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Roughing It and Loving It

Roughing It and Loving It

The bare essentials are all you really need to have a great trip to Ontario's Parks. Photos: Ryan Hawkins

When it comes to where to stay on your motorcycle trip, there's nowhere that can beat the price (or the view) of a sweet camping spot. Ontario's Grundy Lake and Restoule Provincial Parks are very moto-friendly.



Most motorcyclists can agree that exploring Northern Ontario on two wheels is an experience that doesn’t get old. As an avid outdoorsman, I’ll take every opportunity to explore all that this beautiful province has to offer. My passion for both motorcycling and camping had me thinking that I could easily combine the two while touring. Visiting multiple Ontario Parks would provide me with not only a cost-effective way to travel, but a chance to get back to nature with all that the parks have to offer.

A wet spring delayed the motorcycle season for most riders. With rain in the forecast for the next few days, I packed up the Royal Distributing Ducati preparing for the worst. Leaving the house in Kawartha Lakes made for a soggy 3.5-hour ride up to Grundy Lake Provincial Park, just south of Sudbury. My Joe Rocket gear kept me warm and dry, and proved to be a well-needed barrier for early season bugs.

Moto Camping at Grundy Lake Provincial Park

Checking in was a breeze as I was met by friendly park staff. They assisted me with any questions that I had, pointed out highlights within the park, and arranged delivery of firewood since I was traveling by motorcycle. I rolled into the site just in time for the rain to stop, which was ideal for setting up camp. Only a few trees separated me from a view of the lake on the picturesque site. I unpacked the saddlebags and set up my Hennessy Hammock near the supplied bear bin for any food items.

Once camp was set up, it was time to tour around the park. Only being in the park for a single night gave me limited time to explore. There is the Gut Lake trail, a 2.5-km loop that is built on rock of the Canadian shield. A leisurely 1.5-hour walk is a great way to stretch those legs after being on the bike. 

There is another 3.6-km Beaver Dams trail that I will be looking forward to hiking on my next stay. Stopping by the beaches was next on the list, but they were quiet this time of year due to the weather.

By the time I arrived back at the site, my firewood had arrived. It was time to get a fire going and sharpen up a stick to cook a nutritious hot dog dinner over the campfire.

My bike and I relaxed for a few hours by the fire as the temperature dropped into the single digits. There is something to say about the silhouette of a motorcycle highlighted by the glow of the flames with a quiet surrounding.

Crawling into my Kelty sleeping bag kept me warm in the low temperatures as more rain moved through the area throughout the night. It wasn’t long before I fell asleep to the sound of loons calling back and forth.

Moto Camping at Restoule Provincial Park

Morning came and after a quick shower in the comfort station, it was time to pack up and head to Restoule Provincial Park. A 100-km run across the windy 522 had me there in no time. If you are not planning on staying overnight, your camping permit allows people to enjoy another park for day use. When camping at Restoule, be sure to hike the Fire Tower trail which provides amazing views of Stormy Lake.

The area of Restoule hosts one of the largest white-tailed deer population in Ontario. It's not uncommon to see deer while hiking or roaming throughout the park. There are also excellent birdwatching opportunities which include the Common Loon, Broad-winged Hawk, Ruffed Grouse, Great Blue Heron, Red-tailed Hawk, and the Great Horned Owl. If being on the water is your thing, then be sure to check out the 100-metre-high bluffs on Stormy Lake. Canoe and kayak rentals are available at most Provincial Parks. Restoule Provincial Park boasts some of the most beautiful fall colours if you happen to be riding in the area during the fall. Something that you won’t want to miss!

Heading east back towards Highway 11 had the bike carving through some beautiful twisty sections. There are plenty of roads in the area that offer hours of amazing scenery and will put you and your motorcycle in your happy place.

If motorcycle camping is something that you’ve always considered but haven’t had the chance, there is no better time than the present. Booking your Ontario Parks site can be done five months in advance, so don’t leave it to the last minute. Packing light is the name of the game, but you’d be surprised on how many essential items you can pack on a bike. You don’t need a large touring motorcycle to experience camping on two wheels. Load up those bikes and treat yourself to a Northern Ontario adventure that you won’t soon forget.

Follow Ryan Hawkins from Canuck Powersports on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as he travels to multiple Ontario Parks throughout the season.

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