4 Marvelous Places to Bike Near Mattawa

Bring your adventurous spirit for these bike routes and trails.

Best Places to Bike Near Mattawa

The small and friendly Northeastern Ontario town of Mattawa has a vast array of options for all levels of cycling enthusiasts. Biking in Mattawa ranges from casual family cycling to long-distance touring on one of Ontario’s preeminent road-riding routes to exciting wilderness mountain biking and winter fat-biking.

The primary cycling opportunities include the Voyageur Cycling Route for intermediate to advanced road and gravel cycling; Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park for casual, family-friendly campground biking; the Voyageur Multi-use Trail System for long-distance, double-track mountain biking; and Nature’s Harmony Eco-resort for trail riding and unique outdoor opportunities.

This short list of Mattawa riding destinations will give you a glimpse of some of the best cycling Northern Ontario has to offer.

Woman poses with bicycle on the Voyageur Cycling Route
There’s no better way to experience the beauty of Northern Ontario than by hitting the back roads by bike. Photo: Josie Dinsmore Photography

Voyageur Cycling Route

The 46-kilometre, one-way, ride from Mattawa to Bonfield on the Voyageur Cycling Route offers outstanding gravel riding and is perfect for intermediate to advanced cyclists looking to explore the backroads of Northern Ontario. Expect a well-marked route with quiet roads and moderate grades, with several side trip options—including a visit to the Eau Claire Gorge, where a short hike provides stunning views of the Amable du Fond River. This scenic detour is well-worth your time, with a picnic area and washroom facilities making it a great spot to stop for a break as well.

  • Plenty of loose-surface roads makes this a perfect ride for touring or gravel bikes; outdoor bike repair stands (including air and limited tools) are available in Bonfield, Eau Claire and Mattawa
  • Spend as many days as you like cycling this route by booking accommodations at the Top of Algonquin Bed and Breakfast, Nature’s Harmony or the Mattawa River Resort

Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park

This secluded provincial park is beloved for its location nestled among tall pines along the historic Mattawa River, an ancient indigenous and fur trade canoe route linking Lake Nipissing to the Ottawa River. Most visitors come to Samuel de Champlain for great camping, with over 200 sites in two campground areas, as well as opportunities for day paddling and hiking. Don’t forget to bring your bicycle, too. Cycling is a great way to get around the park’s network of low-traffic, family-friendly roads, with access to beaches, picnic areas, and the visitor centre.

  • A well-established Discovery Program of daytime and evening interpretive activities makes Samuel de Champlain a wonderful destination to introduce your kids to nature and the outdoors
  • The Jingwakoki campground refers to the Anishinaabe term for “tall pines”, an apt name for the mature forest that flourishes in sandy and rocky soils alongside the Mattawa River
  • The Canadian Ecology Centre is located within Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, providing outdoor education opportunities, cabin rentals and a small network of winter multi-use trails that are available for fat-biking, in addition to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing
Touring bicycle parked on a footbridge at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park
It doesn’t get more scenic than Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park. Photo: Josie Dinsmore Photography

Voyageur Multi-use Trails

Mattawa is surrounded by ancient mountains, located at the north end of the Algonquin Highlands and south of the Laurentian Mountains that abut the Ottawa River. It’s no surprise that this rugged landscape makes for excellent mountain biking. The Voyageur Multi-use Trails provide over 200 kilometres of double-track for those seeking an adventurous ride. You can access the trail in Mattawa at Valois Drive, off the Trans-Canada Highway just east of downtown. Daily trail permits can be purchased online.

  • The Voyageur Multi-use Trails are best described as “adventure riding”. Expect a mix of mud, dirt, water crossings, and steep hills. Be prepared to share the trail with motorized users on ATVs as well as hikers. The larger tires of a fat-bike provide better stability and control for this type of riding—especially for novices
  • Mattawa’s Valois Motel and Restaurant is a trail sponsor and a great place to stop for a meal, a place to stay and local knowledge about the best trails for mountain biking
  • Also in Mattawa, Myrt’s Restaurant is a favourite for its large portions and homemade pies

Nature’s Harmony

This Mattawa-area eco-resort offers a large chalet, intimate cabin, two yurt options, glamping, and a small campground for families, large groups and couples looking for a Northern Ontario getaway. On-site outdoor activities include hiking, paddling, and mountain biking on an ever-growing network of dedicated trails. The current array of mountain bike trails are best for intermediate riders, however, the resort is working to expand its offerings to be more inclusive for all skill levels in the near future. Meanwhile, Nature’s Harmony is also located close to great rides for those who prefer paved shoulders or gravel roads.

  • Nature’s Harmony is fully off-grid, making it a great place to learn more about sustainable living
  • The resort makes a great place for exploring the long-distance Voyageur Cycling Route with day trips, or combining your passions for cycling, paddling, and hiking in a spectacular natural setting
  • Nature’s Harmony is open year-round, with trails for cross-country skiing and fat-biking, a tubing hill and a traditional sauna

Get Ready, Get Set, Go

Being a small town with limited services, Mattawa is best for self-sufficient cyclists who bring their own gear and can perform their own bike maintenance. The city of North Bay, located about 60 kilometres to the west, offers several bike shops with options for rentals and tune ups (including the Wheelhouse and Cycle Works). Once prepared, bring your adventurous spirit along with your road, gravel, mountain or fat bike to Mattawa to see all the area has to offer.

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. 

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