Agawa Canyon: From Rail to Trail

After enjoying a nice family hike along the Attikamek Trail in Sault Ste. Marie, the next day we took a rail excursion from Sault Ste. Marie to Agawa Canyon Park. Agawa Canyon has been on our list of destinations to visit for a while. We were so glad to make it happen.

Getting There

The Agawa Canyon Park is only accessible by hiking trail or the Algoma Central Railway, and is located 186 km or 114 rail miles north west of Sault Ste. Marie. We take the Agawa Canyon tour train that departs from Sault Ste. Marie at 8 am and arrives back in Sault Ste. Marie around 6 pm.

Agawa Canyon Park location
Agawa Canyon Park location (red marker)

About Agawa Canyon

Agawa Canyon was created more than 1.2 billion years ago by faulting along the Canadian Shield. A series of ice ages subsequently widened and reshaped the Canyon over a period of 1.5 million years with the last ice age retreating about 10,000 years ago. The word Agawa is native Ojibway for “shelter”.

The Sault Ste. Marie visitor guide provides a map of three nature trails in the Agawa Canyon Park. They are the Lookout Trail, River Trail, and Talus Trail. We hike the River Trail and the Talus Trail for the three waterfalls in the park. The Lookout Trail is closed on the day of our visit. The trails are well maintained and are covered in fine gravel.

The Train Ride

Rarely is the journey as rewarding as the destination, but the Agawa Canyon train ride is truly an exception. The train is outfitted with large tinted windows and comfortable seats to watch the ever-changing and breathtaking Northern Ontario landscapes. The train ticket includes a $10 voucher that we can use for food and drinks in the dining car.

Spruce Lake
Spruce Lake

We drink in the beautiful scenery as the train hugs the shores of northern lakes and rivers, crosses towering trestles, and passes by mixed forests that turn red, purple, gold and yellow in the fall.

Autumn foliage
Autumn foliage towards Lake Superior

We also listen to a GPS-triggered audio commentary about key points of interest and the rich history of the region. When we can peel our eyes away from the window, the train has locomotive-mounted cameras that provide an engineer’s “eye-view” via flat screen monitors installed throughout the coaches.

A view from our window on the Agawa Canyon train
A view from our window on the Agawa Canyon train

The Weather

The weather changes frequently during our train ride, from overcast, to partly cloudy, to light snow flurries at high elevation, to partly sunny as the train starts its descent into the canyon at Mile 102 and full sunshine by the time we reach the canyon floor at Mile 114.

Light dusting of snow
Light dusting of snow at high elevation
Train arrival at Agawa Canyon Park
Full sunshine upon train arrival at Agawa Canyon Park

The River Trail

Upon arriving at the Agawa Canyon Park, we start our hike on the River Trail which gently rolls along the banks of the Agawa River. The strong sunlight quickly melts the thin layer of snow. The trail glows and smells fresh as if it just received a spa treatment.

Autumn colours by the Agawa River
Autumn colours by the Agawa River

We walk about twenty minutes, enjoy the trail and the vibrant autumn colours along the river before reaching the beautiful Bridal Veils Falls, the tallest waterfall in the park.

View along the River Trail
View along the River Trail

We see many white birch trees with their golden leaves and mountain ash trees with their red fruits that accentuate the landscape.

Mountain ash
Mountain ash

The water flow at all the falls in the canyon is contingent on runoff from snow and rainfall. We luck out that Bridal Veil Falls at 68.5m (225 ft.) are running strong. The Agawa River is the calm and reflective barrier that holds us back from getting closer to the falls.

Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls at 68.5 m (225 ft)

The Talus Trail

From the River Trail, we walk about fifteen minutes to reach the Talus Trail which follows along the base of the west canyon wall. This trail leads us past lichen covered talus slopes to the viewing platforms at North and South Black Beaver Falls.

The Talus Trail
The Talus Trail

We can hear the rushing sounds of water before reaching the viewing platforms. Black Beaver Falls at 53.3 m (175 ft) are also running strong and look so beautiful with the surrounding autumn foliage. We respect the Caution sign to keep off the rocks.

