As a result, the water is exceptionally clean and clear. The surrounding areas of this lake are full of rugged cliffs and pristine forests, and they make the perfect playground for your next road trip. Pukaskwa National Park is no exception- this gorgeous park is full of hiking and paddling.
Keep reading for the ultimate guide to visiting Pukaskwa National Park.
The word “Pukaskwa” comes from Anishinaabe indigenous groups in the area. It has a variety of suggested meanings including “eaters of fish”, “something evil”, “safe harbour”, or Pukasu (a method of cooking bone marrow).
But how do you pronounce Pukaskwa? According to Pukaskwa National Park’s official Twitter page, Pukaskwa is pronounced “PUCK-a-SAW”.
What Is Pukaskwa National Park Known For?
Pukaskwa National Park is stretched out along the northern edge of Lake Superior and is known for its boreal forests and freshwater access. Hiking and paddling are extremely popular in the area.
Geology of Pukaskwa National Park
Thousands of years ago, glaciers carved through the areas that form the Great Lakes region. Lake Superior is the largest Great Lake and is comparatively less built-up than its sister lakes. As a result, the water is cool and crystal clear.
The park rests on the Canadian Shield, a landmass containing mostly granite. Igneous and Metamorphic rocks jut through the landscape. The movement of the glaciers has manipulated the rocky landscape into beautiful terrain.
The coastline of Pukaskwa is primarily rugged granite cliffs. The beaches are surrounded by boreal forests. Boreal forests remain largely free of human manipulation and are rich with large, hearty pines and spruce.
Getting to Pukaskwa National Park
The best way to get to Pukaskwa National Park is by car. This road trip takes you through some of Canada’s nicest backcountry.
If you want to get to the park faster, the nearest airport is Thunder Bay airport. From there, you will want to rent a car and drive the remaining three and a half hours along the Lake Superior coastline.
How Far Is Pukaskwa National Park from Toronto?
Are you a fan of a great road trip? This destination is perfect for you!
To drive to Pukaskwa National Park from Toronto takes about 11.5 hours without stops. The drive is a total of 1,110 kilometres or a 2,220 round trip. The entire journey is very scenic, passing through the beautiful Canadian countryside and 2 Great Lakes.
For a rest stop halfway, consider staying in historic Sault Ste. Marie, located just over halfway there. Sault Ste. Marie (pronounced Soo Sainte Marie) is a quaint town on the border of Michigan and Ontario which is known for its historic Soo Locks, an important boat lock system on St. Mary’s River.
How Far Is Pukaskwa National Park from Winnipeg?
If you are considering visiting from Winnipeg, the road trip will take just shy of 11 hours and 1,000 kilometres direct. This drive is a breeze-Highway 1 will take you the majority of the way there.
This drive takes you through the scenic Ontario countryside and along Lake Superior. Thunder Bay makes a great midway point to eat and relax before continuing your road trip.
What to Do in Pukaskwa National Park
Hiking and water activities galore make Pukaskwa an outdoor lovers’ dream. This national park is packed with hiking trails and lake access. Keep reading for some of the can’t-miss activities in Pukaskwa National Park.
White River Suspension Bridge
As the name suggests, the White River Suspension Bridge suspends you over Chigamiwinigum Falls. Nestled into a rocky gorge, Chigamiwinigum Falls rapidly pushes the White River through the landscape below. The falls rush 23 meters below the bridge and hikers get an unbeatable view of the rapids and forests below.
To get there, you will want to hike the White River Suspension Bridge Trail, which is part of the Coastal Hiking Trail. The trail is 18 kilometres long and is quite a challenging hike. The trail weaves through the forest and provides fantastic views of the lake.
This hike will take the better part of a day, so remember to pack lots of water and sunscreen! The journey itself is beautiful, and the White River Suspension Bridge is not to be missed on a trip to Pukaskwa National Park.
Bordering Pukaskwa National Park to the North is the Pic River. The mouth of the river is home to the Biigtigong Nishaabeg - Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation. This area is rich in running waters and dense woods.
The Kwewiskaning Coastal Trail is perfect for hikers. The trail is 10.4 kilometres long and traces along the coast of Lake Superior. The end of the trail has 2 boardwalks for viewing the lake.
The river is scattered with waterfalls. The High Falls of the Pic River is remote but very scenic, and nearby are Middle Falls and Manitou Falls.
If you love hiking and camping, this area is perfect for you. This part of the park can only be reached by hiking it, and there are several trails to choose from.
One interesting hike is the Hattie Cove Fire Walk, which was the site of a prescribed fire a few years ago. This hike showcases how quickly these resilient forests can bounce back, and the hike is unusual and very pretty.
The water is an inland bay of Lake Superior, which makes it the perfect place for all manner of water sports. Canoeing, kayaking, sailing, and swimming are all popular activities.
This part of the park is very quiet and serene, with almost uninterrupted views of the cove and the forest surrounding it.
Located on the White River, these falls are best viewed from the White River Suspension Bridge. These falls are the last rapids before the water empties into Lake Superior.
