A Family ATV Trip to Ontario's Hidden Histories

All Photos: David Bouthillier

#ontarioquadtrails

An abandoned military radar base and one of Ontario's oldest roads are stops along the way to Renfrew County ATV Club's B101 or Bust ATV Weekend



I always leave an opening in my calendar for the June B101 or BUST three-day ATV event put on by the Renfrew County ATV Club—no exceptions! Familiar faces, picturesque trails, camping, bonfires, and great memories keep bringing our family back year after year to take it all in. The full weekend experience features an easy going night ride on Friday, the main ride on the B101 trail on Saturday (which includes a trailside BBQ lunch and supper), and finally a technical ride on Sunday for those that love to push the limits of their machine—all in the beautiful Ontario wilderness!

The Renfrew County ATV Club has been one of the fastest growing clubs in recent years, and it shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Strong leadership, dedicated volunteers, effective social media engagement, and a true passion for ATVing attract riders from all over Ontario for their weekend ATV events. And with a 750-km trail network, you can stay for a week and experience a new adventure every day! As one of the newest members of the Ontario Federation of All Terrain Vehicle Clubs (OFATV), RCATV joins a network of connected trails across Ontario comprising of 17 other ATV clubs, allowing club members access to the largest collection of ATV trails Ontario has to offer!

The trailhead and camping location is located directly across the road from the Sands on Golden Lake, utilizing their parking lot and field space. The Sands on Golden Lake has been a long-time supporter of the RCATV club and with a top-notch restaurant, well-kept hotel rooms, a spa, sandy beach, and year-round service, it's a popular spot for ATVers and snowmobilers too!

Camping across from Sands on Golden Lake 

Ascending Foymount

We arrived early with our rigs in tow on a sunny Friday afternoon. The weather forecast for the weekend showed sunshine and temperatures in the mid-20s, exactly what I had ordered—haha!

The social aspect of an ATV event to me is just as enjoyable as the ride itself. Old buddies come wandering over as you unload your ride, chit-chatting about all the trail adventures since the last time we were all together. Then there's the usual banter about which brand of ATV is better, which make was going to pull their buddy out of a mud hole, or which machine was likely to break down. It's always in good fun—a true part of the ATV culture.

The Friday night ride drew a crowd of 40 ATVs and around 60 people. Our destination was Foymount, a military radar base abandoned in 1974 which boasts the highest populated point in all of Ontario, at 1600 ft above sea level! Foymount is a popular location for ghost town hunters as its many abandoned apartments, military complexes, and machinery all lie silently and in relatively undisturbed condition, perfect for those looking to capture a glimpse into our past.

Foymount is also located on the historic Opeongo Colonization road, which has a full history of its own, but that's a story for another time.

The ride up to Foymount was smooth and easy going, utilizing a combination of bush trails, dirt, and paved roads. Riding trails at night time is always so surreal, as the bright lights of the ATVs pierce a column of light through the darkness. Illuminated tree branches hang over the trail, appearing as if they could reach down and touch you with their arms.

One machine blew a belt on the final hill climb. The friendly club volunteers stopped to help the couple out and towed the machine back to the trailhead. No one is ever left behind—we're all in this together.

The remainder of the group arrived just in time to take in the final moments of the sun before it dipped below the tree line. A beautiful display of reds, blues, and purples washed across the sky as a crescent moon hung low on the horizon.

B101 Your Way

Saturday morning rolled around, bringing with it a full day of ATV action! Riders had a few different options for navigating the trails. There were guided groups for people unfamiliar with the trail system, in both beginner and experienced levels; for those who called this trail system home, self-guided groups were arranged.

The main section of trail for the Saturday run, the B101, is made up of easy and intermediate sections, as noted on new RCATV trail map (check this map out... it's really well done!). The B101 trail was created by the Ministry of Natural Resources back in the 70s as a "make-work" project. Originally called the "Pakkotinna," it winds north from Highway 60 up to Highway 62, with the trailhead directly north of Golden Lake.

The trail passes many scenic lakes, beaver dams, ponds, and the terrain varies from smooth hard-packed dirt, large boulders to crawl over, and some steep hills to challenge the skill of any rider!

Our group consisted of my family (wife and two young girls), my parents, my longtime friend and mechanic including his family, as well as some of our newer ATV friends that we've grown to know in recent years. As we made our way along the trail, we'd continually bump into other groups—some on the side of the trail taking a break, some just slower moving.

We stopped to help one fellow who suffered a minor mechanical issue. Thankfully, the bolt that had fallen out of the shifter mechanism was quickly located and reinstalled. We passed yet another person with an ATV that was overheating. There is a reason you should always travel in a group—you never know when Mother Nature is going to throw a wrench into your machine!

Our halfway point for the day was the old snowmobile warm-up shack, the location of the lunch BBQ! Backyard Gourmet BBQ was onsite to serve up a great lunch to all the hungry ATVers. A new feature of the ride this year was the mobile canteen, made possible by Laflèche Sales & Service with a CFMOTO demo unit and trailer. The canteen was stocked full of all kinds of goodies, making it a huge hit for all the children on the run!

With our stomachs full, we settled into the final stretch of the trail system. The afternoon air was hot and the sun was out in full force, so we pushed into the throttle a little deeper to get the air moving across our bodies. The old rail bed connecting the B101 to the 102 trail is notorious for dust—my 30" tall UTV tires kicked up a torrent of it as my engine breathed deep and screamed down the line.

Nature is front and centre, a tall mountain to the left and a deep valley to the right. ATVs enable you to get off the beaten path and explore new destinations. They allow you to see the land and conquer seemingly impossible terrain. As the trail turned left off the rail bed, we dropped the machines into low range-4wd and powered up the longest and steepest hill on the run.

After leaving the trailhead last, our group somehow managed to be the first to roll back into the campground across from the Sands on Golden Lake! We had time to kill, so we threw on our swimwear and took a dip in Golden Lake, washing off all the dust and dirt we had accumulated—so refreshing!

Good Times with Family and Friends

The other groups finally started to roll in, so we headed back to get in line for the BBQ supper! We were spoiled by the cooks from Sands on Golden Lake with tasty hamburgers, hotdogs, freshly made vegetable and pasta salads, and three different varieties of cookies. I think my kids, as well as all the others, ended up eating more cookies than anything else! Ah well, a treat once in a while never did any harm.

As the sun began to dip and the stars began to shine, people slowly wandered over to the bonfire with lawn chairs in hand. We brought over marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers and made as many s'mores as we could, passing them around to everybody looking for a tasty evening snack. The kids were running around in the open field, making new friends as they played all kinds of games. Decorated in glow sticks, it was both easy to keep track of their location and great entertainment for the adults!

At the end of the day, ATVing is really about getting out into nature with your friends, and exploring all the wonderful vistas that Ontario has to offer. ATV clubs are the lifeblood of Ontario's trail system, working tirelessly in the background to keeps trails safe and functioning. With this page being updated throughout the season, finding an ATV event in your area is easy. And with so many events scheduled for 2018, chances are there’s one happening in your neck of the woods this weekend!

So mark some dates off in the calendar and enjoy some family time ATVing in beautiful Ontario!

Featured articles