North Black Beaver Falls
North Black Beaver Falls
South Black Beaver Falls
South Black Beaver Falls

Clouds roll in and out while we pass bridges, creeks and waterfalls to return to the train. Altogether we walk 5 km and enjoy every minute of the hike in Agawa Canyon Park.

On our way back to Sault Ste. Marie, we get to see the spectacular landscapes again from our train windows. Everyone is wide-eyed to take in as much as possible the pristine beauty of Canada’s rugged wilderness.

Copyright Β© 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

67 thoughts on “Agawa Canyon: From Rail to Trail

    • Natalie November 17, 2019 / 10:01 am

      Thank you, John and Susan, for your comment. We lucked out with the weather when we arrived at Agawa Canyon. It’s a beautiful place to hike and explore.

      Like

    • Natalie November 17, 2019 / 11:31 am

      This train ride is usually fully booked from the last two weeks of September to mid-October when autumn foliage is at its peak. The area near Lake Superior and the hike in Agawa Canyon are unbelievably beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie November 17, 2019 / 8:02 pm

      Thank you, Lydia, for your comment. I appreciate it.

      Like

  1. Sydney Shop Girl November 17, 2019 / 4:26 pm

    Absolutely breathtaking. I am so glad the weather was kind too. It’s a testament to the Canadian Government that areas like this are still so pristine and are there for all to appreciate.

    SSG xxx

    Like

    • Natalie November 17, 2019 / 8:04 pm

      We lucked out with the weather on this trip, especially during our hike in the canyon. Thank you, SSG, for your comment.

      Like

    • Natalie November 17, 2019 / 8:04 pm

      Thank you, Di, for your visit and comment. I greatly appreciate it.

      Like

  2. Jo November 17, 2019 / 11:31 pm

    The colours! It’s great to have a park like this both accessible and pristine. I do love wondering where you’re going to take us to each week…

    Like

    • Natalie November 18, 2019 / 8:13 am

      Thank you, Jo, for joining me on my hike virtually. Agawa Canyon is a beautiful place.

      Like

  3. Shiju Sugunan November 18, 2019 / 12:03 am

    Fantastic pics. Particularly love the waterfall pics.

    Like

    • Natalie November 18, 2019 / 8:13 am

      Thank you, Shiju, for your comment. The waterfalls were wonderful to see.

      Like

  4. Sanch @ Sanch Writes November 18, 2019 / 4:44 am

    Oh wow! That’s absolutely incredible! I reckon I’d love to hike that trail and do the train ride too

    Like

    • Natalie November 18, 2019 / 8:15 am

      Thank you, Sanch, for your comment. Both the train ride and the hike offer amazing things to see.

      Like

  5. Laurie November 18, 2019 / 7:49 am

    What a beautiful and remote spot to go hiking. I love the idea of riding the train to the canyon. It seems like you visited at the perfect time of year.

    Like

    • Natalie November 18, 2019 / 8:17 am

      Thank you, Laurie, for your comment. We were lucky to get the train tickets before the end of the season and had good weather on the day of our visit. The train tour is usually sold out from late September to mid-October when the autumn foliage is at its peak colours.

      Like

  6. Shelley November 18, 2019 / 12:26 pm

    You captured such gorgeous pictures of the seasons changing. I haven’t been up that far north of where I live since I was young and living with my parents. Eons ago! My youngest hikes with her boyfriend, I’m going to share your post with her. Thanks for the tour!

    Like

    • Natalie November 18, 2019 / 1:20 pm

      Thank you, Shelley, for your visit and comment. Hikers like your youngest daughter would love this area near Lake Superior. Pristine and breathtaking are two words that come to my mind.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Shelley November 18, 2019 / 2:36 pm

        Ditto to you. I’m guessing they’ll have Lake Superior on their hiking bucket list soon!

