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What Would You Rather: Muskoka vs Kawarthas Motorcycle Roads

If you could only ride the routes of one of these regions which would it be?



With Ontario having such a vast network of desirable roads, how can one choose which ones to spend time on? No matter where you ride, almost every location has their well-known motorcycle roads. Whether it be a quick jaunt out to bike night or spending an entire day cruising your favourite area, motorcycle enthusiasts have a way of finding that perfect section of road. The Kawartha Lakes and Muskoka regions have so much to offer, not only for tourism but also for avid motorcycle riders. They are both situated relatively close to the City of Toronto but which area is best suited for two wheels? Well, let's find out…

Kawartha Lakes

I am fortunate enough to live in the south-west region of Kawartha Lakes, Ontario.  With 3,083 km² of real estate, there are plenty of places to explore. Whether I want to spend a full day or if I only have a few hours to get out for a quick ride, there is no shortage of quality roads in the area.

One of my favourite loops circles around Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park. With the bikes on autopilot, we head east through such towns as Fenelon Falls and Bobcaygeon. From Mennonite communities to lakeside patios, this area has it all. 

Highway 28

Continuing east of Bobcaygeon, motorcycles are naturally drawn to the famous Highway 507 that heads north to the Town of Gooderham. The 507 has been named one of the best motorcycling roads that Ontario has to offer. Catch the 503 to Tory Hill and then the 118 will hook you up with Dyno Road (County Rd 48) that will have you rolling south into Silent Lake. Continue south on Highway 28 to Burleigh Falls and take in some of the rich history of the area dating back to the 1800s.

Don't forget to bring your camera to capture some of the historic buildings, Lock 28 (Lovesick Lock), and the fast flowing water coming through the chute. 

Picking up Highway 36 to Buckhorn will finish the circle around the Provincial Park. From Buckhorn up and around the park, you’re looking at a round trip of just under 200 km, which can easily be done in an afternoon.

Still haven't had enough of all that Kawartha Lakes has to offer? Why not head back up the 507 from Buckhorn to catch the 503 west towards Norland? Crossing the Gull River, continue to head west along Highway 45 which will take you past Head Lake, through the countryside and just north of Lake Dalrymple.

Highway 6 runs south to Kirkfield which has one of two hydraulic lift locks in the Trent Severn waterway (the other one located in Peterborough, Ontario, which is also in the Kawartha Lakes region). This is a great place for a rest in their picnic area and to catch some of the boats travelling through the Trent system. 

From there you can head east on Highway 48 through a few small waterfront communities, and then past Balsam Lake Provincial park to Coboconk. Catch 35 south, which will bring you back towards Fenelon Falls where you will once again make your way back to the Bobcaygeon area.  This loop is just over 200 km and will definitely not disappoint.

These are just two of my favourite loops within the Kawartha Lakes. There are many other magnificent roads in the area to be explored on your motorcycle. Hit up one of the local restaurants, stop to take a few pictures beside one of the many lakes or just enjoy the scenery.  Either way, motorcycling in Kawartha Lakes has a lot to offer.

Muskoka Region

With a slightly larger 6,475 km2 footprint, Muskoka is home to approximately 1,600 lakes and also a hotspot for motorcycle enthusiasts. Rock from the Canadian Shield can be found lining some of the winding roads found in these northern communities.  Muskoka is a sought-out area for cottagers and those looking to get out of the city.

Starting with a full tank of fuel in Gravenhurst, ON, head west along Highway 169 to Bala. Being the home of the cranberry festival be sure to stop at the Bala Falls for some pictures with the bikes. After a short break we continue along Highway 169 where we pick up 118 west and then a quick left onto County Rd 7. This section features fresh pavement and twisty roads that take you right through the heart of cottage country.

Bikers love to make a stop at the Rosseau General Store

Turning into County Rd 632, we followed this into Rosseau for lunch and to take in the lakefront communities with cottages that one could only dream of owning. After lunch, we wind our way east across the 141 to Highway 11 south. Continuing our loop, we hit the 117 into Baysville to top up the bikes with fuel and grab a quick snack. Next stop is Dorset and south on Highway 35 to Buttermilk Falls. There is a quiet day park with ample parking, restroom facilities and of course the opportunity to take a few pictures of the falls.  

Back in the saddle, it’s more sweeping turns along Highway 35 to Carnarvon and then west along 118 to Highway 11 where we finish up our ride back in Gravenhurst, ON.  260 km completes this loop through some of the most picturesque areas of Muskoka.

There is so much to explore in the Muskoka region that a couple of days just isn't enough. Some other options are to ride through Algonquin, Ontario's largest Provincial park, on Highway 60 or to continue up Highway 69 along the shores of Georgian Bay.

Back to the original question of "which area is the best for motorcycling?"  Are you are looking for winding roads, beautiful scenery, minimal traffic and an adventure that you will talk about for years to come? Both the Kawartha Lakes and Muskoka regions have all of the above.  Take a day to ride on some of my personal favourite roads, plan your own loop or pack the saddlebags and make it a multi-day trip with your riding partners in both areas. "You are never lost on a motorcycle, just finding new roads."

So which is better when on two wheels?  I'll leave that up to you!

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