Cut into a rocky gorge, the Chigamiwinigum Falls are just a day's hike away from the Hattie Cove campground. The falls are 700 meters long and showcase the natural beauty of the White River area.
If you want to visit a beach with fewer cliffs, consider stopping by Pebble Beach in Marathon.
This wide beach has expansive views of the lake and the mountainous shoreline. Quiet and peaceful, this beach is a must-see destination on your trip to Pukaskwa National Park.
Covered in smooth pebbles, this beach is downright picturesque. The rocks have been smoothed by the lake over millions of years, and the rich minerals and stones in the area have resulted in pastel-toned pebbles that shine in the water.
Pukaskwa National Park Camping
Camping is the best way to see as much of the Pukaskwa National Park as possible. Many of the parks in the area offer direct access to the hiking trails and lakes, and each has something special to offer.
Be sure to consider the options below when planning your road trip to Pukaskwa National Park!
Hattie Cove Campground
Considered one of the most popular campgrounds in Pukaskwa National Park, Hattie Cove Campground has 67 campsites available just a short drive from Highway 1. These campsites are all first-come, first-serve, so no reservation is necessary.
The campground is split between electric campsites and non-electric. At only $20 per night, this campground is ideal for a trip to Pukaskwa. Best of all, this campground is perfectly situated to allow direct access to the White River Suspension Bridge Trail and the Pic River.
If you are looking for direct access to Pukaskwa National Park, this is the ideal campground for you.
Penn Lake Park and Campground
For a slightly less rustic camping experience, try Penn Lake Campground.
Located in Marathon, the Penn Lake Park and Campground is a large dedicated park space. The campground itself backs up to Penn Lake. Perfect for a family trip, this campground has something for everyone.
The lake itself is relatively shallow, which allows the water to be considerably warmer than Lake Superior. The lake makes for a great afternoon of swimming, kayaking, or canoeing.
There is also the Penn Lake hiking trail, which circles the lake and offers wonderful views. Mountain biking is also excellent here.
The campground offers lots of amenities, including coin-operated laundry, a playground, internet, and volleyball courts. At night, the campground has a lit walking trail by the beach, which is serene and romantic.
Neys Provincial Park
Propped directly against Lake Superior, this campground has it all. Neys Provincial Park has 150 campsites available and 1 cabin. Bikes are recommended as the best means of transport around the park.
Neys park has direct access to many different activities. 6 different hiking trails of varying length and difficulty are available with the campground as a starting point. Also popular are swimming, fishing, canoeing, boating, and birdwatching.
Neys Park also offers on-site rentals for canoes, a laundromat, and a park store for your convenience.
Be sure to check out the Natural Heritage Discovery Program to learn about the area. The program has several special events throughout the camping season, including the Neys Nostalgia Days in August. This is an event to learn about and remember the prisoners of war, loggers, fishermen, and soldiers that once stayed in the area.
Be sure to look into staying at Neys Provincial Park when travelling to Pukaskwa National Park.
Where to Stay (If Camping Is Not Your Thing)
Not a big fan of camping? No problem! Pukaskwa National Park has great hotel accommodations too.
Marathon Harbour Inn
Located in the heart of Marathon, the Marathon Harbour Inn is a quaint hotel with just 16 double-bed rooms. Perfect for families on the move, this hotel is consistently rated as being very clean with friendly staff. The hotel also provides free WiFi and continental breakfast.
Just a stone’s throw from Lake Superior, this hotel is just what you need to rest and relax after a long day of hiking and paddling.
Originally built by the pulp milling company in the 1940s, the Lakeview Manor is a charming bed and breakfast. This historic hotel is perfectly situated at the top of a hill, giving guests a great view of Lake Superior.
Each stay includes complimentary WiFi and breakfast, and there are 13 restaurants within .75 miles of the hotel. The hotel receives consistently high ratings and charming rooms, perfect for a couple’s getaway.
For a historical B&B and great views of the lake, be sure to stay at the Lakeview Manor.
Airport Motor Inn Marathon
For a newer hotel, the Airport Motor Inn is calling your name. This hotel has great amenities, including bus and truck parking, meeting rooms, and convenient access to the highway. Best of all, this hotel is pet-friendly.
This hotel is located very near to Pebble Beach and the restaurants of downtown Marathon. The hotel even has an onsite gas station to get you back on the road and enjoying the Pukaskwa National Park faster.
For the charm of Marathon in an updated hotel, stay at the Airport Motor Inn.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Pukaskwa National Park?
Because Pukaskwa National Park’s main activities are hiking and water sports, the best time of year to visit is during the summer and fall months. If you are camping, you will want to plan for the summer.
Aim for May to September for the peak season at the park.
Pack Your Bags and Get Road Tripping Today!
Pukaskwa National Park is a great road trip for Canadians to take this summer. If you and your family love hiking, camping, swimming, and paddling, this is a great trip for you.
Now that you have the perfect Pukaskwa National Park trip planned, be sure to protect it. Contact Insurdinary today for more information on great travel insurance.