A three-day motorcycle tour in Ontario’s Highlands
It's also how many days I spent with a rambunctious bunch of Torontonians whose beaming smiles and gleaming bikes were co-stars to sample the Ride the Highlands routes. And sample we did.
Day 1: Motorcycle Touring Around Golden Lake
We arrived at our accommodation, the aptly named Sands on Golden Lake. The lake immediately put on a glowing show for us as the sun dipped in the western sky. This was the perfect backdrop to visit Square Timber Brewing Company, where owner Marc Bru gave us an in-depth explanation of the nuances that make his beer so remarkable. Marc's craft beers have as much character as he does. His passion for the surrounding area is central to the company's foundation. The evening was topped off with dinner and a quick rundown of what we could expect the next day.
Scenic motorcycle tours and great hospitality in the Highlands.
Day 2: Twists, Loops, Sensational Views and Unique Attractions
The weather was perfect the next day as we headed through winding roads beside rivers towards our first stop — Bonnechere Caves. Its owner, fondly known as Caveman Chris, with his youthful exuberance, gave us a history lesson on the caves and then we strolled below into what feels like a time warp. Underground, sounds change, the temperature dips and the layers of earth become visible in the artificial light. The experience is calming. It puts time into perspective and brings you closer to the local bat population.
The ride south towards Calabogie took us down Whelan and Norton Road, which had just been repaved, making the looping turns effortless for the cruisers and adventure bikes in the pack. We popped out at Calabogie Road and glided into sheltered parking spots beneath a weeping willow tree opposite the Redneck Bistro. Boasting a menu that can satisfy the largest of appetites, the signature burger is a must. It’s served stacked and juicy, leaving little space for dessert. Ice coffee was a popular beverage selection to wrap up the meal as the heat of the day climbed and our attention turned towards the ride ahead.
Centennial Lake Road is a special place to me. It meanders west from Black Donald. As you approach its namesake around a rock wall bend, you are greeted with a straight road elevated in the distance, flanked on either side by water and a perfectly placed rest stop to your left. You feel surrounded by nature and the view out towards small, uninhabited, tree-covered islands leaves you in awe. Many of the team circled back to ride this stretch a few more times and captured its inspiring environment with photos and video. But the best, in my opinion, was yet to come.
By now the sun had turned the heat right up and we edged closer to Denbigh, home to our next stop, Rosie’s Cafe and General Store, a quaint store that packs in a lot of products for people who come to the area to explore the outdoors. Among the fishing lures, butter tarts and canned food was a welcoming ice cream freezer. We all picked out our ice cream flavours and left with generous, cooling cones before hitting the road.
Off Highway 28 towards Schutt Road, at Quadeville, we took a left into Letterkenny Road. This is a perfect road. It starts with only a few houses. There is a tree line close to the road, then the massive elevation changes as you rollercoaster through the sweeping curves that reveal more and more road ahead. On top of all that, it has some rather interesting history that some locals prefer not to talk about, so I leave it to you to dig up when you visit. Letterkenny Road is photogenic at every turn and should be on any rider’s bucket list. It was also the perfect way to end the day as we all scooted back to the Sands on Golden Lake where a brave few jumped in for a dip before dinner.
Attractions along some of the best touring roads in the Highlands.
Day 3: Exploring Lookouts and Eateries Before Heading Home
Our final day in the Ottawa Valley brought with it rather average weather, but spirits were high from the previous day and the squad was eager to ride. We rumbled north and skirted Round Lake. There were intermittent views of the tree-covered lake shoreline as we rode in and out of wooded areas. It was still early and a second caffeine fix of the day was ahead in Barry’s Bay at Madawaska Coffee Co. Energized by their excellent coffee and pastries, we made our way along Siberia Road towards Kamaniskeg Lake Lookout. We took in the views, saw the changing colours from a high vantage point and learned about the Mayflower tragedy.
From here we had a short blast to our lunch stop at Heartwood Restaurant, which served fantastic food. The menu had a great mix of hearty and healthy options and the gorgeous presentation of our meals was a must for an Instagram photoshoot. With full bellies, we departed Combermere and hit Old Barry’s Bay Road in the direction of the spectacular Crooked Slide Park. This peaceful spot was disturbed when we arrived on our loud bikes. Everyone was mesmerized by the simple old wooden log chute and the waterfall it created. Back on the bikes, we continued through the twists and turns of Old Barry’s Bay Road which just kept getting better as it led us to Wilno. From here it was a straight shot towards Killaloe, our last stop on the trip and home to the original BeaverTails location. We were greeted by the owner and they quickly whipped up Killaloe Sunrises for everyone to enjoy. A fantastic way to end a memorable trip with a solid team of riders.
Riding more twist and turns, plus great food and beautiful views in the Ottawa Valley.
About the Author:
Jake Jones is an avid motorcycle enthusiast and videographer/photographer who has been shooting adventures on two wheels for over seven years. With a background in design and a keen interest in cinematography, his focus is to create videos and photographs that highlight the beauty and joy in motorcycles so that people will be inspired to try it.
Last updated: March 14, 2023