The Bay Awesome Tbay 2020 Summer Bucket List

Ya, I know your summer vacation plans have been derailed by the pandemic, but that doesn’t  mean we’re going to spend the next two months watching Netflix all day. No! (Because we actually watched everything on it already.) But seriously, don’t let the season pass you by. Make the most of what’s in  your very own backyard. Make it a #tbaycation! 

Sunset at 10pm? Not a problem. Sunrise at 6am?  You got it. Frankly, why would we even be spending a single second inside when it’s beautiful all day long? Aside from the sun being on its best and brightest behavior, there are so many things that feel right during this time of year. Summer is all about embracing those carefree vibes, and letting the breeze flow through your hair. Not sure where to begin? I’ve come up with a bucket list of 20 things that’ll offer a dose of nostalgia, reunite you with a love for Thunder Bay and the outdoors, introduce you to a new sauna tradition and definitely satisfy all those food cravings! Summer is where it’s at.  

Chasing Waterfalls

Hanging out at a waterfall is a mystical and awesome place to relax, soak up the sun and reconnect with nature, and I can’t think of a better spot to be on a blazing hot day- so why not escape the city and spend some time this summer chasing waterfalls?  It’s the absolute perfect adventure. 

There are a ton of stunning waterfalls surrounding Thunder Bay, and for the most part many are hidden from the public and might be one of the region’s best kept summer secrets. There are so many different types and sizes of waterfalls out there, with each factor contributing to what makes these natural beauties unique and jaw dropping.

Hiking trails with waterfalls are pretty popular in Northwestern Ontario. Having spent so much time exploring myself, if you love water and nature, there is no way you won’t enjoy finding falls in the most unexpected of places. I would say half a dozen even show on maps.

For me, some of the best waterfalls are found off the beaten path and are typically seasonal. While some are pretty easy to find,  others require a little bit of exploring and effort. The ones you should chase this summer: 

Palisades- Cascade Falls:  Located at the end of  the famous Palisades Trail hiking trail near Orient Bay. These magnificent falls stand at 132 feet high, and with stunning surroundings this waterfall makes you feel like you’re are in a tropical paradise! (Featured above)

Arrow River Falls: Down Hwy 61 toward the US border. Right turn on Hwy 593. Stay on Border Road then take the next right. Drive until you reach the bridge. Make sure to hike the right side of the river and not the left.

Mckenzie Falls: Follow the trail behind the old Mckenzie Inn. At 35 years of age, this was my first time visiting this site. I definitely remember everyone talking about in High School and I now understand why.

Wolf River Falls: On the way to Nipigon, the trail is down Fish Hatchery Road. My hike to this hot spot was derailed by a storm. Stay tuned for more details. 

Hidden Gems

Some of the best outdoor adventures are hidden gems that are just waiting to be discovered. Tucked away in the Boreal Forest as you travel north of the town of Nipigon, are the remains of a once travelled rail tunnel, that was a part of the Kinghorn Line.

Known as Jumbo’s Cove, the abandoned railway tunnel was decommissioned fifteen years ago with the track removed and sold, but inside railway ties still line the dark corridor. 

When you drive up to this location, you will leave your vehicle behind where you notice the old rail bed begin. You can then walk the rest of the way by foot. In the distance you will quickly notice  a  huge gaping hole in the side of a cliff, overgrown with majestic plants and florals, giving you the satisfaction that you’ve found a lost treasure.

My initial reaction to Jumbo’s Cove is that it definitely appears larger than Flett Tunnel and has a more eerie and grand appeal. The tunnel itself an engineering marvel that goes straight through boulders and forest. The entry arch at least 30 feet high, welcomes you into a part of history, framed and chiseled out of cement blocks and rocks.

As you get into the centre of the cave, outside light becomes a distant memory, immersed in total darkness for a couple metres or so. The tunnel floor wet, and muddy in spots, along with graffiti covering portions of the walls as a little guest book of those that have visited. There is definitely light at the end of this tunnel as you emerge into lush free forest on the other side, a small waterfall trickling down the side. 

Before you depart for this epic adventure make sure you pack a flashlight, as a part of the cave can be dark. With a little light, you can unleash your inner Indiana Jones or Lara Croft and see what wonders await in this man-made corridor. 

