5 Reasons Ontario is an Iconic Cycling Destination

Ready, set—explore.

For most people, cycling happens close to home—it’s something they do after work or on weekend afternoons. Dodging the same potholes and upturned roots as they did last time (and the time before that) can bring with it a reassuring familiarity, but at some point you have to stretch your boundaries.

When you’ve come to the realization that a bicycle is both a great way to see new places, set your sights on Ontario. It seems purpose-built to welcome travelling cyclists looking for a new adventure. Whether it’s the huge province’s diverse landscape, the breathtaking vistas, the stunning autumn colours, a highly developed hospitality sector or a thriving network of local enthusiasts, read on to learn why Ontario is the place to break out of your local bicycling malaise.

Cyclist rides past a trailhead marker on a forested bike trail
Find quiet trails and excellent riding at Hersey Lake. Photo: Mattagami Region Conservation Authority

1. Oh, the Places You'll Go!

There’s not much chance of seeing creatures like in the Dr. Seuss book but you can count on experiencing an incredibly diverse selection of rides in Ontario.

Trails

Are you mostly a road biker that has always wondered what it’d be like to take to the mountain trails. How about checking out Three Towers Trails near North Bay? Their mountain biking trails are well maintained and offer a wide selection of skill levels. And if you are new to mountain biking make sure to stop by Cycleworks in town for a rental and some pointers. It’s typical of the type of trail network that exists within easy reach of dozens of cities and towns in Ontario, like Hersey Lake near Timmins, where local bike stores, restaurants and accommodations are ready and waiting to make your foray into Ontario trail riding a success. Check out this list of top riding areas in Northern Ontario to get a sense of it

Gravel

Uno Park (ride number four, page nine in this guide) is just one of a number of gravel rides available to travellers in the expansive South Temiskaming area. Not only is it a 22-km loop, but it passes local historic attractions like an abandoned one-room schoolhouse and a century-old train bridge.

Road

Ontario has a wealth of road routes, and a great initiative to identify and promote them in the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, but for an experience like no other, head to the world’s largest freshwater island. Manitoulin Island is a road cyclist’s dream, and Manitoulin Cycling has taken upon itself to make sure visitors are welcome and informed, and know all the best places to stay and eat.

Fat Biking

In Ontario, cyclists embrace the winter. You’ll see why at Kivi Park, a cycling hub just south of Sudbury. What’s more, there are rentals right on site, from a satellite location of full-service bike shop Adventure 365. That’s right, adventure 365 days a year. You get the idea.

Two cyclists stop on a rocky outlook to enjoy the view of forest and lake
Take it all in at Lake Laurentian Conservation Area. Photo: Destination Ontario

2. The Views

We’ll let the pictures do the talking here. Safe to say, there’s a new view to keep you going around every new bend in the road.

Man and woman ride bicycles in the fall through a forest trail
Fall is the best time to bike any of Ontario’s forested trails—but particularly at Haliburton Forest. Photo: Destination Ontario

3. The Fall

You know what makes a beautiful view even better? Seeing it when the leaves change. The fall is when Ontario comes alive for cyclists. Is there anything better than a bike ride in that crisp fall morning air? What’s even better is that the summer crowds are gone! Start by taking a scenic ride through Muskoka or just cycle from winery to winery.

For a comprehensive survey of all that the season of falling leaves has to offer, you won’t beat this list of best autumn routes.

Man and woman sit on a rock by the water across from a large cottage or lodge building
Rest in comfort and fuel up with delicious food. Photo: Destination Ontario

4. the Coziest Places to Stay

There’s nothing better after a long day of peddling than to have a nice place to put your feet up and Ontario has some of the quaintest cabins and b&bs you could hope to find. The offerings run the gamut of down home to top shelf. Each local tourist board will have a list of local providers. Or, work backwards, pick one of the destination resorts listed here and then identify great biking opportunities nearby. They are never far away. If you still don’t know where to start, consider booking a free appointment with an Ontario Tourism travel consultant.

5. The Community

Ontario already has a reputation for having some of the friendliest people and that goes double when talking about cyclists in particular. There are many ways to dip a toe in the local scene, starting with the folks who make their living at it. Consult this list for all the best bike shops throughout the province. Or why not drop in on an organized event? There are plenty of charity rides and races that are a great way to get involved with the local community. Finally, though you may not become lifelong members, touching base with local enthusiasts is easy to do by contacting the clubs. They are, almost by definition, full of enthusiasts.

The topic is as wide as the province, but cycling in Ontario doesn’t have to be an intimidating prospect. Use these tips to get you started and find out why Ontario’s vehicle license plate slogan for so many years was “Yours to Discover.”

About Jesse Strauch

Jesse Strauch is a professional filmmaker and writer who, when not doing either of those things, likes to spend his time out on the water. An avid kayaker and snowboarder he is attempting to conquer as many rivers and mountains as possible. 

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