See the Best of Thunder Bay by Bike

Hit all the city’s top attractions on this two-wheeled tour of the Lakehead.

With mighty Lake Superior at its feet and the dramatic Nor’Wester Mountains rising behind, the city of Thunder Bay invites riders of all types to experience some of northern Ontario’s most scenic urban cycling.

Thunder Bay’s extensive network of dedicated bike lanes and recreational paths allows riders to easily reach many of the city’s best attractions. Spin to breathtaking lookouts, natural wonders, charming parks, culinary delights, microbreweries, markets and more. Discover the Lakehead’s culturally diverse neighbourhoods on a taste tour of its most famous foods. Explore fascinating historic sights, or seek out the most amazing views of the iconic Sleeping Giant. If you prefer rocks and roots, singletrack fans will find some of the province’s finest flow and technical trails, accessible right from downtown.

Whether you are an avid cyclist or just looking for a leisurely cruise, you’ll find a rewarding ride suited to your interests and abilities. Sample from the suggestions below to put together your own self-guided Thunder Bay cycling tour.

cyclists ride across a bridge in Thunder Bay
Thunder Bay takes pride in fostering a vibrant cycling community, evident in the many cycling events hosted each year. Source: Tourism Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay Recreational Trail

With over 56 km of multi-use trails and an additional 42 km of bike lanes, it’s easy to get around the city on a bicycle. Following Thunder Bay’s natural wealth of rivers and lakes, the Thunder Bay Recreational Trail system spans the breadth of the city and provides ready access to its attractions.

Using a combination of paved trails and bike lanes, you can make a 15-km journey between the city’s north-end neighbourhoods and its southern districts bordering the Kaministiquia River. Along the way, you’ll trace the scenic McIntyre River, traverse the wooded grounds of Lakehead University, and wind through lovely Chapples Park where you can pop into the green sanctuary of the Centennial Conservatory.

Thunder Bay’s friendly bike shops are accessible from the Balmoral Street recreational path near Chapples Park and bike lanes on Court Street and Victoria Avenue. For rentals, repairs and sales try 3Ride in the city’s north end, Rollin’ Thunder in central Thunder Bay, and Petrie’s Cycle and Sports or Fresh Air in the south end.

Prince Arthur’s Landing

The crown jewel of Thunder Bay’s waterfront, Prince Arthur’s Landing (also called Marina Park) feels like the heart of the city. Stretching along Lake Superior in Thunder Bay’s north end, this bustling belt of parkland boasts winding bike paths with stunning views of the lake. Gaze across the waters of the bay to the Sleeping Giant, an iconic landform that rises from the Sibley Peninsula to resemble an enormous figure lying on his back. Enjoy the boardwalk, splash pad, skate park, public art installations and open-air pavilion at the Spirit Garden.

If you’ve worked up an appetite, the upscale restaurant Bight and laidback café Windy Shores both offer patio seating. For eats on the go, there are also food trucks and an ice cream parlour. Since the park hosts many of the city’s live concerts and free events and festivals, you might even luck into some entertainment with your meal.

With bike lane connections along Court Street to the vibrant downtown Waterfront District and Boulevard Lake, Prince Arthur’s Landing offers straightforward cycling access to the rest of the city. Lovers of street art shouldn’t miss the short spin up Red River Road to Cooke Street, Thunder Bay’s very own mural alley.

a sailboat passes a historic lighthouse near Thunder Bay
Thunder Bay’s waterfront offers stunning views of Lake Superior and sailing tours are a popular diversion for tourists. Source: Destination Ontario

Sail Lake Superior

While you’re enjoying the Prince Arthur waterfront, you’ll no doubt notice the bobbing white masts of countless sailboats in the harbour. If you’d like to skim across the vast blue waters of the world’s largest freshwater lake for yourself, stop by Sail Superior to book a tour. Choose from a scenic 90-minute harbour tour (daily departures at 4 pm), or adventure-filled day and overnight tours by sailboat, catamaran or Zodiac. Destinations include Thompson Island, Sleeping Giant and the spectacular Porphyry Island lighthouse.

