Find Divine Beauty When Biking Near Dryden

Skirt lakes, wind along rivers, traverse rocks—and take in gorgeous views all around.

Known for fishing, hiking, and hunting, not to mention a five-metre Moose named Max, Dryden is one of Ontario’s most sparsely populated towns and a quiet place to return to nature.

Midway between Winnipeg and Thunder Bay, and situated on Wabigoon Lake, Dryden has continued to make the most of its natural space by creating some unique cycling opportunities.

Around the City Trails

There are two paved, multi-use trails, winding throughout the downtown area (see page 49 here). The 5.4-km Dryden Signature Trail follows the Wabigoon River and passes the unique Laura Howe Marsh (look for turtles and more!). The Nature in The City Trail is more central and a bit longer at 6.8 kilometres. To extend the ride, you can also connect with Sandy Beach Road for a longer road ride outside the city. Bring water and a spare tire tube.

Cyclist in blue top mountain bikes along a trail through a forest
Some trails in the Ghost and Mavis Lake network are gnarlier than others. Photo: Chris Marchand

Mountain Biking

Close to downtown Dryden, the Ghost and Mavis Lake Trails meander through a mature forest on hilly terrain; the network of 20 kilometres includes a good mix of green to black levels of singletrack mountain biking trails. Complete with lake views, the trails traverse through mature jack pine forest and across challenging exposed bedrock. The trails offer a good challenge for fat bikers in the winter.

Be aware that trails merge; for example, on the Ghost Hollow trail, Loop One is blue but Loop Two is black. Keep an eye on the map, and make the short turn if you want to stay on blue. If you venture onto Loop Two be sure to look for the secret waterfalls, a 10-minute walk from the trail at the end of Loop Two.

The black diamond trails such as Root-a-Bega and Ferguson Backside are some of the original walking trails, built about 30 years ago, that have been adapted to mountain biking trails. The trails remain multi-use so be aware of hikers and dog walkers. Park at the Star Lake parking lot.

Road biking

The region is full of quiet secondary roads that make for great day-long or bikepacking overnight excursions. A popular local route is along Highway 601 which takes you around the city. The 26-km loop makes for a quiet ride along a country road with few cars.

Man in yellow hi-vis jacket mountain bikes over mossy rocks in a forest
A taste of the Ferguson Trail in the Ghost and Mavis Lake network. Photo: Chris Marchand

Post-Ride Eats

The Chip Box is a Dryden institution serving poutine, Euro-style hot dogs, and fries.

For a substantial meal, The Riverview Lodge feels like an old-fashioned resort dining room, serving everything from steaks to shrimp cocktails.

The Twin Towers diner is close to the mountain biking trailhead. On the menu are classic breakfasts, hamburgers and even towering taters with tons of toppings.

For breakfast, locals like the Springwater Restaurant. They also have killer butter tarts. Great biking fuel.

Bike Shops

The local Canadian Tire will have bike tires and tubes, but for more bike-related items try The Hardwear Company in Kenora (1.5-hour drive west).

Four hours east, Thunder Bay’s Fresh Air Experience is the best-stocked bike store in the region.

Off the Saddle

Egli’s Sheep Farm, located in nearby Minnitaki, is a 60-year-old family farm where kids can interact with the animals.The shop sells popular sheepskin slippers and cozy wool blankets.

On the Dryden Trail behind the Chalet Inn Motel, cross the Wabigoon River and stroll above the rapids below the 34-metre-long Roy Wilson Suspension Bridge.

Close to downtown Dryden and situated on Thunder Lake, Aaron Provincial Park has two sandy beaches and is great for fishing and hiking.

For a quiet and short hike, visit the Laura Howe Marsh and its beautiful wetlands. It’s a great place for a tranquil stop while you try to spot a fox.

About Melanie Chambers

Melanie Chambers is a writer and university instructor living in Toronto. Ever since cycling from Holland to Spain in 1996, Melanie has penned stories about her amateur athletic challenges such as cycling 105 uphill kilometres in Taiwan's KOM Challenge road race and hiking Northern Africa’s highest peak. As an editor and instructor, she has conducted writing workshops around the globe. Locally, she’s provided workshops at the Alice Munro’s Writers and Readers Festival and Western University’s Homecoming. When she’s not on the road, she teaches food and travel writing courses at Western University.

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