To get there (this is very tricky to find), from Nipigon drive East on Highway 11/17 and then turn left on Highway 11 toward Beardmore. Drive for about 40 minutes to Orient Bay. It is shortly after the end of the Palisades trail on the left. You will notice two signs- one  to a fishing resort and the other (hidden by trees)  marked “Jumbo’s Cove”.

There’s a sense of adventure in finding the spot on its own. On your way back make sure to stop at  the waterfalls off the highway to your left. Good luck! If you make it, make sure to tag me in pictures.

Please note, this tunnel is not maintained so be cautious of falling rocks. All at your own risk.

If you are looking for something closer to Thunder Bay, check out Flett Tunnel.

Bike & Hike the Sleepy G. It’s just gorge-ous!!

After looking at the Sleepy G for months on end as it peacefully rests in the big open lake, I really became determined to hike to the top of this towering giant this summer. This wasn’t my first attempt however, with my initial try about 15 years ago,when I only made it to the first lookout. This time I was going to make it!

If you are from Thunder Bay, this is a quest you’re most likely familiar with as one of the city’s most signature hikes. Hiking the Top of the Giant Trail is no easy trek, but to make it a little simpler I would suggest you bike for the first 7 kilometres or so,  down the Kabeyun Trail. Considered a difficult hike (and I fully agree) the Top of the Giant adventure is a 22.4 km round trip!!

The first part of the hike to Tee Harbour was flat and relatively easy, which is good as you are able to reserve energy for when things get tough— the uphill battle. The Top of the Giant trails off at the crossroads not far past. At this point you will ditch your bike. There are bike racks available, but if they are full you can just use a tree. From there you’ll head to the glorious  “stairs” of the climb. This is when things get a little buggy..some say you will find mosquitos the size of humming birds. I am lucky enough that they don’t seem to like me. Others I was with, not so fortunate. 

The gorge hovers almost 1000 feet above Lake Superior, which is acclaimed to be the best  lookout of the great lake in all of Ontario. Upon arrival you will quickly realize the climb was worth the views- far more impressive then  I could ever imagine. Cheers to that! It’s almost like you can see right into the heart of nature, peering down the drop with Thunder Bay off across the horizon. 

It’s pretty awesome to experience the giant from entirely different perspective. Everyone should go see Sleepy G up close an personal. Introduce yourself and see what kind of views it has to offer. 

Dolce Coffee House 

For a taste of la dolce vita, make your way to the sweetest Thunder Bay spot of them all. Dolce, a bakery and café rolled into one, has a delectable selection of Italian sweets, including its famous cannoli.

This hot spot is a testament to the fact that though your first association with Italian cuisine may be pizza and pasta, it truly begins and ends with the baked goods. Yum! With gelato of all flavours, tantalizing torte (cakes), and a rainbow of macarons on the shelves, it’s hard to stick to just one dessert. The selection is really mesmerizing. 

Opening last August, owner John Minnella is just thrilled with the local response. He shares that the story all began when he saw potential in the site, driving past it on a regular basis. His sister being a passionate pastry chef and with personal experience in the restaurant industry, a new business was soon born. 

Trust me when I say they aren’t exaggerating about the cannoli! Selling hundreds a day, they usually cause a fight between my family members when it comes to deciding who gets the last one. They really are that good!!  Located on the corner of Kingsway and Arthur.

From Cocktails to Corner Store: Barkeep Variety 

Barkeep has become a popular hangout on St.Paul street since opening back in December, and instead of completely shutting down during the pandemic, they partnered with BFF Tomlin, and turned the hip, hot spot into a variety store. When life gave this crew lemons, not only did they decide to make a killer Morello cherry lemonade, but a slew of other really delicious treats. 

At the shop you can pickup some of your Tomlin and Barkeep favs like the knockout burger packages (including the secret sauce, pickles and those homemade buns), jalapeño and cheddar sausages, dry aged steak along with a fun charcuterie picnic that comes with all the works.

With the site known for its superb bevies, they also carry bottled cocktail kits featuring house favourites from the two locations. That’s right, the summer won’t go by without enjoying a Sloe Gin or Full Circle.  Or if you are in the mood for something even more fun, sunny weekends, warm weather and fresh fruit call for a chilled pitcher of sangria. This insane collaboration between summer’s two most popular beverages (rosé and aperol) is the answer to all of your evening aperitif needs. Plus, basil, watermelon and  fresh raspberries!  Say no more. The best sangria, hands down.

