It's March. There is grass in my yard. The trails in my area went red weeks ago and, with only 230 miles on my sled for the season, I was bitter and sad. Then, a little birdie told me about this hidden gem in Ontario’s Algoma Country. Determined to add some more miles on my sled, I called my two favourite sledding buddies—my Mom and Dad! They couldn’t have said yes faster!
At 7am Friday, my parents and I started our six hour drive north to Searchmont, ON. Although the drive is a bit long, it’s a straight shot up Highway 400 over to Highway 17, with gorgeous scenery along the way. After arriving at the Driftwood Valley Chalet staging area, we started our 145 km ride into Halfway Haven for our first night.
After commenting on the TONS OF SNOW, I noticed how similar the terrain was to some of my favourite trails in Muskoka. One big difference, however, is the fact that almost all of the trails in Algoma are wide, groomed to perfection, and take you through some amazingly remote areas of Northern Ontario wilderness. In the middle of this wild wilderness is Halfway Haven. As the only gas stop between Searchmont and Wawa, Halfway Haven is a must-stop for almost all sleds—with indoor plumbing, satellite TV, wifi, hot food, and more, it’s a great spot to refuel during the day or stay the night, and I'll tell you why.
It's not just that these northern getaways cater to sledders—they are run by passionate people who eat, sleep and breathe powersports. This passion and dedication is what truly sets the North apart from the rest of Ontario.
At Halfway Haven, Sean Frawley greeted us with his standard big smile and open arms! My favourite part about our stay was definitely the food. Chef Sean doesn’t just cook you a meal, he creates a delicious hearty experience. Remember—we're in the middle of the woods and we were served an insanely good 8-layer lasagne for dinner, and cream cheese and cherry-stuffed french toast for breakfast! After filling our bellies and our gas tanks, we set out on the next 200km of our trip to Dubreuilville.
The D-Trail to Dubreuilville is probably one of the most breathtaking trails I have ever been on. It seems like every twist and turn in the trail leads to a beautiful vista overlooking hydro line trails, untouched play-areas, and forests of mixed bush for miles. With only 197km on today’s schedule, we took the longer route to Dubreuilville via the D-Trail through Wawa.
After our tour up to Dubreuilville, we fueled up at the 24/hr Card Lock gas station and headed over to the Relais Magpie Relay, where we were greeted warmly by the charming Raymond, the Relais Magpie Relay’s official valet/shuttle/gopher, and the delightful Melany, the motel's assistant manager. Yes, you read that correctly. The Relais Magpie Relay HAS A SHUTTLE SERVICE. When you come in from a long day of riding and need to eat or to pick some things up from the grocery store, the staff at the Magpie has you covered! They also have a heated garage for overnight parking or for those times when you need to fix something to keep your trip on schedule!
At the Magpie, we enjoyed the outdoor covered hot tub and the indoor sauna! Nothing feels better after a long day (or even a short day) of riding than a nice relaxing soak or sweat. After our relaxation session, we hopped in the shuttle with Raymond to the local LOL! Bar Resto for some delicious northern eats. After a yummy dinner we were ready to hit the hay and with the VERY comfy beds at the Magpie sleep was only seconds away.
Sunday morning we rode the local Dubreuilville trails with a very special guest guide, Luc Levesque, aka The Groomer Guy! If you love sled humour and the best trail updates for Northern Ontario, this is your guy. Luc took us on the perfect afternoon adventure—the D-Trail towards White River, lunch at Fishing Moose Lodge, a private backcountry tour (with a glimpse of the local wildlife as a lynx darted across the trail in front of Luc), and the GROOMED ATV trails! What an awesome idea that was! We finished off our day with great food at the local restaurant bar and Luc’s take on the local area's history and future.
My favourite part about the local trail system is that logging operations never interfere. If anything, they help make the trails even better. Luc has been working hard over the years to make sure that all logging operations abide by some very simple requests that create gorgeous trails with plenty of base right beside the logging road.
Monday morning we were up before dawn and on the Magpie Reservoir headed back to Searchmont as the sun slowly rose over the hills around us. We traveled through the Wawa “Badlands” and stopped for lunch and gas at Halfway Haven. Once again Sean blew us away with his amazing cheddar, broccoli, and bacon soup and toasted ham sandwiches with TWO kinds of cheese!
We took our time at lunch and were slow to get back on the sleds. We were reluctant to leave because clearly, we all knew the sooner we got on the sleds, the sooner we'd be back to the real world. Now as I sit at my house near Parry Sound with green grass in my yard, I find it hard to do justice to how this trip felt. My parents and I agree—this was the best snowmobile trip we've ever been on. Some of you will read this and hopefully decide to make the trip—and you'll know exactly what I felt in Algoma Country—and you will cherish that feeling as I do now.