Ontario's bucket list snowmobile adventures
Welcome to Ontario, Canada—where we've got about 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometres) of trails prescribed and operated by the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) and enough bucket-list-worthy items to keep you busy for the rest of your snowmobiling career.
We've gathered together the best of the best—trails you need to ride, snowmobile-friendly places you need to stay at and things you just have to see to believe—and best of all, you'll be doing it from your sled, far from the hum-drum and distractions of home. Check out our snowmobile bucket list below.
Earn bragging rights on Ontario's bucket list snowmobile trails
Ride above a waterfall bigger than Niagara
Just outside the City of Thunder Bay is Kakabeka Falls, a natural wonder that throws more water over its crest per minute than Niagara Falls. Now picture yourself riding your sled less than 100 feet (30 metres) from the crest.
There is no feeling more powerful than the thundering of these massive falls as you head out on a snowmobile adventure in Northwest Ontario. The North Western Ontario Trails Association has one major snow tour that loops riders between Atikokan and Kenora.
Ride out of: Atikokan to Kakabeka Falls via TOP A Trail or out of Thunder Bay via Snowmobiling Trailer Service (contact Thunder Bay Adventure Trails)
Useful links: North Western Ontario Snowmobile Trails Association, Thunder Bay Adventure Trails SC
See the world's only log castle
Completed in 1915, White Otter Castle has been shrouded in mystery for over 100 years. Some say the builder, Jimmy McOuat, built it to rebuff childhood insults, while others say it was a gift to an unrequited love.
Regardless, this three-story, red pine structure is a strange sight in the middle of an otherwise inaccessible wilderness. Check out the White Otter Loop for a short weekend route that takes you right to the castle.
Ride out of: Atikokan
Stay at: Quetico Inn
Useful links: White Otter Loop, NWOSTA Wilderness Loop, NWOSTA Snowmobile Tours
Cross an international border on a snowmobile
Not many people know this, but you can actually ride directly from the US into Canada at four places in Northwest Ontario. You'll need both a Minnesota and Ontario Snowmobile Trail Permit, but this is one of those bragging right experiences that not many sledders can claim.
Entering Canada from the US will mean you have to apply for a remote border crossing permit with Canada Customs. Going into the US, riders actually check in with a border agent via videophone because of the remoteness of the location.
Ride out of US to CAN: from Grand Marias, Crane Lake, International Falls or Baudette
Ride out of CAN to US: from south of Kashabowie, west of Atikokan, and at Fort Frances or Rainy River
Stay at: Quetico Inn, Atikokan, Super 8, Copper River Inn or La Place Rendez-Vous, Fort Frances
Useful links: NWOSTA, Atikokan Sno-Ho, Canada Customs, Badiuk's Powersports, Webbs Powershack
Ride out of the US to CAN: from Warroad, Crane Lake, International Falls or Baudette; for info call (218) 283-8611
Ride out of CAN to US: from south of Kashabowie, west of Atikokan, and at Fort Frances or Rainy River; for info call Pigeon River (807) 964-2093, Fort Frances (807) 274-3655, or Rainy River (807) 852-3341
Stay at: Quetico Inn in Atikokan, Super 8, Rainbow Motel, Copper River Inn in Fort Frances, Walla Walla Inn in Rainy River
Ride on private trails
There aren't many private snowmobile trails in North America, but Haliburton Forest is one of the few exceptions. Not connected to the OFSC-prescribed snowmobile trails that dominate Ontario, here you'll find over 400 kilometres (264 miles) of groomed trails through 100,000 acres (40,468 hectares) of forest, with on-site snowmobile rentals as well.
These trails generally open for a full season, early and late. Haliburton Forest also has a wildlife preserve with moose, wolves, and foxes, as well as dogsled tours if you want to add some variety to your vacation. A day pass is $49 CDN (+ $10 for passenger).
Ride out of: Haliburton
Stay at: Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Reserve
Useful links: Snowmobiling Haliburton Forest
Conquer Ontario's oldest snowmobile tour
Ontario's oldest and arguably most-beloved provincial park is at the heart of this epic three-day ride through the centre of the province. Known as the Round Algonquin Park tour, or RAP for short, it's an easy route to jump on at any point and go in any direction.
We'd be remiss if we didn't recommend a stay at Spectacle Lake Lodge, hosted by Sharon, who was one of the founding members of the RAP tour. You will 100% have an amazing time, meet lots of other sledders, and have a quintessential Canadian sledding experience.
Ride out of: North Bay, Mattawa, Pembroke, Haliburton or Dorset
Stay at: Quality Inn, North Bay; Mattawa Adventure Camp; Best Western, Pembroke; Sir Sam’s Inn, Haliburton; Blue Spruce Resort, Dorset
Useful links: Haliburton County SA, Opeongo Snowbirds SC, Keetna Snowmobile & Recreation Club, North Renfrew SC OFSC, Missing Link SC, Highland Rovers SC, Algonquin SC, Tall Pines SC, Happy Wanderers SC, Mattawa & Area SC, Bonfield SC, South Shore/Restoule SC, Near North Snowdrifters SC, Almaguin District SC, Near North Trail Association, OFSC District 6, OFSC District 7
Ride like a local
The Seguin Trail is a favourite among local and visiting sledders. This OFSC-prescribed snowmobile trail is what trail riding in Ontario is all about. It cuts from Parry Sound on the shores of Georgian Bay all the way east to Algonquin Provincial Park. Combining old railway trails, wooden bridges, rock cuts and lake crossings, it's a cross-section of the best that Ontario has to offer.
The communities at either end live for snowmobilers, so expect to have a blast when you finally reach your destination. Near Parry Sound, eat at Blakes Memories of Muskoka or at the east end of the Sequin, check out Fork on Main in Kearney.
Ride out of: Parry Sound (west end) or Kearney (east end)
Stay at: Super 8, Parry Sound; Edgewater Park Lodge, Kearney
Useful links: Parry Sound Snowmobile District, South Seguin Snowmobile Club, OFSC District
Soak up French culture in Hearst
For a bit more of an international flavour, consider visiting Hearst, a French-speaking community (although they also speak English). Located at the western end of the popular Northern Corridor, Hearst is also a popular destination for riders heading north from Sault Ste. Marie on Algoma's "All the Way There" ride.
You can also spend several days exploring numerous club trails north of the town, including the Missinaibi Expedition Tour.
Ride out of: west from Cochrane or north from Sault Ste. Marie
Stay at: Villa Inn and Suites or The Companion Motel, Hearst or Best Western Swan Castle Inn or Westway Motel, Cochrane
Useful links: Northern Corridor Snowmobile Association, Club Voyageur de Hearst
Explore Abitibi Canyon
Known for its incredibly deep powder snow, the hilly Abitibi Canyon is Northeastern Ontario’s most popular backcountry riding adventure. Located at the northern end of the Abitibi Canyon Tour, an Ontario Snowmobile Trail Permit is required to access this winter playground via TOP Trail A103. Be sure to fuel up at Base Camp Abitibi Canyon before going to play in the wilderness.
Ride out of: Cochrane
Stay at: Base Camp Abitibi Canyon (limited lodgings), Best Western Swan Castle Inn, Flood's Landing Cabins or Westway Motel
Useful links: Polar Bear Riders Snowmobile Club, Northern Corridor Abitibi Canyon Tour
If you’re looking for more snowmobile adventures in Ontario, check out these options:
Last updated: January 3, 2023