If you have ever driven Highway 17 up towards Thunder Bay you are aware there are plenty of road-side stops to stretch your legs and see the sights. This is especially true in the Sault Ste Marie area, this region gets a lot of tourism and therefore has a lot to see in the area! But at the very beginning of your trip, perhaps even just as you get on Highway 17 there are spots that are often skipped over. I am going to highlight some of these 'lesser known' spots we stopped at along our great 17 day camping trip!
First up! No trip up north is complete without a stop in Sudbury! There is so much to do in this city that is so rich with Canadian history! Often overshadowed by larger cities Sudbury can get passed over but I promise you, you wont regret even a quick
stop here! Whenever we pass through we love to stop at Canada's Largest Nickel - in fact - the WORLD'S LARGEST COIN! Located on the grounds of Dynamic Earth - an extremely fun Science centre featuring hands on earth science and mining activities. Sadly we weren't able to explore Dynamic Earth during this trip as we arrived at the Nickel for a rainy lunch. There is plenty of picnic area, walking trails nearby and a beautiful view of some of Sudbury's smoke stacks.
Next stop further up Highway 17 on route to Sault Ste Marie (commonly referred to as The Soo) - be sure to stop in Espanola for coffee, gas and a bite to eat. There are plenty of options at the joint Tim Horton's/Wendy's along the Highway but if you are willing to step off the Highway a bit the town of Espanola has many more options for you! The town of Espanola was originally founded in the early 1900's for the employees of the Spanish Pulp and Paper Company. Though still a fine paper town, Espanola is now renowned for it's picturesque wilderness, lakes, fishing, camping, hiking and golfing opportunities. Sukhdev is a phenomenal Indian cuisine restaurant that is well worth the stop!
We stopped for the night in Massey at Chutes Provincial Park - this park was magical! Honestly I don't know how more people don't flock to it. It is a small park with no park store however it holds so much charm. There is a stunningly picturesque waterfall with an accessible view platform, the beaches here are not crowded, in view of the waterfall and warm even in June when we went! We hiked the two bridges trail and were very impressed with the trail quality, the cascading rapids and of course the Two Bridges!
The following day we jotted way out of the way, in fact we left Highway 17 and took Highway 108 up to Elliot Lake - my Grandmother lives in Elliot Lake so we knew we needed to make the trip up to see her since we were so close. Well let me tell you, even if she didn't live here we would have made it!
Elliot Lake is GORGEOUS! We went to the Elliot Lake Fire Tower where you can see Lake Huron and a view of the Cup and Saucer trail on Manitoulin Island! There is a playground on the top of the mountain, picnic tables, a covered gazebo and washrooms here as well as plenty of trail options if you'd like to hike in Elliot Lake. We also passed many bird conservatories on the way with beautiful boardwalked trails and we saw many Sand Herons and Great Blue Herons from the comfort of our van!
Our final stop before arriving in The Soo was in Echo Bay, Ontario at.... yet another World's Largest coin - this time the World's Largest Loonie. Robert Carmicheal of Echo Bay is the artist behind our iconic Loonie's design! There is a lovely picnic area here, with a clean washroom and a great spot to get out and snap that Insta-worthy photo!