Kayaking the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area

Once established, the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area will be the largest protected freshwater marine area in Canada.

kayak lake superior national marine conservation area
(Photo by Dale Wilson and courtesy of Parks Canada © Parks Canada/Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area)

Whether you’re a beginning kayaker or have been paddling for years, this is definitely a location to add to your paddling bucket list.

A World-Class Kayaking Destination and More

The north shore of Lake Superior in Canada is the wildest and most rugged of the Lake’s shoreline. It features beautiful pebble beaches, high cliffs and water clarity of up to 75 feet. Abundant wildlife inhabits the area including moose, black bear, wolves and woodland caribou.

Lake Superior NMCA will offer kayakers 3,860 square miles (10,850 square kilometers) of paddling adventure, including over 600 islands to explore.

There are also several hiking trails along the shoreline, from the 1.5 km Rossport Coastal Trail to the 53 km Casques Isles Trail. The trails meander through thick boreal forests and onto stunning vistas overlooking the Big Lake.

Fishing and hunting are both allowed in the Lake Superior NMCA, as is sailing. Bird watching during the migration season is popular, too.

How to get there

The Lake Superior NMCA is along 85 miles of shoreline in northwestern Ontario, Canada. It begins roughly near Thunder Bay at Thunder Cape and stretches to Bottle Point. Its southern border is the international border between Canada and the US.

kayak lake superior national marine conservation area
(Map courtesy of Parks Canada © Parks Canada/Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area)

From the US, you can drive to this area from Minnesota or Michigan, and then access it via the Trans-Canada Highway. Or you can fly into the Thunder Bay International Airport and rent a car and gear.

Lodging and Outfitting

There are several towns with lodging options along the Lake Superior NMCA coast including Dorion, Red Rock, Nipigon, Rossport, Schreiber and Terrace Bay. Camping is available both along the Lake Superior NMCA shoreline and on many of its islands.

Rossport is home to Superior Outfitters. They’ll set you up with kayak day trips or weekend excursions complete with island camping (either guided or rental-only).

kayak lake superior national marine conservation area
(Photo by Dale Wilson and courtesy of Parks Canada © Parks Canada/Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area)

Kayaking on Lake Superior

July and August are typically the calmest months on the Big Lake, although many areas of the Lake Superior NMCA are protected from both prevailing northwesterly and northeasterly winds by the surrounding landscape. Definitely check the weather forecast before heading out, though.

Lake Superior is known for its hypothermia-inducing temperatures (even in summer) and its sudden storms. So if you’re a novice kayaker, you may want to consider either going with someone experienced or hiring a guide.

An Unforgettable Experience

If you love kayaking, and especially if you also love wilderness, the Lake Superior NMCA is a destination you’ll want to consider for your next adventure!

kayak lake superior national marine conservation area
(Photo by Dale Wilson and courtesy of Parks Canada © Parks Canada/Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area)

Other resources you may be interested in:

“A Paddler’s Guide to the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area” by Darrell Makin and Zack Kruzins
Parks Canada Lake Superior NMCA website

Sources:
Ontario Canada Travel Guide
Parks Canada Lake Superior NMCA
Parks Canada Lake Superior NMCA Kayaking
Special thanks to Sadie Gross of Parks Canada


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