While shopping you can also grab your “Team Tomlin” gear, along with homemade onion dip and bartending tools. Each and every week throughout July watch for exclusive collaborations with some local producers including Heartbeat Hotsauce and Dawson Trail. Products will be available in limited amounts. 

You can find the Barkeep Variety at 15c St. Paul Street, Thursday to Saturday from Noon until 7 pm. Purchases are made at the window with debit or credit.

Dorion Tower

Dorion Tower will rock your world—well someone’s world…just not mine because to stand on top of it, means you have to climb it first. Climb the 22 metre rock formation to the top teeny-tiny, one-metre by one-metre space to stand on.

I am horrified of heights, so I think this one is going to take a little more coaxing to get me to attempt, however my very brave and beautiful friend Jacklynn was up for the challenge instead. Under the guidance and assistance of climbing expert Aric Fishman of Outdoor Skills and Thrills, she put all fears aside for an awesome experience. Jacklynn climbed the tower as a first date, really taking her relationship to new heights (pretty much an episode of the Bachelor). Both with zero rock climbing experience.

What was on her mind the entire way up- “Don’t look down, don’t look down.” And when she finally made it to the top, feeling extremely accomplished and in total disbelief she actually made it, “Is this thing moving!? “How do I get down?”  You actually repel down. Again under the support of Fishman. 

Once she did return to the ground, and her legs finally stopped shaking, she gave herself a pat on the back, quite proud of herself for doing what she once deemed impossible.

“Outdoor Skills and Thrills will welcome you into the unexpected to push you out of your comfort zone to try something new that gives you a totally different view of Northwestern Ontario. “It was a safe, fun experience and anyone at any skill level could achieve this climb!” 

…Just maybe not me, because I’m a big wimp. I enjoy the view from ground level. To check out the Dorion Tower head toward Nipigon, turn left on Ouimet Canyon Road, then take a right on Valley Road. Drive until you see a trail heading west and to your left Tower Road. 

If you plan to climb, contact Outdoor Skills and Thrills. You aren’t Edmund Hillary, however Aric does help you resemble the little figurine on the top of a trophy.

#Tbaycation Picnic

There’s nothing better than enjoying some fresh air on a warm day—especially if there’s food involved. Whether it’s at a park, a beach, or right in your backyard, roll out your picnic blanket and have a seat—it’s time to get your alfresco on!

My fav Tbay picnic spots include Picnic Point and Silver Harbour, or even just finding a new spot near camp. Anywhere that I can dip my toes in the water!

Some local foods are just made for summer picnics—like a delicious cherry tart from Sweet North or fresh tomatoes from Debruin’s. And the coolest thing since sliced bread? A selection of cheeses for topping it, of course.  Fill up on favourites from Thunder Oak Cheese Farm – mine being Jalapeño Gouda.

For a full list of local items check out my local picnic list. The Sweet North Bakery is also offering a summer long picnic package that includes two sandwiches, made with the bakery’s fresh bread and cured meats along with the the choice of two deli salads, cookies, and iced drinks.  If you ant to make it extra sweet? Add mimosas with freshly made juice and presecco. A full vegan option is available and key your eye open for a secret note 🙂

Summer Market at Charkuu102

Are you missing local markets and artisans? Me too. So you have no idea how excited I was to hear when I found out a group of my favourite makers are getting together (socially distanced of course) for a summer market at one of my favourite locations. 

Hosted by Pulp + Paper, Urban Farmchick, Heron House Handmade, Gold Sparrow and North of 48, the local talents are going to remind us just how good it feels to shop local. The summer market is being held at the absolutely magical CharKuu102 out on Kuusisito Road. The homestead is known for its many unforgettable rustic events in its timber frame, open-air barn. While onsite keep a lookout for Ray and his 40 pigs.  Neighbour, Pinetree Catering will also be joining in for the fun, serving up all of our favourite food truck items!

