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ON Highway itinerary: Sault Ste Marie to Sudbury

Why travel between Sault Ste Marie to Sudbury?

This stretch of the Trans-Canada follows the St Mary’s River from Lake Superior into Lake Huron, and then parallels the scenic 250 kilometer long North Channel, which separates Manitoulin Island (the largest island in a lake in the world) from the mainland. You cross several stunning northern rivers, pass through a few First Nations reserves, and see lots of great Canadian Shield geography. At Espanola you can take a detour south onto Manitoulin Island (see our Tours & Detours for details)

Ontario Itinerary - Sault Ste Marie-Sudbury

Here is the itinerary for the 301 km along Highway #17 from Sault Ste Marie to Sudbury:

BondarPavilion3.jpgSault Ste Marie Area

At the end of the last Ice Age, Lake Nippissing was larger than all of the Great Lakes, and its melt waters flowed eastward via North Bay to the Ottawa River. As the land rose, without the weight of the now receding 2 kilometer thick ice sheet, the Ottawa River route was blocked and the modern south-flowing route via the Great Lakes began to form. Sand and silts of the former lake bottom, littered with “erratic” boulders and stones dropped by the glaciers and subsequent melt waters, were quickly overgrown with spruce.

St Mary’s River and St Joseph Island

St Mary's River near St Josephs IslandThe St Mary’s River is the waterway that lets water from Lake Superior flow into the lower Great Lakes. There are great views along the waterfront, particularly at Bondar Park and at the International bridge. Travellers to/from the east, will not see St Lawrence shipping , since the freighters use the American Locks and travel south of Sugar Island, on the American side.
Desbarats is the access point for the very scenic St Joseph’s Island. This 220 square mile island marks the northern terminus of the Niagara Escarpment (of which Manitoulin Island is also a part), It has a lake-moderated client, and has many trees and plants more common in southern Ontario, including maple and beech. Along the southern edge of the Island are prime lake freighter watching locations.

North Channel of Lake Huron, above Manitoulin Island
North Channel of Lake Huron, above Manitoulin Island

North Channel Sign at Espanola

The North Channel above Manitoulin Island

Serpent River has a brilliant azure blue colour, and can be seen from a rest stop beside the river. Elliot Lake (25 km up highway 108 from Serpent River) is a leading producer of radioactive uranium, from a mine that dates back to the 1950s, extracting the element form a quartz pebble conglomerate that was formed about 2-1.2 billion years ago.

From Espanola, home to a large pulp mill, travelers can access Manitoulin Island, which at 4112 square kilometers (1588 sq miles) is the larges freshwater island in the world. It is even home to the world’s largest lake-on-an-island-in-a-lake in the world. Manitoulin was scoured clean by the Ice Age glaciers and has little arable land. The highway to manitoulin skips over a number of small islands. Highway 6 also connects to a ferry that connects Manitoulin Island to Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula, which can be a scenic shortcut to southern Ontario or part of a “Great Circle Tour” around Georgian Bay.

Little Current, Manitoulin - Swing Bridge open- sliver (Cover Photo)
Little Current, Manitoulin - Swing Bridge open- sliver (Cover Photo)

Loonie Memorial in Echo Bay

Between Manitoulin Island and the north shore of Lake Huron is the North Channel. This was long home to a commercial fishery, centered around Thessalon and Blind River, until the opening of the Welland Canal caused the invasion of the parasitic sea lamprey from the Atlantic Ocean, reducing catches in the 1960s. The North Channel is still a recreational boating paradise, being protected from Lake Huron storms.

Bruce Mines was a copper mine that was active from 1846 to 1876. The town also has a colony of double-crested cormorants. Between Bruce Mines and Blind River are patches of fertile but poorly-drained clay coils, that attracted farmers in the early settlement days, but are beginning to revert to forest. The Mississagi River, once used for transporting logs from the forest to Great Lakes shipping at Blind River, is now dammed for hydro-electic power.

Blind River's Timber Village MuseumBetween Blind River and Massey, the lakeshore follows the Murray Fault, an east-west fracture running pretty-well parallel to the highway. This fault was filled in by gravel and silt during the Ice Age, providing a relatively flat surface for highway and railway lines. Unfortunately, a high water table (and an acidic one at that) have made the ground more suitable for swamp than for farming. Travellers will notice black spruce and alder trees in the wetter areas, with white pine and trembling aspen in higher areas.

