Top Mountain Bike Trails in Northern Ontario for Beginners
A bike vacation is a great way to spend quality time with your family, focusing on fun outdoor activities without stretching your budget. Here’s a selection of the best places to cycle in northern Ontario for beginners, including families and kids, with easy trails that allow you to improve your skills while enjoying a diverse range of spectacular scenery.
Local cycling enthusiasts take great pride in maintaining a network of trails just north of Kenora in the community of Minaki. Although these trails are ideal for experienced riders, the quiet and welcoming atmosphere makes them suitable for enthusiastic novices and families as well. Book a vacation at Minaki Yurt Adventures for immediate access to 20 kilometres of trails, complete with picnic areas and swimming spots on pristine northern lakes. Besides unique yurts that accommodate various group sizes, an outdoor pizza oven and a traditional sauna, Minaki Yurt Adventures also features great swimming and paddling. The rugged boreal forest surroundings of birch, black spruce and tamarack trees will make you feel closer to nature.
Be sure to spend some time in Kenora, too. This bustling town is the hub of Northwestern Ontario cottage country. Visit the Lake of the Woods Discovery Centre to learn more about local attractions, and to check out local art and a Science North exhibit.
Stop by The Hardwear Company in downtown Kenora for bike repairs.
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
An abundance of bike-friendly trails makes Sleeping Giant Provincial Park unique among northern Ontario provincial parks. Outstanding trails combined with a great campground located less than an hour’s drive from the city of Thunder Bay and some of the best scenery in the province makes this a perfect destination for a family cycling and camping trip. You can ride here with a rugged gravel bike, but the knobby tires and suspension of a mountain bike are far better for navigating over 50 kilometres of multi-use backcountry trails. Easy, family-friendly bike trails depart the campground on Marie Louise Lake. Located at the end of Highway 587, the historic community of Silver Islet, provides access to a scenic portion of the Kabeyun Trail. Enjoy smooth riding conditions and minimal elevation to Tee Harbour, where an expansive slab of granite is a great place to take in the views of Lake Superior, there are spectacular lakeshore views all along the way. The Silver Islet General Store is a must-stop for homemade treats after a great ride.
Several park trails include bike racks to enable bike and hike adventures, offering a speedier approach to footpaths that lead to the spectacular summit of the Sleeping Giant for some of Ontario’s finest views. If you prefer roofed accommodations, Beyond the Giant Nature Retreat offers cabin rentals nearby on Lake Superior’s Black Bay.
Sault Ste. Marie
With huge investments in new trails and improvements to old ones, Sault Ste. Marie is a serious contender to be Ontario’s mountain biking capital. Nearly 50 kilometres of single-track are maintained by the Sault Cycling Club at Hiawatha Highlands, barely a 10-minute drive from downtown. Nordic ski trails in the area make for easy double-track riding, while the 10-kilometre Pinder network provides an ideal introduction to single-track for beginners and kids. Here you’ll find challenges like roots, rocks and tight corners but with minimal changes in elevation for a great learning environment.
Meanwhile, existing trails on the Crystal network were upgraded in 2021 with machine-made berms, rollers and banked corners for great flow and a multi-faceted experience that allows for different options for all levels of riding—perfect for parents who want to ride with their kids.
Looking for a gentler bike trail ride in the heart of downtown Sault Ste. Marie? The Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site of Canada offers fat bike rentals for use on the easy gravel trails and wooden boardwalks on nearby South St. Marys Island, where you can cruise next to the St. Marys Rapids and see a variety of birds and wildlife. Velorution is a local bike shop offering tune-ups and rentals located just minutes from the Hiawatha trailhead. Algoma Bicycle Company is another popular local shop providing tune-ups and solid cycling advice.
With a hard-rock landscape and sparse tree coverage, Sudbury provides a unique mountain biking experience that makes it one of the best places in Ontario to ride. Beginners can get a glimpse of the rugged Sudbury landscape at Kivi Park, located south of the Trans-Canada Highway near Long Lake. Kivi is a 195-hectare outdoor centre with 15 kilometres of mountain bike trails, as well as paddling, hiking and outstanding cross-country skiing and fat biking in the winter months. The park partners with Adventure365, a Sudbury bike shop, for on-site bike rentals.
Downtown Sudbury features the Lake Laurentian Conservation Area, with nearly 20 kilometres of multi-use trails. Start easy with the Moonlight Beach Trail, a portion of the Trans-Canada Trail with a smooth gravel surface. More experienced riders love the bedrock slabs and steeper ups and downs of the Walden trails in Sudbury’s west end borough of Naughton. For bike sales, repair and rentals in Sudbury check out The Outside Store and Sessions Ride Company.
The community of Temiskaming Shores in northeastern Ontario provides a wealth of options for cycling. Experience excellent mountain biking on the Temiskaming Nordic Ski Club trails, where a network of cross-country ski trails morph into mountain bike routes during the spring, summer and fall. You’ll find over 20 kilometres of double and single-track options, including the beginner-friendly Whispering Pines, Seed Orchard and Basic Green loops. The trails have a distinctly northern feel, with boreal tree species like birch, spruce and poplar growing from an undulating landscape of eskers, the gravel remnants of glacial rivers. The trailhead is located west of Highway 11, off of Portage Bay Road. Stop in at Howey Bros in New Liskeard for bike repairs and spare parts.
The Three Towers Trail network is a mountain bike destination in North Bay, with five kilometres of single-track located east of downtown and north of Highway 63. Mountain bike beginners can polish their skills on the Rock and Roll, Pioneer and Widdifield Winder trails. The kid-friendly pump track at the trailhead offers a fun way for kids to improve their balance and cycling rhythm.
Planning an overnight bike trip and book a stay at Nature’s Harmony Ecolodge on the Ottawa River, east of North Bay near the town of Mattawa. Facilities include kid-friendly yurt accommodations with on-site biking and hiking trails, as well as options for paddling and on-site hiking, biking and paddling. North Bay’s Wheelhouse or Cycle Works are your go-to bike shops for bike tune ups and local knowledge.
The 30,000 Islands town of Parry Sound marks the western terminus of the Park to Park Trail, a multi-use corridor stretches more than 200 kilometres from Killbear Provincial Park to central Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park. Two sections in the Parry Sound area appeal to beginner riders. Starting at Killbear, you can ride 15 kilometres of bush trails through Carling Township to the community of Nobel, or south of Parry Sound, the Rose Point Trail spans Oastler Lake Provincial Park to the Georgian Bay Visitor Centre, on Highway 69. Take care of any surprise repairs with a tune up at Parry Sound Bikes.
Algonquin Provincial Park
Known for its world-renowned backcountry canoeing and camping, Algonquin Provincial Park also boasts great cycling, with more than 55 kilometres of trails accessible via the Highway 60 corridor. The 16-kilometre Old Railway Bike Trail from Cache Lake to the campground at Rock Lake is perfect for family mountain biking, with easy access from the campgrounds at Mew Lake, Pog Lake, Raccoon Lake and Kearney Lake. The trail follows a historic railway line that once bisected Algonquin and the gentle grades are great for cruising on a fat bike. As your skills progress from beginner to intermediate you’ll want to try the challenging Minnesing Lake mountain bike trails, with 32 kilometres of muddy and rocky single-track through Algonquin’s hardwood forest. Campers can rent bikes at Algonquin Outfitters’ Lake of Two Rivers location. The Bike Shop and Muskoka Bicycle in Huntsville offer repairs.
Looking for more cycling inspiration? Get more information about bike tours and mountain biking trails in Ontario.
Last updated: September 15, 2022