“We wanted to give people the opportunity to venture out, smile at some strangers, catch up with familiar faces, pick up some local goods and celebrate the beautiful weather we’ve had so far this season,” explains Heather Cranston of Pulp + Paper Co. 

Some hot products at this event:

  • Honey from Heron House Handmade
  • Pulp + Paper tree prints on a print hanger made by North of 4
  • Gold Sparrow’s stunning flower petal champagne earrings 
  • Charcuterie boards by North of 48
  • Beautiful seasonal blooms from the Urban Farmchick

The Summer Market will feature five one hour shopping sessions to limit congestion. However tickets are a must, and this sizzling summer event SOLD OUT very quickly. But don’t fret, stay tuned for a Bay Awesome giveaway for your way in.

Ouimet Canyon

You have to see it with your own eyes!  Nestled in the Boreal forest on the outskirts of  the small town of Dorion,  Ouimet Canyon is said to be one of the most spectacular gorges in Northwestern Ontario.  This 150-metre wide, two-kilometre long canyon, with cliffs that drop 100 metres straight down to the forest floor, offers breathtaking views that is a paradise for all visitors.  Although you can’t hike the actual gorge itself, a trail and boardwalk connects lookout platforms that make you feel larger than life.

Geologists say this amazing natural feature dates back a billion years, created by the weight of glaciers. It’s also home to a variety of flora and fauna. With the canyon being so deep and cold there are even species of Arctic plants growing.

The spectacular canyon is said to be named after  the former railway station of Ouimet. There’s s also a great legend that you will stumble across while visiting the park of how this natural space came to be. It shares a story about a giant named Omeet who helped Nanabijou make mountains and lakes. But as most of us know, love stories can go awry, which led to the doomed creation of the canyon. Look for the large rock column that is historic.

It is truly a place of wonder you must visit at least once this summer. While you are already in the area, you can also either walk across Canada’s longest suspension bridge or sore down the longest, highest and fastest zip line at the neighbouring Eagle Canyon.

Hamburger Haven! Beefcakes Burger Factory

Beefcakes Burger Factory, a throwback burger shop,  has quickly become an northside destination for many in Thunder Bay. I honestly can’t think of any food that screams “SUMMER” more than a big, juicy burger. Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or meat lover, Beefcakes has a ton of  off-the-charts creations with all the right toppings to take your burger to another level. From the sear on the meat, to the flavour combinations, and super fresh ingredients, the eatery slings local, premium burgers that’ll send you swooning into a food coma.

Inspired by the 90’s sitcom South Park, owner Derek Lankinen will confess (and says it with a smile) for the better part of his life he was called “Beef” or “Beefcake” by those that were closest to him.  He was nine years old and was watching South Park with his sister and future brother-in-law, when the very familiar episode came on with character Cartman wearing the Beefcakes tank top.

 “I just happened to be wearing a tank top at the time;” “When we were coming up with the name of the place- it was my sister that said you should just call it Beefcakes. It’s definitely a name that sticks in your mind.”

What also makes the place memorable is it’s delightful menu. This summer,  Beefcakes has some awesome new selections, including the addition of locally farmed hot dogs from Haywire farms and made at Bogdala’s Smoked Meats. Aside from great food, Lankinen also  promises some giggle-worthy names for menu items as well. 

What will remain consistent on the burger joint menu is the classical cooking methods with newer chef inspired ingredients. You can go back in time and eat a burger that was made for a traditional 50’s shop, but once  you get down the menu you find a lot more interesting flavour combinations such as the Jim Jam, a take on a P&B sandwich.

My personal favourite being the Hunter Burger created by 8-year-old Hunter Fernyc of Thunder Bay! Double-double patty with double-double cheese, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, bacon, and a Heartbeat Hot Sauce secret Hunter blend. SO GOOD.

Derek celebrates 20 years as a chef this year. He tells me he has had some crazy orders so far during his time at Beefcakes, so nothing really surprises him these days- I think that’s a challenge. “Our biggest burger… Someone ordered a 15 patty burger once. They had to take it a part to eat it, it was quite the site.”

Grab a bib, because these burgers don’t care if they ruin your favourite summer dress. Currently only being able to offer takeout, remember to call ahead- 45 minutes on weekdays, an hour before weekends to place your pickup order.