At Espanola, you can divert south to visit Manitoulin Island, and take a driving tour around (allow a whole day), and even catch the Chi Chi Maun ferry in the summer across Lake Huron to Tobermory on the Bruce Penninsula. If you heading to Manitoulin Island, you can find attractions and accommodations in the Locale Directory for Sudbury.

Sudbury Superstack-wide-sliver
Sudbury Superstack-wide-sliver

View of Superstack chimney at Barre Inco's Copper Cliff mine
Sudbury Area

As you approach Sudbury from the west, you cannot miss the Superstack chimney at the Barre Inco mine at Copper Cliff. The city used to have (in the 1960s and 1970s) a reputation that it looked like a “moonscape” due to the acid rain from the city’s smelters.

Bell Park overlooking Ramsay Lake

The construction of the Superstack, which significantly scrubbed the emissions, and sent the rest high into the stratosphere, improved the general conditions. In the 19890s and 1990s several million trees were replanted in the region, bringing Sudbury and its 330 lakes to the current green and pristine condition. Bell Park on Ramsay Lake, which is also home to Science North (Norhtern Ontario’s top tourist attractions),  is the jewel of Sudbury.

Highway Notes

In 2006 Ontario Highways began constructing a bypass east of Sault Ste Marie around the Serpent River  First Nation, now designated Highway #17, the former route following the St Mary’s River is now designated #17B. The bypass begins (heading eastbound)  leaving Sault Ste Marie on Trunk Road, turning left after a stretch of motels, and follows a twinned route south to Bar River Road E (just north of the Laird International Raceway, if heading westbound).

Sudbury has had a southern bypass, to divert highway traffic to-from Highway 69 south connecting to Parry Sound, Barrie, and Toronto. The Highway 69 to the south is in the process of being widened and “twinned” (that process is still underway somewhere north of Parry Sound) at which point the highway south to Toronto will be re-designated Highway 400.

Sudbury - SW Nephawin Lake homes-sliver (CoverPhoto)
Sudbury - SW Nephawin Lake homes-sliver (CoverPhoto)

Search Listings along this Itinerary

Sault Ste Marie-International bridge-sliver

Sault Ste Marie

Visit Sudbury, Ontario


Elevation Chart: Sault Ste Marie to Sudbury

Trans Canada Highway Itinerary Map

Use mouse to drag/move map. Click on “+” or “” to zoom in or out. “Satellite” combines map & photo.

Highway Point & Features


0 Major Interchange Highway 46 (Regent St) N into Sudbury, all services & hospital, and Highway 69 S to OPP, Parry Sound, Barrie, Toronto (Sudbury 266.1


3 Long Lake Rd S to Long Lake, N to Sudbury via Paris St (7 km) all services & hospital (Sudbury 281.3


8 Southview Rd (N) access to Sudbury, Jarvis Rd (S) to Long Lake (Sudbury)  261.8


11 Fielding Rd (N) access to Fielding Park, Kelley Lake Dam Kantola Rd (S), Highway 17 “twinned” to W (Sudbury)  254.5


13 Major junction Highway 55, Old Highway 17 (S) to Mikkola, N to Copper Cliff (Sudbury)  256


15 Highway 24 to Black Lake Rd (S) services along Hwy 55, Main St (N) in Lively services (Lively)  247.5


16 Santala Rd S to Service Rd, all services 267


18 Highway 144 north junction, to Chelmsford (18 km), Dowling, Onaping, and north to Timmins 268.2


29 River crossing 240.2


32 Highway 55 (S) west access to Whitefish PP, Holiday Beach Campground, Whitefish Lake Indian Reserve 6 272.2


32 Bay St, Highway 3 N to Fairbank PP, Highway 17 to east is “twinned” 241.7


49 Lone Falls Rd (S) 207.6


52 McDonald St (Nairn Centre)  238.4


53 Spence St (Nairn Centre)  216.7


56 Old Nairn Rd (N) 215.8


61 River crossing, Rd to N on W side 202.1


62 Jacklin Rd (S) 212.8


64 Rest Area N side of hwy 237.7


67 Levert Rd (N) 208.2


69 Highway 6 Junction, town of Espanola 3 km, Little Current on Manitoulin Island (53 km), via Whitefish River Indian Reserve 4 (Espanola)  205.7


78 town of Webbwood, services both sides (Webbwood)  200.9


79 Agnew Lake Rd, town of Webbwood (Webbwood)  199.6


93.7 Birch Lake Rd (N) (Massey)  190.8


94 River crossing (Massey)  177.1


95 Highway 553 junction, town of Massey, N to Chutes PP, S to Indian Reserve Rd with east access to Sagamok Indian Reserve 5, Lee Valley Rd (Massey)  191.1