        Like

  7. sustainabilitea November 18, 2019 / 2:42 pm

    What a glorious train ride and walk, Natalie! Thanks for sharing it. You were there at such a beautiful time of the year.

    janet

    Like

    • Natalie November 18, 2019 / 4:46 pm

      Thank you, Janet, for your visit and comment. October is a good time to go as the autumn foliage is beautiful. We were amazed at the scenery along the way and at Agawa Canyon park.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. 3sistersabroad November 18, 2019 / 3:06 pm

    what a stunning place to visit. A photographers dream. Your photos are amazing thank you. #SeniSal

    Like

    • Natalie November 18, 2019 / 5:20 pm

      Thank you for your kind comment. I’m glad you like my photos.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. restlessjo November 18, 2019 / 3:33 pm

    The colours make the train ride extra special, don’t they? What a beautiful area to hike! Many thanks for sharing, Natalie πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Like

    • Natalie November 18, 2019 / 5:22 pm

      Thank you, Jo, for your comment. The autumn colours and the waterfalls were beautiful at the canyon.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. lunalyon November 18, 2019 / 4:13 pm

    So beautiful. I like the picture with the berries against the tree.

    Like

    • Natalie November 18, 2019 / 5:23 pm

      Thank you for your kind comment. Those red berries are beautiful accents.

      Like

  11. Retirement Reflections November 18, 2019 / 4:50 pm

    Hi, Natalie – I absolutely love train travel. And you already know that I enjoy a great hike…or two!
    Your photos are stunning. Thank you for sharing your travels with us.

    Like

    • Natalie November 18, 2019 / 5:26 pm

      Thank you, Donna, for your kind comment. If you ever return to Ontario for a visit, consider this train trip and hiking in Agawa Canyon Park or by Lake Superior.

      Like

    • Natalie November 19, 2019 / 8:06 am

      Thank you, Catherine, for your visit and comment. The warmth of the south is appealing when it’s cold here πŸ™‚

      Like

  12. csuhpat1 November 19, 2019 / 8:09 pm

    What a truly lovely place. I would love to visit there. #MLSTL

    Like

    • Natalie November 19, 2019 / 9:02 pm

      Thank you, Patrick, for your comment. I greatly appreciate it.

      Like

  13. leannelc November 19, 2019 / 9:32 pm

    That countryside is certainly majestic Natalie and I imagine the train ride and hike would have been quite awe inspiring.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM πŸ™‚

    Like

    • Natalie November 20, 2019 / 9:43 am

      Hi Leanne: Majestic and awe-inspiring are good descriptions for the scenery in and around Agawa Canyon. Thank you for hosting and sharing. Have a beautiful week!

      Like

  14. Erica/Erika November 19, 2019 / 9:42 pm

    Your photos are exceptionally beautiful, Natalie! I have travelled by train a number of times and the scenery can vary a great deal. The Agawa Canyon area is breathtaking. First time I have heard about a GPS triggered audio commentary. I am running out of ways to say WOW, on this post, Natalie. Thank you for sharing!

    Like

    • Natalie November 20, 2019 / 9:49 am

      Hi Erica/ Erika: Thank you so much for your kind words about my photos. It was tricky to take photos on the train when it was moving but I couldn’t resist. I felt very fortunate to experience such stunning nature in Canada. The Group of Seven Canadian landscape painters used to come to this area to paint. From what I saw, they’d never run out of inspiration.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Erica/Erika November 20, 2019 / 10:12 am

        Wow, I did not know that about the Group of Seven. It sounds like a “must see” area, and Fall is the perfect time of year. You could write a book, Natalie, sharing your wealth of informationπŸ™‚

        Like

        • Natalie November 20, 2019 / 10:18 am

          This area is such a beautiful part of Canada. I’d classify it as a “must-see” too. I’d consider writing a book in my “slow go” years. This blog is my shortcut atm πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

  15. Veronica Lee November 19, 2019 / 10:49 pm

    WOW! What an incredible hike! Love the photos especially the Fall foliage.

    Happy Weds!

    Like

    • Natalie November 20, 2019 / 9:50 am

      Thank you, Veronica, for your visit and comment. I’m glad you like the photos.

