One of our favourite drives is around the ‘Island’. Situated in the North Channel of Lake Huron, St. Joseph Island is accessed by a toll free bridge from the mainland and one of Ontario’s hidden cycling gems. You’ll love the scenic country roads, stunning views of Lake Huron with a mix of rolling hills and canopied side roads.
Starting off a tour right is important; if you’re like us, it will include a steamy, tasty beverage with a token baked good. Try The Black Bear Cafe & Eatery for coffee and cinnamon buns.
A first stop: St. Joseph Island Museum, consisting of historical buildings in an outdoor setting. Its artifacts and buildings were donated by Island residents and businesses. Enjoy the leisurely pace of Island time. A good lunch stop is Fannie’s on the Island. It’s a farm-to-table style restaurant offering take-out and grab’n go meals perfect for picnics.
Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site is located on the southern tip of the Island. The drive to the Fort follows country roads where you may see wildlife like birds, deer, or wild turkeys.
Immerse yourself in Canadian history and culture at this Parks Canada Site. Interpreters share the stories of this place, once the most westerly fort in Upper Canada. Hike the trails, enjoy birdwatching, and explore the historic ruins. Dinner is enjoyed at local restaurants in Hilton Beach or Richards Landing; stay the night. You might also like: a walk at the marina, or Adcock’s Woodland Garden.
Head back to the mainland. The Johnson Farmers’ Market is open on Saturdays. Purchase local foods to make up a picnic: fresh bread, fruits and berries, honey, and tasty treats. Stop in to McClelland’s Hardware for smoked meats and cheese.
Rolling farmland and greenery are the views along Hwy 17 East heading towards Bruce Mines and Thessalon. Inside the “Church on the Rock” is the Bruce Mines Museum. This historic building has some interesting local artifacts and history. Walk across the street to see the Simpson Mine Shaft. Take a walk on the waterfront to the Group of Seven interpretive panel which tells the story of Tom Thomson, who painted the town waterfront in the early 1900s.
At Thessalon, be ready for a fantastic drive through the Mississsagi Valley along Hwy 129. This scenic highway is renowned for its twisty roadways following the Mississagi River. See the waterfall at Aubrey Falls Provincial Park.
Continue your wilderness drive on Ranger Lake Road to Sault Ste. Marie. It’s a pretty backcountry drive with tall trees, views of hills and mountains, lakes and rivers.
Sault Ste. Marie is known for its foodie scene; it’s known for its Italian food and pizza, too. Enjoy both in the casual ambience of Quattro Vinotecca, with their fine selection of fine wines and local craft beer. Stay overnight in the city to rest and relax after your adventure in the outdoors.