We enjoy sightseeing by train so when I read the listing for the Agawa Canyon Tour Train in the AAA Tour Book for Ontario, we were keen to experience the 114 mile journey from Sault Ste. Marie to the Agawa Canyon. We also hoped to spot some autumn color along the way even though we realized mid-September was early in the season.
I reserved seats for 8:00 on the morning of September 15, day 4 of our Great Lakes Road Trip, for $91.15 each ($81.42 for seniors). Fortunately for us, the front desk staff at our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express, recommended we pick up our tickets ahead of time to skip standing in line the next morning. The train station was just down the street and we stopped by on our way to the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site. No lines and no waiting.
After an early breakfast the following morning at the hotel with many others who were likely taking the same train, we walked to the station. After a short wait, the train arrived and we boarded our assigned car, the Montreal River.
We set off with high hopes that the fog would soon lift to reveal a blaze of color. The fog was slow to dissipate but we did see hints of color, nevertheless, as we rolled along.
A gps-triggered recorded commentary on the train forewarned us of upcoming points of interest and educated us about the history of the area as well as the geology. Breakfast and lunch were available in the dining car but after our ample breakfast, we chose to stick with the snacks we brought with us.
And we finally viewed blue skies and bright crimson and gold leaves which we appreciated all the more for the wait and anticipation.
At mile 102 we began the 500 foot descent through granite walls to the floor of the canyon.
Finally at mile 114, we reached our destination, Agawa Canyon Wilderness Park, accessible only by train and hiking trail. We arrived at the park around 12:30 and were told to be back at 2:00 pm for our return trip. We spent the next hour and a half hiking the trails and exploring the sights, including the Agawa River and waterfalls. To beat the crowd, we headed first to Lookout Trail that climbs 250 feet by trail and over 300 stairs to a panoramic view of the river and canyon.
Our next priority was the waterfalls and with limited time, we hurried first to Black Beaver Falls, then to South Black Beaver Falls.
On the trail to Bridal Veil Falls, we spotted bear scat but no bears. We were pretty excited about the evidence, however.
A bit of fog was settling into the valley but the views were still spectacular. I was so enamored by the reflection of the trees and foliage in the water I took literally hundreds of photos but none quite captured their stunning beauty.
We managed to see everything in the park and return to the train on time.
On the return trip, I got my best photo of autumn color of the day in spite of the window glare. I’m sure a week or two later the foliage would be at its peak but we found the color to be breathtaking.
We returned to Sault Ste. Marie around 6:00 pm, tired but satisfied and happy with our experience. In fact, we were so tired we didn’t even go out for dinner but settled instead for chips and salsa in our hotel room. I’m glad I hadn’t read the reviews of the Agawa Canyon Tour Train on TripAdvisor before our excursion because some were so negative they may have adversely influenced our decision to take this trip. It would be a shame to miss such an enjoyable day.
Based on events from September 2017.