Discover the Great Loop

Ready to navigate one of North America’s most incredible boating adventures? Let’s set sail through the Great Loop, focusing on the majestic Lake Superior leg of the journey.

Starting in the twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and Michigan, you’re at the gateway to Lake Superior. With Canada’s Ontario to the north and states like Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan to the south, your course runs through diverse landscapes and waters.

The Lake Superior Circle Tour is a must-do, forming part of this Great Loop section. Spanning around 1,300 miles, have your camera ready for views only Superior can provide.

Can’t complete it all in one go? No worries! Loopers often cruise the Great Lakes over the course of a year, with Lake Superior being a jewel in the trip’s crown.

So, grab your captain’s hat, plot your course, and be prepared for a nautical journey through time, water, and the best of the Great Lakes.

START PLANNING YOUR TRIP

Top 3 Facts about the Great Loop, Lake Superior

01

Incredible Size

Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area, covering over 31,700 square miles. Its vast expanse provides ample room for exploration along the Great Loop route.

02

Unique Ecosystem

Lake Superior’s pristine waters support diverse wildlife, including trout, whitefish, and even the elusive Lake Superior agate, a sought-after gemstone. Exploring its shores offers a glimpse into this rich ecosystem.

03

Scenic Wonders

Mariners encounter a stunning array of natural wonders along the Great Loop in Lake Superior, from the towering cliffs of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to the rugged beauty of Isle Royale National Park. Each bend in the route reveals a new vista waiting to be explored.

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Must See Attractions

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Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Park

Known for its towering cliffs, colorful sandstone formations, and pristine beaches, Pictured Rocks offers breathtaking scenery best explored by boat or kayak.

Isle Royale National Park

National Park

This remote wilderness island offers unparalleled opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, and solitude. Explore its rugged trails, pristine lakes, and ancient forests.

Split Rock Lighthouse

Lighthouse

Perched atop a cliff overlooking Lake Superior, this iconic lighthouse offers stunning panoramic views and insight into the region’s maritime history. Don’t miss the opportunity to tour the lighthouse and its keeper’s quarters.

Annual Events and Festivals

August

Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival

Held in Superior, Wisconsin, this festival features exhilarating dragon boat races on the waters of Lake Superior.

Teams from around the region compete in colorful boats adorned with dragon heads and tails, creating a spectacle for spectators along the shoreline.

August

Bayfront Blues Festival

Taking place in Duluth, Minnesota, this renowned blues festival attracts top musicians from around the country for a weekend of soulful performances against the backdrop of Lake Superior.

Enjoy live music, food vendors, and a lively atmosphere at the Bayfront Festival Park.

September

Lake Superior Shore Run

Held in Marquette, Michigan, this annual running event offers participants the chance to race along the scenic shores of Lake Superior.

With options for a half marathon, 5K, and 10K races, runners of all levels can enjoy the stunning views and challenging terrain.

Top Hiking Trails

Superior Hiking Trail (SHT)

Various locations along the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota

Stretching over 300 miles along the North Shore of Lake Superior, the SHT offers hikers a variety of landscapes, including dense forests, rocky ridges, cascading waterfalls, and stunning overlooks of the lake.

Notable sections include Gooseberry Falls State Park, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, and Cascade River State Park.

Isle Royale National Park

Houghton or Copper Harbor, Michigan

Explore the rugged wilderness of Isle Royale via its network of hiking trails, which traverse dense forests, rocky shorelines, and inland lakes.

Popular routes include the Greenstone Ridge Trail, which runs the length of the island, and the Rock Harbor Trail, which provides access to scenic viewpoints and historic sites.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Ontonagon, Michigan

Known as the “Porkies,” this vast wilderness area features over 90 miles of hiking trails, including the 23-mile Escarpment Trail, which offers panoramic views of Lake Superior and the surrounding forests.

Other highlights include the Summit Peak Trail, which leads to the highest point in the park, and the Lake of the Clouds Trail, which overlooks a picturesque alpine lake.

Best Golf Courses

Superior National at Lutsen-Golf Course

731 MN-61, Lutsen, MN 55612, United States

Nestled on the North Shore of Lake Superior, this course offers a stunning experience with its River and Canyon nines forming the exquisite Premier 18.

They say it’s one of the best in Minnesota, and who are we to argue? With recent tee-to-green improvements, this is golfing with a view taken to new heights.

Northland Country Club

3901 E Superior St, Duluth, MN 55804, United States

Founded in 1899, Northland Country Club in Duluth stands proud with its tree-lined fairways and strategic water hazards. Though it’s a private club, its historical significance and beauty are worth noting, especially if you are invited.

And let’s not forget the views of Lake Superior that accompany your game on this par-71 course.

Whitewater Golf Club

1961 King George’s Park Dr, Thunder Bay, ON P7K 1K8, Canada

Whitewater Golf Club, nestled in the picturesque surroundings of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, offers golf enthusiasts an exceptional experience amidst the natural beauty of the Lake Superior region.