Waterfront District Dining

Thunder Bay’s colourful and multicultural Waterfront District is the birthplace of the city’s remarkable foodie scene, plus it’s packed with boutiques, galleries and historic buildings aplenty. For a classic British pub with a smokehouse twist (and a surprising number of vegan and vegetarian options), don’t miss the Red Lion Smokehouse. Creative, globally inspired dishes made The Sovereign Room one of the frontrunners fuelling Thunder Bay’s food revolution. It’s more of an evening establishment, but the seasonal Sunday brunch is a locavore delight. Craving fast and cheesy? Locals swear Stan’s Pizza serves up the best pies in town. When you’re ready for dessert, Prime Gelato satisfies ice cream cravings with their authentic Italian-style treats made from local ingredients.

Boulevard Lake

Surrounded by 650 acres of parkland from the scenic bluffs north of the lake to the dam on the lower Current River, Boulevard Lake is a popular family destination in Thunder Bay. Bike the five-km loop around the lake, stop at one of the many picnic areas, or bring a frisbee for a round of disc golf. On a hot day, rent a canoe or kayak, try paddleboarding or take a dip at one of the park’s three beach areas. To get here from the waterfront, follow the Court Street bike lane.

cyclists ride along a mountain biking trail in Thunder Bay
Whether you prefer technical descents, challenging climbs or scenic rides, Thunder Bay’s mountain biking trails have something to offer. Source: Tourism Thunder Bay

Trowbridge Forest Mountain Bike Trails

Located in the north end of the city, the Trowbridge Forest Multi-Use Recreational Trail System delights fat tire riders with 30 km of singletrack, a bike skills park and 25 km of doubletrack. Constructed with thousands of hours of volunteer labour from the dedicated members of Thunder Bay’s Blacksheep Mountain Bike Club, the trail network centres around the cascading waters of the Current River.

Head to the Kinsmen Park trailhead to rip a brand new bike park with a pump track and jump lines. Just across the river, riders will find a plethora of new trails exploring some of the best terrain Thunder Bay has to offer. Grind to the top of the mesa for breathtaking views looking out over Lake Superior and the Current River—and hair-raising descents on downhill trails with names like Scary Canary. Or make your way to the heart of the forest to tackle the original legacy trail area known as Shuniah Mines. The purpose-built mountain bike singletrack in this section winds through century-old silver mine grounds and takes full advantage of the area’s unique topography.

The city’s multi-use trail network links most of the parks in the north end, so you can ride to Trowbridge Falls Park and Kinsmen Park from Boulevard Lake or Centennial Park. At Arundel Street, pick up either the Bottom of the Bluffs (watch for locals rock climbing here) or Centennial Park Road trails, then cross under Highway 11/17 to access the forest.

Terry Fox Memorial

Perched on a lofty bluff with beautiful views of Lake Superior and the Sleeping Giant, the Terry Fox Memorial marks the place where this young athlete and cancer activist was forced to end his cross-country Marathon of Hope on August 31, 1980. In addition to the nine-foot-tall bronze statue, there’s also a visitor centre where you can learn more about the Thunder Bay area. While access is currently limited to the shoulder of Trans-Canada Highway 11/17 (not recommended), plans are in the works to provide a trail link from Kinsmen Park.

Sample Finnish Culture

With over 10 percent of Thunder Bay residents claiming Finnish ancestry, the city is home to the largest concentration of Fins outside of Finland. As such, Finnish cultural traditions dating back to the 1870s can be found across the city, from saunas to pancakes. Treat yourself to both at Kangas Sauna & Little House of Pancakes, accessible from the south end of the John Street bike lane. Unlike familiar fluffy pancakes, the Finnish version is thin, buttery and plate-sized with crispy edges. But, yes, it still tastes great with syrup.

