The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail EXPANDS NORTH

Whether you go for the scenery, the culture, the challenge, or the hospitality, you will love this new must-see destination.

Fans of cycle touring should start making amendments to their bucket list and packing their panniers. This summer will see the official opening of the North Channel Expansion to the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail. You can explore on your own or join the guided and van-assisted Cycle the North - Great Waterfront Trail Adventure 2019 Tour from July 28 to August 2.

Cycle The North - The Great Waterfront Trail Adventure 2019 Tour

The new cycle touring route links quiet roads (and some off-road trails) for much of its 380 km between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury. This first-of-its-kind northern Ontario cycling adventure is ready to roll. Here are 10 reasons why you should add this route to your to-do list.

Plenty of Reasons to Pull Over

Four cyclists standing with bikes in front of Bushplane Museum

Between parks, museums, art galleries, and out-of-the-way country stores, the route is dotted with reasons to stop and look around. Visit the must-see Bushplane Museum in Sault Ste. Marie or the rushing waterfalls at Chutes Provincial Park. If some shopping is what you're after, The Round Barn and Gift Shop near Thessalon has unique finds.

It’s a Challenge

Long gravel road with cyclist in distance.

At 380 km, completing the full length of the trail requires a multi-day commitment. Most of the route is along lightly trafficked back roads, but some stretches of gravel road, and even dirt path, add to the challenge and the adventure.

Take in Some History

Cyclists in front of Lee Valley Hall, a historic building

With the area’s settler history dating back centuries, and the Indigenous history stretching back millennia before, there is much to learn and explore. The Lee Valley Hall, located on the outskirts of Espanola, was built in 1913, and still offers the community a place to gather.


Two people wearing cycling helmets peaking out of a teepee

Northern Ontario has a culture all its own, and the North Channel is no exception. With influences from First Nations, Mennonite farmers, fishermen, loggers, French, and English, it all makes for a delightful smorgasbord that must be savoured.

Northern Hospitality

Two male cyclists sitting on a bench in front of a bakery

From a surprise bake shop serving up some amazing butter tarts in the middle of nowhere to a friendly welcome from your hosts at the campground, motel, cottage, or resort, or even a friendly question from a curious patron at a coffee stop, local hospitality will make you feel welcome.

Soak in the Scenery

Cyclist standing beside bike beside a beautiful river

Be it the rocky shores and watery vistas of the rugged Lake Huron North Channel, rushing rivers, dense forest, or the green carpet of farmland, the beauty of the Northern landscape is as spectacular as it is varied.

Stop for a Swim

Bicycles parked by a tree with long beach and water in background

There’s nothing better than breaking up a hot day on the road with a cool dip in a Northern Ontario lake. Among the many sand and water oases not to be missed is Ojibway Park, home of the Laughing Water Beach, near Echo Bay.

Empty Roads

Single cyclist pedalling on empty road

No traffic here. It is not uncommon to spend hours in the company of only the people in your group.

The Northern Vibe

Two bikes leaning against a wood pile

From logging lore to farms dating back a century, from stacks of freshly cut logs by the side of the road, to a banged-up steel fishing trawler at the marina, signs of the past and the present abound.

The Communities

A group of cyclists enjoying food and drinks on a patio

Twenty-six communities dot the route. And they’re all happy to host you, be it for a mid-day lunch stop or for an end of the day round of local craft beer, a delicious meal, and a comfortable night’s rest.

The signs are up and the maps are printed. The North Channel Expansion is ready when you are. If, however, you’d like a guiding hand, you're in luck. The 12th Annual Great Waterfront Trail Adventure is Cycling The North this year. This is a fully supported cycling tour that traces the route from Sault Ste. Marie to Sudbury, between July 28 and August 2, 2019.

Whichever way you do it, the North Channel Expansion is a unique way to experience a region not to be missed.

About Martin Lortz

Martin Lortz is a freelance photographer/writer specializing in the outdoor lifestyle. Whether he is covering adventure motorcycling, kayak fishing or family oriented outdoor pursuits, his passion for capturing the beauty of nature and the people that partake in it, is evident in his work. His photos and articles have appeared in magazines such as Ski Canada, Explore, Bike, Mountain Life, Couloir, Kayak Angler and Family Camping, as well as in calendars, catalogs and brochures.

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