Agawa Bay Campground is a GORGEOUS set of sites, one of two campgrounds in Lake Superior Provincial Park. Here's our campground review!
Just up the Trans Canada Highway from Sault Ste. Marie, Agawa Bay is the first of 2 campgrounds located in Lake Superior park - an amazing provincial park on the north shore of Lake Superior.
While summer is always popular for camping, I happen to think we picked the best time of year to visit.
I’m sure that the diverse scenery - and spectacular sunsets! - are amazing any time of year, mind you.
... but the weather was crisp and cool, and with the fall came then potential of seeing the northern lights!
It rained our first night, but on the second night, we were able to catch a glimpse of some green glow... through the clouds.
Anyway, more on that in a bit!
As has been a running theme on this trip, it was a matter of “the weather is supposed to be decent or good the first night, then rain out for the rest of the trip”.
I guess it keeps us on our toes?
So, after setting up at our camp site, we journeyed down to the Awaga Rock Pictographs... where it immediately started pouring.
Nothing like being out in the Northern Ontario wilderness, in the pouring rain!
Anyway, despite the weather, Agaway Bay was a GREAT place to camp and enjoy nature.
Loads to talk about, so let’s get to it!
Campground Name: Lake Superior Provincial Park
Address: PO Box 267 Wawa, ON P0S 1K0
Price Ontario Provincial Parks uses a pricing matrix across all their parks. See 2023 Camping Fees for more details.
Reservations: Ontario Parks Reservations
It was quick and easy to book our reservation online. Check in was quick and easy - once we found where we needed to go.
The campground was clean and well maintained, there’s very little light pollution in the area.
Cellphone reception was pretty spotty for us - pretty good in the campground itself, for the most part... but not consistently so.
Anywhere outside of the camp ground had pretty much no cell phone coverage at all, though - and that includes the major trail heads, swimming areas, etc.
This is a small campground, so - as far as Agawa Bay specifically is concerned - it’s really easy to get around, and only one simple map is needed.
The signage is decent, but once you’ve driven the campground once, you really don’t even need the signs or map - it’s pretty easy to get around.
That said, getting signed in at the park was a bit of a mess.
As you enter the park, you can go left or right - it tells you camping to the left, so that’s where we went.
The gate house was closed, though, with a sign telling us to check in at the park offices at the visitor centre.
The signage in that area ... wasn’t great. As it turns out, we’d driven right past the visitor center, to the far end of the parking lot from it.
The centre was set back from the parking area, up a little trail.
Once in there, Porter went to the information booth... who then referred him to the gift shop.
Once he finally got up to the cashier, check in was quick and easy, but getting to that point was a bit frustrating.
Comfort Stations, Toilets
There are two comfort stations in Agawa Bay campground, one in each loop of campsites.
Both have hot showers, clean bathrooms with flush toilets, and laundry facilities. The comfort station in the further loop also has a garbage / recycling area.
They all looked to be relatively new, and in decent condition.
Water, Sewer, Garbage.
As with most provincial parks, there are no water or sewer hookups in the individual camp sites.
There is a loop just before the camp ground area, containing both the dumping station (2 platforms):
Beyond that, there are potable water taps throughout the campground areas.
The loop closest to the front entry has a garbage center near the front of the loop (further from the lake), the second loop has their garbage center with the comfort station.
Park Store & Visitor Centre
The visitor center - where we had to check in - has displays highlighting the area’s geography, nature, and cultural history.
It’s also where the park store is located, selling clothing items, books, artwork, snacks, grilling tools, souvenirs, firewood, etc.
It felt a bit more upscale than some of the other campground stores we’ve seen.
Entertainment and Activity
While the campground itself is small, the park is HUGE. There’s a lot to see and do within the boundaries of Lake Superior Provincial Park!
Whether you’re up for a relatively short hike, full day trips, or long trips spanning multiple days, there are plenty of options when it comes to hiking trails - 11 main trails, specifically, adding up to over 130 km of trail!
The park map we got when we registered was good about laying out the info for the various trails, the distance from the campground, and their ratings.
When it comes to ratings, that’s decided by both considering the terrain, and the length of time it takes you to walk the trail.
