Thunder Bay – Sailing, Hiking, and Exploring Lake Superior


Two years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting one of the most populous cities in northwest Ontario—Thunder Bay. There, visitors have an opportunity to explore Lake Superior and learn interesting facts about North America’s largest freshwater lake. The city of Thunder Bay is a getaway to Ontario’s second largest waterfall – Kakabeka Falls. Fortunately, Thunder Bay has not made itself into a tourist trap, and I believe it is worth exploring in the summer.

Sailing on Lake Superior

A sailing tour on Lake Superior takes you into the middle of North America’s largest freshwater lake and you learn about the surroundings and the events there.

My sailing tour started on my first afternoon at the peaceful Marine Park Terminal with a local tour operator Sail Superior. My tour guide, Greg, was very knowledgeable about Thunder Bay and Lake Superior. He brings us interesting stories about his sailing trip across the Atlantic and the experience of sailing under the thunderstorm halfway through Lake Superior. The whole afternoon, I was immersed in his journey of fun and thrilling sailing adventure.

The city of Thunder Bay Ontario

Lake Superior, Thunder Bay . ON

As we sailed towards the barrier, a group of yachts passed us going in opposite direction. We were told that these yachts were in a sailing competition held by Thunder Bay Yacht Club . On Lake Superior, you will find multiple yachts sailing around one after another and each was prepared to face the strong wind. For those sailors, the sailing competition is the time to indulge in their hobbies and spend time to continue experimenting on new sailing techniques.

The city of Thunder Bay Ontario

Yachts racing on Lake Superior, Thunder Bay, ON

We sailed past the barrier where the strong wind and tides kicked in. There, we saw several cargo vessels that are used for transporting mines, grains, and iron ore to the other parts of the world. We saw an old house on one of the islands where the household relies on self-sufficient methods to live till today. We listened intently to Greg’s introduction and got to know that Lake Superior is not only rich in resources, it is a home to economic events and many great adventures.

Hiking on Kakabeka Falls

Kakabeka Falls is the second highest waterfall in Ontario and it is regarded as the Niagara of the North despite the falls is 5 degrees of altitude north of Niagara Falls. There is a boardwalk on tthe falls offering a 360-degree look at the gorge, the falls, flow of the water, and the Thunder Veil.  The falls is a 20-minute road trip from the city of Thunder Bay, and it is totally surrounded by nature and it is not as commercialized as Niagara Falls.

The city of Thunder Bay Ontario

Kakabeka Falls, Thunder Bay, ON

I arrived at Kakabeka Falls in the early morning and enjoyed the good view of the falls from several observation decks. It was in the mid-summer and there was a breeze coming from the west causing the water to spray mist on the boardwalk. With the lush trees and the birds singing on the treetop, Kakabeka Falls was a sight to behold and it amazed me how nature can create wonderful views.  I extended my Kakabeka Falls trip on the Little Falls Trail that took me to a beautiful and small hidden waterfall in an enchanted forest. Apart from the Kakabeka Falls and hiking trails, it has 160 campsites, many bird species, and a beach.

The city of Thunder Bay Ontario

Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park, you can hear the birds singing on the trees

Hillcrest Park

I decided to end my Thunder Bay trip at Hillcrest Park, which provides a magnificent view of the city of Thunder Bay, Lake Superior, grain elevators, and the Sleeping Giant. There was a huge span of green grass for me to walk around and relax, as well as benches to sit on. The park has Sunken Gardens featuring 70 varieties of flowers and they are in full blossom in summer. There is also an activity center for children; so many parents bring their kids there for late afternoon fun and entertainment.

The city of Thunder Bay Ontario

View from Hillcrest Park, Thunder Bay, ON

Where to stay in Thunder Bay

You have many options of hotels, Airbnbs and the Thunder Bay International Hostel located in a rural forest near the Mackenzie River. If you want to splurge on a hotel for the weekend, Holiday Inn Express would be the best place that has a great guest service, a delicious complimentary breakfast spread, and quiet ambiance. It is located at the city center and within walking distance to the Super Store, shops, and many restaurants.

Where to eat

My favorite restaurant Mongo’s Grill is across the street from Holiday Inn. It is a typical Mongolian type grill where you can pick your own vegetables, meat, rice, and noodles, add some ingredients, bring them to the cook, and watch the food cook in front of you.  The best part of this restaurant is that you pay $12 or $19 and get to choose your own food, ingredients, and rice and noodle bowls as you like. The food is fresh and there are soups and a salad bar as well.

Have you visited Thunder Bay? Share your experience in the comments below.

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Travel in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Julie Cao

Julie is the creator of Always On The Way. She lived in Hawaii and now resides in London (Ontario, Canada). In 2017, she went on an overland trip from Bogota Colombia to Puerto Williams, the southernmost city in the world. She believes travel is not only about visiting tourist attractions but more about getting to know the culture, people, and the place.

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