20 of Ontario’s Best Spring Bike Rides

The birds are singing and the flowers are blooming—time to get on your bike!

Spring is here, time to get out on your bike and ride! While biking in Ontario is great year round, spring is a season full of hope, anticipation, and unique cycling experiences, whether you’re a diehard fat biker, gravel rider, road cyclist or mountain biker. The trick to finding the best spring bike rides in Ontario is knowing what you’re looking for—and recognizing what you’d rather avoid. Spring is a dynamic season: mud, bugs and lingering snow are offset by a vivid riot of wildflowers, songbirds and budding trees.

This article categorizes Ontario’s best spring cycling to match your expectations, ultimately providing a comprehensive overview of where to discover the greatest early-season riding in the province.

Best Rides for Spring Snow

Are you a fat biker looking for one last ride to cap off the winter? Look north and focus on the snow belt areas east of the Great Lakes for lingering fat-biking opportunities.

Sault Ste. Marie Trails

Sault Ste. Marie sits square in the crosshairs of snow-laden Lake Superior squalls, with the winter riding season extending well into late March and even April.

  • Crimson Ridge offers 20 km of well-groomed, swooping trails that are suitable for all levels of riders, with outstanding views of Sault Ste. Marie.
  • The Hiawatha Highlands feature 9 km of groomed singletrack trails for fat biking. The snow tends to melt slowly here. After grooming ends, a fat bike remains the best option for exploring the Sault Cycling Club’s 30 km of Hiawatha trails well into the month of May.
  • Sault Ste. Marie’s 25-km urban HUB Trail is a great fat biking destination that’s accessible throughout the city. Similarly, the easy trails at the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site offer ideal fat biking for beginners. About 3 km of multi-use trails are available, with excellent views of the city’s waterfront and the St. Marys Rapids. On-site fat bike rentals available starting early June.
  • Rent a bike and tap into the wealth of local knowledge at Velorution or Algoma Bikes.
man rides a mountain bike along a forest path at Shuniah Mines in Thunder Bay
Make sure the trails are nice and dry before heading out. Photo: Erin Simmons

Best Rides to Avoid Mud

Mud is the bane of spring cross-country mountain biking. It sucks away traction and disrupts riding flow; furthermore, riding in mud can hasten erosion on trails. Look for sunny upland areas and sandy soils (often revealed by pine forests) for the best drainage and mud-free, early-season mountain bike trails. Rocky areas are also a good choice to avoid the sticky stuff.

Kivi Park, City of Greater Sudbury

The city of Greater Sudbury checks both boxes—thin soil and plenty of sunny, exposed rock—and is also home to one of the best mountain biking communities in the province. Kivi Park is a 480-acre greenspace that’s an oasis of adventure just south of downtown Sudbury. The park features 15.4 kilometres of mountain bike trails, as well as on-site rentals.

Shuniah Mines, Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay’s Black Sheep Mountain Bike Club maintains 17 kilometres of outstanding single- and double-track at Shuniah Mines. Focus on lower-angle rides to avoid mud and stick to naturally hard surfaces. Contact the club for tips on which trails are best for spring—and donate to their volunteer trail-building efforts. Rent bikes at friendly local shops Petrie’s Cycle & Sports, 3Ride Bicycle Co., Rollin’ Thunder or Fresh Air Experience.

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Winter tends to stick around a bit longer adjacent to Lake Superior. But when the calendar finally turns to spring (think late May or even June), the South Kabeyun Trail in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is a great place to warm up your mountain biking legs with an easy, mud-free 14-kilometre out-and-back ride from Silver Islet to scenic Tee Harbour.

Best Rides to Avoid Bugs

Although there’s no surefire way to avoid bugs while spring cycling (the old adage, “ride faster” may be your best strategy), you can minimize exposure by planning rides in early spring, before the bugs emerge (typically about the same time as leaf-out); riding in the cooler morning hours; and selecting the right trails. Here are some great (potentially) bug-free rides to consider.

