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Cycling on St. Joseph Island

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Cycling on St. Joseph Island

Cycling St. Joseph Island is one of Northern Ontario's best kept secrets. • Credit: Daniela Gebhart

Your Complete Guide to Cycling the Country Roads of St. Joseph Island

Recommended routes, places to cycle to, and some great advice from local cyclists.

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Touring Algoma Country isn't just for cars and motorcycles, it's for cyclists too. If you're looking for new spots in Ontario to explore on a bicycle, you should put St. Joseph Island at the top of the list.

We've shared many great stories with you about the Island like its amazing maple syrup and family vacations, and now we're sharing with you why St. Joseph Island is a hidden gem for cyclists:

1. It's Scenic.

The Island is situated in the North Channel of Lake Huron, and the coastal roads offer breathtaking views of the lake and shipping channel. Inland roads wind through rolling green farmland and even wooded areas. It's simply beautiful.

2. The Terrain.

St. Joseph Island has a varied terrain for cyclists looking for different types of challenges. And with a few exceptions of country roads, the majority of the roads are surface-treated. The total distance around the Island via Hwy 548 is 70 km, or you can choose a variety of routes from the many roads that criss cross the Island.

3. Low Traffic.

This is what makes St. Joseph Island so appealing for cyclists!

4. The Communities.

St. Joseph Island is home to the pretty waterfront villages of Hilton Beach and Richards Landing. You'll find restaurants, and unique gift shops, seasonal events and attractions.

5.Bike Repair Hub

Located at the Richards Landing Marina is a newly built bike repair station. The hub comes equipped with a permanent air pump, bike stand and tools for minor repairs, as well as a bike rack to park and take in some food and drink or the beauty of the marina. The hub is open year round for those winter cyclists. 

To get myself more acquainted with the cycling opportunities that St. Joseph Island has to offer, I spoke with Daniela of Maria's Cabins, an avid cyclist and cross country skier. Daniela not only offered excellent advice for cyclists new to the Island but recommended some cycling routes and things to do.

Why Cycling?

Cycling is not only fun but an excellent source of exercise, environmentally positive, and everyone can enjoy it. It's an activity where you can meet new people.

Best Times of Year to Cycle on St. Joseph Island

For the average cyclist, the best times would be the summer and the fall – these are the friendliest times of year due to weather, the fall colours, and there are a lot of events going on.

A Few Places to Cycle To

  • Cycle to restaurants in the villages of Richards Landing and Hilton Beach for grub and beer!
  • Many people enjoy cycling to the P line hill on beautiful days. It has a stunning view and is worth the challenging uphill ride. It is accessible by riding South on 10th Side Road past Hilton Road.
  • Ride to Gilbertson's Pancake House.
  • Ride to the villages to stop for ice cream and pop into the unique gift shops.
  • Another popular destination is the Shoal Island Lighthouse at the end of B line near Richards Landing.
cycling stjosephisland2Cycle to restaurants, outdoor patios, attractions and events on the Island. (Photo credit: Daniela Gebhart)

Cycling Routes & Loops

Cycling Events on the Island

The Isle of Joe takes place in early spring. This 70 km cycling tour race is fun and competitive, usually attracting about 50 people.

The Sunday Rides. As early as weather permitting, cyclists of all levels are invited to meet at the public library in Richards Landing to participate in democratic, loosely organized group rides to meet up with other local and non-local cycling enthusiasts.

Important Things to Know About Cycling on the Island

  • Be aware of any road construction that may be taking place on the Island during your visit.
  • You can expect friendly people.
  • Mostly friendly and accommodating traffic – many drivers are respectful as they are used to sharing the road with cyclists.
  • The surface-treated roadways can sometimes turn into gravel country roads. It's a good idea to plan your route ahead. This is great advice for cycling on the Island and the surrounding area!
gilbertsonspancakehouse stjosephislandEnjoy a pancake breakfast with fresh St. Joseph Island maple syrup at Gilbertson's Pancake House. (Photo credit: Daniela Gebhart)

Many Year Round Outdoor Activities & Attractions Await on the Island

In the summer, enjoy the clean clear water of Lake Huron to kayak, wind surf, canoe or even stand-up paddle. Many people also enjoy the bird watching and wildlife viewing, as well as sandy beaches for sunbathing and swimming. 

