Family-Friendly ATV Riding in Ontario
When I first started riding ATVs in the early 90s at my hunt camp a stone’s throw from North Bay, I felt like the world was my oyster. My family and I were on a backwoods fishing trip at the time and I recall thinking, as we toured the northern trails, that ATVs opened up a new world of opportunities—and I was right! Here we are more than three decades later and I still enjoy getting out on the trails every chance I get.
Now Ontario offers a wide range of safe, well-maintained trails as well as guided ATV tours led by local experts. It’s fun for the whole family!
If you and your kinfolk are looking for the ultimate family-friendly off-road adventure, look no further than these ATV spots in Northern Ontario.
What to expect from these family-friendly trails?
Depending on what sort of ATV family adventure you choose, you can generally expect the following:
- If you're going to be driving on any public roads then ATV drivers must be 16+ years old and have a valid Ontario driver's license
- The Ontario Federation of ATV Clubs (OFATV) does not recommend children under 12 ride on ATVs
- Helmets are mandatory
- Safety equipment and gear provided
- Well maintained trails
- Guided tours led by experts knowledgeable in first aid
- Washroom facilities on some trail systems like VMUTS
- Fun fun fun!
Here are some of the family-friendly ATV opportunities to open a new world for you as well.
1. The Trails for Every Skill Set + Passengers Allowed option
Whether you have an affinity for leisurely ATV tours or simply enjoy trail riding, the Voyageur Multi-Use Trail System (VMUTS) delivers in spades—with awesome trails running between the Algonquin Highlands and the Laurentian Mountains. This fabulous family-friendly trail system incorporates old logging roads, forest paths, and open fields. Every part of the trail network is clearly marked, identifying levels of difficulty. VMUTS is ideal for family riding as it keeps every rider’s skill level in mind. This family tour provides an opportunity to soak in picturesque views and intriguing attractions like abandoned mines and rolling hills around every corner.
Mattawa and the surrounding townships have also passed ATV-friendly by-laws, allowing riders the ability to carry passengers on their machines while travelling the trail system. Most other areas of the province do not allow passengers—making this region a great option for family rides.
The VMUTS organization also dedicates significant resources to trail development and maintenance. Every year, new bridges are constructed or old ones repaired along with culverts being maintained regularly to ensure rider’s safety. Safe and environmentally friendly passage across water is important to all of us.
2. The All in One: Hotel + Trails Option
Connected to the famous Voyageur trails is Mattawa River Resort offering top-notch accommodations like four-season self-catered cottages that sleep up to 12 people. After chatting with lodge owner Nicole Grigorov, I know ATV families will be right at home during their stay. Nicole is likely to greet you with a hug and is always around to share insight on the trail system and details on trail access from the lodge. After a long day of riding, you can enjoy a tasty meal at the resort’s Cardinal restaurant. The onsite chef prepares menu options from scratch, and their spacious dining room accommodates large groups of ATV riders—up to 230 guests.
3. The Guided Ride Option for beginners
Another option for ATV family rides in Ontario North is Mukwa Adventures, a popular off-roading tour between Espanola and Blind River. They offer family rides as they cruise Northern Ontario in style with an experienced tour leader. Their Half Day Adventure offers families a 4-hour guided ATV tour, which includes your own ATV, plus all safety and training equipment. With access to thousands of kilometers of trails, Mukwa’s experienced guides are fully trained and waiting for your family to experience ATV riding like never before.
Families wanting some guidance on their ATV tour might consider calling Richard Pentiluk, owner of Mattawa ATV Guide Service Richard’s tour packages cover every possible ATV interest, catering to full families with little to no experience or equipment, to those who already ride and show up with their own machines. Mattawa ATV guide service is recommended for those who are not yet acquainted with the magnitude of the trails in this region.
Ontario ATV requirements
With regulations in mind, be aware that your ATV must meet the following requirements: Must be less than 1.35 meters wide, excluding mirrors and must weigh 450 kg or less. Your bike must also have low-pressure bearing tires, be registered, display a rear license plate, and carry insurance under a motor vehicle policy. All ATVs need also to meet the motor vehicle safety standards prescribed for restricted-use motorcycles in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and be equipped with an appropriate service brake and a brake light on the rear of the vehicle.
Enjoy your family ATV tour, drive safely and I will see you on the trails!