By their definitions:
Easy: “Level terrain; less than 3 hours”
Moderate: “Some steep inclines and uneven footing; less than 4 hours”
Demanding: “Some steep inclines and uneven footing; long distance trails, 4 - 6 hours”
Very Demanding: “Route not well marked at times; many steep, rugged areas and uneven footing; long distance, overnight trails.”
Assume the most extreme possible condition for that variable.
Definitely wear sturdy footwear (I did NOT wear flip flops for these hikes, LOL!), and definitely pack suitable water / food / bug protection / weather gear / first aid supplies / etc.
Also note that a can and bottle ban is in effect for all backcountry areas. Keep this in mind when planning your food!
As we were only there for 3 nights, were rained out for part, and dealing with injury, we only did 2 hikes:
Agawa Rock Pictographs
This trail begins a short drive north of the campground, and is an absolutely stunning hike.
The Agawa Bay pictographs are a series of 35 red ochre paintings on a cliff wall overlooking the lake.
It’s been an active sacred site, for generations of Ojibwe people.
It’s one of only a handful of Ontario pictograph sites that are accessible by foot, and that’s ONLY under certain conditions.
The natural beauty of the area can make it easy to forget that the site is extremely dangerous - a fact that multiple signs remind you of, though.
People have apparently been swept out by rogue waves, when attempting to view the pictographs.
A Reality Check
The park lists it as a 0.5 km loop, and calls it “moderate”, saying you can expect it to take 30 minutes to an hour.
For one, it’s closer to one km. We didn’t start our trackers until we were ½ of the way to the end point, and we were well over 0.5 when we got back to the car- no deviation from the trail at all.
Secondly, I have to side eye that “moderate”, based on their “Some steep inclines and uneven footing”.
Remember what I said about “assume the most extreme value for that variable”? Yeah. “Some steep” = Hardcore, WILDLY steep, the whole way.
Anyway, in NO WAY do our photos do any justice at all to how wildly hardcore this walk was, or to the beautiful views we took in along the way.
One of the best hikes I’ve ever done (probably THE best), and I felt like such a bad ass for completing it.
10/10, will absolutely do this again someday... though we’ll probably be a bit more careful to avoid the rain, next time!
This was a much easier trail, around one of the inland lakes in the area - Rustle Lake.
It’s listed as being 1.5 km (accurate), and says it’ll take 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to do - also accurate. We did it in 55 minutes.
Going back to their trail definitions, though... It’s listed as “easy”, with the description for “easy” including “level terrain”.
... I mean, there was a short section of level terrain at the end, and the boardwalk was level... that was about it.
There was a lot of uneven footing, elevation climbing, rocks, etc involved here. DEFINITELY wear waterproof hiking boots, as you’ll be going through some marshy areas.
Our Wildlife Memory!
Anyway, this is the trail they recommend if you’re wanting to see wildlife - “such as beaver, otter, marten, Great Blue Heron, and moose.”
The first ⅔ of the trail, we didn’t see so much as a bird. So, we considered it to be more about the rich autumn colours, instead.
Then we heard a weird noise, and saw two otters messing around in the distance!
As a JOKE, I said something like "I wonder if they'll answer to PSPSPSPS?".
So I PSPSPS'd at them.
... they popped up, stared right at me, CHANGED DIRECTION, and started swimming right for us!
... And they turned around and started swimming towards us again!
This is the best photo Porter got - SUPER zoomed in. I'm shocked we got any photos at all, we were stunned at them swimming towards us when called!
I still can't believe this happened - I wish we'd thought to get video!
We continued the trail, and saw a giant bird fly up and away, as we rounded a corner to a bit of a clearing on the side of the lake.
Might have been one of those great blue herons? Didn’t manage to get a good photo, whatever it was.
We soon came to the end of the trail and headed back to the camper.
The Other Trails
Doing the Trapper’s Trail - and skipping the recovery day I knew I’d need after the pictographs trail - ended up breaking me, so that was it for hiking.
As a quick overview of the other available trails:
This one is a 5 km loop, ranked “moderate”, with a stated completion time of 1.5 - 3 hours, and it’s the other one we were planning on doing.
After seeing what “moderate” meant on that first hike, though... kinda doubting I would have been able to handle this.
This one is located in the Old Woman Bay area, and takes you through boreal forest areas to visit scenic lookouts over the cliffs of Old Woman Bay.
