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 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!
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.
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 the year due to weather, the fall colours, and there are a lot of events going on.
Some 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 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!
Many Year-Round Outdoor Activities & Attractions Await on the Island
In the summer, enjoy the clean clear water of Lake Huron to kayak, windsurf, canoe, or even stand-up paddle. Many people also enjoy 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 of simple rules to follow: no dogs please, and no walking or snowshoeing on the property.
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!
For events 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
Where to Rent a Bicycle on St. Joseph Island
If you don't own a 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.
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:
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