GWTA 2024 Route and Itinerary Overview- Cycle the North! Sault Ste. Marie to  Manitoulin Island

Ride with us from Tuesday, August 13th to Tuesday, August 20th for the 2024 Great Waterfront Trail Adventure cycle tour and awareness ride. Featuring a linear route from Sault Ste. Marie to  Manitoulin Island, Ontario along the Lake Huron Northshore.

We had such a wonderful time when we rode this route in 2019, it’s definitely time to revisit the North in 2024 with the added bonus of a Lake Superior ride and  our first ever stay on Manitoulin Island. Join us for 67- 115km ( maximum) of riding per day combined with lots of fun off-the-bike activities. Enjoy the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and meet new friends along this ruggedly beautiful section of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail.

  • Visit Unique communities along the shores of the Lake Huron North Channel.
  • Enjoy amazing waterfront views as you cycle this section of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail.
  • Overnight in the unique communities of Sault Ste. Marie, Bruce Mines, Blind River, Massey and Little Current ( Manitoulin Island)
  • Choose your Adventure: For a second year we’ll base the tour in two communities for two nights each giving you more time to explore the history, culture and natural beauty of both Sault Ste. Marie (featuring a taste of Lake Superior)  and Manitoulin Island . We are working with these communities on some incredible experiences to enrich our visit. Stay tuned for updates.

Pre-tour: Monday August 12 – 0ptional overnight either on Manitoulin Island/ Sudbury /Espanola  – Long Term Parking  for the 2024 GWTA is located in Little Current, Manitoulin Island and bike packing for the journey to Sault Ste. Marie will begin at 9am on August 13  – for most people this will require an overnight stay in a nearby town. Little Current is located at the North End of the Island close to Espanola and not far from Sudbury (no ferry crossing required).

PLEASE NOTE: If you are planning on arriving to Manitoulin Island from the South via the ferry you will need to book the ferry in advance – details about the ferry between Tobermory and South Baymouth, Manitoulin Island can be found here.

Day One: Tuesday, August 13

  • Mid morning departure to Sault Ste. Marie by coach bus from the long term parking location at NEMI Recreation Centre in Little Current on Manitoulin Island (coach bus booked separately through CAA). Arrive by 9am to present your bike for bike packing.

Coach bus must be booked and paid for separately.

  • 4 hour coach bus journey to Sault Ste. Marie. Estimated arrival time in Sault Ste. Marie approximately 3:30pm. You will be dropped off at your overnight accommodations and your bike will be delivered separately to your overnight location.
  • Gather together in the evening at Northern Superior Brewing  for the opening night reception between 5pm and 6:30 – appetizers will be served. Stay at the brewery for dinner ( they have a partnership with local restaurants) or head out to a local restaurant.
  • Overnight in Sault Ste. Marie (no camping available in this location).

Day Two: Wednesday, August 14 – 67 km

  • Taste of Superior ride to Chippewa Falls. The ride will be one way only (unless you have the legs to ride 134km!)
  • Planned rest stops at renowned local bike store Velorution, Stokely Creek Lodge and McAuley’s restaurant .
  • There will also be an option for a shorter ride and to participate in a local tourism activity – stay tuned for further details.
  • Overnight for a 2nd night in Sault Ste Marie hotel or college dorms.  End the day with maybe a return visit to the local brewery or dinner at one of the many local restaurants. Second overnight in Sault Ste Marie.

Day Three: Thursday, August 15 –73km-Ride to Bruce Mines from Sault Ste Marie.

