We found out about Bathtub Island quite by accident. We were enjoying a break from the heat at the beach at Katherine Cove in Lake Superior Provincial Park when we struck up a conversation with a family from Sault Sainte Marie who were there for a day trip. They asked us if we had been to Bathtub Island, and when we replied no, offered to take us there – indicating that it was just a 15 minute walk from the beach at Katherine Cove.
Our sociability and trust in strangers were rewarded with an introduction to a special place that we return to time and again.
Bathtub Island is best accessed by parking at Katherine Cove and following the Coastal Trail south for about a 1/2 kilometre. Parking on the shoulder is discouraged for safety reasons, and “No Parking” signs were posted along the highway in 2018 near the entrance to a shortcut path to the beach opposite the island.
Lake Superior Provincial Park is classified as a natural environment park. We can all help to keep it that way by:
- Respecting the fragility of the dunes environment. Tread lightly and follow the worn path to the beach without developing your own way there.
- There are no toilets or garbage bins here. Practice backcountry etiquette by packing out whatever you bring in, including used toilet paper/tissues, and leaving no trace, other than your footprints in the sand.
- Adhering to park rules regarding camping, cans, bottles and fires which are are prohibited.
What you’ll find when you get there:
Bathtub Island is aptly named because of a depression at one end of the island that collects water whenever the waves are whipped up high enough. You probably won’t be tempted to sit in this bathtub though, the water may have been sitting there for some time!
Once you reach the beach, turn left and walk toward the point that is also the shortest between the beach and the island. As you approach the point, a sandbar will reveal itself to you and this will serve as your “bridge” to the island. The sandbar won’t keep you dry though – expect to get your bottom wet so hang your camera equipment accordingly!
Getting up onto the island is a little bit tricky as well – the smooth round rock, which may be wet, will require you to lean forward as you make your way up the embankment (only 3 feet or so). Once on the island, and if the weather conditions are right, you may be tempted to spend at least an hour on this tiny piece of land while you hop from one outcrop to the next, or explore the features of the rock, or simply decide to sunbathe.
You can see additional images from the area, including various stops between Sault Saint Marie and Wawa, in my gallery here…
Is this disability friendly?
Can a wheelchair go through?
Hi Tanya… Unfortunately no. There are only three ways to get to Bathtub Island:
a) follow the Coastal Trail from Katherine Cove (approach from the west)
b) find and take an unofficial trail directly from the highway
c) take the Coastal Trail from Sand River (approach from the east)
Sand, rocks and tree roots are found on all 3 approaches. Having said that, I have seen (only on TV) all terrain sport type wheelchairs. One of these might be able to make it using option c) above, but this is not a guarantee of any kind for sure.
This area is not an official day-use area and should be treated with extra care.
Visitors to Bathtub Island should park at the Katherine Cove parking lot and take the Coastal Trail to the South of the beach. Parking on the shoulder of HWY 17 is dangerous and not recommended. You could be putting other drivers at high risk! There is a small day use fee to use the area but the money supports conservation and education in the park.
The Coastal Trail does not wind through the dunes in the same way the unofficial or “cheater” trail from the highway does. Visitors should stay off the sand dunes as they are a fragile and unique environment.
Thanks for reminding people to pack in – pack out and respect park rules.
Thanks so much for your detailed write up! Lake Superior is my favourite place to be, and Katherine cove has long been my favourite spot on it. It’s about 9 hour drive for us, but we usually make it there a couple times a year. Whenever we have to drive to my wife’s Northern hometown, I schedule the trip so that we hit katherine cove at peak sun, and we stop for a couple hours of picnicking and swimming. So imagine my surprise to find your website and discover this whole other place that I’ve been so close to so many times but never heard of before! “Hidden gem” is an overused phrase, but it really is the truth here. It was almost magical to emerge out of the woods on that trail and come out into the dunes, with bathtub island there in the distance. We spent hours there, it was amazing. Thanks so much for posting about it.