Where has time gone? It seems like only yesterday I did my first ride of the now infamous Gold Rush Tour in Northeastern Ontario.
This self-guided tour came to be when Sean Mackey, Mike Farr, Claude Aumont, Will Sarri and Don Studholme corralled me in New Liskeard, in the summer of 1997. They wanted to create a brand for the James Bay Frontier (now Northeastern Ontario) with a self-guided loop tour, similar to the ultra successful and time tested RAP Tour (Ride around Algonquin Park). Well, we need a name. No worries there, let’s go with a name honouring the history of the region and call it:
The Gold Rush Tour—Where the Gold is White!
And so, my inaugural ride of the Gold Rush Tour was in the winter of 1998, and it was then that I came to realize this region delivers some of the finest riding as you will find anywhere.
On my latest trip, I was serving as a guide for the lucky winner of Ontario Tourism and Northeastern Ontario's Ride for Prize contest. The winner, Jeff Langevin, enjoyed an all expense paid trip, including sleds, of the Gold Rush Tour. He brought his riding buddy Ryan Quigley along and these two guys had the ride of their lives–for four days, they experienced mile after mile of awesome trails.
The Gold Rush Tour is approximately 720 kms (450 miles) in length, and while it can be done in three days, I prefer to make it a four-day ride with some off the Top Trail path. Honest to goodness, the club trails up here are as good as the Top Trails!
I have ridden this region many times since 1998, and there have been some very interesting additions and venues on this tour are worth a mention: Hockey Heritage North in Kirkland Lake is a must see, and while in Timmins, you should visit the Cedar Meadows Resort. If you want to get up-close and personal with a moose at Richard Lafleur's on-site Wildlife Park, then this is the place to be!
Feel the Rush
Our starting point for the tour was at the Holiday Inn Express in New Liskeard. There are several motels to choose from, and all have spacious parking and are a stones throw from the trails. You can ride this tour for the most part on Top Trails A & C, and again, you can opt to ride on club trails, depending on how long or short you want to make your day's ride. Our first day of riding would be a short one with our night's stay at Long Point Lodge, west of Elk Lake, on trail A107C. To make our day a little longer, we headed south on Top Trail A, south of Cobalt, and took trail L186 north. Both trails have seen major work since my last foray, and trust me, this is an excellent addition to your day's ride.
We stopped at Elk Cabins for lunch, and rolled into Long Point Lodge for the night. This visit added to the trip, as Gord and Lise Bowen had hosted us on the original tour in 1998, and if memory serves me correctly, it was an awesome PARTAY! I had told the crew that chances were Lise would serve us a roast beef dinner that was to die for, and sure enough, she did not let me down.
Day 2 had us heading to Timmins for the night with stops at Matagami for gas (cash only) and lunch at Post 392 (cash only). We pulled in to the Microtel Motel in Timmins late afternoon, and what a ride. Mark and Ryan could not believe that trails existed as wide and smooth as we rode on this day. Timmins sets the benchmark for catering to snowmobiling enthusiasts with excellent access to all the amenities that snowmobilers require.
Our third day had us visiting Cedar Meadows Resort to take in the Wildlife Park Tour. This is one stop I always look forward to, as it is as up-close and personal a tour as you can get. We headed east on A111C and took our lunch stop at the Country Inn in Val Gagne. After lunch, we pointed our sleds south on Top Trail A with our overnight at the Comfort Inn in Kirkland Lake. While in Kirkland, you may want to visit Hockey Heritage North, as it is truly a great visit into hockey history.
Jeff and Ryan were amazed at the amount of snow, and on our final day of riding, they got to experience a good old-fashioned Northern Ontario snowstorm. Lucky for them, they had an excellent guide (cough!), as we rode a lot of farmland, making for some serious white-outs and drift busting. At the end of the day when we pulled up to our trucks, everyone, sleds included, were just a ball of snow. Jeff and Ryan had experienced their ride of a lifetime and no doubt have told many of their friends all about it.
4 Days of bliss
Again, I recommend a minimum of four-days riding the Gold Rush Tour Loop, because as we like to say up here, “What’s the rush?” I know after your first visit to the Temiskaming Abitibi Trail Association area, you will be back to ride more of the 3000 kms of trails in this region.
For information on this region call 1-800-ONTARIO or 1-888-828-2766