Lake Laurentian Loop, Sudbury

Sudbury’s Lake Laurentian Loop is a 10-kilometre mountain biking circuit with plenty of breezy high points and only a few wet areas, which together mean minimal bugs. Be prepared to share the trail with hikers, and pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on the trail’s panoramic lookouts.

Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, North Channel Lake Huron

Great Lakes Waterfront Trail is an incredible 3,600-kilometre road biking route stretching across eastern, southern and northern Ontario from the Quebec-Ontario border to Lake Superior. Check out the variety of options along Lake Huron’s North Channel to minimize encounters with bugs. Similarly, the final leg of the journey, from Sault Ste. Marie to Gros Cap, at the eastern terminus of Lake Superior, is an outstanding bug-free ride.

Bike parked at the entrance to a lake boardwalk at Lake Laurentian Conservation Area
Watch the world come alive again. Photo: Bob Miller

Best Rides for Birds and Wildflowers

Take a spin on Ontario’s beautiful rural roads in May and June for great cycling adventures that combine road riding with wonderful encounters with songbirds and wildflowers. Options range from silky smooth paved backroads to out-of-the-way gravel circuits.

Sylvan Valley, Algoma District

Rambling through eastern Algoma, the 50-kilometre route on Highway 638 from Echo Bay to Bruce Mines, just east of Sault Ste. Marie, is one of Ontario’s finest road rides. Expect rolling terrain and a patchwork of farm fields and mixed forests through the incredibly scenic Sylvan Valley. You’ll encounter a wide range of avian wildlife, including sandhill cranes, grassland birds and forest warblers, as well as colourful wildflowers in fallow fields. Download the Algoma Outdoor Map here.

Farmstand 40, North Bay

The options for backroad riding are endless around the city of North Bay. For a great ride that takes in a variety of natural landscapes, check out the Farmstand 40, a segment of the long-distance Voyageur Cycling Route straddling the farms of the Highway 11 corridor and the Canadian Shield hills of Algonquin Provincial Park. The basic 37-kilometre route has the option of a 23-kilometre extension. The ride experts at Wheelhouse and Cheapskates serve the North Bay cycling community.

Sunset Country, Kenora

Sunset Country in far northwestern Ontario offers a unique landscape of rolling hills and farms as the boreal forest blends into the Prairies near Kenora. This 50-kilometre road ride starts in downtown Kenora and follows Veterans Drive north, past the Trans-Canada Highway bypass where it becomes Redditt Road (Highway 658). Continue along the west shore of Black Sturgeon Lake, before looping south on the east side of Black Sturgeon and returning to Kenora via Cooker Road and East Melick Road.

three cyclists admire the spring view from a path in North Bay
You can practically watch the trees bud and leaf out. Photo: Connie Hergott // North Bay Mountain Bike Association

Best Rides for Leaf-out

Budding trees are a sure sign of spring, with leaf-out beginning as early as late April in southern Ontario and extending until late May in the north. Leaf-out is a wonderful time to ride with hillsides erupting in the subdued reds and pastel greens of maples and birches, interspersed with the deep forest green of coniferous trees. Leaf-out cycling has another distinct advantage: Mosquitoes typically do not emerge until tree leaves are fully developed. Time it right and you’ll enjoy a week or so of bug-free bliss as the forest comes back to life.

Three Towers Trails, North Bay

North Bay’s newest mountain bike trail is a great place to welcome the first leaves of spring. The Three Towers mountain bike trails are located just east of the city centre off of Tower Drive. Six kilometres of dedicated mountain bike trails offer something for everyone—from kids and beginners to expert shredders. Volunteers crafted the trails according to mountain bike industry standards, with amenities like ample parking, a bike repair station, a picnic area, and a pump track nestled in the woods. Relax after your ride with a pint of North Bay’s finest craft beer at New Ontario Brewing Co., Gateway City Brewery or Cecil’s Brewhouse & Kitchen.

