Recently Northeastern Ontario presented a question to the masses: What is our best motorcycle touring route? Not an easy task, with thousands of kilometres of scenic roads that twist and turn through ever-changing landscapes and a wow list of highlights to keep you occupied, you really can’t go wrong with any of the options. But the people have spoken and I present to you The Top 5 Northeastern Ontario Motorcycle Touring Routes. Or as I would call them: five good reasons to pack your bags and hit the road.
Note: As you’re travelling throughout the region, please make sure you’re following all COVID-related safety protocols; wash your hands frequently, keep physically distant and wear a mask. Read more here.
1. Manitoulin Island Circle Tour
Total Distance: 260 km
I’m not surprised the Manitoulin Island Circle Tour made the top of the list. At 260 kilometres it might be the shortest line on the map but it sure is BIG on adventure. Once you get here it’s easy to reset your clock to the soul-soothing island time as you cruise its scenic secondary roads and take in the small town charm. Traffic? What’s that? But it’s getting here that completes the adventure. From the south it means a two-hour ferry ride on the MS Chi-Cheemaun; from the north a swing bridge embraces your arrival. Either way getting here takes a bit of effort but you are justly rewarded with waterfalls, beaches and light houses. All said, this deserves two days to complete but it’s an even better three-day long weekend adventure.
2. Georgian Bay Coastal Route
Total Distance: 1400 km
Considered Ontario’s 6th Great Lake: Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay boasts a 1400 kilometre shoreline that makes for a perfect three-day motorcycle touring route. With a stacked highlight list of things to see and do from the MS Chi-Cheemaun Ferry to the La Cloche Mountains, the Canadian Shield and white sand beaches, the jaw dropping scenery is non-stop. As good as the ride is you will find abundant opportunities to get off the bike and stretch your legs. Climb a lookout tower and enjoy the big view. Take a glass bottom boat ride, a floatplane tour, or even a sea kayak excursion. This might just be the motorcycle tour that brings out the tourist in you.
3. Lake Nipissing Circle Tour
Total Distance: 300 km
My favourite day trip that I can easily stretch into a holiday. The epicentre of this circle tour is Lake Nipissing. Not only is this lake big enough to require a day trip to circumnavigate, it is also one of the best fishing and cottage destinations in the province. So if day tripping is your thing, Lake Nipissing Scenic Lookouts, French River Interpretive Centre and the North Bay Waterfront are some of the highlights you can look forward to. If you want more, one of the many family-run lodges and camps along its shore will be happy to set you up for a few days and help you catch the big one.
4. Lake Temiskaming Circle Tour
Total Distance: 450 km
It wasn’t too long ago that the only way to explore this region was with the stroke of a paddle. Now we can do it with the twist of a throttle. Water dominated the scenery here, from the Ottawa River to the shores of Lake Temiskaming and the many lakes of the Temiskaming Shores area. The route has another unique feature: it shares part of its length with the province of Quebec. Add to this the influences of the First Nations in the area and you can check off three cultural experiences in one trip! I find the Lake Temiskaming Circle Tour is the perfect way to spend a July weekend. Start the day in Mattawa, cruise north along the spectacular roads on the Quebec side, take in the Bikers Reunion in New Liskeard (July 1-3, 2016), poke around Temagami on the way back, be sure not to miss the twisties on Highway 64 (photo above), refuel with some legendary poutine in Sturgeon Falls and, just like that, you have a trip you can brag to your friends about.
5. Great Legends Circle Tour
Total Distance: 1350 km
For the rider who wants it all, the Great Legend Circle Tour delivers it and more. Here you will push the boundaries of the paved road high in to Ontario’s north. As you wind your way along some of the best roads in the province you get to sample the what’s what of Northeastern Ontario—history, culture, nature, scenery all in plentiful abundance. You can swim with Polar Bears in Cochrane, pamper the body at a relaxing spa, soothe the soul at a back country lodge or sharpen the mind at Science North and Dynamic Earth in Sudbury. One thing for certain: this is a tour that doesn’t allow for rushed schedules. You will need five days but seven is even better; anything less and you will miss out.
There you have it, the people have spoken! The Top 5 Northeastern Ontario Motorcycle Touring Routes have been etched into the Canadian shield stone. If lists are your thing then sharpen your pencil and practice your checkmarks, your season is all set. If you’re more of the wandering soul type, no worries you can’t go wrong with any of these tours no matter the order. As I said, these really are just five good reasons to pack your bags and hit the road.