Explore the interesting places to visit between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Most of the towns began as supply depots for the logging or mining industries. Today they support outdoor adventure.
Discover the roles of Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site and Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site in Canadian history.
This route is just one part of our complete series of Northern Ontario Road Trips.
Table of Contents
Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie Road Trip
This road trip follows the Trans-Canada Highway from Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie along the North Channel of Lake Huron. Explore the towns and the stunning outdoors this route has to offer. The distance noted in parentheses is the driving distance from the previous stop. Take at least a day to do the drive. Add time for the end points and any side trips.
These are the highlights between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.
- Sudbury’s Big Nickel and Dynamic Earth
- Side trip: Manitoulin Island (115 km)
- Chutes Provincial Park (90 km from Sudbury)
- Kennebec Falls (35 km)
- Iron Bridge (60 km)
- Bruce Mines Museum (45 km)
- Side trip: St. Joseph Island (25 km)
- Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site (70 km from Bruce Mines)
Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie Map
Sudbury is famous for its Big Nickel monument, but there’s more to explore. Spend at least a day in this northern Ontario city. See its two world-class science centres, Dynamic Earth and Science North. Walk the path around Lake Ramsey, enjoying Bell Park and its sandy beach. Visit the Art Gallery and drive around the city to see Sudbury’s Murals painted on local buildings, including Canada’s largest mural.
Check out our article, Things To Do in Sudbury, for more details on how to spend your day.
Side trip: Manitoulin Island
Enjoy a side trip to Manitoulin Island, the world’s largest freshwater island. Hike to beautiful viewpoints on the Cup and Saucer Trail, walk behind Bridal Veil Falls and discover the island’s active Indigenous culture.
Be sure to check out our article Manitoulin Island Road Trip – Great Things to Do for more details.
Chutes Provincial Park
To see several beautiful waterfalls, visit Chutes Provincial Park in Massey, the only provincial park between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie. The Twin Bridges Trail has 3 viewing platforms and 2 bridges along the River aux Saubles and Seven Sisters rapids. Hike some or all of it. We did about half of the 6-kilometre loop trail.
The park has over 100 campsites for both car campers and RVs.
The nearby town of Massey developed during the construction of the railway. The thriving logging industry ensured the town’s survival.
Kennebec Falls is 20 metres wide and 3 metres high on the Serpent River. A century ago, loggers sent their harvest down the fast flowing Serpent River to sawmills at the river’s mouth on Lake Huron. Today the river’s swift current generates power several kilometres upstream and through a small “run of the river” system at the waterfall.
From the small park, located on the south side of the Trans-Canada Highway, follow the path and walk under the highway bridge to the falls. This is a great place to stretch and have lunch. There are lots of picnic tables.
For ATVers or people interested in uranium mining history, Elliot Lake is about 25 kilometres north of the Trans-Canada Highway on Ontario Highway 108.
With its magnificent landscape and hundreds of kilometres of trails, Elliot Lake has been highlighted as one of the best ATV destinations in Canada. Hikers and backpackers also find lots of opportunities for adventure.
The Elliot Lake Fire Tower is a replica of a fire ranger’s lookout station. Get a 360-degree view of former mine sites which have been cleaned up and returned to nature. From the tower, see Manitoulin Island and the North Channel.
The Ranger’s Heritage Centre is at the base of the tower. This cabin was home to the fire watchman and his family during the months the watch was needed.
Elliot Lake came to the world’s notice when uranium was discovered nearby in 1953. Walk the Horne Lake Heritage Trail and Island Boardwalk Trail around Horne Lake in Miner’s Memorial Park. See several memorials and monuments honouring the people who searched for, worked in and, unfortunately, died in uranium mines in Elliot Lake. Parking and picnic tables are just off the highway.
The Northern Ontario Logging Memorial honours the loggers who worked in Northern Ontario’s forests. Blind River was home to one of North America’s largest white-pine sawmills for much of the mid-20th century.
Learn about the industries and history of Blind River and neighbouring towns from Spanish to Dean Lake at the Timber Village Museum, located beside the marina.
Nearby the Boom Camp Wetland is a 118-hectare marsh. This provincially-significant wetland receives its water from an arm of the Blind River. Its important biological, hydrological and social features led to its protection.
There are 3 Boom Camp loop trails which explore the wetland. All start at the Interpretive Park’s pavilion. See the Boom Camp Trails Find A Trail webpage for more detailed information about the 3.1 km Harbour, 5.3 km Woodland and 3.8 km Delta loops.
Panels at the pavilion provide information about the local Indigenous people, the logging of the area and settlement by Europeans in the late 19th century.
The single-lane Dean Lake Bridge, about 15 minutes west on the Trans-Canada Highway, spans the Mississagi River. The structure is about 300 feet long and over 100 years old. See the billboard with the photo of its opening in 1908.
The Mississagi River was a major log driving river for nearly 100 years. The town on its banks was originally named Tally-Ho for the greeting yelled by lumberjacks upon reaching a trading post. In 1896, one of the first steel bridges in Ontario was built over the Mississagi River. Shortly after, the town’s name was changed to Iron Bridge. Since then, the town has supported both the logging and farming industries. Farming is still widely practised in the area.
The Iron Bridge Historical Museum displays artifacts used by local farmers and loggers. Two log houses were relocated to the museum site and are representative of the area’s first homesteads.
The timber home built in 1890 showcases items commonly used until World War Two, as well as handmade quilts and antique furniture.
