An ATVer's Heaven

ATVing, camping and swimming at a beautiful, remote spot. If that sounds like your kind of trip, read on!

This year’s Ride In & Camp had the largest group registered to date: there were to be 20 riders heading into the bush for two nights, and a lot of kilometers of trails to cover.

The group met in Parry Sound at the Whitfield Resort Restaurant. Sixteen folks, most of whom had never met, quickly became friends as they peered out across Oastler Lake from the dining room patio windows. The large portion meals arrived and everyone’s appetites were satisfied — the food was fantastic.

After dinner, the group moved on to their destination: Ardbeg, Ontario, an old logging town that now serves as a launching point for cottagers, hunters, campers, and all manner of off-road enthusiasts. The local eatery and store, Logger’s Station House, was busy as the group stocked up on drinks, snacks and fuel.

The group headed out down the gravel road passing the small houses in the village. Civilization was soon to be a distant memory.

2012 Ride In And Camp 02
Group shot in front of our campsite at water's edge

The trail began quite wide and smooth, with the odd puddle that you avoid at the beginning of a trip as you somehow think there is some possibility of staying clean.  It wasn’t long before the trail got interesting: a few washed-out areas, sections where you rode up on a huge out cropping of rock, then back down to a small bridge to cross a creek. Quite often, as was the case on this trail, trail bridges are situated between two bodies of water connected by a stream, becoming a logical stop to view the lakes and see if one can spot any wildlife. One such bridge, not 10 minutes into the ride, offered a great sunset view of a small untouched lake to the west.

As it was getting dark, the group arrived at the first camp location. The guides watched the faces of the campers as they stared wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the view before them: a wide, sandy beach on a secluded lake, with the sun just going down below the tree tops on the far western shore. The cameras came out as the group tried to capture the moment, each pointing at something magnificent that had caught their eye.

2012 Ride In And Camp 03
Our group took up most of the sandy beach —what a great spot!

By the time, the tents were up and this group of strangers was a team, without any prompting from the guides. Firewood was gathered from the plentiful caches of driftwood along the lake’s shoreline. Those who were finished setting up were busy building the fire at the water’s edge, where a rock-lined fire pit already sat.

The next morning the group was treated to hot pancakes and syrup, as the smell of fresh coffee tainted the misty cold morning air that floated across the lake onto the beach. Two camp stoves were perched on the front rack of the guide’s ATV as the sound of the kettle whistle brought the crowd in for a cup full of hot coffee, as they watched pancake after pancake hit the griddle. They sat by the lakeshore, eating their breakfast, watching the fog clear as the sun came up behind them, warming their backs.

One can only describe the location of the second night’s camp as “An ATVer's Heaven.” Mere feet away was the mighty Magnetawan River, truly a sight to see, but rarely seen other than by canoe or ATV. Following lunch and making camp, the group had all afternoon to entertain themselves. Some went farther north for some more ATVing, some went fishing, while others had a swim in the deep dark waters below the cliffs that line the gorge upstream. This was definitely the highlight of the trip, and that evening the campfire stories abounded with plans to do the trip again.

2012 Ride In And Camp 04
The mighty Magnatewan: great for a swim after riding all day

Upon returning to Ardbeg the group enjoyed a wash and lunch at Loggers, giving everyone one last chance to connect and share their own personal highlights of the weekend.

Some of the more seasoned riders spoke of the experience as new and challenging, while the newcomers simply thought it was an eye-opener, and a great part of the sport of ATVing.

About Mark Hamerton

Ontario facinates me; the farther I go in the bush, the more I feel at home. I love showing people new riding areas, and the countless stunning locations you can get to on an ATV.

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