On the shores of Lake Superior, Pancake Bay Provincial Park includes 3.2 km (1.98 miles) of sand beach and a myriad of recreation opportunities. Located along the historic paddling route of the Voyageurs, the sheltered bay’s name comes from the fur trading era; it is said that when voyageurs would camp in the area during their journey from Fort William, their food supply would be low. They would make pancakes for dinner and plan to pick up additional rations in Sault Ste. Marie the next day.
There is plenty to do during a visit to Pancake Bay Provincial Park. The Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout, for example, is an interpretive trail that offers views of Lake Superior and Great Lakes ships. The Lookout Trail will take your through lush forest and provide you with a view of Whitefish Point (known as the “graveyard of the Great Lakes”) from the Lookout Trail viewing platform. Keep your eyes out for wildlife; moose, black bears and sandhill cranes call the area home.
After enjoying a hike, spend some time in the park’s beautiful blue water. Pancake Bay Provincial Park is also a great place to camp, with 328 campsites, 70 of which offer electricity hook-ups. Sites are available for large RV’s, group campsites are available and you can even choose to stay in a yurt.
Close to many of the area’s regional attractions, Pancake Bay Provincial Park is a great choice when looking to park your RV and explore!
Pancake Bay Provincial Park is about an hour drive from Sault Ste. Marie and you can travel to the park by taking heading north on the Trans-Canada Highway/ON-17 N. The road is paved, making for easy travel to your destination.
Parking is available within the park.
There is no public transportation to Pancake Bay Provincial Park. If you are in Sault Ste. Marie, you can take a bus to Batchawana Bay; once there you can take a taxi the last 22.5 km (14 miles) to the park.
Hilltop Campground includes 90 campsites that are open from June 21 through September 2. The majority of the sites are located on a hill and the area is “radio free” meaning the campground should be relatively quiet. Some of the sites offer electric hook-ups and it is an easy 5-8 minute walk from the campground to the beach. A comfort station is located in the campground and offers flush toilets and showers for the convenience of guests. Campsites include a fireplace and a picnic table.
The remaining campsites in Pancake Bay Provincial Park are in the Main Campground, which is divided into East, East-Central, West and West-Central. East, East-Central and West-Central open on May third and are available through October 15. West is open from June 21 through September 2. Two comfort stations are available for campers and include showers, flush toilets and laundry facilities. An amphitheater can be found on the campground that offers presentations by park naturalists. Each campsite in the main campground offers easy access to the beach, with some sites being beachfront. Many of the sites are pull-through and sites are available that accommodate larger RV’s and trailers. Drinking water taps are available throughout the campground and barrier-free (accessible) campsites are available.
Hesitant to camp? You can still stay at Pancake Bay Provincial Park; reserve a yurt! There are five yurts available in the park; three in the east side of the park along with two in the main campground. All yurts are within a short walk to the beach. Yurts are accessible and have two sets of futon bunk beds, sleeping up to six people. There is also a table, chairs and mini-fridge. Each yurt also has a propane BBQ, picnic table and fire pit and is close to a comfort station with shower facilities and flush toilets.
Pancake Bay Provincial Park has five group campsites available. Located at the west end of the campground, the group sites are next to the 3.5 km nature trail. The sites are different sizes and can host 15-40 people. A comfort station with flush toilets, showers and laundry facilities is within walking distance and there are water taps nearby. All sites offer easy access to the beach. Group campsites are a great way to enjoy the outdoors AND spend time with those that you care about.
Lake Superior’s ice caves have a magical quality to them. The unique ice formations are impressive and when visiting Pancake Bay Provincial Park during winter months, you may have the opportunity to explore one that is nearby. Saw Pit Bay, which is located off of Highway 17 about 10 minutes north of the main gate of Pancake Bay Provincial Park, is considered one of the best places to visit the ice caves. Park at the Saw Pit Bay Motel and Cabins and head either north or south in order to begin exploring the caves along the coast. Mid-February to early March is thought to be the best time to view the formations.
Pancake Bay Provincial Park is located in the transition zone between the Great Lakes and Boreal Forest regions. This results in the area being home to a myriad of wildlife. Keep your eyes out for Red Squirrels, chipmunks, Red fox and birds like Pileated and Downy Woodpeckers. Moose, wolves, Black bears, Bald Eagles, Common Loons, Sandhill Cranes and Cedar Waxwings can also be found in the park, which has had over 200 bird species sightings recorded. The park’s wetlands are home to a number of amphibians to watch for, like the Spring Peepers and Green Frogs. Keep your eyes out as you explore the park; you may experience some exciting wildlife sightings!
During the spring and fall months, consider going fishing during your visit to Pancake Bay Provincial Park. You can fish for Lake Trout in Lake Superior, along with Rainbow Trout and salmon in the Pancake River. During the salmon run in the fall, you will likely see folks fishing with waders on! There are a number of rivers and lakes nearby, which offer additional opportunities to reel in some fish.
Exploring the park by canoe or kayak is an excellent way to explore the park when the weather is warm. You can paddle along Lake Superior’s shoreline and imagine yourself exploring as the voyageurs did years ago. Batchawana Bay is large through mostly sheltered and it is important to keep in mind that sudden changes in weather can lead to large waves in the lake. This means you will want to be sure to wear your personal flotation device, keep an eye on the weather and only paddle within your experience and ability level. On a warm day, it is easy to cool off with a quick swim before getting back into your kayak or canoe.
Pancake Bay Provincial Park is home to a gorgeous beach that is perfect to spend time at during your visit. The beach includes 3.2 km (1.98 miles) of fine sand and is sheltered by the two protective promontories that resulted in the bay being formed. You can relax on the beach, toss a Frisbee or ball, or go for a swim to cool off when the weather is warm. Swimming is at your own risk as there are no lifeguards present at the beach. The beach is also a perfect place for a picnic, where you can relax, have a meal and look out at the scenery.
A great way to explore Pancake Bay Provincial Park is by going for a hike or two. While at the park, you can choose a trail that best meets both your ability and your desire. Looking for an easy hike? Enjoy the Pancake Bay Nature Trail, which is 3.5 km (2.1 miles) long. The trail follows the Lake Superior shoreline and through forested ancient beach ridges. You will travel through wetlands along a boardwalk and travel along a creek. During your walk, you will get to view a very large conglomerate boulder thought to be a billion years old. A more difficult trail is The Lookout Trail, which is 14km (8.7 miles) total and considered moderate in difficulty. You will enjoy a walk through lush forest of sugar maples and yellow birch trees. Take in views of Pancake Bay and keep your eyes out for wildlife! The trail has two lookout platforms that will provide views of Lake Superior and Pancake Bay.