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Five of Ontario's Most Unique Motorcycle Destinations

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Five of Ontario's Most Unique Motorcycle Destinations

Roseneath Carousel • Credit: Wobbly Cat

Carousels, Waterfalls, Grottos and Racetracks

Editor's Note: We're always pushing the mantra that "it's not the destination, it's the ride" but here we've asked our resident butter tart hound, Wobblycat to sniff out some of Ontario best destinations that often go under the radar.



Ontario is a vast and varied land—it is a shorter distance from Toronto, Ontario to Jacksonville Florida than it is to Kenora, Ontario, and the southern tip of Ontario is in line with northern California. With over 1 million square kilometres and the highest population in Canada, there's got to be a few good places, right? While I haven't come close to riding all of Ontario, here are my top 5 unique destinations worth riding to: 

5. Roseneath Carousel, Roseneath

Roseneath2

9109 County Road 45 (west side of CR 45) at Roseneath Fairgrounds, just south of Roseneath, ON

GPS Co-ordinates: 44.191244, -78.057734

This fully restored and operational carousel is a gem. Built in 1906, the carousel is comprised of 40 basswood horses, three abreast, and 2 boats, all hand carved. A 1934 Wurlitzer 125 Military Band organ, complete with paper rolls, completes the nostalgic experience. A ride will cost you $3, but conversations about the history of the carousel with the volunteers are free! Just imagine what it would be like as a child in the early 1900's to see and ride a spectacle like this!

Plan your ride carefully to arrive during their small window of operation! They're only open on Sundays from 1pm - 3pm in the summer. While you're there, have one of their butter tarts -- they're delicious!

Bonus: Don't stop there though, continue on to Campbellford, ON and visit the Toonie! Grab some cheese curds at the Empire Cheese Factory, and chocolate at the Worlds Finest Chocolate factory outlet.

Roseneath bonus 

  

4. Waterfalls in the Golden Horseshoe

Decew FallsDecew Falls

GPS Co-ordinates: Albion Falls: 43.200698, -79.822011Decew Falls: 43.11052N 79.26444W

Hamilton is known as the "waterfall capital of the world" let alone the entire Golden Horseshoe area. While there are well over a hundred to choose from, my two favourites are Albion Falls (Hamilton) and Decew Falls (St. Catharines) since they are large and you can walk amongst the falls. You need to climb down some steep sections (difficulty 2/5) to get to the base of Albion Falls. You can view Decew Falls from the top, but to climb down to the bottom will require agility to hold a rope (difficulty 4/5). Bring shoes that can get wet, a bathing suit, a towel, and a plastic bag to pack them in.

Albion FallsAlbion FallsDisclaimer: Walking around water is inherently dangerous as the ground and rocks can be extremely slippery. Exercise caution and use your judgement. 

Here are some tips on how to photograph waterfalls.

I would add:

  1. If possible, wait for cloud cover to take the photo so the shutter speed will be slower.
  2. In lieu of a neutral density filter, try putting sunglasses in front of the lens (works best with a point-and-shoot and cell-phone camera).

Bonus: While visiting Decew Falls, stop in at Morningstar Mill to see the historic artifacts. If you're lucky, a volunteer will help explain these artifacts in the context of local history. Click here for other waterfalls to visit in the area. For amazing views of Hamilton, ride along Mountain Brow Blvd at the top of the "mountain." There are even some pull-offs.

3. The Keyhole, Glen Huron

Keyhole2

GPS Co-ordinates: 44.350316, -80.207793

KeyholeHave you ever been hot in the summer? This trail has small caverns and crevices that actually blow cold air out of the ground—nature's air conditioning! Some pathways follow tall rock walls on both sides and since cold air sinks and the ground never sees direct sunlight, you can still find ice on the ground in some places into late June and early July! The Keyhole, which is a small hole at the end you can crawl through (there is also an alternate way around) is on the Ian Lang Memorial Trail. Follow an offshoot of the trail to get a wonderful view that overlooks the Nottawasaga Valley.

The last kilometre or two on 17-18 Sideroad and the final driveway is gravel, but don’t worry—it’s hard packed and it was no problem on my sport bike. Bring a kickstand puck for the parking lot and shoes/boots that you can hike in. 

Bonus: Take County Road 9 east from 124 towards Creemore, then north on Riverside Drive then left on Sideroad 15&16. Turn right on Concession 8, then left on 124 towards the Keyhole. Stop in at Giffen's Country Market (on Station St., just before Concession 8) for fresh baked goods, a drink, or cool down in their walk-in refrigerated produce room. You could also visit The Scenic Caves in Collingwood which is well developed with more activities such as zip-lining, but you have to pay an entrance fee whereas the keyhole trail is free.

2. The Grotto, Bruce Peninsula National Park

Grotto

Access from Cyprus Lake Campground just southwest of Tobermory off Hwy 6

GPS Coordinates: 45.245247, -81.524300

The azure and turquoise shorelines of Georgian Bay around Bruce Peninsula National Park seem to have more in common with the Caribbean than with Ontario lakes! The Grotto is a small cave pool illuminated from below by a tunnel that casts a beautiful turquoise glow. It is on the Bruce Trail, 30 minutes from the Cyprus Lake trailhead and you'll need to climb down some rocks to get to it. Bring shoes to hike in and change into your bathing suit before you head out on the trail to the Grotto as there are no change rooms. The water here is on the cooler side but is very refreshing on a hot day. Take a photo by the bendy tree on the Cyprus Lake trail on the way. The Bruce Trail winds along the top of the Niagara Escarpment giving hikers a breathtaking view of the colourful waters and the limestone cliffs themselves. 

Grotto bonus 

The ride to Bruce Peninsula National Park may look boring on a map, but the pastoral views through Grey-Bruce County are anything but! As well, you can plan a more interesting route than just Hwy 6 by looking at the Motorcycle Touring Map from the Ride Grey-Bruce website.

Grotto bonus2 

Bonus: Take a tour on a glass bottom boat to see the local shipwrecks, or take a boat to Flower Pot Island for more hiking and spectacular views. Continue your road trip on the Chichimaun Ferry (they suggest making reservations) into Manitoulin Island. Check out the excellent Explore the Bruce website for other things to see and do.

1. Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (formerly Mosport) for Canadian Superbike (CSBK) Races

Mosport2

3233 Concession Road 10, Bowmanville, ON L1C 3K6, Canada

GPS Coordinates: 44.055472, -78.678482

The Canadian Superbike Championship (CSBK) is the pinnacle of motorcycle road racing and the next best thing to MotoGP in Canada. (Fun fact: MotoGP races were actually held here in 1967!). Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (CTMP), located about an hour west of Toronto, plays host to a CSBK double-header each year where you can watch the nation's best racers compete. There's nothing like the smell of race fuel, hearing the roar of engines as a group of motorcycles come around the bend into view, then seeing them lean their bike at seemingly impossible angles. Come just for the races on Saturday and Sunday or enjoy the whole experience by camping out at the track. The atmosphere is casual: bring a lawn chair or blanket, sun hat, and umbrella to watch these exciting races next to the track. Tune your portable radio to 90.7 FM to hear the race broadcasts which can be difficult to hear through the loudspeakers.

Mosport

Check the CTMP or CSBK websites for when the races are held.

Bonus: Spend another day or weekend watching vintage motorcycles race here during the Vintage Road Racing Association (VRRA) weekend. Stop at Tyrone Mills on the way to CTMP (it's just 9 minutes away) for a journey back in time to 1846 when it was a working mill, and award winning butter tarts. 

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