Best ATV Trails in Ontario

From Muskoka to Thunder Bay, we break down the best spots for ATVers to ride and why.

If Ontario were a hamburger, Toronto would be a pickle, the Great Lakes and James Bay would be the bun, and the north would be the meat... 90% of Ontario is north. That's where you get the truly great ATV trails. There's only one catch: If you want to get to the meat, you've got to trailer your steed to get there. So how do you decide if it's worth a five-hour ride to get to a trail when you could just bomb around your uncle's acreage down the road?

I broke down where to find the best trails was by breaking up the province into four smaller regions. Here are the best ATV trails and adventures in each part of Ontario. 

Region 1 – Explorers' Edge

Region 2 – Northeastern Ontario

Region 3 – Algoma Country

Region4 – Ontario's Sunset Country

The list of trails worth trailering your ATV to are not in any specific order: they are all equally amazing, offering ATV adventurers many opportunities to explore and have fun in Ontario's North. 

1. Muskoka (Explorers' Edge) 

Muskoka, aka “Cottage Country,” aka Explorers' Edge, is known to be a cottager’s paradise with stunning views and many private and rental cottages with amenities nearby; it's an easy choice for anyone looking to get some downtime just north of the GTA.

Baysville1
Not only is Muskoka a relaxation haven, it's also a hotspot for those who like to get a little dirty and find their happy place on the back of an ATV. If you’ve never been before, there are many towns and scenic destination to visit. Baysville (Lake of Bays) offers a large trail system complete with staging and parking areas open from May all the way through to December from sun up to sundown.

Baysville2

It's nice having options when it comes to parking and staging with a truck/SUV and trailer, and that’s what the Baysville trail system has to offer.

If you’re new and want to try out ATVing in the Muskoka area, check out Back Country Tours—they offer an awesome variety of packages to experience Muskoka at its best: on an ATV. They even have a horseback riding/ATV tour package! How cool is that!?

2. Ardbeg (Explorers' Edge) 

Here's a personal favourite of mine. I have been riding in Ardbeg ever since I was young, and I fully endorse it as an area worth trailering your ATV to. Ardbeg is located just north of Parry Sound and can be accessed by taking secondary highway 124. Home to rocky, muddy, and fun ATV trails that run for miles along hydro lines, the area also offers ample parking, staging, camping, fishing, and a great beach.

2012 Ride In And Camp 03

Ardbeg is an amazing location where everyone will be entertained and have fun, whether you’re on a family ATV trip or a trip with the guys. It's a more remote location in comparison to Muskoka, but there are cottage rentals available if you’re not the camping type. There's also a great one-stop general store just outside of all the trails

Ardbeg1 smaller
On the trails in Ardbeg, Ontario 

3. Cochrane (Northeastern Ontario)

Cochrane2

In regards to the graphic above, Cochrane, Ontario is located in Section 2 and is at the end of the highway if you’re traveling to Moosonee (located on James Bay). Cochrane is a true northern outpost, overflowing with rich Indigenous culture and heritage. Not only can you take an amazing ATV trip while in Cochrane, you can also swim with the polar bears (not really, there’s a really thick pane of glass between you and the polar bear, but it was awesome when I went when I was 14).

Cochrane1

Cochrane is a huge destination for snowmobilers in the winter months, so it can only be expected to be an amazing destination for ATV lovers from spring to fall! Bear Tracks ATV Tours is located in Cochrane and departs from the town where there is ample parking and staging. Cochrane offers a wide variety of terrain for every level of ATV rider, spectacular Northern Ontario sights, culture and learning. 

4. Algoma District 

Algoma2

In the heart of the Algoma District is a gem called Black Creek Outfitters. They are located in the Missisagi Valley, which is about one hour north of Thessalon, and two and a half hours east of Sault Ste. Marie. The great thing about Black Creek Outfitters is that they are located at the trail intersection where Elliot Lake, Thessalon and Chapleau meet—so ATV adventurers have many trail options where they can access remote lakes, waterfalls, and areas that cannot be accessed by vehicle. As a long time ATVer myself, I know that having different trail options is ideal, especially on a weekend or weeklong trip, otherwise I find myself becoming bored. 

