Welcome to the Bellevue Valley Lodge B&B in Northern Ontario, Algoma Country–our base for some epic mountain biking this October. If you ever had the pleasure to visit Bellevue Valley Lodge, you know that their claim to fame is access to the best backcountry winter experience east of the Rockies, be it by ski, snowboard or snowshoe. During the green season, hosts, Robin and Enn, offer fantastic hospitality and a chance to bike, hike, paddle and explore the surrounding nature wonderland.
So here we are in late October, with snow already clinging to tree limbs, to squeeze in one more ride and experience the mountain biking opportunities that Bellevue Valley has to offer.
Located only 25 minutes north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, drivers will enter the hilly Bellevue Valley and see it rise rapidly above the highway. This high elevation and the tree-covered slopes make Bellvue a backcountry skiing heaven. It's also home to possibly the best mountain biking trail in Ontario. Yes, I said trail, as in one, but what a trail it is. The advanced Bellvue Valley Trail sheds 232 meters of elevation over its 2.4-kilometre length, and its black diamond rating is not to be ignored.
Bellevue Valley is an impressive chunk of wilderness, and the mountain biking efforts here have been a local's labour of love and a bit of a secret. As secrets go, the cat was let out of the bag when the Bee Sting, as it is called, appeared on Pinkbike's Trailforks for all to see. With the Bee Sting on the map, no pun intended, the trail and the area started to receive more attention and rave reviews.
What comes down must go up, and doing laps on the Bee Sting means, if you're lucky, you will have someone willing to shuttle you to the top. In our case, we did it the old fashioned way, one crank revolution at a time up the paved road and then the gravel climb. At the top, catch your breath and take in the spectacular view. Dropping in, things get steep fast: drops and berms add to the fun while rocks and roots keep you on your toes. The downward momentum is continuous, and pedal strokes are few and far between.
The tree tunnel ends abruptly about halfway down, and the forest spits you out on to a massive expanse of barren Canadian Shield. A visual that forever will remain in your memory, to be sure. Then it's back into the trees, roots and rocks.
The Bee Sting is a trail that is definitely more fun the more you ride it, so instinct says, back up for another lap, but we have more trails to check out. We load up the bikes and head a few minutes down the road. Stokely Creek Resort is a world-renowned cross country skiing and snowshoeing destination and the summer is home to the Algoma Highlands Mountain Bike Trail System.
Here you will find approximately 10 kilometres of fun flowy singletrack, but don't let the description fool you, as you will find some challenging ups linking the flowy downs. Overall, what Stokely Creek offers is a good, old-fashioned mountain bike ride, nothing overly tricky but a solid workout for the lungs, legs, and the muscles keeping that grin on your face.
What a fantastic day in Bellevue Valley–expectations met and exceeded. Cheers to good trails and good friends to share them with. This area is already great for biking, and there's so much potential here, I can't wait to see what the future will bring.
Back at Bellevue Valley Lodge, we cap the day with a cold beer, a roaring fire and a delicious meal with our host, then watch the stars fill the sky as we plan our return to a mountain biking destination with one trail, but man, what a trail it is!