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"TATA Best Snowmobiling" - A World-Class Snowmobile Education on the Best Trails in Ontario

"TATA Best Snowmobiling" - A World-Class Snowmobile Education on the Best Trails in Ontario



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Do you remember your first snowmobiling experience? I sure do. Snowmobiling was an unforgettable experience for me in my youth. Growing up in the suburbs of Toronto, our yearly March Break adventure to the cottage in Sundridge was where I first started creating my memories of northern winters. Back then, our drive north with me sitting in the back seat of the pickup truck always felt like travelling to a different world; a place where the snow banks felt like sky scrapers, hockey was played on a frozen lake and best of all, we rode snowmobiles. This was the place where a young boy could do things that would never happen in the city. Little did I know these vacations weren't just people having fun/ They were a way of life for people in the north, and it would soon become part of my life.    

buypermit print blacktextMake sure #ontariosnowtrails are a part of your winter. Click here for your OFSC Permit:

temagami rosavelt road

My view of snowmobiling changed drastically when, in 1999 I moved from Toronto to Timmins. This was more than just a relocation; it was a massive cultural shift to a place where winter wasn't just a season to be despised and avoided; it was a lifestyle, and the best time of the year. 

mysled 1999My Enthusiasm in August 1999 Destroyed My Parent's Lawn

I would never have thought that on August 24th 1999 it would snow in Timmins but it did. This first white covering solidified my new found enthusiasm, and after earning my OFSC Snowmobile License in the early fall, winter couldn’t come soon enough.

growing up in timminsGrowing up in Timmins (don't worry - it's private property)

When winter finally arrived, I soon found out that snowmobiles weren't just for fun, they were a transportation method; people here rode to school, to games, to the mall or to visit neighbours, family and friends.

Over the next decade I explored the vast trail system that exists in the region; Temiskaming Shores, Kirkland Lake, Val Gange, Matheson, Iroquois Falls, Cochrane and Gogama each with their own unique features. It is apparent when riding the Timiskaming Abitibi Trail Association – District 14 member clubs trails, that these clubs and communities take snowmobiling to a higher level. The trails in this region aren't haphazrd; everything is done for a reason. Thinking back, this doesn't surprise me as my eyes were opened to just how ingrained and important snowmobiling is throughout the north. 

Temagami/Temiskaming Shores marks the south east border of this region, a few hundred kilometres north of the transition between the forests of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence and the thick and forboding Boreal Forest. Riding the Rosevelt Forest Road north of Temagami is truly a memorizing experience; the terrain is similar to that north of Mattawa however when you reach the clay belt found in Temiskaming Shores the land really opens up. Temiskaming Shores is a famous starting point for riding into the farthest northern reaches of the OFSC trails and the local businesses cater to both ride-in traffic and trailer parking.

The Wabi River serves as a snowmobile highway connecting both touring riders and locals to all parts of the community as well a to Lake Temiskaming which has remarkable ice fishing and a huge community out on the lake. The Holiday Inn, Watefront Inn, Harvey’s, Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire, Marks Work Warehouse, President Suites and of course Tim Horton’s are all accessible by snowmobile among many more businesses and stops.

 new liskeard

Kirkland Lake and Matachewan are rich in mining history and heritage and Kirkland Lake is also home to Hockey Heritage North, a must stop if you love to play or watch a little puck. This area was recently profiled in the Gold Rush Tour video+article (see below) and offers stunning elevated rugged scenery as well as ribbon-like trails. These two communities, including Kenogami and the must visit Kenogami Inn, offer easy connections to all amenities.

Riding further north the land flattens out again, home to the historical railway and farm communities of Raymour, Matheson and Val Gagne, which have recently become popular hot spots for Mennonite settlement. You cannot ride this area without visiting the Val Gagne “Ski-Doo Tree” which is probably the most photographed tree in all of Northern Ontario. My personal favorite restaurant in this area is the Northern Delight which is located right next to Georges Garage in Matheson. Serving snowmobiles for decades, Georges is great if you need a last minute part or piece of gear.  

Iroquois Falls and Cochrane are the gateway to the far north of Ontario, a noticeable transition in biology of the forest exists close by and is well captured by this quote from an article of mine from Snowmobile.com

we were presented with a mirage-like horizon of the straightest and flattest powder-filled hydro corridor you could ever imagine. The corridor is as wide as a football field is long and is bordered by the dense boreal black spruce forest that seems to copy and paste its self over and over.”

The trails are known to be two+ groomers wide (!), lending well to nicknames like “piston alley.” Needless to say, the natural beauty is insurmountable.

I've got very fond memories of leaving hockey arena's in the north, like the Jus Jordon or Tim Hortons and watching local players jump on their snowmobiles to ride home after the game still wearing their gear with skates swapped for boots and hocket helmets swapped for sled buckets. 

city with a heart of gold - timmins

Timmins, the largest City in the region is known as an economic driver for the province of Ontario. Mining has occurred here for over a hundred years and the snowmobile experience is like no other place in the world.  I have witnessed 777 rock trucks hauling ore to the mill as we rode through a tunnel under one of the many mining roads. It’s truly an amazing experience to see this type of industrial activity paired so closely with snowmobiling recreation, how.. why… well it’s simple, it’s part of the lifestyle and always has been.

777mining truck tummins

Another unique feature of the area is the former rail bridge located directly in the downtown core of the City of Timmins. This trail connects riders to multiple hotels, restaurants, dealerships and the ability to park and walk to shops and cafés in the heart of the city with a heart of gold! In Timmins you can snowmobile to the Mall (locally known as the “Square” ) multiple Tim Horton’s, Wal-Mart, J&B Cycle, Mikeys, McDonalds, Caseys, Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Kamascotia Ski Resort, Cedar Meadows Resort and of course multiple hockey rinks including the Macintyre Arena - my home arena when I played for the Schumacher Cubs. 

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Heading south from Timmins on the Top “C” trail will take you to Gogama, If you look closely on the hydro corridor posts they are marked. When you get to Post 392, stop and take a right into the lodge known as Post 392! While it is best to call ahead, Post 392 is a place you will never forget, and your host Marie will make you feel like you are at home. I've been visiting Marie and Post 392 for over 10 years. I love this part of my northern snowmobile culture so much that I'll be writing an entire article about Post 392 this winter.  

gogama - bridge

As you ride further south on the route, the TOP C trail takes you over the Kenogamisis River via a control dam; this is another one of those spectacular winter views that cannot be missed. Ruby’s Restaurant in Gogama is a favorite lunch stop.

If you have not had the opportunity to ride the Timiskaming Abitibi Trail Association (TATA) region, as an adopted local and as someone who has ridden all over Ontario, you haven't been snowmobiling in Ontario until you visit this region. It will enhance your appreciation of what snowmobiling means. If you've already had the pleasure of riding in this area, then you one of the lucky ones who know exactly what I'm talking about. It's the region where you reach out with one hand and get 10 back!

See you out on those northern trails,

Jeff

 

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