In the winter, enjoy the Island's great cross country ski trails at the Jocelyn Township Recreation Park. Although there is no fee to use the trails, the park does take donations to help with maintenance. The Jocelyn Park trails are 10 km of non-repeat trail, hilly and scenic. Another place to find groomed trails is Makes Scents Trails on 2218 D line, a privately owned and operated trail system, offering 8 km of trails and caters to both Skate and Classic skiers. There is no charge for use of these trails, however, there are a couple simple rules to follow: no dogs please and no walking or snowshoeing on the property.

Winter fat biking on St. Joseph Island. (Photo credit: Daniela Gebhart)

The Maple Syrup Stampede is held in February each year. The race includes a 7 km classic loppet and 20 km skating.

St. Joseph Island is also home to attractions where you step back in time to discover its culture and history. The St. Joseph Island Museum is home to historic buildings and very unique artifacts donated by the ancestors of the Island's early settlers. Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site is a time capsule that tells the story of the British fort and its major role in the War of 1812. There are also onsite nature trails you can explore. Another place to visit is Adcocks Woodland Gardens, the perfect place for any avid gardener to explore. Open to the public from spring to fall, the garden features flowers, pathways, wild plants and birds. Can you visit these attractions by bicycle? Yes, you can!

fort-st-josephYou can cycle to Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site to visit the site and walk the nature trails. (Photo credit: Rob LaRue)

For more events taking place visit these websites:

More Places to Cycle

There are many great cycling opportunities in the area, where you can explore the backcountry roads of the mainland and the North Channel of Lake Huron. Some of the places Daniela recommends are the roads in and around Echo Bay and Desbarats. These roads are paved, scenic and you can create a loop with St. Joseph Island.

The Sault Cycling Club offers recommended routes as well.
Learn more: www.saultcyclingclub.ca/cycling

cycling stjosephislandA bicycle built for two is another fun way to explore! (Photo credit: Daniela Gebhart)

Where to Rent a Bicycle on St. Joseph Island

If you don't own bicycle, or are unable to bring your own, you can rent one on the Island.

Richards Landing Marina - The Township of St. Joseph has bike rentals available at the marina.

Maria's Cabins - Bicycles are available for guests staying at Maria's Cabins.

fall cycling stjosephislandThe fall is a beautiful time to cycle the Island. (Photo credit: Daniela Gebhart)

Bicycle Shops in Sault Ste. Marie

Approximately 45 minutes from the Island, Sault Ste. Marie has a couple of bike shops that sell new products and do repairs:

Velorution Bike Shop
This shop sells a variety of bicycles: Mountain, Road, City, Youth and Fat Bikes. Need a rental? The staff can arrange this for you, and recommend routes.
Services: bicycle servicing, repairs and adjustments, ski service
Winter Products: Cross Country Skis, Snowshoes
PH: (705) 253-9388

Algoma Bicycle Shop
This downtown shop sells a variety of bicycles. Need a rental? Electra townies are available.
Winter Products: Cross Country Skis, Snowshoes
PH: (705) 759-3443

Bikes and Parts by Darcy
This shop on Gore Street offers tune ups and bike servicing, tire and tube changes, and sells apparel. 
PH: (705) 575-3200

Duke of Windsor Sports Shop
Sells and services bikes and accessories
PH: (705) 942-1610

Where to Stay on St. Joseph Island

Here are some places to stay if you are planning your trip:

There are also cottage resorts, camping and bed & breakfasts. Find more places to stay at www.sjichamber.ca

About Maria's Cabins
This friendly lakeside cottage resort offers guests a choice of four charming cabins just steps away from Lake Huron's shore where guests will enjoy a relaxing vacation in the peace and tranquility that St. Joseph Island offers. You can enjoy swimming, telling stories around the campfire, paddling the smooth waters by canoe or kayak. In the winter, guests will love the special winter packages for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. For more information visit www.mariascabins.com

HiltonBeach40k cyclingCycling is a great way to meet new people and enjoy Algoma Country's beautiful outdoors. (Photo credit: Daniela Gebhart)

Discover this Region
Sault-Ste Marie is a 7 hour drive from Toronto

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