Destination Hearst: A Motorcyclist's Guide
I admit that I tend to play favourites when it comes to moto touring Ontario's Algoma region. Every time I point the front wheel north, the usual assortment of Algoma motorcycling touring go-to's occupy the schedule. The Grand Algoma Tour, The Deer Trail Tour, Highway 129, and Lake Superior's shore always satisfy the soul and fill the calendar. But this time, I promise things will be different as we push further into the Algoma landscape along The Algoma North Tour—Hearst, here we come.
A quick wave to the Wawa goose as we turn right onto the Trans Canada Highway, aka Hwy 17 and into, for us, new territory. From the shores of Lake Superior, we are about to roll 325 km deep into Algoma Country, today's destination, the northern community of Hearst, Ontario.
It doesn't take long to get into the rhythm of the day as Hwy 17 proves to be a fun ride, with wide, excellent pavement, big swiping curves and even bigger vistas, all made better by the warmth of the morning sun at our backs.
Stop One: White River
One hour into the day, we get an opportunity to play tourist with a few selfies with the Winnie-the-Pooh statue. Evidently, the famous bear got his start here in White River, Ontario, before becoming a big hit with the youngsters, courtesy of Disney. Memories captured and gas tanks topped up, we set our sights on Highway 631.
As it turns out, Hwy 631 is no stranger to two wheels and the rumble of engines, as it is an annual choice destination for the Harley-Davidson Owners H.O.G. rally, and it doesn't take us long to realize why. The winding road and the landscape here are remote and breathtaking.
Stop Two: Hornepayne
Another chance for some selfies presents itself in Hornepayne with the three bears statues. Here you can also grab a bite to eat at the Hungry Bear Pub & Diner, and if you wish to stay longer, Agich's Riverside Cabins offer up the log cabin experience.
The solitude continues as we push on north. The traffic count is zero until we turn onto Highway 11 and the final 50 km to Hearst.
Final Destination: Hearst
We park the bikes outside our door and drop our bags at the Companion Hotel-Motel. With comfortable rooms, an on-site restaurant, and a sports bar, you can get as social as your energy will allow after a day on the bike. The Companion Hotel-Motel is popular with power sports enthusiasts all year with snowmobilers in the winter, and today a couple of dozen other motorcycles join ours outside.
Not done yet; we head out for some local poking around before pulling up a chair on the patio. There are more photo opportunities with animal statues in Hearst, this time wolves and moose at Gilles Gagnon Tourism Information Centre. We learn about the area's lumberjacking history at the Heritage Sawmill Museum and have a pleasant visit with the good folks at the Rheault Distillery to chat about the ins and outs of vodka making.
On day two, we retrace our way back to Wawa and then onto Sault Ste. Marie. Knowing what to expect makes for a relaxing ride. The early morning along Highway 631 doesn't disappoint with three black bear sightings along its length, and I mean real bears along the side of the road, not the three bear statues in Hornepayne!
Around Wawa, we stop in at Scenic High Falls and the Group of Seven Interpretive Panel at the nearby Sandy Beach, then follow the Lake Superior shore south.
Our Algoma motorcycle tour beyond the familiar, along the Algoma North Tour, proved everything required to add it to the regular rotation. I love the remote vibe, fantastic riding, wildlife sightings, good food and the places to stay, and as always, northern hospitality leaves the biggest impression. The Algoma motorcycle touring go-to list just got a little bit longer.