Famous for its Agawa Rock pictographs, Lake Superior Provincial Park is home to many trails of varying lengths and difficulty levels. From the easy 2-kilometre-long Crescent Lake Trail to the very demanding 65-kilometre-long Coastal Trail, there’s something for every type of hiker. I’d been dying to see the park, so at the end of last summer, fed up with the hustle and bustle of the season, we went on a last-minute trip to try a few Lake Superior hikes. We planned to trek the Towab Trail, but we unexpectedly got the chance to complete the Awausee Trail as well.
Going over the details of our trip, we figured we’d stay at the Agawa Bay campground on the night of our arrival. We left after work and drove late into the night, finally arriving at the campground long after the park office had closed. Still, we knew the ropes, so we chose a spot and got some shut eye.
It wasn’t long before we awoke to a light, drizzling rain and grey, overcast skies. This wasn’t too bad, we thought. Not heavy enough to ruin anyone’s plans to take on one of the many Lake Superior hikes in the Agawa area…
Feeling the need to stretch our legs after the previous night’s long drive, we took a short walk on the beach to enjoy the vast Great Lakes scenery.
Hiking Along the Agawa River to Agawa Falls on the Towab Trail
We thought we’d spend the weekend backpacking the 24-kilometre-long Towab Trail. Also rated as very demanding, this linear trail is 12 kilometres each way. We intended to pitch our tent at the Agawa Falls campsite at trail’s end.
As we left the campground, we made our way to the park office to pick up our weekend backcountry permits for the Towab Trail. This path is named for Towabanasay, an Ojibwe guide who held the hunting rights in the Agawa River area at the turn of the nineteenth century.
As the morning progressed, the rain got worse, so we dilly-dallied at the trail head before setting out around half past noon. The thought of setting up camp in the rain didn’t seem too appealing — we were there to relax, after all — so we decided to leave our backpacks behind and just make it a day hike. But since we hadn’t brought any day bags, we improvised a shoulder strap for our dry bag.
The trail started off easily, gradually sloping down towards the Agawa River. We walked along the rocky shoreline, and soon saw that another small group wasn’t far behind us, fishing rods in hand. They stopped shortly afterwards, near Burnt Rock Pool, and began to cast from shore.
On we went, the rain eventually letting up but the fog remaining low. We followed the river for the majority of the route, dipping into the woods here and there for some moderate ascents, always descending back to the river afterwards.
It took us about four hours to reach Agawa Falls. We heard it long before we saw it. Towab Trail got rougher as we neared the falls, and since we were getting tired by this point, it seemed worse than it was. Luckily, the sun came out and the sky cleared just as we got there.
We rested for more than an hour at Agawa Falls, lingering over our dinner. Taking advantage of having the place all to ourselves, we sat at the top of the falls, wondering at the tremendous amounts of water pouring over the edge. At 25 metres high, Agawa Falls is one of the highest waterfalls within Lake Superior Park. Before leaving, we also explored a little further upriver, for curiosity’s sake.
Just after half past five, we knew we had to go if we wanted to make it out of the bush before dark. With renewed enthusiasm, we tackled the rougher part of Towab Trail, nearest to the falls, and sped back along the riverside as fast as we could.
It took longer than we expected — this was one time when the way back didn’t seem shorter than the way in! We arrived at our vehicle a little after nightfall, sometime before ten. Too tired to return to the campground, we dug our sleeping bags out of our backpacks and slept in the back of the van.
Hiking Up Agawa Mountain on the Awausee Trail
Clearly, we forgot that we were out there to relax, because having ended up hiking Towab Trail in one looong day now meant that we had time to hike the Awausee Trail up Agawa Mountain before our drive home.
So on the last day of our trip, we got to check another one of the Lake Superior hikes off our list. Since this park is so far from us, we were really happy we got this opportunity, even though we partly regretted not camping out at Agawa Falls.
A 10-kilometre loop, the Awausee Trail is rated as demanding. There were definitely steeper and more frequent ascents following the trail up Agawa Mountain! But since this trail is right off the highway and well-visited, there are no steep scrambles to worry about.
It didn’t rain that day, but the fog hadn’t lifted either. So while the scenery was certainly beautiful, the far-distant vistas of the lake were limited. Looking down was another thing, though! At 200 metres high, the bird’s-eye view of the Agawa Valley below was something else. Several lookout points along Awausee Trail allowed us to inspect the landscape from different angles.
We dawdled at one of the lookout points for as long as we could, but we had a long drive ahead of us, and we wanted to get a decent night’s sleep for work the next day. Our relaxing weekend had perhaps been a little too exciting! So reluctantly, we finished hiking Awausee Trail and got back on the road.
Not anxious to leave, especially on this bright, sunny day, we stopped at the Agawa Bay Visitors Centre for a quick look around, then strolled along the beach to find a spot to eat our lunch.
Finally, we couldn’t delay anymore. With two Lake Superior hikes under our belts, we couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.