. Vallée Trail and Dr. Rose’s / Lion’s Beach, these places are actually in the village of Michipicoten which is located 5 km south of Wawa on Highway 17. Once you turn off the highway onto Michipicoten Village Road, there is good signage you can follow to various beaches, waterfalls and trails.)
- Mr. Vallée Trail: A short trail that starts at the corner of Montreal Ave. S (a gravel road) and goes up an escarpment where you can catch some nice views and leads you to a small tranquil lake. I am pegging this one as a great short trail to stretch my legs on next time I stop in town for gas.
- Magpie Voyageur Trail: Apparently this moderately demanding trail follows the Magpie River to Scenic High Falls and then continues on to Silver Falls.
- Silver Falls Trail: A sign off Michipicoten Harbour Road points to the trail head of this short hike which is said to lead to Silver Falls and another set of falls that is out of sight from the road.
- Dr. Rose’s Beach and Lion’s Beach: These two beaches are adjacent to each other and both located on Wawa Lake – which is, by the way, a beautiful inland lake. Dr. Roses’ beach is off highway 101 (on the southern end of the western shore) and Lion’s Beach is right off Broadway Avenue (on the northern end of the western shore). The water was freezing while I was there but it seems like a great place to go for a swim on a hot summer day when Superior is still cold.
- Sandy Beach: A gorgeous white sand beach on Lake Superior! It is located off Michipicoten Harbour Road.
- Government Dock Beach: Another gorgeous beach with deeper water and reputed for storm watching and photography.
- Michipicoten First Nation: This absolutely stunning beach is located right at the Pow Wow grounds of Michipicoten First Nation (a 15 minute drive north of the village of Michipicoten) and part of the beach that extends north is considered sacred.
- Scenic Magpie High Falls: This wide 75-foot cascading waterfall is not a far detour off Highway 17 and signs will lead you all the way.
- Silver Falls: Apparently there are two sets of falls at Silver Falls and the Silver Falls Trail will lead you to both from Michipicoten Harbour Road. I could see one of the falls from the road itself and definitely want to check it out again during higher flows.
Most of this information and more details are available on the Wawa tourist website: http://www.experiencewawa.ca.