This trail is ranked one of the top 5 day hikes in Lonely Planet’s “Discover Canada” book.
Pinguisibi (Sand River)
Another hike that’s just up the highway from the campground, this was another that got canceled when I blew my knee out.
This one’s listed as “easy”, but it’s also a 6 km round trip, linear trail. The recommended time is 1.5-3 hours to complete it.
Because the trail head - along with some amazing views of a waterfall - was right off the highway, we pulled in to check it out.
I may not have been able to walk the trail, but check out this little picnic area! The falls are RIGHT behind it!
Can you imagine a more perfect place to share a meal?
South Old Woman River
Listed as being a moderate difficulty trail, 2.5 km loop, 1-2 hours to complete.
This one is on the far end of the park, across from the Rabbit Blanket Lake Campground.
The description says most of the trail is easy with some sections that are uneven, and some rock hopping involved to cross the river.
Another one that’s located at the Rabbit Blanket Lake Campground, with access points near site #30 and #49.
This is listed as a “demanding” 11 km loop, and a time of 3-5 hours to complete.
This one’s listed as a moderate 8 km loop, that’s expected to take 2-4 hours to complete.
The highlights of this one include going though various types of forest, climbing up to lookout, a beach, waterfalls, and more.
This one is listed as a demanding 10 km loop that should take 4-6 hours to complete.
It follows an old logging road at the base of Agawa mountain, then takes you up hills, along a ravine, past lookouts, and through forest areas.
This one is listed as “very demanding”. Seeing what gets passed off as “easy” and “moderate”, I can’t even begin to wrap my head around what “very demanding” may look like!
This one is a linear trail, 24 km return, and says it’ll take 8-14 hours to complete - it’s recommended as an overnight trip.
It goes out to Agawa falls - one of the highest waterfalls in Lake Superior Provincial Park - and back, passing several back country campsites en route.
This one’s listed as an easy 2 km loop, taking 30 minutes to an hour to complete. It’s recommended for families, so maybe it’s legitimately an easy trail?
It’ll take you through forest and past a few lakes, so it should definitely be interesting!
Lake Superior Coastal Trail
This one sounds absolutely wild. It’s “very demanding”, 65 - SIXTY FIVE!!! - km in length, and they recommend 5-7 days to complete the entire trail.
I can’t imagine.
Definitely take a park map (or two!) with you if you’re going to brave this kind of nonsense.
It uses blue diamond shaped symbols to mark the trail in wooded areas , and rock cairns throughout the more exposed, rocky areas.
This one takes you around some of the most remote sections of the Lake Superior shoreline, and I bet it’s absolutely amazing.
I just can’t wrap my head around carrying a week’s worth of food and camping gear, while ALSO climbing something deemed “very demanding”!
Lake Superior Provincial Park is a popular spot for boating - especially canoeing - but there are some restrictions you should know about.
Power boats are allowed on Lake Superior with no motor restrictions in place. Motors need to be 10 hp or less on Sand lake, and power boats are not allowed on any other lakes in the park.
There aren’t any boat launches in Agawa Bay campground itself, but there is one in Sinclair Cove, just a few kilometres north of the campground. It’s accessed via the same exit as the Agawa Rock Pictographs trail
Canoe rentals are available at the gate house for Agawa Bay, and also at Rabbit Blanket Lake.
The canoes in Agawa Bay Campground are located near the amphitheatre, fairly close to the water.
Fishing & Hunting
You can fish for brook trout, lake trout, rainbow trout, and salmon throughout the park, subject to various restrictions and seasons.
Additionally, the use - and possession - of live baitfish is prohibited on interior park lakes.
Man, I wish I knew some moose hunters. I could do with a nice batch of my moose stew right about now...
As the largest freshwater lake in the world, it shouldn’t surprise you that swimming is a whole thing at Lake Superior Provincial Park.
There is a long beach up the length of the Agawa Bay Campground - it’s a rocky beach.
Just up the highway, Katherine Cove is a gorgeous sandy beach and day use area.
Finally, Old Woman Bay also has a swimming area... which we had not visited, by the time we published this review!
Birding & Wildlife
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m starting to think the birds have something against us!
Lake Superior Provincial Park is supposed to have a ton of bird species - 250 identified within the park, over 120 of which nest there! - and touts the great bird watching opportunities.
