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A windy morning on the second day of the Michipicoten Island circumnavigation

Kayaking Around Michipicoten Island in Lake Superior

One summer our party of five including our guide, Ginny, from Naturally Superior Adventures, completed a 70 kim kayaking trip around Michipicoten Island in Lake Superior. Mother Nature cooperated and supplied more sunshine than fog, little in the way of rain and enough wind to keep the majority of biting insects at bay – but not so much to keep us landlocked on shore.

The Michipicoten Island circumnavigation was a great success – no boats or human sightings for four days, wonderful northern scenery, woodland caribou sightings – including the rare albino caribou, enough paddling that you feel you earned your two hour afternoon nap, and delicious food and wine.

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The night before we spend the night at a lodge on Lake Superior
The night before we spend the night at Rock Island Lodge on Lake Superior (owned by Naturally Superior Adventures)
The view out to Michipicoten Island
The view out to Michipicoten Island

Visual highlights of our kayaking trip around Michipicoten Island

The kayaking trip started with a boat shuttle across Lake Superior to the East End Lighthouse, the start of our circumnavigation. There is the option to do an 18 km crossing from Bonner Head to the mainland and back to Michipicoten Bay – for advanced kayakers only who also have great navigation skills.

Boat shuttle from the mainland
The kayaking trip around Michipicoten Island started with a boat shuttle from the mainland
East End Lighthouse and our start point on Michipicoten Island
East End Lighthouse and our start point on Michipicoten Island
Lots of pebbly beaches that are perfect for launching kayaks
Lots of pebbly beaches that are perfect for launching kayaks
Our first camp on a beach past Bonner Head
Our first camp on a beach past Bonner Head
It's daisy season when we kayak in August
It’s daisy season when we kayak in August
Campanula looks stunning beside the yellow lichen
Campanula looks stunning beside the yellow lichen
One of the beautiful Michipicoten Island sunsets we enjoyed
One of the beautiful Michipicoten Island sunsets we enjoyed
A windy morning on the second day of the Michipicoten Island circumnavigation
A windy morning on the second day of the Michipicoten Island circumnavigation
Enjoying an evening campfire on Michipicoten Island
Enjoying an evening campfire on Michipicoten Island
Lake Superior rocks
Lake Superior rocks

The best months to kayak

July and August are the best months to kayak. The weather is more predictable and there are fewer storms. No matter what, go prepared for all types of weather including dense fog. Definitely wait for fog to lift unless you are with a guide and they give the go-ahead.

We paddled to Davieux Island based on a compass setting and the island didn’t come into view until we were within feet of it.

Also build in a day or two for wind. There’s no need to go toe to toe with Lake Superior. It’s a lake that can be more dangerous than the north Atlantic Ocean.

Michipicoten Island kayaking in the fog
Michipicoten Island kayaking in the fog
Peaceful kayaking through Michipicoten Island's famous fog
Peaceful kayaking through Michipicoten Island’s famous fog
Lots of interesting rocks on Michipocten Island
Lots of interesting rocks on Michipicoten – copper staining on this one – a testament to an old copper mine
Beautiful coloured lichen
Beautiful coloured lichen
Michipicoten Island rare albino woodland caribou
A rare sighting of an albino woodland caribou
The skeletal frame of the Billy Blake
The skeletal frame of the Billy Blake
Abandoned building in Quebec Harbour
Abandoned building in Quebec Harbour
Abandoned buildings in Quebec Harbour
Abandoned buildings in Quebec Harbour
Davieux Island Lightstation
Davieux Island Lightstation
The rocks and lichen of Davieaux Island
The rocks and lichen of Davieaux Island
Our campsite by the lighthouse on Davieaux Island
Our campsite by the lighthouse on Davieaux Island
Trails on Davieux Island
Trails on Davieux Island
No bake cheesecake with fresh picked blueberries
No bake cheesecake with fresh picked blueberries
Camping on Davieux Island
Camping on Davieux Island
A view of Cozen's Cove
A view of Cozen’s Cove
The Caribbean looking waters of Cozen's Cove - though the water temperature was only about 58F
The Caribbean looking waters of Cozen’s Cove – though the water temperature was only about 58F
Blueberry picking at Cozen's Cove
Blueberry picking at Cozen’s Cove
Happy hour on Michipicoten Island
Happy hour on the island at our last campsite
Our last sunset on Michipocten Island
Our last sunset on Michipicoten Island
All of us on the last day
All of us on the last day

Facing your fears

All in all it was a great and mostly relaxing week. And I say mostly relaxing because there was the odd bit of fear felt on the water in the face of a few big waves.

Bring it on. I’m ready for more and already thinking of what other paddling trips I’d like to do on the big waters of Lake Superior.