Just south of Hillcrest Park (and the Bay Street bike lane), the eclectic Bay & Algoma area is home to Bay Street’s “Little Finland” and one of Canada’s most famous pancake houses, The Hoito. Housed in the basement of the historic Finnish Labour Temple, The Hoito was first established in 1918 as a gathering place for Finnish immigrants. Today, you’ll need to time your visit for a Wednesday afternoon or Saturday morning to enjoy their traditional Finnish fare.

Indulge at The Persian Man

Spiced with a hint of cinnamon and topped with berry icing, the Persian is a doughnut-like treat with a fervent local following. You’ll find some folks who believe you haven’t truly experienced Thunder Bay until you’ve eaten one. Many local bakeries offer their version, but the original is found at The Persian Man coffee and bake shop on Balmoral Street beside Chapples Park. Thunder Bay’s paved recreational trail runs right through here, making for easy two-wheeled access.

Anemkii Wajiw (Mount Mckay)

Thunder Bay’s current cycling infrastructure ends at the Kaministiquia River, which forms the city’s southern border. But located just across the river—and towering 1,000 feet over the city— this Thunder Bay landmark beckons cyclists with a lung-busting climb and incredible views across the dazzling waters of Lake Superior to Pie Island and the Sleeping Giant.

Located on the lands of the Fort William First Nation, the summit of Anemkii Wajiw is also an important spiritual site. Follow the James Street bike path to its southern end, then cross the Kam bridge and prepare to shift into your small gear and stand on the pedals for the 150-m ascent. Your reward is a scenic viewpoint and picnic area with displays by the Fort William First Nation (there is a $5 toll to access the road). For even more views, park your bike here and take the short and steep hike to the top.

Fort William Historical Park

Nestled on a bend in the Kaministiquia River 5 km outside of the city, the Fort William Historical Park is an insightful, detailed recreation of a 200-year-old fur trading post. Spanning 250 acres, it’s one of the largest living history attractions in North America and a highlight for Thunder Bay visitors of all ages. Step inside the walls where you can tour the many buildings at your own pace and talk to costumed interpreters about life with the North West Company during the Canadian fur trade. Visit the livestock barns and blacksmith’s forge, paddle a voyageur canoe, and then hop on your bike for the ride back into town along Broadway Avenue.

a mountain biker rides across a wooden bridge in the forest
Trowbridge Forest Multi-Use Recreation Trail System consists of 30 km of singletrack trail, a bike skills park, and 25 km of doubletrack. Source: Tim Banfield

Where to Stay

Courthouse Hotel

Once the majisterial redbrick quarters of the Superior Court of Justice, this century-old courthouse in the heart of downtown Thunder Bay has been transformed into an elegant hotel. With a perfect blend of classic and modern touches, the Courthouse Hotel overlooks the city’s harbourfront. Plus, it’s bike-friendly with easy access to the Court Street bike route.

Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel

Built in 1911, you can’t beat the location of this historic hotel in the heart of the Waterfront District overlooking Marina Park, the Sleeping Giant and Lake Superior. Upgrade to a lakeview suite for stunning vistas and a jacuzzi tub.

Delta Hotels by Marriott Thunder Bay

A true waterfront hotel perched right on the shore of Lake Superior, offering modern rooms amid the revitalized parkland and amenities of Prince Arthur’s Landing. Cyclist-recommended, with the bike path rolling right past its doors.

Trowbridge Falls Campground

Surrounded by the myriad mountain biking trails of Trowbridge Forest, this quiet municipally-owned campground is a terrific option for bikers on a budget—or for a weekend of wake-up-and-shred. There are 64 sites nestled beside the cascading ledges of the Current River, plus a pump track.

About Virginia Marshall

Virginia Marshall is a freelance outdoor adventure writer, photographer and editor with roots in Muskoka and Lake Superior. Read her work in Adventure Kayak, Canoeroots, Rapid, Paddling Magazine and Backroad Mapbooks.

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