A Local’s Guide to Cycling in North Bay

The fast-growing bike culture in North Bay is turning this city into a must-visit cycling locale.

North Bay offers four seasons of cycling. From roads and paved paths, to gravel routes and singletrack, to groomed snow trails perfect for fat biking, all types of cycling are on offer. The rural communities that surround the city have plenty of history, rolling farmland and beautiful lakes to explore. The North Bay area offers a cycling experience for every kind of cycling enthusiast, from beginner to advanced.  

Check out more cycling tours to discover in Northeastern Ontario

North Bay Bike Trails

North Bay offers a wide variety of cycling experiences and opportunities. A paved, multi-use pathway weaves its way through the city, and cyclists can connect to Callander, our next-door neighbour community, by bike. Local bike shops are spread out, and community bike fix-it stations are trailside. Mountain biking is nestled right in the city, gravel biking can take cyclists to the outskirts, and wintertime offers plenty of fat biking trails.

Cycling advocacy is growing in North Bay, from tourism and active transportation, to educational programs and mountain biking. In addition, cycling infrastructure is now included in the official City of North Bay Active Transportation Master Plan.

Mountain biking 

Trails 

Popular North Bay mountain biking trails, including those mentioned below, can be viewed on the Trailforks app. Visit the app to review maps and feedback from trail users.

Laurentian Escarpment Conservation Area 

Mountain biking in North Bay is popular at the Laurentian Escarpment Conservation Area, which boasts spectacular views of the city of North Bay, Lake Nipissing and the surrounding area. Visitors can mountain bike on a number of trails, which are maintained throughout the year. The trails offer multi-use experiences including hiking, biking, dog walking, wildlife viewing and snowshoeing. 

The North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority (NBMCA) maintains two key trails at this conservation area: the Fred McNutt Family Trail and the Richardson Ridge Trail. There are many other trails on the property that are not maintained by NBMCA. Be sure to use the map and follow the yellow and orange circle trail markers in order to navigate these two main trails. Trail users will find the remnants of a historic ski jump and an aquaduct that used to pump water to the city.

While the Laurentian escarpment is already a great place to ride, more improvements and additions are in the works. The NBMCA has a draft Master Plan for the Laurentian Escarpment that proposes to develop and maintain trails to better accommodate their multi-use nature and open the door to eco-tourism opportunities. Developments include the addition of a pump track, jump trails and downhill bike trails.

Connie brought a group of friends to the new NBMBA trail network at the end of Tower Drive. Stephanie Silverthorn is trying the brand trails for the first time. Photo: Connie Hergott
Connie brought a group of friends to the new NBMBA trail network at the end of Tower Drive. Stephanie Silverthorn is trying the brand trails for the first time. Photo: Connie Hergott

Laurier Woods Conservation Area

Laurier Woods Conservation Area contains 6.5 kilometres of trails winding through woods and wetlands. The trail surface is compact soil and there are various interpretive sites located along the route. The trails are multi-use, so cyclists should be cautious of other users.

Cranberry Trail

The Cranberry Trail is 2.5 kilometres in length and is made up of gravel and compact soil. The trail begins at the end of Cranberry Road in Callander and brings cyclists to the edge of Callander Bay on Lake Nipissing.

Trout Lake  

The North Shore of Trout Lake in North Bay offers more technical, rocky trails with stunning vistas. It’s well worth the climb and cranking to see these views and spectacular colours in the fall.

Local Clubs

Formed in the fall of 2019, the North Bay Mountain Bike Association (NBMBA) has a mandate to advocate for mountain biking in the community. This advocacy takes the form of the maintenance and expansion of current trail networks, the development of new trails, the organization of youth development programs, and more.

This past summer, the NBMBA acquired land use agreements and work permits, and completed the required environmental assessments with the provincial government in order to start building a new set of mountain bike trails. The first loop is complete and work is underway to complete more, including a pump track. Visit www.nbmba.ca for more information and to view the proposed trail map for the land at the end of Tower Drive.

Road biking 

North Bay is surrounded by secondary highways that offer paved shoulders, rolling hills and scenic landscapes. Bike advisory lanes were recently added to Memorial Drive along the waterfront in the city, and more active transportation routes are being added to connect the established routes. Long distance road cyclists can be found on the secondary highways.  

North Bay Bike Route

This route winds along North Bay’s escarpment and is a popular training route for experienced cyclists due to its variety of hill climbs and descents. The route is approximately 20 kilometres long, but there are many places where you can tack on loops on paved roads to make for a longer ride. Find information about this route here.

