Navigate the nature of northern Ontario on a camping trip to Manitoulin Island.
In the waters of Lake Huron, Manitoulin Island is the world’s largest freshwater island. Pending the season, campers can hike scenic summer trails around the island’s 100 lakes, snowmobile on winter snow, or fawn over fall foliage and native springtime wildflowers. Visit Misery Bay Provincial Park for birdwatching on a boardwalk, or Meldrum Bay to launch a boat by the historic lighthouse. Then, stop by Manitoulin Eco Park for a spectacle of stars and astronomic beauty. Or travel to Cup and Saucer Nature Reserve, which features 400-million-year-old Silurian deposits and epic cliffs. Campgrounds, cabin rentals, RV parks, and backcountry camping are spread throughout the island, offering amenities like picnic tables, free wifi, dumping stations, fire pits, and 30-amp hookups. With respect to the First Nation lands of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory in Canada, Manitoulin Island welcomes campers to its sacred beauty, eco-exploration, and nonstop adventure.
Misery Bay is the only active provincial park on Manitoulin Island. Take a day trip to this day-use park to explore its 1.5-km hiking trails, watch native birds, take a stroll on the boardwalk, or eat lunch at picnic tables throughout the area. Or walk the longer 8-km Coastal Alvar Trail Loop, which runs along the shoreline of old glacial beaches. Previously a flat rock sea bottom, Misery Bay now has a unique alvar shoreline with limestone jagged rocks.
On the island’s west end, Meldrum Bay highlights the history of logging and milling on the island. A small local campground with full hookups and a boat launch brings campers to the bay, popular for paddling and sailing along its shores. Meldrum Bay campers can explore the iconic 130-year-old Mississagi Lighthouse, which guards the Mississagi Strait. However, the lighthouse is only accessible in the summer from Victoria Day weekend through the third Saturday of September.
Settle in for stargazing at Manitoulin Eco Park (previously Gordon’s Park), a dark sky preserve on the east end of the island. The forested eco-park provides tent campsites, RV hookups, tipis, bunkies, and “dark sky” camping options with access to eco-friendly showers and washrooms, flush toilets, and a playground. After setting up at a dark sky campsite, lie under the night sky and enjoy the strict no-lights rule, which provides stellar views of the Milky Way or aurora borealis.
Camp in an Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy site while visiting Cup and Saucer Nature Reserve. Noted as the organization's first reserve, Cup and Saucer spans 354 acres and features cliffs, plateaus, and plenty of plant life along every trail. The Cup and Saucer Trail, located west of Little Current, highlights the area's natural beauty—and the EBC offers a certificate of completion to all who complete it.