Outstanding Cycling in Nipigon

Discover the beauty of Northwestern Ontario.

Tucked into the northernmost shoreline of Lake Superior, Nipigon is a small town near the mouth of the Nipigon River. There are few roads in the area, but much of the waterway-dabbled forest that Ontario is famous for. Here we will share some of the best rides in the region, because if you know where to bike near Nipigon, you will be set to enjoy a unique cycling experience.

Person poses with bike at a lookout point over the water
What a view. Photo: Kristen Gross // @_krisgross

Kama Cliff Loop

This short mountain bike loop isn’t just about the riding, but also about the view from Kama Cliff. The 5-km lollipop loop climbs up and away from Highway 17. The singletrack is moderate with a few difficult sections over rocky terrain.

After climbing some 90 metres of vertical elevation, make a left at the fork in the trail and continue up the west section of the Kama Cliff Loop. Your reward will be a stunning view of Nipigon Bay and the islands scattered about as the view expands toward Lake Superior.

Some mountain bike rides are about the trail, others are about the landscape. The Kama Cliff Loop has both going for it, but this view is the pot of gold, so bring a lunch and spend a good chunk of time, before continuing on the rest of the loop for a long descent.

Bald Spot Trail

Bald Spot Trail is another example of the area’s wealth of shorter trails that lead you up big hills to deliver you to remarkable views.

The trailhead for Bald Spot begins right in the west end of Nipigon. The three-kilometre out-and-back trail climbs up and away from town through a green landscape, with large trailside boulders. You’re likely to pedal with a few locals along the way—always a good sign you are on the right trail. The top provides Bald Spot its name, with an exposed lookout on the town of Nipigon and the Nipigon River.

Portage Trail

Those looking for a multi-use trail in Nipigon will enjoy the Portage Trail. The Portage Trail is a 3.5-km loop taking you for a scenic cruise through this small town near the northernmost rim of Lake Superior.

Begin riding the Portage Trail from the wooded area around Nipigon Marina. The trail will take you across the Nipigon Lagoon and under the main bridge crossing the river. From here the trail climbs up to a small lookout then through downtown Nipigon before returning to the marina.

Highway 585

Road cyclists and gravel riders alike will enjoy the solitude of a long ride up Highway 585. Heading north from Nipigon, the highway continues for 40 kilometres before ending at the edge of a southern arm of Lake Nipigon. The road involves roughly 280 metres of climbing along the way, undulating through a remote forest.

Riders can tackle the entire road as an all-day out-and-back, or cover as much as they like. A great stopping place for lunch or as a turnaround point is the Alexander Falls Dam, just under 20 kilometres from town. When the river is high, the lookout makes for a great spot to observe the falls bypassing the power station. Once you’ve enjoyed the views and are feeling your legs getting sore, the last couple of kilometres of 585 rolling back to town will be all downhill.

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Those looking for a day trip from Nipigon that will expose them to adventurous riding alongside Lake Superior should make the hour-and-a-half drive to the magnificent Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

Sleeping Giant offers more than 50 kilometres of trails open to mountain biking. The Burma trail heads south into the heart of the park, rolling through hills and old-growth pine forest. From here riders can continue toward the southern end of the peninsula via the double-track on Marie Louise Drive.

While there is no mountain bike trail to take you to the top of the Sleeping Giant mesa, the park staff know riders want to experience the view too, and have placed bike locking stands near the base of the foot trails to the overlooks. This makes mountain biking Sleeping Giant Provincial Park one of the most fascinating riding experiences along the Lake Superior coast.

Bike Rentals Near Nipigon

If you are travelling to Nipigon, it’s important to know that your options for bike shops are limited to a Canadian Tire store.

The best option for bike rentals, parts, or repairs would be for visitors to make the 100-km drive to Thunder Bay. There are a few great bike shops in Thunder Bay including Rollin’ Thunder and Petrie's Cycle and Sports.

Getting Rolling to Nipigon

Venturing to the most northern shorelines of Lake Superior is sure to make for an incredible adventure. The stunning landscape, and small community of Nipigon will provide an unforgettable northern Ontario cycling experience.

About Joe Potoczak

Joe Potoczak is an outdoor travel writer whose work has appeared in Paddling Magazine, Men’s Journal, and Outside among others. Joe has over 20 years of paddling and hiking experience. When he isn’t at the desk he is seeking out trails and waterways. Prior to becoming a writer, Joe worked as a professional river guide and manager at a whitewater rafting company.

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