5 Ontario Motorcycle Routes You Don't Want to Miss
One day is good, but more is better. Words to live by if you appreciate consecutive long days of motorcycle touring. With thousands of kilometers of roads spider-webbing across Ontario, Canada, putting a memorable multi-day tour together is time-consuming. Lucky for us, the GoTourOntario.ca website can get you started but allow us to make it even easier with this collection of five Ontario motorcycle routes you don’t want to miss.
The Grand Algoma Tour – 682 km
Containing perhaps two of Ontario’s best motorcycling experiences, the spectacular two-day Grand Algoma tour deserves the top spot on any “I have to ride this.” bucket list. Rolling east from Sault Ste. Marie along the North Channel of Lake Huron, be sure to fuel the body at the famous Bobbers Restaurant in Bruce mines before turning north on to memorable experience number one, Hwy 129. Snaking its way between water and rock, there is a reason why this road is referred to as the tail of the dragon north; yes, we’re talking twists here. Along the way, Tunnel Lake Trading Post & Motel and the Black Creek Outfitters further north offer a chance for gas, food, or rest. In Chapleau, stop by Engine 5433 and get a glimpse into the community’s railway heritage before turning west onto Hyw 101 and enjoy grand vistas and leisurely cruising.
In Wawa, drop your bags at the moto-friendly Wawa Motor Inn, and it’s time to play tourist; take a selfie with the Wawa Goose, ice cream at Young’s General Store or maybe a swim and some beach time at Wawa Lake. If you don’t mind a bit of gravel under your wheels, the nearby Magpie Scenic High Falls and the spectacular Sandy Beach along the Lake Superior shoreline are well worth the effort.
Day two is all about Lake Superior and memorable experience number two. The visual delight that presents itself as you drop into Old Woman Bay, the towering cliffs, the water, and the beach is why I ride this loop counterclockwise. The “wow” moments keep coming all ride long, as do reasons to stop; Lake Superior Provincial Park has so much to see and explore. At Agawa Crafts and the Canadian Carver, partake in some gift shopping and sample the famous apple fritters at The Voyageurs’ Lodge and Cookhouse.
Georgian Bay Coastal Route – 1400 km
Georgian Bay is sometimes referred to as the 6th Great Lake and with a coastline of approximately 1400 kilometers and natural wonders such as the Niagara Escarpment, the La Cloche Mountains, and some of the world’s best freshwater beaches. I say that’s reason enough to hop on your bike and explore. The good folks at Northeastern Ontario agree, hence the Georgian Bay Coastal Route.
From the sand and cottage-lined south shore to the rugged Bruce Peninsula, the touristy vibe of Tobermory and the view from the deck of MS Chi-Cheemaun Ferry as you make your way to Manitoulin Island, the allure is non-stop.
The Anchor Inn Hotel in Little Current is perfect for spending the night. Enjoy a meal on the patio, stroll the shop-lined main street and take in a sunset over the historic Little Current Swing Bridge.
Riding north along Hwy 6, you are in for a treat as it winds its way through the white quartz walls of the La Cloche Mountains. The north shore of the Georgian Bay is wild and inaccessible, forcing the route inland. A side trip to Killarney to snoop around Killarney Provincial Park, enjoy some fresh fish and chips at Herbert Fisheries or perhaps overnight at Killarney Mountain Lodge are all worth the detour. You can catch a glimpse of the iconic French River from the road, but do pull into the French River Provincial Park Visitor Centre for a better look. In Parry Sound, you can find many options for a night’s stay, and the patio at Trestle Brewing Company is a perfect spot to end the day.
So much to do and see; three days on the Georgian Bay Coastal Route might be enough, but if you bring your bathing suit, four days is better.
The Highlands Loop – 1000 km
Ride the Highlands, Ontario’s premier moto playground, provides routes aplenty, but if you want to sample it all in one multi-day adventure, the 1000 km Highland loop is for you. The Ottawa River, Rideau Canal, Algonquin Park, Centennial Lake Road, Calabogie, and Tweed are all on the schedule and joined by twists and turns aplenty. With roads carved out of rock and between lakes, straightaways are a rarity here.
To quote the Ride The Highland website, “Give yourself three days, not because you are slow, but because there is so much to see, eat, and do.”
Yes, there is much to do along the Highlands Loop, a list too big to detail it all. Your best bet is to visit the website for the nitty-gritty, but I can offer a ‘few been there done that’ favorites.
A rider’s got to eat; the Wilno Tavern, Heartwood Restaurant, the Redneck Bistro in Calabogie or the famous Iron Rooster Rotisserie and Grill are worthy stops. Memories are as much part of a tour as the ride, and these stops are sure to leave an impression. Head underground at the Bonnechere Caves, learn the craft of glass blowing at Artech Glassblowing Studios or step back in time at Champlain Trail Museum and Pioneer Village. A good night’s rest is guaranteed at Sir Sam’s Inn, the charming Somewhere Inn Calabogie or perhaps a stay at Bonnie View Inn, where riders are welcomed with a 10% discount.
Don’t forget to pick up your Ride The Highlands patch.
The Big Loop – 1000km
Making your way through Muskoka’s abundance of lakes and Canadian Shield outcrops makes for some of the best motorcycle touring in the province. The only way the 1000 km Big Loop manages to navigate all the obstacles is with an abundance of twists and turns. From the heart of Muskoka to the shore of Georgian Bay, the remote vibe of Hyw 522 and cruising through Algonquin Park, this ride is sure to leave an impression on and off the bike. Linking many of Ontario’s best motorcycling roads and peppered with reasons to stop, you can do it in two days, but more is always better. Accommodations are as varied as the roads, from quaint B&B’s like the Four Ninety Muskoka in Gravenhurst, a resort experience at Deerhurst, or maybe a cabin stay at Bristlecone Lodge Resort. Every time I ride my favorite road, Hyw 518, coffee and a sweet treat at The Trail Mix is a must. As is breakfast at Jake’s Place along Hyw 522 or lunch at The Mad Musher along Hyw 60, 5 minutes from the East Gate of Algonquin Park in Whitney.
Nor’Wester – 555-613 km
Heading west from Thunder Bay, the Nor’Wester loop showcases the best of northern Ontario’s landscape of lakes and Canadian Shield. Depending on how you approach the ride, the distance can vary a bit from 555 km to 613 km; either way, two days will do nicely. It was planned initially as a way for riders travelling from western Canada to connect with the epic Lake Superior Circle Tour. As it turns out, with various attractions and accommodations and a spectacular setting, the Nor’Wester is a worthy destination for your next moto tour.
Be sure to grab a selfie with the 40 foot tall Husky the Muskie in Kenora. Referred to as the Niagara of the North, the Kakabeka Falls plunge 40 meters over sheer cliffs, definitely a sight to see. West of Kenora, the Keewatin Rock-Holes are another natural wonder worthy of a stop.
The Riverview Lodge is a perfect spot to unwind after a day on the bike with a balance of rustic charm and luxury plus fine and casual dining options. In the Fort Frances & Rainy River District, along the scenic shores of beautiful Rainy Lake, La Place Rendez-Vous Hotel offers lake views and fantastic food. In Thunder Bay, take in the Lake Superior views from your room at the Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel & Suites and enjoy a meal at the many eateries in the area.
Spending a day on your motorcycle is fantastic, but more is better. With an abundance of multiple-day tours throughout Ontario, your biggest challenge is time; hopefully, the above routes will save you time planning and get you out riding.
More by Martin Lortz