97 Gage Rd (N), Government Rd (S) (Massey)  183.5


107 Sugar Lake Rd (N), River Rd (S) west access to Sagamok Indian Reserve 5 217.6


112 Water Falls Rd (N), access to Brookwood Brae Golf Course, all services (Spanish)  195.4


115 Colonization Rd (S), town of Spanish, all services (Spanish)  179.8


116 Johns St, access S to Spanish Marina (Spanish)  184.1


122 Eastern boundary of Serpent River Indian Reserve 7 204.2


124 Village Rd (S), east access to Serpent River Indian Reserve 7 (Cutler)  183.8


128.4 Riverview Rd (S), east access to Serpent River Indian Reserve 7 210


129 Rest & Picnic Area, S side of Hwy 182.9


133.7 Riverview Rd (S), west access to Serpent River Indian Reserve 7 212.4


134 Highway 108 (N) junction to Elliott Lake & Mississagi River Provincial Park, truck weigh station (S) (Serpent River)  209.4


City of Elliott Lake, 42 km N of highway.

Elliot Lake Mining Monument and Memorial Park.

Elliot Lake Nuclear and Mining Museum / Canadian Mining Hall of Fame.

The Fire Tower Lookout and Heritage Centre, Elliott Lake.

village of Serpent River, part of Township of North Shore.

135.7 Sheppards Lane (N) 191.4


136 Strawberry Hill Rd (N) and Martin Rd (S), shopping to NW, Campground to S overlooking Serpent River (Spragge)  182.9


village of Spragge, part of Township of North Shore.

137 Spragge town settlement (S), Wagoosh Lake Rd (N) 192


140 Spragge town rd, access to North Channel Yacht Club (S) (Serpent Harbour)  186.5


North Channel Yacht Club, south of highway

143 Access to gravel pit to S 199.9


144 Access to large quarry/mine to S 195.4


148 Hwy 538 (S) 189.9


152 Lauzon Village Rd (N) 187.1


153 Boundary Rd (S), Hwy 538 (Algoma Mills)  188.4


Lake to north of highway is Lauzon Bay, part of 7 mile long Lauzon Lake.

Lauzon Creek drops about 40 feet (12 m) form Lauzon Lake to Lake Huron.

Village of Algoma Mills, part of Township of the North Shore.

Lake Lauzon Beach to N of highway.

155.8 Highway turnoff / Rest area (no facilities) on S (eastbound) side 189.9


159.3 Highway Turnoff/Rest Area (no facilities) on N (westbound) side 189.3


160 Rue Oak (S), access to beach area 183.5


162 Leacock St(N) (Blind River)  182.9


Timber Village Museum, to NE of intersection, with Tourist Information.

Auberge Eldo Inn, just SW of intersection.

163 junction Hwy 557/555 (N), town of Blind River, river crossing (Blind River)  177.7


dam in Blind River, just S of highway and railway crossing.

Blind River District Health Centre on Casusley St (Trans Canada Highway).

Town of Blind River.

all services in town.

A Taste Of Home B&B, just W of river.

Lakeview In, about 0.2 km E of river.

Old Mill Motel, just E of river.

164 Hanes Ave (S) access to marina (Blind River)  179.5


skateboard park with various ramps, beside Marina.
165 Eastern boundary of Mississagi River Indian Reserve 8 (N) 176.2


Huron Pines Golf Course just to S of highway.

168 Eldorado Rd (S), access to golf course 185


169 Village Rd (N), services and access to Mississagi River Indian Reserve 8 (N) 185.3


Macivor’s Falls (rapids) just to We of highway.

rest area on E side of highway, river viewpoint on W side.

171 Rd with west access to Mississagi River Indian Reserve 8 (N) 181.4


Mississagi River Indian Reserve 8, N side of highway.

173 Rd to N 182.3


180 Old Mine Rd (NO 181.7


183 Dean Lake Rd (W), bridge over river 182.3


190 River crossing 182


190 Highway 546 (N) Main Street. Town of Iron Bridge, all services (Iron Bridge)  182


town of Iron Bridge.

highway 546, connects to #554(11 km) which connects west to Highway 129 N to Chapleau (216 km ).

Mississagi River Provincial Park, 76 km N of TCH, via #546. Canoeing, camping.

