Searching for Moto Adventure in Algoma

Adventure biking across this chunk of Northern Ontario means gravel, knee-deep water crossings, sliding around sand-covered corners, and "smiles for miles."

Regarding my motorcycle pursuits, I will admit that there is no such thing as a bad day on a motorcycle, and I have spent plenty of time on various bikes, touring, cruisers, and sport-tourers, all good fun. That said, I prefer the less travelled road and an adventure bike is parked in my garage.

I can say the same for my moto touring experiences in Ontario's Algoma country. I love the region's pre-planned motorcycle touring routes, The Grand AlgomaThe Deer Trail, the twisty Hwy 129 and the spectral Trans Canada Highway along the shore of Lake Superior. All worthy of a moto road trip, but there is always that glimpse out of the corner of my eye of a gravel road vanishing into the landscape, wondering where it leads and wishing I was on my adventure bike. Well, the time is now—the bike is packed and discovering Algoma's adventure bike potential is on the agenda.

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Planning a new adventure bike-worthy route comes with challenges. Just because Google says that that faint squiggly line on the map will take you from point A to B, it's not always so. Plus, you know that Google's assistance will vanish as quickly as your phone's service signal at the worst possible time.

Time to revert to old-school research as texts and emails utilized my contact list in search of local knowledge. Names trickle down a line of maybe so and so can help, eventually settling in on Algoma locals Steve and Jim. Adventure riders familiar with the area and happy to join in on the fun, let's go.

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This adventure starts as all should, with a tasty breakfast at a local establishment where we entertain the patrons with our power ranger outfits and machines to match. Next stop, top up the gas tanks, play tourist at the giant loony in Echo Bay, then turn north as pavement fades to gravel.

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Carpenter Lake Road recedes both in with and surface conditions to a point where its road status might be suspect. Time ticks away as we make our way along rock-covered ups and downs, splash through knee-deep water crossings, slide around sand-covered corners, and skirt lakes, "smiles for miles," as the saying goes. Thanks, Google; looking good so far.

We turn right onto Ranger Lake Road and back into the familiar, leaving the day's most formidable challenge behind us. 

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Ahead is 80 kilometres of twisty gravel, lunch and fuel at Black Creek Outfitters, then another 50 or so kilometres of dirt beneath your wheels fun to our final destination at Laurentian Lodge.

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Laurentian Lodge is known for its spectacular location on the shores of Flack Lake, which we took advantage of for a refreshing swim, and its fine food that provided the final exclamation point on a fantastic day.

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Day two starts again with breakfast with the locals, this time at the MoonLight restaurant in Elliot Lake. We stop at the Fire Tower Lookout, take in the view, then point the front wheel back toward the forest. Hydroline Road, as the name implies, is a 46 km stretch off-road providing access to the hydro towers along its length. Driving here is only suitable for side-by-side and 4x4s. Our adventure steeds find it a challenging perfection as we skirt past washouts, mud holes and rock outcrops.

Back on the pavement, we enjoy a fun part of the Deer Trail along Hwy 546 and lunch at Three Aces in Iron Bridge.

It's over once it's over, and with around 150 km to go, the ride must go on.

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Rolling over the steel trusses of the historic Dean Lake bridge is very cool.

A mix of pavement, gravel and trail brings us to another piece of local history, the Little Rapids General Store.

The last challenge on this day is fixing a flat tire on my bike and getting through a maze of forest access roads north of Little Current.

The twists and turns of Hwy 648 ease us to the end of our adventure, and what an adventure it was, two days and 600 km of what the ADV bike experience is all about, challenging and satisfying good times with good friends.

Next time you glimpse out of the corner of your eye at a gravel road vanishing into the landscape, wondering where it leads? It might just lead to your next memorable adventure.

About Martin Lortz

Martin Lortz is a freelance photographer/writer specializing in the outdoor lifestyle. Whether he is covering adventure motorcycling, kayak fishing or family oriented outdoor pursuits, his passion for capturing the beauty of nature and the people that partake in it, is evident in his work. His photos and articles have appeared in magazines such as Ski Canada, Explore, Bike, Mountain Life, Couloir, Kayak Angler and Family Camping, as well as in calendars, catalogs and brochures.

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