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Adventure all year round

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Adventure all year round

All photos by Martin Lortz

When a motorcyclist discovers snowmobiling

This snowmobile skeptic became a die-hard convert thanks to Ontario's trails.



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As a motorcyclist, winter was always an inconvenience—its only saving grace was the time it allowed me to plan for next season. My first snowmobiling Ontario experience presented itself by chance in the form of a job offer to accompany and photograph snowmobiling journalist Craig Nicholson (aka The Intrepid Snowmobiler) as he explored Ontario by sled.

“Do you snowmobile?”

“No.”

“Want to try?”

“You bet!”

It didn’t take much arm-twisting for me to don a hand-me-down snowmobile suit, hop on a sled, and over the next 20 days tick off 4,000 km on the odometer, an experience that changed my perception of snowmobiling and winter in Ontario forever.

As a fan of adventure motorcycling, I spend plenty of time scouring maps for roads and trails less traveled, not always an easy task. Open a snowmobiling Ontario map and it’s like a smorgasbord of adventure at your fingertips. With over 30,000 km of trail, 35 preplanned tours to choose from, and the potential to go places you can only get to on snow, snowmobiling might just be the ultimate adventure ride. Below, you’ll find some options to go on trips for a day, a weekend, or a week—it’s easier than you think.

Day tripper

If time is of an essence and a day on the trail is what you're after, then you are in luck. With dozens of staging areas to choose from, your day on the trail is as easy as opening the Snowmobiling Ontario Interactive Trail Guide App, selecting a day-worthy preplanned tour, and you're all set. My personal “been there, done that” day tripping favourites are The Explorers Snow Tour and the Hastings Highland Tour.

Weekend Adventurer

Traveling by snowmobile is an exhilarating experience, and an easy overnighter is a perfect way to get a feel for multi-day touring. Arriving at your destination after a day on the trail to a parking lot full of snowmobiles is a glimpse into Ontario’s snowmobile culture that will have you yearning for more. My personal “been there, done that” favourite overnighters: the RAN ( Ride Around Nipissing) Tour and the North Shore Loop Tour.

The other option for the weekend adventurer is to set up a base and explore some day loops. Sudbury, Bancroft, and Owen Sound all offer the comfort of town and a number of easy access loops to choose from.

The Explorer

Referred as saddle bag rides, these multi-day adventures should be on every snowmobiler’s bucket list. The full immersion experience of snowmobiling in Ontario has to be lived to be fully appreciated: arriving at a restaurant in the middle of nowhere for lunch to find a lineup to get in, and only snowmobiles in the parking lot; spending hours on a perfectly groomed trail feeling like you have the trail all to yourself, then arriving at your destination only to find a hundred fellow snowmobilers there for company.  

Even with 4,000 km on my odometer I only scratched Ontario’s snowmobiling potential. I have done the 708-km RAP (Round Algonquin Park) Tour, but the Nwosta Wilderness Loop (906 km), the Gold Rush Tour (710 km), and the Northern Corridor Adventure Tour (1,645 km) are all still on my to-do list.

Snowmobile touring: do it once and you’ll be hooked, I speak from experience. I still scour maps in search of summer moto adventure plans, but winter is no longer an inconvenience—snowmobile and motorcycle are a perfect combination for year-round moto adventure in Ontario.

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