By definition, the term “wilderness” refers to an uncultivated and largely uninhabited region—one that’s largely unaffected by human activity. And for many adventure seekers, that’s exactly what makes snowmobiling in Northern Ontario the ultimate touring experience. It’s the lure of big trails, big distances, big scenery, big bragging rights, big memories—and big freedom to explore big country that’s only accessible in winter and by snowmobile. So, if you’re into super-sized adventures, snowmobiling Ontario’s wilderness country is one big decision you can be sure you won't regret.
Picturesque trail riding awaits. Photo: Craig Nicholson
Northern Ontario occupies a vast chunk of the Canadian Shield, where the definition of wilderness comes alive. The territory accounts for 88% of the province’s landmass, but only 6% of its population. It comprises the regions of Northeastern Ontario (Sudbury & North Bay areas, north to James Bay), Algoma Country (Sault Ste Marie & Elliot Lake areas, north to Hearst), and Northwestern Ontario (Thunder Bay & Fort Frances areas, north to Hudson Bay). Together, this Ontario wilderness country provides about 13,500 km of snowmobile trails operated by the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC), which is 45% of the entire provincial system.
These three regions are linked by two Trans Canada routes, Highway 11 and Highway 17. Most of the population centres are clustered along these roads. They're also connected by thousands of kilometres of some of the widest, longest, and most exhilarating snowmobile trails on the planet. But with so many kilometres of trails and so small a resident population, most trails aren’t ever crowded or overused. Generally, the farther north or west you go, the fewer the towns, and the bigger the wilderness experience.
Much of Northern Ontario provides ideal wilderness country snowmobiling. Being positioned in the northerly latitudes of the province, the climate of Northern Ontario normally delivers consistent cold and reliable snow from December well into April. The sub-zero temperatures also keep trail bases frozen deep and durable, and ice crossings solid.