Ontario's Bucket-List Snowmobile Adventures
Welcome to Ontario, Canada—where we've got over 20,000 miles of trails 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, 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 below our snowmobile bucket list.
Earn the 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 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 the Northwest of Ontario. The North Western Ontario Trails Association has three major loops that take riders through the entire region.
Ride out of: Thunder Bay or Kakabeka Falls
Stay at: Kakabeka Falls Motor Hotel or Grand Portage Lodge & Casino
Useful Links: Thunder Bay Adventure Trails SC, North Western Ontario Snowmobile Trails Association
See the World's Only Log Castle
Completed in 1915, the legend of White Otter Castle has been shrouded in mystery for over 100 years. Some say the builder, Jimmy McOuat, built it to rebuff childhood insults, 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.
Cross an International Border on a Snowmobile
Not many people know this, but you can actually ride directly from the US into Canada at two places in Northwest Ontario: Atikokan and Fort Frances. Going into the US, riders actually check in with a border agent via videophone because of the remoteness of the location. You'll need both a Minnesota and Ontario snowmobile 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 with Canada Customs.
Ride out of: Fort Frances or Atikokan in Ontario; Duluth, Grand Rapids or Bimidji in Minnesota
Stay At: White Otter Inn, Quetico Inn or Perch Lake Resort in and around Atikokan. Super 8, Copper River Inn or La Place Rendez-Vous in Fort Frances
Useful Links: NWOSTA, Atikokan Sno-Ho, Canada Customs, Badiuk's Powersports, Webbs Powershack
Ride Through A Mountain Range
When people think of mountain riding in Canada, they don't usually think of Ontario. But the Mississagi Valley in Algoma Country, while not the Rockies, are nothing to sneeze at. You're guaranteed a massive adventure if you undertake Algoma's "All the Way There" ride, with plenty of stops for gas, food and accommodations. There's even trailer service to bring sleds over the border.
Ride on Private Trails
There aren't many private snowmobile trails in North America, but the Haliburton Forest is one of the few exceptions. Separate from the OFSC trails that dominate Ontario, here you'll find 300 km (186 miles) of trails on 100,000 acres of forest, with on-site snowmobile rentals as well. They generally open earlier and close later than the OFSC trails. They also have a wildlife preserve with moose, wolves, and foxes, as well as dogsled tours if you want some variety to your vacation. $40 Canadian for a day pass.
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 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.
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
While the RAP tour is Ontario's most well-known tour for local and visiting sledders, the Seguin Trail is a local favourite. This is the what trail riding in Ontario is all about. It cuts from Parry Sound on the shores of Georgian Bay all the way over to Algonquin Provincial Park. The communities at either end live for snowmobilers, so expect to have a blast when you finally reach your destination. And the trails are nothing to sneeze at either. Combining old rail trails, wooden bridges, rock cuts and lake crossings, it's a cross-section of the best that Ontario has to offer. For a true local experience, free of frill, eat at Jolly Rogers in Parry Sound or Blakes Memories of Muskoka.
Go Off-Trail in the Abitibi Canyon
Known for its incredible deep powder snow, the Abitibi Canyon is the pride of the Northeast boondocking scene. Base Camp Abitibi Canyon now has gas and some limited accommodation. Combine that with the Abitibi Canyon Loop for some on-trail and off-trail action.
Ride out of: Cochrane
Stay at: Base Camp Abitibi Canyon, Best Western Swan Castle Inn, Flood's Landing Cabins or Westway Motel
Useful Links: Polar Bear Riders Snowmobile Club, Northern Corridor Abitibi Canyon Tour
Soak Up French Culture in Hearst
For a bit more of an international flavour, consider riding up to Hearst from Sault Ste. Marie. You can make an incredible snowmobile trip out of it, and Hearst is a French speaking community (although they also speak English). The Companion Motel and Villa Inn and Suites are favourite places to stay among Ontario's snowmobiling community.
Last updated: April 21, 2022