8 scenic motorcycle routes to Ouimet Canyon
Getting to Ouimet Canyon from the Toronto area offers some of the best motorcycle riding in Ontario. Although it’s impossible to include all the great roads and sights you could ride and see during your journey, this list is a great place to start.
This route takes you north from the TransCanada through Elliot Lake. The road is paved to Elliot Lake and chip seal after that, but it is still very rideable. It is hilly, twisty, remote, and unadulterated fun. Much of it was probably originally built for logging.
Be sure you get food and fuel at Elliot Lake because there is not much after that until you reach Iron Bridge back on the TransCanada. The route is 192 kilometres, but it only adds 136 kilometres as riders would have to ride to Iron Bridge along the TransCanada anyway. It’s well worth the extra kilometres and time.
Ride north up Highway 129 from the TransCanada to Aubrey Falls, visit the falls (they are worth the short hike) and then return down Hwy 129. This will have you riding the best part of 129 in both directions. Often referred to as Ontario’s Tail of the Dragon, it's a favourite of Ontario motorcyclists.
If you are camping, there is some free Crown Land camping. Riding the stretch along the Mississagi River is magical. The highway meanders through rising cliffs on one side and the river on the other. Its undulating topography and turns keep you wondering which way the road will go over the next hill. Make sure you stop at the Tunnel Lake Trading Post for gas and supplies, especially if you’re riding up to Chapleau. This route is sporting. It's beautiful. It is everything you want in a great motorcycle road.
Part of 556 is a two-lane highway, and part of it is a paved secondary road on which you’ll occasionally find gravel or sand. The forest abuts the roadway in many places, so there are some blind corners. They'll need to be heeded by beginners and seasoned riders alike.
Wildlife, like deer, can be hidden from view, so ride with caution, especially at dawn and dusk. And, if a black rock moves, it’s probably a bear, so beware. Technically, the route is not difficult, but it is fun.
If you're not going to ride St. Joseph’s Island, this is a great alternative. It is a 60 kilometre alternative route that takes you back to the TransCanada with a smile on your face. If you like to get off the main thoroughfares for a while to see some nice scenery, you’ll love this fun, sporting, twisting road detour.
Riding St. Joseph Island is an 86 kilometre loop on highway 548, taking you onto the island and back to where you started. This is not a side trip for knee-scraping enthusiasts seeking thrills.
This is a relaxed ride around an island with a lot of history. If you’re coming from the south, look for it about 20 kilometres after Bruce Mines. There are several places to stop to have lunch. There are also some sights you may want to visit, including St. Joseph Island Museum, the St. Joseph Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary and Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site.
This portion of the TransCanada is 224 kilometres of picturesque riding. The curves are long and sweeping and take you from close to the shoreline to scenic overlooks high above Lake Superior. More than once, you’ll be awed by the stunning rock cliffs of the Canadian Shield as they rise out of the landscape. It is a very pretty ride.
On your way, it’s worthwhile visiting the Agawa Rock Pictographs in the Lake Superior Provincial Park, a sacred Ojibwe site dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. At the top, Wawa is a great place to get food and fuel. And, while you're there, you can visit Wawa’s giant Canada goose.
This is a 75 kilometre round trip through hilly and twisty terrain. The road condition is chip seal, so quite good. If you need a break from the main highway, this side trip will give you a chance to see some great Northern Ontario scenery with a possible sighting of moose or a bear thrown in for good measure.
587 from TransCanada to Silver Islet and Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
Although not technically difficult, you do wind your way through some very pretty landscape. You can camp at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. And, there is also some stunning hiking in the park.
And that brings us to our destination: Ouimet Canyon
Located in Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park, 82.5 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay (on the Toronto side), the canyon is about 11 kilometres off of the TransCanada Highway up Ouimet Canyon Road at Dorion. Follow the signs up this twisty paved secondary road—yes, it’s fun riding—and you’ll arrive at a paved parking lot. To get to the canyon, you'll have to hike an easy 1.8 kilometre loop trail that includes bridges, walkways, and boardwalks, ending at several platforms from which you get great views of the canyon.
Ouimet Canyon dates back 1,000,000 years to the glacier age and is home to rare alpine flowers and arctic plants normally found much further north. The canyon’s width is about sixty-one times the length of a Harley Davidson Road Glide. It is about two times the height of Niagara Falls and is as long as about one-fourth the height of Mount Everest if it was laid on its side.
On your way back down, take the side trip to Eagle Canyon and visit its two breathtaking suspension bridges that cross high above the canyon floor. On a windy day, it is even more fun. They also have a zip line that is over 800 metres, the longest in Canada, so stopping to check this out is great fun.
Last updated: September 11, 2023