Powassan Circle Route
This 58-kilometre route starts just south of North Bay and takes cyclists through the communities of Nipissing, Powassan and Astorville. This route is a combination of paved roads and mixed gravel surfaces. Take a side trip to the south shore of Lake Nipissing and enjoy the beautiful surrounding countryside. Find more information about this route here.

Corbeil Circle Bicycle Route 

Take the Kate Pace Way in North Bay to the communities of Callander and Corbeil on this 45-kilometre, fully paved loop. Ride along Lake Nipissing and Trout Lake with various places to stop at local parks. Find more information about this route here.

Voyageur Cycling Route 

A collaboration between many municipalities, regions and communities, the Voyageur Cycling Route spans 645 kilometres and connects 29 communities between Sudbury and Ottawa. It’s so named because it follows the waterways that were traversed historically by voyageurs, including the Ottawa River and the Mattawa River. The route provides direct connections to the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail (in North Bay and Ottawa) and Quebec’s La Route Verte. Not all sections are ready to ride, but many are complete with signage in place. Find more information about this route here.

Multi-use trails

Kate Pace Way

Ride a paved path along the Lake Nipissing waterfront in North Bay on the Kate Pace Way. At 12 kilometres in length, you’ll pass by parks, over streams and through wooded areas. As a multi-use pathway, cyclists should remember to yield to pedestrians, travel in a single file, and keep to the right except when passing. The path also runs parallel to Lakeshore Drive, providing cyclists with the opportunity to take a break at a local restaurant. The Kate Pace Way is part of The Great Trail.

The Kinsmen Trail

Follow the meandering Chippewa Creek on the Kinsmen Trail. Starting at Airport Road, this paved trail traverses for 5 kilometres through North Bay before linking up with the Kate Pace Way on the Lake Nipissing waterfront. The Kinsmen Trail presents an easy ride through neighbourhoods and allows users to enjoy nature within the city limits. The 3.2-kilometre stretch of trail between Lake Nipissing and Thomson Park is known as the Chippewa Creek EcoPath. Various community stakeholders have come together to restore and enhance the natural beauty and habitats along this portion of the trail.

Connie and her son, Josh, fat biking on the campus trails of Nipissing University and Canadore College. Photo: Keith Dumoulin
Connie and her son, Josh, fat biking on the campus trails of Nipissing University and Canadore College. Photo: Keith Dumoulin

Fat biking

Fat biking in North Bay is increasing in popularity. Multi-use trails are made rideable for fat bikers thanks to snowshoers, who pack down the trail and make them firm and fluid enough for biking. Informal trail grooming happens on the Laurentian escarpment throughout the winter to keep trails smooth for fat biking. Special events occur each winter with fat bike demo days popping up at trailheads for all ages to try.

Much of the Kate Pace Way and Kinsmen Trail are fat bikeable all winter, although not formally maintained or groomed by the City.   

Follow the best trail for you by visiting Trailforks, where you’ll find the most up to date information on trail conditions posted by trail users. 

Bike Stores in North Bay 

North Bay has three locally owned bike shops that each offer something unique to the community. If you’re looking to rent or buy a road, mountain, touring, gravel, BMX or e-assist bike, you’ll be able to find it at one of these establishments. In addition, each shop carries a variety of brands, gear, clothing, parts and accessories.

All three bike shops in North Bay offer rentals, sales and service:

Wheelhouse 

Website: https://www.facebook.com/wheelshousebikeshop/

Address: 1055 Cassells Street, North Bay

Phone number: (705) 223-0403

Cycleworks

Website: http://cycleworksbikes.ca

Address: 593 John Street, North Bay

Phone number: (705) 472-5662

Cheapskates

Website: http://www.cheapskatesports.com/

Address: 274 Main Street E, North Bay

Phone number: (705) 495-4736

If you are looking for a unique, family-friendly cycling experience, stop by the waterfront on Memorial Drive in North Bay. Fun Rentals at the marina has tandem bikes for rent and can be ridden along the nearby paved pathways (Kate Pace Way and Kinsmen Trail).

E-bikes in North Bay

Electric bikes—just like any other bike—in North Bay, must be equipped with a bell or horn as a communication tool. Riders must wear an approved bicycle or motorcycle helmet.

E-bikes must be engaged in pedal-only power while on the multi-use trails (Kate Pace Way and Kinsmen Trail).

North Bay Bike Trail Maps

Discovery Routes Trails Organization (DRTO) and the NBMCA are the best sources of information for trail maps.  

The Adventure Trails Map, published recently by DRTO, can be ordered online and detailed descriptions of all the sanctioned trails can be found here. Individual trail maps are also available for download here.

You can find a map of the NBMCA trails here.

