Before you head out, please check to make sure that the trails are available, using the OFSC Interactive Trail Guide.
Ontario is home to 35 official snowmobile tours promoted by The OFSC. One of its crown jewels is un-doubtedly The R.A.P Tour (or Round Algonquin Park), which spans 3 different areas; Eastern Ontario, Northern Ontario and Muskoka. What makes it special? R.A.P runs in a massive loop around Algonquin Provincial Park, and at over 700km is one of the bigger tours. It’s also unique in that it’s the only OFSC sanctioned trail that crosses through the Park’s boundaries. I’ve ridden various sections of RAP and I can attest it’s some of the finest organized trail riding in the world.
Because of its size R.A.P showcases groomed and signed trails from 3 different OFSC Districts 6, 7 and 11. Riders can expect a variety of different trails ranging from abandon rail lines to old logging roads to the lush forests of the Canadian Shield. Some particularly memorable scenery was riding through rock cuts where large icicles had formed from water run-off, its scenes like these that will give riders the best memories (and likes on Instagram).
Another added benefit of this loop is the variation it offers for a wide gamut of skill levels. Everything from seniors looking to take a leisurely tour to the hard-core high mile riders can enjoy R.A.P. I’d suggest if you were more on the leisure side, 5-7 days would be a sufficient time frame to cover the loop. Although everything is staked, marked and mapped thoroughly, guide maps are available if this is more comfortable then going it on your own. The 3 levels of trail guides available are the OFSC Provincial Snowmobile Trail Guide for the ’30,000ft’ view, the trail guides of District 6, 7 and 11 for regional information and a special R.A.P specific guide so you can see the entire tour on one sheet. If a buddy’s trip with your sled-head friends is in order, the 700km could be gobbled up in a three-day weekend if you’re efficiently on the throttle. Standard touring riders can expect 5 days as a comfortable time frame to navigate the tour.
Because of it’s size, R.A.P is surrounded by some of the most well know cities in north central / north eastern Ontario. Huntsville, Bracebridge, Haliburton, Barry’s Bay, Pembroke, Mattawa, Powassan and many smaller towns are within range. Check the video below for a sense of the communities in the Madawaska Valley:
The most common city to stage out of and start the tour is the Pembroke or North Bay, from there continue in a counter-clockwise orientation.
Once out on the trails they’re are some unique landmarks along the way and why I’d recommend giving your self more time to do the trip. My last time riding it we stopped at the Ice Caves near Kearney, ON and that was unlike anything I’d ever seen. The caves form naturally when snow run-off melts over giant rock slabs on the edge of the Lake, it then freezes creating these surreal ice caves that you can actually go inside but is barely visible from the exterior and only being accessible by snowmobile makes this natural wonder a must-see attraction.
Thanks to the plethora of cities and towns listed above, a wide array of accommodations is offered as well. When riding the tour I’ve stayed (or made food stops) at Ramada Pinewood Park, Mattawa Golf & Ski Resort, Cedar Gables Lodge and Spectacle Lake Lodge to name a few. The latter in particular I like because the lodge owner always takes good care of us with hot meals or a packed lunch for the trail if time is short. Spectacle Lake Lodge also has a dining room overlooking the lake with incredible views of the sunrise. It also happens to be the closest lodgings to the Ice Caves and the owner Sharon, actually had a hand in the creation of the tour its self.
Riding for all skill levels, a one of a kind tour around a famous Provincial Park, more accommodations then you’d ever need, with meals and fuel a-plenty? Surly this oasis can’t exist, but it does my friends and it’s called The R.A.P tour. Now don’t delay and get booking your 2019 snowmobile vacation, the best months of winter lie just ahead!