Another bonus is that while staying with Black Creek Outfitters, you are able to ride your machine from and directly to your cabin—so no worrying about your machines at a different parking/staging area. 

Algoma1
 
Algoma3

5. Thunder Bay Region (Ontario's Sunset Country)

If you’re from the GTA or Southern Ontario and you’re reading this, the drive to Thunder Bay for an ATV trip may not seem worth it—but let me tell you, the whole experience of being in the Thunder Bay region is definitely worth it. I recently drove through Thunder Bay for the first time, and the views of Lake Superior and the Nor’Wester Mountain range were breathtaking. I wish I could have stayed!

Thunderbay2

I suggest traveling to the Thunder Bay area during the fall. The fall colours and spectacular views would make for an incredible experience on ATVs. Mike Sawatsky, sales representative at North Country Cycle and Sports in Thunder Bay, who has been riding for 10 years, explains that unlike in the Southern Ontario region, “we really don’t have a lot of ATV-specific trails. What we do here is, there is a lot of Crown land that you can just go ride on. It’s a little different that way.” Sawatsky advises going with someone who knows the area well. And even if you do know the region, he says, “a GPS is a must—it would be easy to get lost.” 

For an area such as this, with more crown land than specific ATV trails, I would echo his suggestion of using a GPS, and I'd add that you also download trail maps from Backroad Mapbooks—these maps have come in handy for me while exploring places where there is no cell service for miles, and they are specifically designed for exploration. When traveling to the Thunder Bay region, an ATVer has a lot of options but the area is so huge—where would you even start looking? 

thunderbay3 smaller
 
thunderbay4

Silver Mountain Station, a historic railway station, prides itself on its variety for adventurers. From horseback riders to snowmobilers, dirtbikers, ATVers, skiiers, etc—everyone is welcome. Near the Silver Mountain Station is a trail called the old Pee Dee line, which carves and winds around some of the best ATV trails that the Thunder Bay region has to offer. Check out this video of riding from Silver Mountain Station. Silver Mountain Station is just outside Thunder Bay, so trailering your ATV from your hotel is painless. 

Northern Ontario is an ATV rider’s paradise, with thousands of miles of trails waiting to be ridden. Any of the rides above will have you saying “what a ride!” and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime. Start your engines ATVers, Northern Ontario trails await! 

About Chelsey Hennig

I am a lifelong gearhead who grew up in northern Ontario, with a passion for virtually anything with a motor. I am the Public Relations and Communications director for the International Women’s Diesel Association and have my Honours Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

Recommended Articles

ATV Riding the Ottawa Valley: A 2-Day Itinerary

On-site trail access, loads of lookouts, and friendly spots to stop and dine!

Ontario ATV Events

Poker Runs, Mud Bogs, Charity Rides, Rallies and more!

Everyone is welcome!

Law Change Allows All Off-Road Vehicles Access to Public Roads

Getting Started on ATVing in Ontario

Everything you need to know.

Where to Stay in Ontario

10 Amazingly ATV-Friendly Lodges and Resorts

Which Permit Do I Need for this Trail?

How to Navigate Ontario's ATV Trails

4 places to camp and ride in Ontario

Hop aboard for some ATV adventure camping!

Bancroft to Marmora: The Old Hastings Road

An original colonization road explored

Riding Into the 2023/2024 ATV Season

New, improved, and more to choose from — check out what's standing out in this season's lineups.

Off-road Adventures Close to Home

The 9 best ATV tours in "Southern" Ontario

Can you ride your ATV in winter? You bet!

Friendly lodges, dedicated trails, guided tours, and more

Winter ATVing

No need to store your ride for the season.

What To Pack For An ATV Ride

16 essential items from tool kits to apps and safety gear

ATV Clubs of Ontario

The Complete List

19 Best ATV Cabin Rentals

Check out these awesome ATV home bases all over Northern Ontario..

Guided ATV Tours

Are You Ready to Hit the Trails?

Ride On

How to legally ride ATVs and Side by Sides

Extreme mud, extreme fun

An ATV adventure in Haliburton

Ride Hard, Ride Fast

ATV Riding in Sudbury

ATVing Algonquin West

Best Trails in Ontario