Overlooking the thick evergreens of Manitoulin Island is the Cup and Saucer the highest point on Manitoulin Island. This highly sought out trail is known as one of the top 5 hikes in Ontario to do. Hiking The Cup and Saucer Trail has been on our bucket list for quite sometime probably since we hiked the Crack in Killarney and wanted to continue hiking the other big 5 in Ontario.
One of the biggest things when we were trying to find out more information about hiking the Cup and Saucer was there did not seem to be a detailed guide on how long the most direct route to the top was, the general difficulty of the trail, could we bring Keno along on the hike with us, etc. So here is a detailed guide to hiking the Cup and Saucer Trail in Manitoulin Island.
Getting to the Cup and Saucer Parking Lot:
If you are coming from Sudbury, take highway 17 West and turn south onto Highway 6 through Espanola. From Espanola continue 52km to get onto the island by crossing the Swing Bridge in Little Current. From Little Current the parking lot is located 18km west at the junction of Highway 540 and Bidwell Road.
If you are coming from Tobermory via the ferry you will arrive in South Baymouth and want to head take 6 North and then take a left onto Highway 542 West (Signed for Ontario 542/Sandfield/Mindemoya/Gore Bay/Tehkimmah), after 4.3km turn right onto Gibralter Road, then after 2.5km right left onto Rockville road which will take you to Highway 551 North which you will turn right onto. From here youwill turn right onto Little Current Road/Ontario 540 E and the Cup and Saucer Hiking Trail will be on your right about 5km up. The address if you want to punch it into your GPS is 6301 Bidwell Road, Sheduiandah, ON.
The parking lot has lots of room for parking and also has garbage bins and two washrooms.
Hiking the Cup and Saucer Options:
There are two main trails that take you to the highest point on the Cup and Saucer Trail – The Main Loop (Red Trail) and the South Loop (Blue Trail). There is also a 500m Adventure Trail that adds on to the main trail for those looking for an extra challenge.
The Main Loop (Red Trail) starts from the parking lot and is a 4km round trip hike. The hike itself was much easier than we had initially thought and would consider it a moderate hike as there is some elevation gain and some areas where your footing is not always great but overall it was a very pleasant hike. The first quarter of the hike is mainly flat winding through the forest and then you begin to climb in elevation. The trail is incredibly well marked with signage pointing you to the viewpoint as well as they have a map located at each of half km, 1 km, 1.5 km and the end of the trail so you can see your progress and where you are. For those of you that have climbed the Crack in Killarney we expected it to be similar to that where you have to scale boulders towards the end to reach the top but we were mistaken this was a much easier hike than that.
The South Loop Trail (Blue Trail) is a 9km round trip loop that takes you the entire red loop but you go much deeper into the forest before coming along the east side of the Niagara Escarpment. This trail is recommended to take 3-4 hours round trip depending on how fast you are moving.
The Adventure Trail – This 500m loop off the Main Trail takes you down some difficult terrain, a wooden ladder and more. We were unable to do this short loop as we would not have been able to get Keno up and down the ladder. But we were told if you are looking for a bit more a challenge than this is the additional loop for you!
Bringing Pets – Keno was able to very easily get around the entire trail without any issues, there is a set of tall stairs you have to climb on the Main Trail at the .5km mark so for a smaller dog it could prove to be difficult but being a Husky she had no problems.
Our Experience Hiking the Cup and Saucer
We started off early in the morning around 8am so we could beat the crowds and hopefully be the only people at the lookout so we could enjoy the view and take a moment to ourselves. As we started off on the trail we were pleasantly surprised to see the nice flat trail that winds through the moss-covered forest. At the quarter mark we hiked the steep staircase and began the gentle climb towards the viewpoint. The trail gives you peaks of what is to come with breaks amongst the trees along the edge that reveals the top of the trees that stretch out for what seems like miles in front of you all the way to the edge of the island to Lake Huron. The Niagara Escarpment juts in and outs creating beautiful scenery and perfect places to stop and take in the incredible view but don’t go to close to the edge its a long way down!
The path itself is incredibly well marked with signs at each quarter on the red trail letting you know where you are on the map and signs guiding you towards the viewpoint. Additionally to being well marked the path is well groomed and there are no overgrown areas which makes for an enjoyable hike to the top. Once we reached the top there was not another soul in sight and we easily were up at the top for almost an hour enjoying the view before we were joined by other hikers. Hiking the Cup and Saucer Trail was incredibly enjoyable and we would only consider this trail to be moderate as there were no overly difficult steep inclines. We highly encourage anyone visiting Manitoulin Island to make sure to schedule time into their trip for hiking the cup and saucer trail!