The Great Northshore Beer Fest- Home Edition 

The Great Northshore Beer Fest is back for a second round! This time, it’s at your house— socially distanced in your own backyard on July 10th, 11th or 12th! 

Sleeping Giant Brewing Company Beer Geeks curated the most sought after beers, that you can’t get at any local store, making for a truly unique craft beer experience. The event celebrates Ontario craft breweries with some exciting beer styles and major summer vibes. Your ticket includes 8 craft beer, 2 sample glasses, a large bag of Covered Bridge potato chips and contactless home delivery. The event package is good to enjoy with two or three of your friends. 

You will also get access to beer geek videos to compliment your beer tasting evening.  To add to the festival flare, Heat-at-home food options are also available for you to add to your order from local favourites like El Tres Queso, Barbecuipid fried chicken, The Sal’s bacon-wrapped poppers, Daytona’s chicken wings, or a Cheese Encounter Cheese Platter. 

Re-wilding for Wellness Forest Therapy Walk

Many people are spending more time than usual in nature these days, but did you know that time among the trees is actually therapeutic? Forest Therapy is a growing practice that brings many benefits for your mind and body. Giving you a break form your devices, home life, along with the worries and stress that can fill up your day, it t can help you relax and recharge. Currently guides are facilitating walks in over 25 countries world wide.

Derived from the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, which translates as “forest bathing”, it’s about immersing yourself in the forest, and is much more than just a walk in the woods- it’s about connecting people to forest environments through sensory based invitations. 

The sounds of the forest, the scent of the trees, the sunlight playing through the leaves, the fresh, clean air — these things give us a sense of comfort. Participants will engage in activities that help them experience the natural environment with all their senses, with the intent to put people in touch with the present. If you think that sounds like mindfulness, you’re right.

Certified forest therapy guide, Sue Hamel of Seek Adventure + Tours will take you on a gentle, physically undemanding practice (less than a 2km walk) near Centennial Park. Forest walks offer opportunities to heal, be nourished, and reconnect with yourself, along with the living landscape.The experience concludes with a tea infusion from foraged plants collected along the trail where participants will be invited to sit on the forest floor. Usually a walk can take over two to three hours. Check it out! 

Stay tuned for other modified Seek Adventures Food and Haunted Streets tours. 

Makkaraputki

Saunas… the perfect place to relax, recover from a workout, flush out toxins… and cook a sausage. 

Perhaps a secret, and not as popular as the classic Finnish pancakes, the sauna dog is a delicacy we don’t hear about often (and maybe for good reason). Before the popularity of barbeques, one method of cooking sausages in Finland, was to hang them above the sauna stove on a chain. The heat would supposedly cook them to perfection. So, taking this method and perfecting it,  I introduce the Makkaraputki, which literally translates to “sausage pipe”.

So while you are sizzling inside the sauna, so can your dinner. I mean, after a hot sauna, what more could you want. Refreshed and reinvigorated… it’s time for post-sauna sausage and or hotdog.

The Makkaraputi is a soapstone that is renowned for its heat capacity. It perfectly cooks a sausage crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Just place the Makkaraputi on the sauna stones and remove when you’re done your sauna (make sure to use an oven mitt). But be warned, you may smell like a baseball confectionary stand yourself after experimenting with this Finnish tradition. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.

To test out this tasty tradition this summer and make your sauna even more exciting, the Makkaraputki can be found at Finnport. 

Mount Mckay Sunset 

This is a sunset that will melt your heart. I’m pretty sure it’s actually the summer sunset that started the whole #nofilter trend. With sweeping views of the city skyline,  paired with  beautifully blended hues, and towering over 500 feet over the city of Thunder Bay, Mount McKay Lookout is a must see spot to watch the sun go down. 

Located on Fort William First Nation,  Mount McKay is the northernmost peak in the Nor’Wester Mountain range. The scenic lookout is also home to beautiful powwow grounds as it remains a culturally sacred place in the community. Mount McKay’s Anishinabaabe name is Animikii Waajiw, which translates to ‘where the thunderbirds land’ in the Ojibwe language.

The lookout is half way up the mountain and is accessible by vehicle. 