Situated approximately 10 miles from the shores of Lake Superior, this 18-hole golf course combines stunning scenery with challenging play.

Water Sports

Kayaking and Canoeing

Exploring Lake Superior by kayak or canoe lets you get up close and personal with its rugged shoreline, sea caves, and secluded beaches.

Paddlers can venture out independently or join guided tours to navigate the lake’s waters safely.

Sailing

Lake Superior’s vastness and reliable winds make it a paradise for sailing enthusiasts.

Sailboat rentals and charters are available in various ports along the lake, allowing sailors to explore its pristine waters and picturesque harbors.

Surfing

Yes, you can surf on Lake Superior! While waves may not rival the ocean, dedicated surfers can catch swells from strong winds and storms.

Popular surfing spots include Stoney Point near Duluth, Minnesota, and Pancake Bay Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada.

Winter Activities

Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)

Keep your eyes peeled for the mesmerizing Northern Lights as you journey through the Loop.

This natural light display is nature’s own vibrant night show. Make sure your camera is ready for those stunning snaps!

Snowshoeing

Explore the pristine beauty of the Lake Superior shoreline and surrounding wilderness areas on snowshoes.

Many hiking trails and nature preserves become snowshoeing destinations in the winter, providing a peaceful and immersive way to experience the winter landscape.

Ice Fishing

When Lake Superior freezes over in the winter, it becomes a hotspot for ice fishing enthusiasts. Set up your ice shelter on a frozen bay or inlet and drop a line in search of trout, salmon, whitefish, and more.

Many local outfitters offer ice fishing equipment rentals and guided excursions.

Where to Eat

The Boat Club Restaurant

$$ – $$$ • Seafood

Bight Restaurant and Bar

$$ – $$$ • Canadian

Prospector Steak House

$$ – $$$ • Steak, Canadian

Where to Shop

Donckers, Michigan

Artisan chocolates

Canal Park, Minnesota

Souvenirs

The Outdoor Store, Ontario

Camping and hiking store

Where to Sleep

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Tips on Renting a Vacation Home on Lake Superior

Start Early

Lake Superior is a popular vacation destination, especially during the summer months when the weather is mild. Start your search for rental properties well in advance to ensure you have plenty of options and secure your preferred dates.

Research Locations

Lake Superior offers diverse landscapes and communities, from bustling cities to remote wilderness areas. Research different regions along the Great Loop route to find the location best suits your interests and preferences.

Read Reviews

Take the time to read reviews from previous renters to get an idea of the property’s condition, cleanliness, and amenities. Look for reviews that mention the accuracy of the listing description and any issues or concerns from previous guests.

Ask Questions

Don’t hesitate to contact the property owner or rental agency with questions or concerns. Ask about check-in procedures, amenities, nearby attractions, and anything important.

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Going Deeper: History and Cultural Significance of Great Loop, Lake Superior

Have you ever wondered about the stories held within the tranquil waters of the Great Loop, especially where it brushes against the rugged landscapes of Lake Superior? If you’re a history buff or cultural connoisseur, there’s a wealth of tales bound in these waves.

History of the Great Loop:

  • The Great Loop is a mariner’s marathon, a water-bound adventure around the eastern U.S. and Canada.
  • Navigation heaven: Think 6,000 miles of rivers, lakes, and canals, including our star, Lake Superior.

The Storied Waves of Lake Superior:

  • Lake Superior isn’t just huge; it’s drenched in history. Its vast expanse has been a silent witness to countless cultural transformations.
  • The mighty Michigan shore and the serene Canadian shore echo tales of indigenous communities and early European explorers.

Isle Royale National Park:

  • Nestled in Lake Superior, the park is a living museum, preserving wilderness and wildlife.
  • An anchor in the cultural significance of the Great Loop, it’s a testament to the harmonious relationship between nature and human history.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Great Loop

To cruise the Great Loop comfortably, you’ll need a vessel with a draft of less than 5 feet to avoid the shallow spots. It should also have less than 19 feet clearance to fit under the fixed bridges. So, if you’re eyeing that mega yacht, think smaller and more agile.

Budget-wise, prepare for a wide range. The Loop can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 per year. This covers marinas, fuel, maintenance, and living expenses. Of course, your mileage (and spending) may vary!

Plan for two weeks at least, but don’t rush. Starting from Sault Ste. Marie, visit the idyllic locales of Munising, Houghton, and Bayfield before tackling Minnesota’s North Shore. Then swing by Ontario’s Thunder Bay and return.

Hit Lake Superior in the summer, between June and August, for the best weather.

Most loopers take about a year to enjoy the entire 6,000-mile voyage leisurely. Others, with throttle a bit heavier, might do it in six months. It’s your journey; chart it well.

The ‘tricky bit’: the Illinois River, with a section near Joliet known for being shallow. Keep a weather eye on the waterway’s depth and your boat’s draft in cahoots.

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