The second log home was built around 1879 in nearby Sowerby and houses the local Tourist Information Centre.
Tally-Ho Park makes a great picnic stop. This is the site of the original, single-lane, steel bridge over the Mississagi River. In 1949, the Trans-Canada Highway project built a new concrete bridge downstream. Ownership of the original bridge was transferred to the town and eventually the bridge was demolished. The pedestrian bridge at Tally-Ho Park sits on the concrete piers of that first bridge.
The park is a trailhead for the Voyageur Trail, which will become a continuous, wilderness hiking trail from Sudbury through Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay. Currently a number of sections exist along the northern shores of Lakes Huron and Superior.
Leaving town, continue along the Trans-Canada Highway to the historic Cordukes/Weber 12-Sided Barn, one of three such barns in Canada. The barn, built in 1919 to house livestock and store feed crops, was used for several generations. A dedicated group of volunteers dismantled and moved the barn to its current site, next to the Sowerby Hall. Antique farm equipment is on display inside. The local farmers’ market operates from the barn seasonally.
This town is a great base for hunters, anglers and boaters. The lumber industry remains important in Thessalon though to a smaller degree than in its original heyday.
The town’s Red Bridge was built in 1888, after the first bridge was swept away by a flood. It was upgraded in 2009 and remains a one-lane, wooden-floored bridge.
The Little Rapids Heritage Park Museum is about five kilometres north of town. Travel 100 years back in time and discover the area’s way of life. Step into the general store, chapel, blacksmith shop, and stables filled with period equipment.
Just west of town, have a rest and take a selfie, in Algomy Red aka The Big Red Chair.
The first copper mine in Canada was opened in Bruce Mines in 1846. Other mines were opened in the area but none were as rich as the first. The mines eventually closed in the 1870’s due to declining profits.
The short, self-guided Historic Mine Trail is an easy, 1-kilometre sand-and-pebble trail. Four short “in/out” trails branch off to the sites of several old mines. All the mine sites have been fenced in for safety. Do not attempt to enter any of the fenced in areas along the trails. Walk in any direction between the trailheads for a lovely walk in the woods.
One trailhead is about 60 metres east of the intersection of the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 638 near the Taylor Mine. Parking is available just off the highway. The other trailhead is by the Moffat Mine about 600 metres down Taylor Street. Parking is available just before the trail entrance.
In town, visit the Bruce Mines Museum in the 1892 former Presbyterian Church on the Trans-Canada Highway. The church closed in 1917 and was used for many different purposes until the museum opened in 1955. Learn about the town’s history and the copper mines of the area.
Side trip: St. Joseph Island
Enjoy a great one-day side trip to St. Joseph Island and the ruins at the Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site.
The island is southeast of Sault Ste. Marie and about 25 kilometres from Bruce Mines on Highway 548. The Canada/United States international border is just off its western shore. The island was only accessible by boat in the summer and ice in the winter until December 1972 when the current bridge opened to traffic for the first time.
Enjoy lunch in Hilton Beach, on the island’s east side. In the summer, the town is a great spot for an overnight stay with a number of events such as the Hilton Beach Car Show and Arts at the Dock. The full service marina attracts many boaters.
Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site
All that remains of Fort St. Joseph, at the island’s most southern point, are the foundations. Built by the British to protect the trade route from Montreal to the Upper Great Lakes, the fort was destroyed by the Americans in the War of 1812.
Be sure to start at the Visitor Centre. Learn about the history of the fort, its role as a base for the British military and in the War of 1812. Walk the 1-kilometre path around the ruins of this once great fort. Interpretive signs explain the story of the people of this thriving 1800s community and how they survived. There are daily demonstrations in the summer.
In addition to the fort, there are several short, easy hiking trails to learn more about life on St. Joseph Island and to visit the bird sanctuary.
Adcocks’ Woodland Gardens
This lovely, woodland garden was planted over 30 years ago with shade gardens, sun gardens, water gardens, meadows and trees of all kinds. Wander the 5 kilometres of trails around the property. The best time to visit is in the middle of the day.
St. Joseph Island Museum
This community museum began in the 1960’s in the turn-of-the-century church with about 50 objects. Its 7,000+ catalogued artifacts now fill six pioneer buildings. The church and school buildings occupy their original sites. The others buildings were moved to the property. The museum offers a window into life on the island over the last century.
This is largest town on St. Joseph Island. Visit its main street for restaurant options and unique shops. The full service marina is a stopping point for many boaters along the St. Joseph Channel.
After exploring the island, cross the bridge and continue to Sault Ste. Marie with a quick stop in Echo Bay at the Loon Dollar Monument. Echo Bay-resident and wildlife artist, Robert-Ralph Carmichael, designed the image of the common loon on the reverse side of the 1987 Canadian One-Dollar coin. This is the reason Canadians call the coin a “loonie”.
Sault Ste. Marie
Spend a day exploring Sault Ste. Marie. There are a number of interesting stops along the waterfront, such as the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site, the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre and the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site. Sault Ste. Marie’s Canal District is the departure point for the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, an amazing rail journey and a spectacular fall colour tour.
Be sure to check out our article Top Things to do in Sault Ste. Marie for more details.
Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay
After visiting Sault Ste. Marie, explore the great places along the rugged northern shore of Lake Superior on this Northern Ontario road trip. There are opportunities to enjoy hiking trails, visit waterfalls and even beautiful sandy beaches.
Be sure to check out our article Places to Visit on a Road Trip from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay for more details.
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