From Pukaskwa National Park to the border between Manitoba and Ontario, Northwestern Ontario's massive network of highways and back-country roads constitute the largest motorcycle playground in the Province. Welcome to Ontario's wild west.
Superior's North Shore and Beyond
Riding Highway 17's curves along the pine-clad bays and points of Lake Superior, you have to wonder if the people who laid it were motorcycle riders. Its rough beauty is truly appreciated only with a 360-degree view and a huge open sky above you. The only things as good as the ride are the places you can stop. Full-service campsites at Pukaskwa National Park make it a perfect location for a sunset dip in Lake Superior. Further west, the Oar House in Marathon ranks as one of the best restaurants in the north. And you'll want to spend a few days kicking back and enjoying Terrace Bay's beaches, waterfalls, and top-quality restaurants and accommodations.
The Lake Superior Circle Tour is a fantastic trip, but you're going to get curious about what lies further north. In Nipigon, near the junction of 11 and 17, you'll find The Skandia House, one of the best B&Bs in the region. With the ginormous cliffs of the Ouimet Canyon and other natural wonders nearby, you might not want to leave. Eagle Canyon Adventures runs a zip line across the canyon, and their suspended foot bridge is the longest in Canada.
In the north, Highway 11 twists and turns in to Greenstone. Here, the 1.2-billion-year-old Pijitawabik Palisades rise up hundreds of metres above the highway.
The Palisades are a fantastic spot to stop the bike and take a moment to survey the majesty of the boreal forest below you. Le Chateau Bed and Breakfast is a good base for further exploration in the area.
Thunder Bay and Surrounding Area
Thunder Bay makes a bullet-proof case for its claim to be "superior by nature." Not only is it right on Lake Superior's shoreline and super close to some of the Province's coolest natural attractions, it is also the region's largest city, complete with international airport, upscale urban experience, and a thriving arts and culture scene. The Hoito Restaurant at the Finlandia Club cooks up mouthwatering Finnish cuisine. And, the Madhouse and the Sovereign Room are perfect places to tip a pint and recount the tales of your trip.
From the city, spectacularly twisty roads lead to some of the most unique natural beauties in the region. Ride east to Sleeping Giant Provinical Park where a massive granite giant has been slumbering in the woods for thousands of years. To the west, head up to Kakebeka Falls for a picnic beside the roaring water. Check out www.thunderbay.ca for more on food, drink, fun, and accommodations.
In Northwest Ontario the last rays of the sun shine on Ontario. We leave Lake Superior again, but don't worry, there are thousands of other big and small lakes along these routes that will keep your spirit afloat. Highway 11 climbs some nice hills along the U.S. border and passes through Atikokoan (the canoe capital of Canada), Quetico Provincial Park, Fort Frances, and a host of other interesting little towns.
17 runs northwest to Kenora on Lake of the Woods, one of the best lakes for fishing in the world. Huge, colourful murals adorn Kenora's buildings, and the harbour front is a hub for classic summer festivals like Harbourfest where some of Canda's most legendary musical acts have performed. The Cornerstone and the Log Cabin Tavern are known for great food and character. And The Belfry Bed and Breakfast promises a good night's rest in a renovated 1894 church.
Off 17, a handful of super twisty scenic roads trail off into the northern wilderness, and lead to the northernmost communities on pavement. At the northern termini of 105 and 599, Red Lake and Pickle Lake promise unique glimpses into life in the far north, as well as bragging rights for the rider who craves the claim of having truly reached the end of the road. Not quite as far north, you'll find hidden gems like Sioux Lookout. The long-standing Frog Rapids Camp is a historic spot to check in for a few days and rent a cabin and boat to explore the English River and gorgeous Lac Seul.
This is Ontario's Northwest.
Visit Northwest Ontario section to learn more about this enchanting part of the province.
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