Staying Clean is Not an Option

Get your quads out of the garage and dive into the Spring season at the 2017 Algonquin West ATV Club Spring Rally.

OK, I’ll just say it: the Algonquin West ATV Club’s Spring Poker Run is the best ATV event in Muskoka. “How can he be so sure of such a claim,” you ask? Research, of course. And by research, I don't mean counting smiley face emojis on Facebook. I’m talking about hands on, middle of the pack, rocks, snow, mud in your teeth type of research. The only smiles worth counting are on mud-splattered faces at the after-the-ride party, and there were plenty of those. So trust me, been there done that – if you like ATVing in Ontario, then you will love this event.

Yes, it’s that time of year again: time to load up those shiny clean ATVs and give them a proper mud bath. You won’t find a better place than Ontario’s Almaguin Highlands, specifically the area east of Highway 11 and the western border of Algonquin Park. An area that happens to be the home turf of the Algonquin West ATV Club

Now in its ninth year, the Algonquin West ATV Club’s Spring Poker Run has seen steady growth in popularity, making it the second largest ATV gathering in the province, with attendance expected to top 400 bikes. A feat that is well deserved – these guys know how to throw a party.

Supported by local businesses and hosted at the beautiful Edgewater Park Lodge – a resort which, like all those in the area, has embraced ATV tourism – offering specific “stay and play” packages and access to the trail network from their front doors, it’s a no-brainer when deciding where to book your accommodations.

Another day of ATV magic begins at Edgewater Park Lodge

The event runs like a well-oiled machine: breakfast and registration, a recap of the rules and formalities, and it’s time to hit the trail. The air fills with the rumble of engines as a steady convoy of ATVs and side-by-sides disappear into the forest. 

Out on the trail, it’s as expected: mud, rock and a bit of snow. It’s been a slow spring coming, and the 300 km of trail the club maintains are taking their time thawing out. There is a downside to having 400+ ATVs in the forest: progress can be a tad slow at times, at least till the group stretches out. On the plus side, if you get stuck you won’t be for long, with a dozen hands ready to help.

All that fresh air and exertion makes for some hungry bellies. Nothing a trailside BBQ lunch can’t solve.  

The 90-km loop stretches gas tanks well into reserve, but in true ATV fashion, nobody gets left behind and the afterparty doesn’t start till the last machine rolls into camp. 

Live music sets the mood, and another round of burgers on the BBQ is the appetizer while the “help yourself” buffet dinner is set up. I must say that was some of the best event food I have ever had the pleasure of scarfing down. Night falls, poker hands are played, and prizes handed out. Hoots and hollers fill the party tent, but what leaves the greatest impression are all the smiles in the crowd. The Algonquin West ATV Club’s Spring Poker Run is one of the best ATV events in Ontario for a reason. Do yourself a favour, get out there and experience why. 

The date is Saturday, April 29, 2017.

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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