Five Ontario motorcycling routes to explore this fall
Riding in the fall is all about brilliantly chromatic landscapes: the red, yellow, and golden leaves of deciduous trees as they prepare to shed their leaves—announcing the end of yet another motorcycle season. The challenge is twofold; get out and find the most radiant colours and get out and find the most rip-roaring roads. For the former, several online resources report on where to find the best colours. For the latter, here are five great routes to explore this fall.
These routes outline the main roads and some trip highlights. Some riders prefer highway tarmac others prefer two-lane, weathered, county roads and still others love to head onto the gravel for some more adventurous riding. Tweak these routes so they work for your group.
Buckhorn to Buckhorn Loop via 507 and Lower Faraday Roads
Distance: 300 kilometres
Riding time: 4 hours
Why ride it: Lots of twists, turns and brilliant fall colours
There are several must-ride sections in this loop. Just northwest of Buckhorn, take 507 from Flynn’s Corner to 503. From 503 (1.7 kilometres west of Gooderham) take Glamorgan Road to 118. Going east on 118 you will come to County Road 4 near Essonville. Follow it to Wilberforce and make a left turn onto Loop Road (County Road 648) and follow it around and back to 118. Go east (left) on 28 and right onto Lower Faraday Road. Take it southward to Coe Hill. West of Coe Hill off of 620 the route continues on 504 and 46 all of the way down to 44. Right turn to on 6 north to Northeys Bay Road to 28 to 36 and back to Buckhorn.
The 507-Glamorgan stretch is 56.5 kilometres of hilly, twisty road and is listed in the top ten roads to ride in Ontario. Loop and Lower Faraday Roads also have ups and downs and twists and turns so the fun continues. If the leaves are at their prime, this loop will tease your senses while it tests your riding ability.
Distance: 380 kilometres
Riding time: 4.75 hours
Why ride it: Fall colours, scenic vistas and some of Ontario’s best motorcycle roads
This route has it all, but mostly it has great riding. It follows 35 north from Norland. Just past the Carving Gallery, it continues (left turn) on County Road 2 (Deep Bay Road) and winds its way up to Minden. This is a fun twisty stretch that is well worth the detour.
From Minden, the route follows 16, then 17, then 18 (Kashagawigamog Lake Road), making its way onto County Road 1, heading towards Haliburton. Out of Haliburton, the route follows 118 west to 35 north, through Dorset (it’s worthwhile visiting the town), then up to Highway 60. East on Highway 60 goes through Algonquin Park. This is an easy and scenic ride. If you plan to hike to any of the lookouts, be sure to get an Algonquin Park Day Use Permit.
Follow 60 to Madawaska. South out of Madawaska, take 523 to 127 to Maynooth. From Maynooth, the route continues on Peterson Road to Elephant Lake Road (County Road 10) down to Loop Road. (County Road 648). Go west and follow it down to 118. Follow 118 west to 503 and follow it west through Gooderham to Kinmount. In Kinmout, continue west on County Road 45 (Monck Road), which closes the loop at Norland.
Highway 35 from 118 to 60 is a beautiful ride. There are lots of elevation changes and sweeping turns. The Algonquin section is wonderfully scenic. Beware of moose, especially if you’re riding near dusk. From Madawaska to 118 has some of the best twisty roads in Ontario. The County Road 2 detour is a delight.
Distance: 188 kilometres
Riding time: 3 hours
Why ride it: Roads that are hidden gems, Huntsville is a pretty town to visit and more fall colours
Lots of twists, turns and elevation changes make this route a bit challenging to follow. That said, it’s worth it as it is a sporting ride. Each section of this loop has its own character giving the route diversity.
It heads west from Huntsville on Muskoka District Road 3, which becomes Asdin Road. Asdin Road twists and turns its way westward to Rosseau. After a short jog on 141 (take a right on 141, then a quick left), the route continues down 632 (which becomes Peninsula Road and Muskoka District Road 7). Ending at 118 W, proceed westward to Muskoka District Road 169 and turn right. Follow it to Lake Joseph Road and turn right. Head north and turn right onto ON-141 E. Turn left onto Tally Ho Swords Road. Turn right onto ON-518 E toward Stisted Road S. Turn right at the 1st cross street onto Stisted Road S. Stisted Road S turns slightly left and becomes Ravenscliffe Road/Muskoka District Road 2. Follow it back into Huntsville.
Riding highlights of this loop include the following sections: Muskoka District Road 3 to Rosseau, Rosseau to 118, and Stisted Road/Ravenscliffe Road. If the leaves are radiant, the roads will give you a smile to match.
Opeongo Road to Calabogie Loop
Distance: 232 kilometres
Riding time: 3 hours
Why ride it: More hidden gems, Calabogie Peaks is a great place to stay overnight, and of course, fall colours
This route starts east of Barry’s Bay with a right turn from Highway 60 onto Opeongo Road. Opeongo Road is integral to the history of Ontario. The route travels the length of Opeongo Road, ending in a right turn onto Highway 41 south. In less than 2 kilometres, the route continues east on 132 and south on Whelan Road (34). It ends at 508. Turn right to continue the loop or left to go to Calabogie Peaks Resort or to visit Calabogie Motorsports Park for an epic adventure. The route continues on 508 west (Calabogie Road) to 65 and 71 (Centennial Lake Road and Matawatchan Roads, respectively.)
The rest of the loop is simple. When Matawatchan Road meets 41, go south to 28, west on 28 to 514 at Hardwood Lake and north to 62 (Combermere Road). Just north of Combermere, take Old Barrys Bay Road and follow it up to Highway 60 just east of Barrys Bay and ride west to finish in Barry’s Bay. Centennial Lake Road and Matawatchan Roads are roads that most riders will likely not discover on their own. They provide some of the most enjoyable riding in this loop.
Parry Sound District Zigzag
Distance: 330 kilometres
Riding time: 4 hours
Why ride it: Some much-loved motorcycle roads, great fall colours and easy, relaxing riding
This is a zigzag route in the shape of a big number two. It takes you from Killarney (Highway 69 and 522) across 522 to Highway 11, south to 520, Northwest up to 124, west on 124 to 400, down 400 to 518, east across 518 to 11, and then south down to Huntsville. Grundy Lake Provincial Park is located at the start of this route. Camping there before taking this route would be a nice way to start.
Highway 522 isn't a technical road, yet it is a favourite among motorcyclists. It's sparsely populated, so it is unlikely that other vehicular traffic will hinder the ride. Highway 520 and 124 back to the 400 are much the same: easy, relaxing riding. Highway 518 starts easy and then throws in some tricky corners that can catch you unaware. It can make this section a little sporting.
Overall, it is a fun day of riding. Finish off in Huntsville for the night and go in search of one of the locally brewed microbeers. A local favourite is Huntsville Brewhouse featuring Lake of Bays Brewing Co.’s beers or Canvas Brewing Company.
Last updated: September 8, 2023