Lake Superior Coastal Trail: Agawa Bay to Sinclair Cove
Date: August 13, 2017
Weather: 20 C to 14 C, Sunny
Crew: 1 + dog
Starting out with good intentions, research & prep were not enough for this grueling 1st leg of the Coastal Trail. Difficult yet enjoyable. However, let me warn you…this trail was not for animals. Do not bring your dog!
Distance & time stated are approximate.
Check-in at the Agawa Campground gate, you can then park at the visitor centre. Invest in the park map, knowing the elevation differences and camp site locations will help you plan your day.
NOTE: You will lose cell reception about 40km south of the Campground (near the Agawa Trading Post), say your goodbyes well in advance.
Agawa Visitor Centre to Agawa River Bridge
Time: 1 to 2 hrs
10:30am start: After a 7hr drive to arrive, register & park at Agawa Bay Visitor Centre we take off along the coastal line. The trail splits off into the woods slightly but a companion sandy beach trail follows along for the first 1km, choose whichever you prefer. The easiest part of the trail, enjoy your time here and get settled in for the hike.
You will end this short section by leaving the shore line and heading up to Highway 17. Travel across the bridge to get back on the trail. Be mindful, traffic is going 90km+ here and no sidewalks.
Agawa River to Agawa Point
Time: 2–3 hrs
The trail starts off nice and easy as before, you will eventually end up at the coast line and pass a dilapidated log cabin, at this point the fun begins. Getting your first real elevation changes here, you will start climbing and descending rocks, heading into the forest and out to the shore line.
Near the end of this section you will start to climb and get some great views. It’s also at this point where I realize that I never should have brought my border collie along for the hike, some narrow elevating passes and declines begin to be extremely difficult. Upper body strength is important to keep your bag on and climb up some narrow rock edges.
Take the opportunity to fill up your water bottles before leaving the shore line.
Agawa Point to Agawa Rock
Descending back down from the point it you will get to the first long bolder covered shores. Nearly impassable for four-legged animals. You will think you’ve lost the trail as you will be on the beach for a long time, but don’t worry. It is up ahead, a far distance away. Passing a couple camp sites, you will eventually find the trail again and immediately start climbing again. (don’t forget to fill up your water again first).
Again, some great views, and with your map in hand you can compare your position with the islands to get your exact position.
The trail continually goes up and down in this section, going under rock ledges and massive rock formations, this is an exciting part of the trail.
You will finish this difficult leg at the Sinclair Cove parking lot & detour to the Pictographs. Certainly, a good idea for the quick detour to look if you aren’t completely exhausted.
Agawa Rock to Sinclair Cover Camp Site
Distance: 2km — 3km
Time: 1–2 hrs
With the dog, not in great shape at this point, we decide to ignore the pictographs and the next little leg of the trail instead opting to the boat launch road as a shortcut to the next camp site.
Sinclair Cove has a nice short sandy/rocky beach front. Depending on how far you are hiking today you may wish to take a break here. But we were only a short distance from our camp.
Passed the beach the trail begins, some climbing & more large rock shores here. Taking breaks every few minutes for water is needed, our pace was slower.
Hard not to miss is the sign for the secluded camp site on the peninsula (most others are completely visible from the trail). A great camp site, if you can get it before anyone else. Not a lot of room here to setup tent (or any camp site) but settle on a section of sandy beach in our own private bay.
A great finish to the day here, sit down for some dinner, a quick swim, and read before bed.
The trail itself is rough and difficult, a great challenge for anyone and certainly recommended. I was however out of it and worried about my dog. DO NOT TAKE YOUR DOG ON THIS TRIP!
Take lots of pictures and rest on some picturesque views. Without the dog, I’m sure the camp sites between Sand River & Sinclair Cove are achievable for a 1-day hike.
Just before calling it a night, a family arrived at camp for their last night on the trail (heading south). Ended up pitching tent directly in front of the fire pit as the only available spot for second tent. They let me know of a several large rock shores ahead, making my next decision much easier.
With regret, we end the hike early. Returning to the boat launch road we follow Highway 17 back to Agawa River and then on the trail back to the car. Not something I wanted to do, but for the same of my dog I could not put her through another day. For now, difficult rated trails are off the list for a hike with the dog.
I did a little shopping head of time, but many items are a little older and may not be the best available but certainly do the trick.
Backpack — Gregory Z35
Tent — MEC Camper 2
Sleeping Bag — Mountain Essentials Basecamp 200
Sleeping Mat — Kylmit Inertia O Zone
Knife — Gerber Multi-tool
Flashlight — Filzer
iPhone & Case
Wallet & Keys
Long-sleeve shirt — Lululemon
Socks & underwear
Columbia — rain jacket
Total: 7.195 kg
Safety, Food, Toiletries
Dry bag — MEC XS
Cooking set — GSI Stove, fuel, pot & fork
Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap
Bug spray — Muskol
Sun screen — ROC
First aid kit
Whistle, flint strike, compass
6 servings — dehydrated meals
12 — Cliff bars
Total: 2.348 kg
Pants — Columbia convertible
t-shirt — Cotton
Socks & underwear
Shoes — Merrell All-Out Terra Trail running
Total: 1.002 kg
Total: 850 g
OVERALL WEIGHT: 11.395 kg (4 days of supplies)
Pack — Outward Hound
5 days of kibble (1 extra day)
Dog bags / garbage bag
Collar & tag
Bowl — foldable
I didn’t go all out, but easily could have. A few thoughts:
- Cut excessive cords, straps & pockets
- Remove extra bags, patch kits & cases from equipment (tent poles, first aid, etc.)
- Bring only key, ID, & credit card instead of key fob & wallet
- Forgo a few luxury items (but how much fun would it be)
- Cut map to only area being travelled