We saw that one large bird at Trapper’s Trail, and we had one small bird visit us while having lunch at our campsite.
... the entire stay.
I’m going to start taking this personally!
Anyway, aside from the birds, the park is also known for black bears, moose, otters, and more. We just didn’t see much wildlife, during our stay!
Oh well. Those two otters made up in quality, what we’re lacking in quantity!
As with most provincial parks, there are several different offerings for interpretive programs, special events, etc in Lake Superior Provincial Park, and Agawa Bay Campground, specifically.
The Agawa Bay Visitor Centre hosts some programming, with park staff offering kids programs, speakers, evening programs, guided walks, and more during the summer months.
There’s also a large-ish amphitheatre on one end of the campground.
There are 3 main day use areas in the park for picnicking or use as rest stops: Sand River (Next to waterfalls!), Katherine Cove (A beach area), and Old Woman Bay (also a beach area).
I think all of the picnic tables we saw were out in the open, I didn’t see any picnic shelters during our stay.
Note: You will need a vehicle permit to park in these areas.
While the camp grounds and park roads are closed and gated off in the winter, the park welcomes you to ice fish, ski, and snowshoe as weather and conditions permit.
Snowmobiles aren’t permitted anywhere in the park, except on Frater road.
Niantic Games, etc
There are a few pokestops / gyms / Ingress Portals in the campground - 2 in the campground, 2 by the visitor center, one at the amphitheatre, and one at the gate house.
You’re never all that far away from a stop, and cell reception was generally OK enough to get your daily tasks in, at minimum.
Agawa Campground has plenty of options for camping, whether you want electrical or not.
Almost ¾ of the campsites in Agawa Bay campground are non electrical, though.
Most are at least fairly spacious sites, with some large sites nestled in.
The southern loop is a radio free campground, with a variety of types of sites.
Some were very secluded and surrounded by woods, some of the best campsites were basically right on the shores of Lake Superior.
One thing to note: The entire campground is RIGHT off the highway.
While we could hear the highway traffic, it was mostly drowned out by our A/C and heater.
Outside, the sound from the highway is quite loud.
If you’re tent camping and will be bothered by the noise, try to camp as close to the water as possible, to at least put some space - and campers - between you and the highway.
Our site - 114 - was a nice spot, right across from the water. Kind of narrow to get into, but absolutely worth it for that view!
There are almost 200 backcountry campsites in Lake Superior Provincial Park, divided into over 70 zones.
Some backcountry sites have fire pits, some have access to box privies, and some even have a picnic table or food locker.
While some sites are available on a first come, first served basis, it’s recommended that you book your site / interior camping permit ahead of time.
The comfort stations, amphitheatre, park office, and visitor center are all barrier-free. There is also one barrier-free campsite available for those who need it.
The roads are narrow, and the roads on the second loop of the park are not paved.
There are no artificial paths down to the beach, and the sand is quite loose and rocky to navigate.
So far as I can tell - at least based on the two trails we did, and what they were rated - I can’t imagine that any of the trails in this park are suitable for anyone using any kind of a mobility aid at all.
There is an off-leash dog beach at the north end of the campground - kind of halfway between the campsites, and the visitor center.
It can be accessed via a trail at the visitor center, or via a (walking) road from the campground.
Aside from that, dogs have to be leashed everywhere else in the park.
They’re not allowed on the Agawa Pictograph trail, but ARE allowed on the rest of the trails.
Gorgeous park, amazing views, fantastic hiking.
As my husband said, it’s the most fun he’s ever had climbing rocks. It’s not something he’d ever sought out, but now he gets it!
Being able to park our camper just a few metres from Lake Superior and only have to look out our door to see a beautiful sunset over the lake has been wonderful.
We’ll definitely be back.
More Campground Reviews
Want to read some more of what we have to say about the campgrounds we've stayed at? Here are some more reviews!
Chutes Provincial Park
Conestogo Lake Conservation Area
Elora Gorge Conservation Area
Fifty Point Conservation Area
Killbear Provincial Park
Long Point Provincial Park
Meaford Memorial Park
Port Burwell Provincial Park
Valens Lake Conservation Area
Selkirk Provincial Park
Turkey Point Provincial Park
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