Behind the Scenes on Ontario's ATV Trails

Your Permit Dollars at Work

Ontario is home to some of the best powersports experiences in the world. Across the province there is a wide range of trails for ATV fans to choose from and a great selection of guided tours and places to buy or rent a machine for anyone looking to try them out. What people often overlook is how this comes to be.


Here we take a behind-the-scenes look at what your membership dollars do to keep the trails open and continually improve on them. It’s also a fine example of how many hands make light work, and how improved co-operation between parties with a common goal gets the job done. 

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Enjoying the trails on the Park to Park Trail Annual Boiler Run

Bridging the Gap

The bridge repair job in the photo below is just west of the tunnel under Highway 11 in Scotia and just south of Emsdale, ON. It’s a major trunk line for the OFSC, and is also known as the “D” trail to sledders. Many have been here, and the trail itself can easily be seen from above while driving on Highway 11 over the tunnel. 

The repairs were done with five men on Friday and 12 men on Saturday, two full days doing the foundation and redecking job on the Park to Park Trail.

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Hemlock fir 3”x 5” was used in the bridge because it lasts longer than other wood does. 

The funding for this bridge replacement (and a few other bridge jobs) came from the Park to Park Trail Association, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs, and a $5,000 donation from the Algonquin West ATV Club, along with some matching government funding from Canada’s economic Action Plan.

This job was done on Nov. 13, and Nov 14, 2015. Labour to complete the job came from volunteers from the Highland Rovers Snowmobile Club, AWATV, and Park to Park. Many thanks go out to the volunteers that contributed two whole days of their time just to fix this one bridge. Without the donors and the volunteers, most of our trail system simply wouldn’t exist. This is why everyone needs to buy passes, permits, and consider volunteering time to help out in your area.  

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A bit of snow and cold always makes things more challenging.

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Peter Searle, the Executive Director for the Park to Park trail association, whose trails include the Seguin trail where this bridge repair was conducted, had these comments regarding this job, and others in progress.

“Last year the federal government came out with $10,000,000 towards trail projects funded through the NTC. The funds were broken down into three main catagories: sled, ATV/off-road motorcycle, and non-motorized trails. Park to Park was able to secure $60,000 from this fund, and then had to match those funds for a total of $120,000. While it took some time to do this we were able to secure matching dollars from multiple sources including ourselves, AWATV, District 10, SSSC, Carling Township and Seguin Tonwship. Projects included trail reclamation in Carling Twp, large sections of grading/reditching, multiple culverts and two bridge redecks. The bridges included an 80- ft (about 50 ft from the water) and a shorter 20-footer.

"For safety concerns, the shorter was considered a much better project for volunteers. The installation went off smoothly and almost effortlessly, leaving us with a bunch of tired guys and an amazing new bridge! We made sure to feed the guys well, and in the end I believe we not only created a great joint effort project, but we proved that different groups can certainly get along and help each other out. We parted way with some new friendships and offers to come help on some more projects next year.

“While I've already said it numerous times I'll say it again: a huge thanks to the AWATV club, the Highland Rovers snowmobile club, and all the guys who came out for the build.”

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Finishing up the railings, close to completion.

The Right Tool for the Job 

The second part of this story involves our club, the Algonquin West ATV Club. Most clubs should be interested in this, particularly ones with bush trails.

You might be surprised to find out that one of our toughest challenges as an ATV club isn’t bridge repairs, etc., it's trail brushing. And the hardest part about it is getting volunteers to come out and clear grown in trails with hedge trimmers, chainsaws, etc. We have hundreds of kilometres of trail, deep in the bush, that need brushing every few years. Directors just can’t free up enough time to do it, and it becomes very boring and repetitive quickly. 

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Brent Stapleton, who runs our club, and
Ron Earl, the excavator contractor from Huntsville we use to run it.

After conducting numerous rally events to raise funds, along with membership dollars we have finally been able to pay for, and address this problem with a Baumalight MX530 excavator mulcher that set us back $17k! A big thank you to all our members and rally event attendees for helping us to permanently address this problem! Although we’ve only had it for a few weeks, an excavator has already spent a few days trying it out and has cleaned up about 10 km of trail, a huge improvement over doing it by hand!

A YouTube video of our unit in action can be found here.

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We are excited about our new work-killing purchase and look forward to brushing the rest of our trails with it in the spring! On second thought, maybe not the rest, but the worst 50 km or so would be great; we can’t pay the excavator operator that much at one time! If any other clubs or other interested parties want any more information, feel free to email me:

I do hope you enjoyed this snapshot of what is going on with our club and the surrounding area. Much of this is rarely seen, but always enjoyed when out there on a ride. This is what your membership dollars go toward and support. Thank you for being a valid pass holder, and please, do everything you can to support your local club including volunteering your time when possible.

Click here to find the ATV club in your area  and click here for a list of places to stay where the local ATV clubs are maintaining the trails and you can be sure to have a great ride.

About Adam Columbus

Adam is the former webmaster for the Algonquin West ATV club webmasters. He lives north of Huntsville, Ontario with his family. He is also an ex-business owner from the GTA who is now semi-retired.

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