      Like

  16. Min Write of the Middle November 19, 2019 / 11:26 pm

    Another place I’d never heard of Natalie but WOW what beautiful scenery and fantastic photos! I’m so glad to be aware of Agawa Canyon now – thank you! πŸ™‚

    Like

    • Natalie November 20, 2019 / 9:52 am

      Thank you, Min, for your kind words. My pleasure to share Agawa Canyon with you and my blog readers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Min Write of the Middle November 20, 2019 / 10:32 pm

        Just popping back as #TeamLovinLife Hope you enjoy the rest of your week and have a fabulous weekend Natalie! πŸ™‚ xo

        Like

        • Natalie November 21, 2019 / 8:32 am

          Thank you, Min. Have a wonderful weekend!

          Like

  17. Denyse Whelan November 20, 2019 / 1:08 am

    So good to take these journeys with you. Your country does Autumn very well indeed. The train ride look very pleasant.

    Thank you for linking up for life this week. Next week’s optional prompt is 47/51 Do You Celebrate β€œzero” Birthdays? 25/11/19 Hope to see you there. Denyse

    Like

    • Natalie November 20, 2019 / 9:54 am

      Thank you, Denyse, for hosting and commenting. The train ride and the hike were both wonderful.

      Like

  18. betty - NZ November 20, 2019 / 1:34 am

    That’s some fabulous scenery! I love autumn colors, such a lovely signal of change of season.

    I’m happy to see your link at ‘My Corner of the World’ this week!

    Like

    • Natalie November 20, 2019 / 9:55 am

      Thank you, Betty, for hosting. I’m glad to share this post and photos.

      Like

  19. Debbie from Deb's World November 20, 2019 / 5:26 am

    Oh Natalie, that autumn colour is just beautiful and what a great trip! Thanks for taking us with you. #mlstl

    Like

    • Natalie November 20, 2019 / 9:57 am

      Thank you, Debbie, for your comment. I hope you’re enjoying family time in the UK and Dottie continues to do well.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Joanne Sisco November 20, 2019 / 7:59 am

    It’s so nice to see what we missed on our train adventure. Your photos are lovely.

    Our excursion wasn’t so lucky. Our tickets had been pre-booked (as it is recommended to do in the fall) and that train leaves rain or shine. Needless to say, we had teeming rain the entire day. Combined with the fog and mist, visibility was virtually nil. All that breathtaking scenery disappeared into the grey … and needless to say, when we did reach the canyon, any hiking was out of the question.

    It was an excruciatingly long day. Your version looks so much nicer!

    Like

    • Natalie November 20, 2019 / 10:04 am

      Oh no, I’m sorry to hear the poor weather ruined your excursion. When we were on the train, I saw some dark clouds, drizzle, light flurries on and off. I didn’t know what we’d get by the time we arrived. We were very lucky indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Amy Johnson November 20, 2019 / 9:33 am

    How exciting! I would love to do this! The scenery is so beautiful! Visiting from MSTL.

    Like

    • Natalie November 20, 2019 / 10:05 am

      Thank you, Amy, for your comment. I greatly appreciate it.

      Like

  22. Carol November 20, 2019 / 11:46 am

    I’ve roamed around the Michigan area below there but have not made it to the Canada side. Really gorgeous! Thanks for all the information!

    Like

    • Natalie November 20, 2019 / 12:05 pm

      Thank you, Carol, for your comment. My pleasure to share this post and photos. The area near Lake Superior is stunning and well worth a visit.

      Like

  23. Dr Sock December 12, 2019 / 2:44 pm

    Fabulous photos, Natalie! I love the fall colours. I had not heard of this train excursion, and it really sounds like a lot of fun (although as Joanne mentions, the weather does not always cooperate).

    By the way, I like the fact that you’ve taken the ads off your blog on. Your blog format is very attractive.

    Jude

    Like

    • Natalie December 12, 2019 / 9:28 pm

      Thank you, Jude, for your comment. I’m glad you like my photos and my current blog format. The Agawa Canyon train tour is very popular in the Fall and advanced booking is recommended. The Canyon Park is outdoor so yes, we’d need good weather to fully enjoy it.

      Like

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