  • Opening ceremony and light breakfast  including coffee – Roberta Bondar Pavillion 65 Foster Drive, Sault Ste.Marie.
  • Ride into Garden River First Nation at the culturally significant Ojibway Park Trail. You will be welcomed to the trail by the youth drumming group. Mark 10 years of the Ojibway Park  trail with a celebratory feast  “Breakfast at Basshiing”  and ribbon cutting  hosted by Garden River First Nation at the Ojibway Park pavilion.
  • A very special included lunch in the  rural community of Desbarats at Ije’s Place an unexpected  gem of a Caribbean restaurant.
  • Bruce Mines is a fantastic little community and we can highly recommend  grabbing a coffee, an ice cream  or a slice of the incredible pie at Bobbers restaurant.
  • Join us  for an included community dinner in Bruce Mines ( If you are staying in Thessalon then alternative dinner arrangements are planned).
  • Overnight in Bruce Mines or Thessalon ( Thessalon requires additional riding) Camping available in Bruce Mines at the Bruce Mines Municipal Campground.
  • If staying in Thessalon check out the new Coastal Trail for an after dinner walk.

Day Four:  Friday, August 16 – Bruce Mines to Blind River – 75 km/96km (shorter distance applies to those riding to Blind River  from Thessalon)

  • Breakfast will be served in the Bruce Mines Community Centre.
  • Thessalon rest stop for those who stayed overnight in Bruce Mines
  • Follow the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail along along peaceful rural roads until you reach the community of Iron Bridge.
  • Lunch – on your own – we recommend eating in Iron Bridge at the iconic Red Top Motor Inn, the Village Inn diner or Three Acres.
  • The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail between Iron Bridge and Blind River follows 23km of generous paved shoulders on Highway 17 and skirts the shores of the beautiful Mississagi River. There will be truck traffic and while you are well separated it can be noisy.
  • Join us for a community dinner in Blind River at Pier 17 Restaurant.
  • Camping available at Blind River at the Marina.

Day Five: Saturday, August 17 – Blind River to Massey or Espanola 93km/115 km.

  • Breakfast at Pier 17 Restaurant in Blind River.
  • Lunch included at Spanish  Municipal Marina – take a short hike to the lookout on the Whalesback Channel.
  • There is a longer stretch of gravel between Spanish and Massey – GWTA vehicles will be on hand to support you.
  • Massey – take a quick trip to enjoy the beauty of Chutes Provincial Park. Dinner on your own this evening in Massey or Espanola. Camping available at Massey at the Massey Arena.
  • For those staying in Espanola – take care crossing the bridge as there are is some construction taking place. Take the lovely Lee Valley Road to travel to your overnight destination in Espanola. There will also an early finish option for those who are staying in Espanola but wish to end their cycling day in Massey.

Day Six: Sunday, August 18 – Massey or Espanola to Little Current on Manitoulin Island – 50km/76km.

  • Breakfast for those staying in Massey will be served at the Arena.
  • Breakfast for those staying Espanola will be served at a local restaurant.
  • The Town of Espanola welcomes GWTA cyclists with locally roasted coffee at Clear Lake Beach.
  • Ride the paved shoulders of Highway 6 until you reach the iconic Little Current swing bridge. Ride carefully this route has paved shoulders and the terrain is paved with rolling hills.
  • On arrival in Little Current you have the choice to ride directly to your car and drive to your accommodations or to pick your car up later.
  • Don’t forget to visit the Manitoulin Brewing Company to celebrate today’s ride.
  • Indoor camping available at Little Current at the NEMI Recreation Centre.

Day Seven: Monday, August 19 – Enjoy a scenic ride on Manitoulin Island

  • Two cycling route and two distance choices
  • There also will be the opportunity to hike one of the famous Manitoulin Island trails as well as an additional tourism experience – stay tuned.
  • Join us for a Celebration Dinner in the evening. Medals will be handed out and there will of course be the traditional slide show.
  • Indoor camping available at Little Current at the NEMI Recreation Centre.

Terrain & Route Overview: Combination of quiet roads, highways with cycling infrastructure  and some off-road multi-use trails –  There are some longer sections of gravel and this route includes 3 sections riding on the paved shoulders of Highway 17 for a total of 50km.

Support: Daily luggage transportation, four support vehicles, mechanical assistance, cycling volunteers.

The GWTA 2024 is possible thanks to the generous support and help of our partners:

A big thank you to our event partners: CAA South Central Ontario, Destination Northern Ontario, Algoma Country, the Greenbelt Foundation,  MICA and overnight and rest stop hosts.

Past Highlights