StrEATery & Market Place

Red River Road will have a pretty different look this summer as Thunder Bay’s patio culture expands to a streatery.  To adapt to recent conditions and create space for shoppers and those wanting to enjoy restaurants in the downtown, the Waterfront District has unveiled the StrEATery & Market Place. It’s an outdoor food alley and public market space between Court Street and St. Paul Street for you to enjoy all summer long. 

The streatery concept is a growing trend in many cities around the globe and is a fantastic way to support local businesses and draw residents into the north core. Thunder Bay’s gorgeous summer is a prime time for people to enjoy our vibrant outdoor spaces.

One lane of Red River Road will be closed to traffic until August, while the other available for parking. The area will feature green space with picnic tables and outdoor amenities. Several neighbourhood restaurants and shops are expected to be on site with new pop-up patios as well as retail booths. To find a full list of participating restaurants and businesses check out the Waterfront District Facebook page.

Sail Superior Catamaran / Zodiac to Porphyry Island 

From the tropical island of Martinique to the shores of Lake Superior, enjoy the waters from a 50-foot catamaran in style.  Although still on it’s voyage to Thunder Bay (unfortunately held up by the pandemic),  Sail Superior expects its latest addition to arrive at Prince Arthur’s Landing in late summer- finger’s crossed!

In the meantime, check out the many other adventures offered through the boating charter company including it’s popular  wine and cheese sail or a trip on the Superior Rocket. The 30- foot Rigid Inflatable Zodiac Hurricane, flies at top speeds of 60 to 100 km/hour.

I definitely recommend the zodiac trip to Porphyry Island. A group that headed out recently got a rare experience and saw the remains of the old Silver Islet mine shafts under the waters of Lake Superior (Thanks for sharing the awesome photo Jonathan Wilson). You need the absolute perfect conditions (calm and sunny)  to catch a glimpse of the entrance to the water logged silver mine that was once the richest in the world (also the most dangerous, with pumps keeping water from the mine shafts, while miners worked beneath the great lake.)

Porphyry Island is located on the entrance to Black Bay. The location has all kinds of neat finds while exploring including the famous lighthouse was the second constructed on Lake Superior in 1873. It’s named after the black volcanic rock, porphyry. Make sure to ask about lighthouse keeper Andrew Dick and his family that looked after the site from 1873 to 1912, and grab lunch with the seasonal locals (there’s only about 3 or 4). Watch out for the Devil’s Club. Tours start July 11th. Visit the Sail Superior website to learn about this season’s changes.

Drive-In Theatres: Boomer’s & Interstellar Outdoor Cinema

Heyyyyy you guyyyyyyyys!  Remember the drive-in movie theatre? Me neither. But when I asked my parents, they sure did…After all, nothing says “going steady” like a milkshake and a drive-in movie. Apparently, there use to be a pretty cool spot located in TBay right by the hospital, with the clever name of “The Drive-In”.

I was actually always pretty jealous of the whole classic experience that you would be introduced to IN the movies… daydreaming about having the chance to have bad boy, Danny Zuko, sing his heart out to me.

In a time of social distancing, drive-ins have definitely been making a comeback right across the country. You don’t have to be a cinema fanatic to truly appreciate an old fashioned drive-in movie. Whether you’re on a date or going solo, cruising up to a film with your favourite snacks will be a definite highlight this summer. The good news, Thunder Bay has gone from having zero drive-in theatres, to two, in one hot minute.

Boomer’s is located on the Murillo fairgrounds on Pole Line road. Living up to the drive-in’s history, you can expect to watch a lot of throwbacks including The Goonies, which I think is probably one of the most awesome movies of all time, along with Footloose, the Sandlot and some other early 90’s and 80’s classics.

Interstellar Outdoor Cinema is located at Cloud 61, found on the  corner of Hwy 61 and Cloud Lake Road. This new drive-in is being presented by the Walleye and the Municipality of Neebing,  which means you can definitely expect some cool things! I’ve heard whispers of Film Fests along with concerts in its near future. Sleeping Giant, which was filmed right here in Thunder Bay, will play opening night (July 9th). Other films include Ford v Ferrari and There’s Something About Mary. Movies will begin at dusk every Thursday to Sunday with tickets sold online. Over 50 films will be showcased this summer.

The drive-in theatre is a summer feature you don’t want to miss!

