Summer & Year-Round Activities
Hilton Beach has one of the largest and most scenic marinas on the north shore of Lake Huron, so naturally, sailing and watersports are incredibly popular summer activities.
A day doesn’t go by without seeing several sailboats and speedboats out cruising the scenic St. Joseph Channel, kayaks and canoes quietly paddling along the wild shores of the Island, or personal watercraft zipping around in front of the harbour.
Fishing is a popular sport in Hilton Beach, whether it’s from the pier at the Marina or out on your own pontoon boat. Trout, Pike, Bass and Salmon are some of the species known to lurk in the waters.
With an average summer temperature of 26 Celsius, you’re going to have to go swimming sometime. There are three public beaches in the vicinity of Hilton Beach – Forbes Park, which is in the Village; Big Point Park, which is in Hilton Township; and Twin Lakes Park, which is on a warm inland lake in Hilton Township. Each park has a public sandy beach, restrooms, picnic tables and playground equipment. Forbes Park also has change rooms, and a boardwalk running through the park.
The boardwalk that begins at one end of Forbes Park runs along the waterfront area of Hilton Beach for 1.5 km and ends at the Marina boat launch. Along the way, there are weeping willow trees hanging over the path, several picnic table areas and scenic outlooks. You can also take a detour, and follow the boardwalk up onto the marina break wall, and get an impressive view of the marina and the St. Joseph Channel from the scenic viewing/fishing pier.
Our All-Season Recreational Surface has ramps for skateboarders and BMX bikers, basketball hoops, and equipment for other sports.
Golf is another popular activity on St. Joseph Island, with our own 9-hole world-class golf course, Island Springs Golf Resort. Featuring a full club house, pro shop, restaurant and driving range, Island Springs opened in 2001 to rave reviews. This course is very scenic with several water and sand traps, and is surrounded by tall trees and the rugged Northern Ontario wilderness. It’s only 15 minutes from Hilton Beach.
There are many historically-significant attractions on St. Joseph Island. The largest is the ruins of Fort St. Joseph, which was a major military fort during the late 1700s and early 1800s. The stone and mortar foundations are all that remain of the Fort, which is designated as a National Historic Site and is open to the public. The Fort features a modern interpretive centre, complete with a museum of the Fort’s artifacts.
The St. Joseph Island Museum is another must-visit attraction, where you can get up close with hundreds of unique artifacts covering the past couple hundred years of the Island’s history. The museum complex itself is historical, made up of several historical buildings that have been moved to the site from around the Island.
Hilton Beach’s own quaint history can be learned with a self-guided tour around the Village. The old jail, which never held an inmate (but housed the library for several years in the 1920’s), still stands on South Street. A walk through the Village will bring you past several historical buildings like the Old Town Hall, the old Hilton Beach Schoolhouse (now the Community Hall), and the Hilton Beach General Store.
Other activities including biking, hiking and birdwatching also have their enthusiasts on St. Joseph Island. Enjoy biking around the Island Highway or down the scenic back roads. The St. Joseph Island bird sanctuary is part of the Fort St. Joseph NHS, and many species of birds are known to reside there. There are several trails around Fort St. Joseph, and Jocelyn Township also operates a system of trails for the avid hiker.
The trees of the Island come alive with colour in late September, as their leaves turn countless shades of yellow, orange, red and violet before falling to the ground. The Island highway and many side roads in and around Hilton Beach provide the most vibrant colour. The temperature is usually still quite mild, so an autumn bike tour down an old country road would delight all of the senses.
Snowmobiling is the thing to do in the winter in Hilton Beach. St. Joseph Island’s hundreds of kilometres of groomed trails attract thousands of sledders every season. Treelines run from Hilton Beach directly to destinations like Desbarats, Bruce Mines and Thessalon, and by crossing land trails you can get to Richards Landing, Drummond Island, Detour, Echo Bay and Sault Ste. Marie. St. Joseph Island’s snowmobile club, The Voyageurs, publish an annual trail map that is available throughout the winter season at Island businesses.
Cross-country skiing is another popular winter activity on St. Joseph Island. The Township of Jocelyn operates a large system of cross-country ski trails that are about 15 minutes from Hilton Beach. Choose from beginner, intermediate or advanced trails, all of which are well-groomed and are surrounded by scenic snow-covered trees and the occasional herd of deer.
The Hilton Beach Recreation Surface becomes an ice rink in the winter, perfect for hockey, speedskating, etc. A number of other rinks are operated across the Island.
In the spring, hundreds of thousands of maple trees on St. Joseph Island begin to produce sap, which is tapped, collected and boiled down to produce a delicious, world class maple syrup. Islanders and visitors take advantage of this spring harvest by attending one of the many pancake breakfasts and other events that all revolve around maple syrup. Other maple products are also produced, and are sold at these events and by local retailers. This season peaks in late March / early April.