Temiskaming Shores

The Northeastern Ontario city of Temiskaming Shores is surrounded by a mix of the flat, pastoral farmland of the “Little Claybelt,” which erupts in spring greenery around the May long weekend. There’s plenty of cycling in this area no matter what you like, including outstanding gravel riding on quiet roads. One great out-and-back gravel ride starts at Farr Park in North Cobalt and heads south along Silver Centre Road (Highway 567), tracing the western shore of Lake Temiskaming with stunning lookouts, including an optional hike to 100-metre-tall Devil’s Rock. About 50 kilometres of riding gets you to The Notch—a rocky gauntlet where a massive dam harnesses the Montreal River.

Haliburton Forest

Millions of people flock to central Ontario to witness the amazing fall colours each autumn. But spring is just as spectacular in the Haliburton Forest, where maples and oaks radiate with tender green shoots in mid-May. Discover over 300 kilometres of mountain bike trails, ranging from easy to difficult in a rolling landscape of hardwoods and gem-like lakes. Other Haliburton Forest attractions include cabin rentals, the world’s longest forest canopy walkway and the Wolf Centre. Book your trail pass online.

kid jumps a mountain bike on a forest trail in Algoma
Get ready for a full season of cycling fun. Photo: Colin Field

Best Rides to Wake Up Your Cycling Legs

Road riders have it best when it comes to getting a headstart on the cycling season. Look to sunny agricultural areas for the earliest opportunities to ride, including these outstanding destinations.

St. Joseph Island

St. Joseph Island is a peaceful paradise of sugar bushes, farm fields and pine-clad, rocky shorelines in the North Channel of Lake Huron. You can often ride here as early as mid-April, just as “St. Joe’s” renowned maple syrup season is coming to a close. The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail follows the island’s Highway 548, a quiet roadway with gentle grades that takes in the villages of Richards Landing and Hilton Beach. Looking for a great day trip? Ride around the island in a clockwise direction on Highway 548, adding an out-and-back side trip to Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site, located at the island’s southernmost tip, for a ride that’s pushing 100 kilometres in length.

Kakabeka Falls

Kakabeka Falls is Ontario’s second-largest waterfall and aptly known as the “Niagara of the North.” Start at Thunder Bay’s Fort William Historical Park, located on the city’s southwestern perimeter, and head west and then north on Vibert Road to cross Highway 17 before making a left on Pole Line Road, which leads directly to Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park. The falls are thundering in the spring; be sure to bring a lock to secure your bike while you explore the park’s easy trails, which radiate around the magnificent 40-metre plunge.

Spirit of the Bay, North Bay

North Bay’s Spirit of the Bay bike route offers up to 84 kilometres of paved trail and road riding, encompassing all the urban highlights of the Gateway City, as well as rural and cottage communities on North Bay’s outskirts along the spectacular Lake Nipissing shore.

Best Spring Challenges

Catch spring cycling fever at a bike event in Ontario. Here are two perennial favourites.

Paris to Ancaster Bike Race

The Paris to Ancaster Bike Race is a spring classic in southwestern Ontario that takes place the last weekend in April. Distances range from 20 to 70 kilometres, with plenty of gravel, farm lanes and easy trails, all finishing in Ancaster. The event supports Hamilton’s St. Joseph’s Healthcare.

Creemore Springs Turas Mor

Bring your gravel bike to Grey County to ride scenic country roads in mid-May. Creemore Springs Turas Mor is an event inspired by the Gaelic roots of Creemore; Turas Mor (AKA the “Great Journey”) welcomes all riders. Three routes range from 20 to 60 kilometres, all starting at Creemore Springs Brewery. Come for the great cycling and stick around for the camaraderie of a post-ride lunch and cold beer.

people participate in a guided cycling tour on Manitoulin Island
Hop on these tours before peak season begins. Photo: Maja Mielonen

Best Guided Rides

Go guided to get an insider’s look at some of Ontario’s best spring riding destinations. Options range from self-guided DIYs for experienced cyclists to all-inclusive guided trips. Here are a few options to start.

