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Algonquin Park Route

Algonquin Park Route

Adventurizing a Classic

Martin Lortz delivers the dirt on where to find the off-road gems in the area.



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“I left your house this morning about a quarter after nine
Coulda been the Willie Nelson coulda been the wine
When I left your house this morning
It was a little after nine
It was in Bobcaygeon I saw the constellations
Reveal themselves one star at a time”

So what does the Tragically Hip have to do with our ride? Nothing; but since the first waypoint on my GPS was the same as the title of the song it seemed an appropriate soundtrack for the day. So with the Hip’s Bobcaygeon stuck on loop in my brain we made our way northeast out of the GTA. A thirty-minute early morning stint on the 401, then north on Meadowvale Rd, from here it’s two lane and gravel roads, pleasant riding on what turned out to be a perfect weather day.

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The destination was Algonquin Park. Approach from the east, stay overnight in the area and return the following day through Muskoka. This is a classic route for the two wheels set encompassing some of the best roads in the area. Our tires are more knobby than slicks, so twisty pavement was not the main objective; we had twisties of a different kind in mind.

Tim Horton’s must love motorcyclists. I can’t remember a ride that didn’t include a stop at Tim’s and today was no exception. The Bobcaygeon location parking lot was peppered with a dozen plus bikes, mostly Harley cruiser types. We didn’t linger, a quick lunch, top up our tanks and we were on our way, the next way point Country Rd 507.

If you’re in to twisty pavement, Country Rd 507 is the ticket, not for us, ten K in we made a left on to Fire Access Road instantly trading in the sure-footed grip of tar for the drifty feel of gravel. If all goes according to plan for the next few hours we would see more dirt under our wheels then pavement.

algonquin-park-country-road-507

Things started off wide and loose then we veered left, the road quickly narrowed and turned into mostly dirt. Today the conditions were perfect and we had a blast, but this section can be hell after a good rain. We emerged on Crystal Lake Road. Welcome to the heart of Ontario's cottage country an area of hidden lakes and quiet country roads some paved and many gravel.

algonquin-park-crystal-lake

We rode for what seemed like hours eventually emerging on to Hwy 121 then it was north again on to Kenneway Rd, another gravel gem. Suddenly complications, my GPS points us toward a non-existing road in the bush, we keep our course, the GPS recalculates and adjusts the route. Then a gate “Private road closed.” My electronics say we can go left, there is a trail, looks more worthy of an ATV then a 1100cc motorcycle. We play it safe and turn south emerging on to Hyw 121 again, scratching our heads as to our exact location. As it turns out we were just on the outskirts of Wilberforce. From here we made hast along mostly paved roads, our destination Whitney and a depending on the time, a late lunch or an early dinner.

I think my Algonquin Park expectations might have been a bit over ambitious. It had nothing to do with the ride part of the trip. Highway 60, which traverses the park, was in perfect shape, the traffic was almost non-existent and the big sweepers of the road were matched by big sweeping views, no complaints here.

My disappointment was with the moose. Based on a two-decade-old experience where an early morning drive through the park resulted in twenty-three moose sightings, I expected to see some moose, damn-it! Unfortunately I don't think anyone told the moose we were coming.

algonquin-park-cabin
Keeping with the wildlife theme, our overnight accommodations were at The Wolfs Den Hostel. Located just minutes from the western entrance to Algonquin Park this motorcycle and budget friendly establishment offers a number of accommodation options. You can stay in a dorm, a private room or, the option we went with, a cabin. A few burgers on the BBQ and some locally brewed liquid refreshments cooling in the fridge; a perfect end to a perfect day. As the sun set we quickly realized that unlike the moose the mosquitoes did get the memo that we were coming.

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After the amazing first day I didn't think things could get any better, I was wrong. From our front door to dirt was no more then five minutes. Trout Spawn Rd, a single lane twisty ribbon of dirt, started our trip south with ear-to-ear grins. The fun continues on Country Rd 12, this time the twisties were paved. Having fun builds an appetite; breakfast in Dorset at Zachary’s fulfilled that need.

From Dorset it was on to more dirt-full joy on Pine Springs Rd and Black River Rd. After a short stint on Hwy.118, a left turn takes us to more back road bliss all the way to Gravenhurst. After fueling up we had one more road to hit, Southwood Rd, with too many turns to count it’s one of Muskoka’s best.

All in all a fabulous weekend, 840 km over two days, awesome riding, perfect weather and accommodations. But most importantly good company, thank you Tim and Derek.
As for the Algonquin moose.... I don’t want to talk about it.

For on-road routes in Explorers' Edge, check out www.RideTheEdge.ca. For routes in Ontario's Highlands check www.RidetheHighlands.ca.

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