For more reading on the area try: An Introduction to Michipicoten Island – Lake Superior’s Wild Heart by David C. Whyte.

Some other books that might be of interest include: Lake Superior Rocks and Minerals, Lighthouses of Lake Superior’s North Shore: The Historic Beacons of Minnesota, Isle Royale and Ontario and Lake Superior Agates Field Guide

Further reading on things to do in northern Ontario

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Kayaking around Michipicoten Island in Lake Superior, Ontario

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Leigh – great pics! It truly was a memorable trip for us – Lake Superior is such a hidden gem in Canada and Mich Island has such a magical feel to it. We would highly recommend Naturally Superior Adventures (NSA) for any Superior trips – totally professional, competent,and respectful of the powerful Lake and all that it can throw at paddlers. Ginny is one of the best guides we have ever had (and boy can she cook up a delicious meal!). She wasn’t afraid to laugh at Jo falling in and out of the kayak either.
    Cheers and we can’t wait for the next Superior adventure…
    jo and ted

  2. It looks like such a beautiful place. I loved all the pictures, especially the one of the albino woodland caribou.

  3. We hiked the Pukaskwa Trail to & fro. 120km’s +
    It was my first trip to Superior
    A beautiful & well kept secret in Ontario.
    I kayaked The Benjamin Is. in the North Channel prior to above.
    Finished the West Coast Trail In July.
    I am thankful & a complete newbie at these sojourns of R&R
    I wish to kayak Superior one day. Still looking to purchase one.
    Life is really good & sharing is better!

    jw from Burlington On.

    1. You’ve had lots of fantastic adventures this year. Kayaking the Benjamin Islands is also on our list.

      Lake Superior is difficult enough to get to and that keeps people away. Loved the solitude and the wildness of Lake Superior.

      Highly recommend kayaking Superior – in fact our guide did it all the way from the Ontario-Minnesota border to Parry Sound on the Georgian Bay – in about 60 days, and over half of it alone the summer before.

  4. When I was aged 8,9,and 10 I lived on Michipicoten Island east end my step Dad was the lightHouse Keeper Fred Francis, I aslo sailed on the Alexander henry ice breaker, also shipwreck island was called Gull island, we use to go there to see the baby guls. a cove across from it was called Agate cove down east form the light house was where an old copper mine was and we picked some unusal pieces of copper up. when we were there from the main dock which had th boat hoist and boat house going west left hand side light house, right hand side fog plant oil drums in frount of it across from them was the house in froynt we had a three tier rock garden up the hill was the Beacon I had a big doll house in the back of the house..I was there when they built the long dock, and were doing the assistant quarters I wish I could spend a week there ,but guess I cant..Before we got th eletric light we had to climb to the top of the light house wund the weights and replace the wick and light the light,,this had to be done in the middle of the night too….I also remember the CP edwards and abbitippi

    1. Norma,

      Loved all the insight you provided. Lighting the lighthouse light would have been quite the job. Looks like these photos took you on a trip down memory lane. What an unusual place to live for several years.

    2. Hi Norma
      I also remember those ships and places as I was a light keeper there also and grew up on lighthouses. Great life was also on Great Duck in lake Huron off Manitoulin Island and grew up on Lonely Island from 1964 and saw a lot of change and automation. Plan to go out and visit the islands this summer.
      Take care,
      Al

    3. I remember my husband, Fred,
      telling me some of the great times he had while working on the island as keeper.

  5. This is a beautiful area. I could kayak all day on those waters. I’m especially impressed with the camping ready cheesecake.

  6. Love all of the photos, Leigh! Oh, how I miss picking fresh wild blueberries on the rocks in Northern Ontario! We have lots of funny family stories that revolve around our blueberry picking excursions. My parents would take the four of us kids with them for the day and we would have big ice cream buckets that we needed to fill with berries. My brother spent most of his time sitting and eating in the berry patch and would have a bucket mostly filled with leaves and sticks at the end of the day!

    1. @Lisa I spent part of my childhood in Halifax and fondly remember many a blueberry excursion. I was pretty task oriented and worked hard on filling my bucket – mainly because I knew what good desserts lay in wait. The week kayaking around Michipicoten was a treat!

  7. Hi great pictures! Brings back memories of the islands. I was lighthouse keeper on both Michipicoten and Davieaux islands for a period of time in 1984-86 with my wife and daughter. Great times and lots of adventure. Nice to see people enjoying the pristine solitude of the islands.

    1. @Alan We loved our night on Davieux. We’d paddled over in complete fog – without fear on running into ant boats. We landed right at the dock based on a compass reading! What a pretty area especially with wildflowers in the summer.

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