Manitoulin Passage Ride

Held annually the first weekend of June, the Manitoulin Passage Ride is a popular Ontario supported bike ride that is a great way to discover some of the province’s finest road cycling on Manitoulin Island. Registration includes ferry crossing from Tobermory, meals and entertainment.

Red Pine Tours, Sault Ste. Marie

Sault Ste. Marie’s Red Pine Tours offers custom guided tours for all types of cycling in and around the Algoma region of Northern Ontario. Discover the area’s best singletrack, explore forgotten gravel routes, or try an overnight bikepacking (or bike-glamping!) adventure.

Pedal Your Arts, Haliburton

Check out Yours Outdoors in Haliburton for a wide range of guided cycling adventures in central Ontario, including Pedal Your Arts, a 60-kilometre spring tour with stops at local artist workshops.

Tips for Spring Riding

Spring is an exciting time for cycling in Ontario and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by enthusiasm and push it too far. The best tip for spring riding is to shake off winter’s rust gradually, making honest assessments of your skills and fitness, then adding distance and difficulty to your rides in small increments. Here’s some additional advice to make the most of early season riding.

  • Whatever you ride, make sure it’s tuned up and ready for the season. Take some time to go over your bike’s tires and drivetrain, lubricating moving parts and adjusting gears and suspension. Better yet, bring your bike to an expert mechanic for a pre-season once-over. Find province-wide bike shop listings at Ontario By Bike.
  • Mountain bikers are advised to check with local experts to ensure trails are open. It’s great to score first tracks, but not if you’re causing undue erosion and ruining the trails in the process. Be patient and wait for the ice, water and mud to dry up.
  • Spring flora and fauna are especially sensitive to human disturbance. Riding on sopping wet trails causes erosion, which in turn compromises vegetation and leads to sedimentation in nearby waterways. Migratory songbirds travelling a long way to reach their summer Ontario homes are especially sensitive to disturbance at this time of year. Ditto for black bears, which emerge from dens hungry and require space to recuperate after a long winter.
  • Pack plenty of water and sunscreen for spring rides. The sun packs a surprising amount of heat at this time of year and dehydration and sunburns are often overlooked concerns.
About Conor Mihell

Conor Mihell is an award-winning environmental and adventure travel writer based in Sault Ste. Marie. Read his work in the Globe and Mail, Explore, Cottage Life, Canoe & Kayak, ON Nature, and other magazines and newspapers. He's been a sea kayak guide on Lake Superior for close to 20 years, and has paddled from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay. 

Recommended Articles

Gravel Grinders

Ontario’s best gravel riding events in 2024.

Ontario Bike Law

Know your rights and responsibilities.

13 Spectacular Bike Rides

Where to see the best of the province.

Mountain Bike Races & Events in Ontario

Find out when these experiences are running in 2024.

Ride the Best Bike Parks in Ontario

Choose from pump tracks, jump parks, and downhill mountain biking.

A Complete Guide to Cycling in North Bay

What to check out at this up-and-coming cycling hot spot.

Ultimate Guide to Road Cycling Events

Discover Ontario's best races and events in 2024.

Best Bikepacking Routes

11 unforgettable trip options in Ontario.

E-Biking Bliss

Everything you need to know about riding your electric bike in Ontario

Sudbury’s Best Bike Rides

Your ultimate guide to cycling the City of Lakes.

Ride Gravel

Ontario's 9 best off-road adventures on two wheels.

Bike Trails for the Whole Family

5 places to ride in Ontario.

Bike in the Shadow of a Sleeping Giant

Best year-round bike trails at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

Cycling Touring

The road is ready. What are you waiting for?

Best Ontario Cycling Events

Road biking, mountain biking, BMX, cyclecross and more.

12 Best Ontario Parks for Bike Rides

Find out what makes these parks so great for cycling.

Resources for Ontario Cyclists

Use these apps, websites, organizations and more to discover the best of the province by bike.

Plan a Bike-Cation In Thunder Bay

Ride year-round in this cycling wonderland.

Cycling Events

Road, mountain, BMX, cyclecross and more.

Camp & Bike

12 bike-friendly campgrounds in Ontario.