Bruce Mines Marina, (credit: Martin Lortz)

Welcome to the Northern expansions of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail. 

In 2019, the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail launched a 460km expansion along the Lake Huron North Channel, completing a 3 year program to connect 26 communities and First Nations from Sault Ste Marie to Sudbury along a signed, mostly on-road route–the first long distance cycling route in Northern Ontario. The expansion brings us to the shores of the final domestic Great Lake: Lake Superior. This work has been accomplished in partnership with local communities, The Great Trail, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Tourism Northern Ontario, and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. The Lake Huron North Channel expansion of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail provides users the opportunity to celebrate the heart and spirit of Northern Ontario communities.

Manitoulin Island is now part of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail

Working with MICA, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport and the Ministry of Transportation and 4 local communities, the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail expanded to Manitoulin Island, the largest freshwater island in the world. This 113km signed cycling route connects Espanola to South Baymouth where people can take the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry to Tobermory and the GLWT in the Bruce Peninsula. The connection is entirely on-road using Provincial Highway 6. It is part of an island cycling network of over 800km, which our partner MICA has championed.

Take the road seldom seen. Cycle the North.

Check out our mini-guide and maps for a 6-day self-guided cycle tour of the Lake Huron North Channel (Sault Ste. Marie to Sudbury).

For detailed maps, visit Maps on our menu.
For community information visit Communities.

Explore the Landscape that Inspired the Group of Seven

  • Rugged and Relaxing – Picturesque Mennonite and Amish farms dot the forested Northern roads on the Canadian Shield. 12 heritage rivers and 16 beaches on the clear waters of Lake Huron.
  • Bike Friendly Marinas – The North Shore is a world-class sailing destination known as ‘The Carribbean of the North’. Several marinas along the North Shore offer public services that may be used by cyclists.
    • Sault Ste Marie
    • Hilton Beach
    • Bruce Mines
    • Thessalon
    • Blind River
    • Spanish
  • Wilderness and Waterfront are within your grasp in dozens of natural areas with waterfalls. Explore Whitefish Island, Lake George Wetlands, Chutes Provincial Parks.
  • Heritage – Steeped in history. Indigenous, logging, mining, shipping, bush planes, maple syrup and funky public art and monuments like the giant loonie.
  • Breweries – Great craft breweries in Sault Ste Marie and Sudbury.

What You Need to Know

Over 570km long including St. Joseph and Manitoulin Island

Gros Cap (Sault Ste Marie) – Sudbury

  • 380 km long + 80km on St. Joseph Island, mostly on road
  • Route includes roughly 60km of provincial roadways, including 50km on Highway 17
    • Shouldering expansions of Highway 17 to accommodate the route were completed in 2018
    • Highway 17 is a provincial highway with  a posted speed limit of up to 90km/h,  and heavy traffic including consistent truck traffic.
  • Route includes roughly 40km of gravel roads (longest section is 14.5km)
    • Downloadable maps mark sections of gravel road with a unique line type
    • Interactive map notes surface type when you click on the route
  • Family Friendly Sections – John Rowswell Hub Trail (Sault Ste Marie, 26km), Junction Creek to Bell Park (Sudbury, 8km), Boom Camp Trails (Blind River)
  • Part of the Great Trail
  • Connects in Gros Cap to the Lake Superior Water Trail
  • Connects in Sudbury to the Voyageur Cycling Route
  • Connects in Gros Cap and Iron Bridge to the Voyageur Hiking Route
  • 26 Communities and First Nations, most with amenities
  • Work to sign St. Joseph Island with MTO is ongoing

Manitoulin Island

  • 113km from Espanola to South Baymouth on provincial Highway 6
  • Paved roads, hilly terrain with some narrow shoulders
  • Largest freshwater island in the world
  • Manitoulin Island, a great cycling destination, is home to over 800km of cycling routes. See MICA for more information.
  • Transit to Bruce Peninsula possible via the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry (spring and summer only)

Photos Showing Shouldered Sections of Highway 17

Shoulder on Hwy 17 without rumble strip.

HWY 17 east of Espanola. Cyclists use space to the right of dashed line. Rumble strip buffers traffic from cyclists.

HWY 17B shoulder through Garden River First Nation.

Photos Showing Gravel Sections of Route

Gravel on River Road, west of Massey

Gravel on Gibson Road, Greater Sudbury