Mink Mountain Hiking Trails

Take a walk on the wild side at Mink Mountain. Allow for a full day to explore, with hiking trails for everyone to enjoy. With dozens of hiking options in the area, I think this one is definitely one of my favourites. Seven different trails are located on site, some situated right on the shoreline of Lake Superior, while the most challenging takes you up on the mountain top over rugged rock, climbing 600 feet above Lake Superior to the iconic scenic lookout. At this spot you will see awesome views of Sturgeon Bay and Pie Island. 

Picnic Point trail is a personal fav. Near the beginning of the path you will find  a bridge over a cave which I have learned was once an old silver mine entrance. It’s locally referred to as the ‘bat cave’ and is now collapsed.  If you’re brave enough, shine your phone flashlight inside.

When you reach the half way mark of this trail, there’s a little steep section with a fixed rope to help you on your way up.  Picnic Point itself is a rocky point, looking off in the waters Lake Superior… and coincidently a perfect place for a picnic.

To get to Mink Mountain, head down Highway 61 to Sturgeon Bay Road.   Turn left down and follow Mink Mountain Resort signs.  Pass the main resort building and turn left onto Island Avenue where you will see the trail sign on the left.  There are two entrances to the trail. Access to the Picnic Point trail is at the end of the road, starting from the turn around area.

Shore lunch

It’s definitely the highlight of so many fishing trips! Pulling the boat up onto shore, and then having your freshly caught fish cooking on a crackling wood fire. A fish fry along the lake’s edge is known as a shore lunch. It’s the epitome of outdoor dining, and is a northern tradition everyone should enjoy at least once (or 100 times) in their lives. 

Fresh fish is hard to beat and fresh fish you just caught yourself is even better. Fish cooking in a pan, surrounded by forest and open waters, combined with a couple fish tales around the fire make for an unforgettable experience.

 Mastering this meal is all about advance preparation, which means bringing along the right ingredients. And of course, catching fish to cook. Make sure to bring a cast-iron skillet, a grate, a small plastic bottle of liquid dish soap, utensils for cooking and serving, a sharp fillet knife, paper towels, and a plastic bag for garbage. Also bring butter or oil to cook your fish in, a jar to dispose of what you don’t use, flour, eggs and some breading to coat your fish. 

To prepare lunch, build a fire under a fire grate. Let it burn until you have coals. Make sure to feed the fire as needed during cooking. Place the skillet on the grate. Add butter or oil After cutting fish, coating in flour and egg, shake fish fillets in a bag of breading. I recommend Shumka Dust’s Moonlite Bay Dredge. Add to the skillet. Cook until golden brown and crisp on both sides.  You can also cook potato packs before the fish in tinfoil. Slice the potatoes thinly and combine with butter. 

When you are done, make sure your fire is COMPLETELY OUT and please don’t leave any garbage behind. Enjoy!

Northern Lights

The sky’s the limit this summer, so to wrap up the season, check out the most spectacular light show that you might ever see. The Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, is a natural phenomenon occurring when “the sun’s electrically charged particles enter Earth’s atmosphere on a solar wind and collide with oxygen and nitrogen gases”- as learned on Bill Nye the Science Guy. Pretty neat eh? It produces a magic bright green glow, that literally dances across the night sky.

Photographer Dave Zahodnik loves to capture this spectacular northern sky and told me to try to get away from the city lights to a location like Mckenzie Point. You need a dark, clear night for the best conditions to see the dramatic aurora display, so August is an opportune time. I remember camping one night and looking up at the stars, and all of the sudden the ever-changing lights flickered above me. Don’t forget to look north. 

Happy Summer!

Bay Awesome xo

Special thanks to DZ Photography for helping me capture many of this year’s adventures.

Make sure to follow me on Instagram (@bayawesome)  to see more details about all of the bucket list items! Tag me in your adventures.

About the author

Amanda Bay

Amanda is a PR Gal from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. She is a self-proclaimed news junkie, hot yoga addict, and above all else, a young professional. Amanda has been navigating the media world for over 14 years. With a background in journalism, she began her career in broadcasting as a Radio Personality and News Director , and then moved into the role of Photojournalist and Television News Anchor. Joining the Firedog Communications team back in 2009, she now lives and breathes to create a reaction as the Director of Communications and PR.

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