Connie organized an International Women's Day event for women in the North Bay community to try fat biking. Thirty women participated and all three bike shops in North Bay provided fat bikes for participants to use. Pictured here is Connie's friend, Geraldine rocking the winter riding! Photo: Connie Hergott
Connie organized an International Women's Day event for women in the North Bay community to try fat biking. Thirty women participated and all three bike shops in North Bay provided fat bikes for participants to use. Pictured here is Connie's friend, Geraldine rocking the winter riding! Photo: Connie Hergott

Women’s Cycling

Women’s cycling is important to me, as young women are the most underrepresented demographic on bikes. I have become a women’s cycling ambassador through Liv Cycling Canada and provide women’s specific bike events in our community.  In the previous two years, in collaboration with a local bike shop, I have hosted women’s rides, bike maintenance clinics and winter fat bike events as an avenue to encourage women in North Bay to rediscover cycling from their youth, or experience it for the very first time.

I have also worked with DRTO to host cycling education events, courses and workshops for a variety of demographics in our community. We have created cycling education videos with the local OPP detachment, and support youth on bikes in partnership with the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit. The North Bay Women’s Cycling group continues to grow and has become an incredible network for members.

Planning Your Cycling Trip to North Bay

Accommodations

Tourism North Bay offers an interactive trip planning tool with the most up to date information on accommodations in and around the city.  Campgrounds, cottages and hotels are all listed. You’ll also find local accommodation options on Airbnb.

Dining

Find places to eat on the interactive trip planning map provided by Tourism North Bay. Following are some of the best bike-friendly locations with patios in the North Bay area, including some with lakeside dining:

If you're venturing into Callander, a great place to dine is located right on the main street: 1886 Lake House Bistro.

There are two local craft beer and food trucks in North Bay, a good distance from each other. Why not bike to both?

Visitors Centre

The City of North Bay has closed the tourist information centre and now Tourism North Bay is housed in the Chamber of Commerce building at 205 Main Street East. Call 1-888-249-8998 for more information.

Connie, Brigitte and Christine on the Jerusalem Road, an old concession road that spans 6 kilometres of the journey along the Forgotten Trail Network and the Old Nipissing Road gravel ride. Photo: Connie Hergott
Connie, Brigitte and Christine on the Jerusalem Road, an old concession road that spans 6 kilometres of the journey along the Forgotten Trail Network and the Old Nipissing Road gravel ride. Photo: Connie Hergott

Connie’s Ride on the Old Nipissing Road 

The outskirts of North Bay are highly recommended for a mountain bike or gravel bike ride, where you can take a trip on one of the area’s “Forgotten Trails.” Recently, I had the chance to bike with some friends on old logging roads, and explore the rich history of the Old Nipissing Road.

The Old Nipissing Road is truly a forgotten road that winds through many historic settlements—with unfamiliar names such as Seguin Falls and Spence—that were once home to pioneers in the area. These settlements have long since been abandoned, leaving behind derelict log cabins, barns, churches and schoolhouses, and moss-covered gravestones in tiny cemeteries. The “road” travels for 70 kilometres from Rosseau on Hwy 141 to Nipissing on Hwy 534. Some sections of the road are gravel, well-kept and easy to travel, while others are overgrown and hard going.

On our journey, we biked at least 30 kilometres before we met a car. It was a jaunt back in time; remnants of old settlement boundaries, iconic split rail fences and rock fences zigzagged alongside us on the route. We could almost hear the sounds horse hooves and buggy cart wheels would have made on the same road our bike tires were travelling on. It was a nice change from our regular mountain biking to ride with a destination and have the time to take in the history and the wildlife we encountered.

The Rye Cemetery is nestled among pines and is rich in the history of Swiss, English and German settlers who hoped to colonize the Old Nipissing Road. | Source: Connie Hergott
The Rye Cemetery is nestled among pines and is rich in the history of Swiss, English and German settlers who hoped to colonize the Old Nipissing Road. | Source: Connie Hergott

Hunt camps and other seasonal dwellings now line the roadway. Great care has been taken to erect historical plaques and signage along the route highlighting old postal routes, general stores, churches and schoolhouses. 

There are many more gravel rides like this one waiting to be explored in the North Bay area. If you are planning a trip on the Old Nipissing Road or other gravel routes in rural areas, be aware of hunting season dates, which can be found here. If you do choose to cycle on rural forested trails during hunting season, wear blaze orange to make yourself more visible.

About Connie Hergott

Connie Hergott is an Ambassador for women’s cycling with Liv Cycling Canada in North Bay ON.  Connie’s background includes experiential education as a former Adventure Educator, high ropes course instructor and Outdoor Recreation Instructor and Wilderness Trip Leader for youth at risk.  Connie and her family are cycling advocates.

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