192 Bright Lake Rd (S) 210.9


Blueberry Hill Motel & Campground..

Viking Tent & Trailer Park.

195 Delmar Campground (N side of hwy) 220.1


passing Clear Lake on N side of highway (about 2.7 km long).

Clear Lake Camp,on N side of highway.

Delmar Campground, N side of highway.

198 Melwel Rd (N) 211.5


200 Pass between two large lakes (Day Mills)  201.8


Bright Lake to the south. Lake is about 8 km end to end.

Basswood Lake to the North, about 14 km end to end.

201 Dayton Rd (S) 190.2


204 Basswood Lake Rd (N) 213.1


207.7 Brownlee Rd 235.6


Brownlee Lake Park Resort and Campground, to N of highway.
209.3 Maple Ridge Rd (S), access to Thessalon Indian Reserve 12 212.1


209.7 Livingston Rd (N) 205.1


210 Livingstone Creek Golf Course to S 198.4


211 Pine Ridge Rd (Thessalon)  195.7


213 Walker Rd (Thessalon)  195.4


217 Highway 129 (N), River St (S) to downtown, all services (Thessalon 181.7


Town of Thessalon, pop 1400, on both sides of highway.

Highway 129 north to Chapleau (220 km).

Belle Isle Motel.

218 River Rd, S to downtown, all services (Thessalon 182.9


crossing the Mississaugi River.

Pine Crest Tent & Trailer Park.

Windmill Campground.

The Goode Knight Bed & Breakfast.

Mountain View Bed & Breakfast.

Cedar Rail Ranch.

Carolyn Beach Motor Inn.

The Outpost Lodge.

Limberlost Lodge.

The Old Homestead Bed & Breakfast & Pet Hotel.

Thessalon Municipal Airport (CPL5), 8.5 km NE of highway.

219 Lakeside Dr (S) into Thessalon (Thessalon)  184.1


222 Trunk Rd (S) 200.3


230 Trunk Rd (N) , Perch Bay Rd (S) 204.2


233.9 Waltonen Rd (S) 181.1


234 Garden Bay Rd (S) 177.7


235 Road Junction, Mine/Quarry to N and S (watch for trucks) 180.4


237 Highway 638 (N) 182.6


Highway 638 provides access to a number of communities, ending in Echo Bay just east of Sault Ste Marie.

Bruce Mines Campground & RV Park, off Williams St.

237.4 Taylor St, shopping (Bruce Mines)  179.8


Access to Jack Point, in Bruce Bay. 1.7 km southeast from highway.
237.7 Cunningham St (N), access to Harbour (Bruce Mines)  179.2


Town of Bruce Mines.

Bruce Mines Museum, just S of highway.

Bruce Mines Marina, 0.3 km S of highway.

237.8 Crawford St, gas & stores (Bruce Mines)  180.1


Bavarian Inn Motel and Restaurant.

Bruce Bay Cottages and Lighthouse Resort.

Steiger Farm & Guesthouse.

Three Oak Resort.

Mountain View Resort.

Bruce mines has a Shell and an Esso gas station.

Bruce Mines has a general store, a grocery store, a bait shop, and several restaurants.

238 Bruce Bay St (Bruce Mines)  182.3


Road south to French Island, McKay Island and lighthouse, 3 km S of highway.

Bruce Bay Cottages & Lighthouse, south of highway

241 Boundary Rd (N), Oak Bay Rd (S) 198.4


243 Archibald Rd (S) 203.3


246 Deplonty Rd (E), Cora Rd (W) 203


249 River crossing, Town of Desbarats (Desbarats)  193.9


crossing Desbarats River.

Town of Desbarats (town blog).

Desbarats has one gas station in Hwy 17 E.

249 Mink Point Rd (Desbarats)  201.5


256 Highway twinned to west of here 199.9


257 Hwy 548 to S, access to St Joseph Island, communities of Richards Landing, Hilton Beach, Island Springs Golf Resort (St Joseph Island)  204.8


St Joseph Island, 5 km S of highway which is Township of St Joseph.

Hilton Beach, 16 km S of highway, on St Joseph Island.

Richards Landing, 12 km S of highway, on St Joseph Island.

Island Springs Golf Resort, on St Joseph Island.

Puddingstone Place – St. Joseph Island.

Hilton Beach photos.

St Joseph’s Island photos.

260 Bar Rd 189.9


261 Town Line Rd, highway curves sharply 196.9


264 Neebish Rd 197.8