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Why Mountain Bikes and Microbrews Are The Perfect Combination

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Why Mountain Bikes and Microbrews Are The Perfect Combination

Bikes then beers

Great mountain biking, then tasty local brews

After a day spent spinning knobby wheels through some of the North’s best singletrack, settle onto a barstool to sample what local brewmasters are crafting.

These mountain bike trails feature the best of what biking in Northern Ontario has to offer: screaming descents, flowy flats, and challenging climbs that lead to lookouts over rugged shorelines. But the ride isn’t really over until you roll into one of the North’s favourite post-ride hang outs.


Hersey Lake Conservation Area, just northeast of town on Highway 655, offers 25 km of easy-to-intermediate riding along 34 marked trails. The bush is full of glorious-smelling jack pine, and the trails are mostly on sand, so will keep speedy riders on their toes. Well-marked trails also lead into the Timmins Recreation Trail System for an additional 45 km. Local bike shop: O’Reilly Sports  

Back in town, Full Beard Brewing uses four locally grown hops. Favourites include the Bearded Prospector Cream Ale, the Banks of the Mattagami Brown Ale (named after the river that cuts through town), and Goldbelt Barrel Series, in honour of Timmins' first brewery. To ease the post-ride aches, head brewer Andrew Easthope loves a refreshing Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. Eh, Eh, Eh!—an Australian sparkling ale.


Sandwiched between two lakes, Lake Laurentian Conservation Area’s mostly moderate trails have climbs and vistas aplenty. If you’re a climber, the Around the Lake Trail (west), can hit grades of 15.6% along its five giant climbs. Naughton Trail Centre, manged by the Walden Mountain Bike Club, is a great family destination with marked trails for all levels where you can ride on top of smooth, whaleback-sized granite rocks. Local bike shop: Session Ride Company.

Award-winning Spacecraft Brewery makes a Citra IPA with Riesling wine that is out of this world. Big on local, the menu includes famous perogies from Perogy Princess, sourdough bread from Regency Bakery, and meatballs from Giamcomo’s. Employee Chris Carnovale loves the Citra post-ride: “The wine really balances out the hops!”

Thunder Bay

Once a silver mine, the area known variously as Shuniah Mines or Trowbridge Forest, now managed by Black Sheep Mountain Bike Club, has 17 km of singletrack and 14 km of double track, to say nothing of the huge expansion currently underway. Located in boreal forest with rolling hills and a few rocky outcroppings, trails are both technical and old-school flowy, with newly built berm banks. The Kinsmen Park campsite even has waterfalls for swimming. 
Local bike shops: Fresh Air;  Petrie’s Cycle and Sports

Opened in 2012, Northern Ontario’s largest brewery, Sleeping Giant Brewery is a must-stop hub for riders touring across Canada, and a fun-loving brewery that promotes Canadiana. When Justin Trudeau wore their Northern Logger T-shirt on social media last year, their website crashed from all the orders. Post-ride, co-owner Matt Pearson drinks White Out Pale Ale, or their award-winning Northern Logger.

Sault Ste. Marie

Photo Credit: Martin Lortz 

The Hiawatha Highlands in Algoma Country is the epicentre of all “Soo” mountain biking. It’s loaded with 31 intermediate to advanced paths. Well-drained, firm trails run through northern hardwood forests that lead into over 100 km worth of nearby backcountry trails. Ride up King Mountain for an amazing view of Lake Superior near Stokely Lodge. Park at Kinsmen Club and dip into Crystal Creek for a waterfall swim. Post ride, grab an ice cream and snacks at the park store. 
Local bike shop: Vélorution   

Photo Credit: Martin Lortz 

Since 2014, Outspoken has oozed comfy. Play Yahtze or Crokinole while sipping Deadfall Lagered Ale, named for the region’s rugged terrain. Or cozy into the couch to enjoy live music. Co-owner Graham Atkinson loves Cattle Run Ale in the summer (named after a local trail), and Maple Breakfast Stout in winter.

North Bay

Laurentian Escarpment Conservation Area is growing its mountain biking trail system—chock full of almost 7 km of moderate to difficult hilly climbing on a giant granite ridge, many of the trails overlook the north section of downtown. The conservation area is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mountain biking. With a 70 metre escaprment rising up from Lake Nipissing where development is restricted, there is no shortage of epic rides.  Park at 15 Janey Street; washrooms on site. 
Local bike shops: CycleworksWheelhouse Bike Shop

Three North Bay-loving friends opened a vegan brew pub, Gateway City Brewery  in 2018. Every beer name honours the town: 137 Rye Pale Ale is the number of minutes it takes to portage the nearby watershed between the St. Lawrence and Georgian Bay basins. Come for the beer, stay for the retro pinball machines. Post-ride, part owner Sully Sullivan loves a light, but hoppy, 626 Pilsner.

Looking for a group ride? The New Ontario Brew Company teams up with Wheelhouse Bike Shop for a weekly bikes and brews ride. Watch for 2019 dates.


As good as the riding might be, don’t discount the importance of local hospitality. What better way to end a great mountain bike ride than by grabbing hold of a frosty mug of locally made beer?

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