9 Best Gravel Bike Rides in Ontario

From family-friendly to epic adventure, here’s where to roll.

Never too far from a butter tart or historical town—these Ontario gravel routes are accessible and fun one-day excursions close to home, but far from the crowds. Ranging in distances from 12 km to 50 km and up, pack some snacks from a local market and explore. Discover remnants of ghost towns and rusting trestle bridges. Unlike technical mountain biking, on quiet gravel roads and trails families can cycle alongside one another. Safe, secluded and close to home, enjoy the remote possibilities when you get off the asphalt and hop onto the gravel trails of Ontario.

1. Best Gravel Ride near Thunder Bay (60 km)

Lovers of hills (about 1000 m+ of vertical elevation) and backcountry (read: bears), will appreciate this 60 km gravel ride in Ontario that begins with asphalt and then turns into undulating crushed gravel, with some manageable rock. Bring water and food for the day, and proper navigation.

Packed with rolling hills and quiet bush forest, the route will take you through Kam River and the historical Hymers Village. Part of the Thunder Grinder gravel race in Ontario, this is one of the best gravel trails in Ontario. The route takes in parts of the Neebing Township with loads of rock and wide-open farmland. Start the ride at the Stanley Hotel, home of the renowned Stanley Burger, or take in more of Thunder Bay’s eclectic restaurant offerings in town. For more information, or to hop on the Sunday morning gravel ride, contact FreshAir.

2. Best Gravel Ride near Almonte, Ontario (44 km)

For the family that likes a bit of a challenge, mixed with some amazing historical stops, try this Ontario gravel ride. The hills can be steep, but smooth gravel means no special gravel bike is required. Almonte might be the cutest town in the province. Park at the Metcalfe Geoheritage Park in Almonte, which is full of coffee shops, restaurants and monuments to the past, including the Mississippi Textile Museum. Most people come for Clayton’s General store (about halfway)—rumour is it’s the oldest in Ontario dating back to 1839. Returning back into Almonte, have a brew at the Crooked Mile. And if your bike needs some love, visit the most eclectic and caring bike shop around at Almonte Bicycle Works. See the route here.

3. Best Gravel Ride near Blind River, Ontario

For the beginner gravel riding family that likes to make stops, this is the perfect route. This is an easy 12.5 km (there and back) gravel ride in Ontario that follows Lake Huron’s shoreline on crushed gravel with loads of amenities. You’re not too far from a store or washroom here. Make a weekend out of it and stay nearby at local accommodations.

From public library swaps, playground and snacks, this section of the Waterfront Trail is immersive and interactive. Park at the Blind River Marine Park then head west into the Boom Camp Interpretive Park to read about the region’s history on Interpretive Panels. The Timber Village Museum at the Marine Park is a good reward. Either head back with your picnic to Lauzon Beach or keep riding to 17 Restaurant for homemade bread.

4. Parry Sound to Seguin Falls Rail Trail (43 km)

An Ontario gravel route for those who want to ride and ride. Following a rail trail, this Ontario route meanders through undulating hills and is easy to navigate along 43 km to the Falls and back, with some wooden bridges, sandy patches and rock. Get a map of the route here.

You’ll enjoy beautiful exposed Canadian Shield rock, wetlands, farms and some gentle hills, making for a grand adventure. Seguin Falls is also home to a ghost town. A few decaying homes, and former King George Hotel, are all that’s left of the former logging town. Starting at the Parry Sound harbour, you’ll find a plethora of tasty restaurants. For servicing try The Bike Shops for bike rentals and repairs.

5. Best Gravel Ride near London (53 km)

This gravel ride in southwestern Ontario is a good starter route for your family; hike in Komoka Park just outside the city one day and then ride gravel the next day. Your kids will love spotting wagons along this Ontario gravel route, as well as the easy rolling hills through the countryside with shady woodlots. See the full route here.

Glorious riding paired with bakeries and wagon rides make this Ontario gravel ride a fun-packed family weekend. Starting at the Middlesex Centre Recreation Centre, ride asphalt until the turn onto Lamont Road. Almost immediately on Lamont is the McLachlan sugar bush, which features tours and wagon rides in spring. Take the Inadale Road which goes underneath the 402 rather than over, pairing with the train tracks. Finish off with a famous Beaver breakfast in Komoka, operating since 1967. For fancier fare, London has great choices.

Outspokin offers tune ups and repairs. To Wheels, London’s oldest bike shop, has tons of gear and servicing.

6. Best Gravel Ride near South Temiskaming (17 km and 34 km)

The STATO gravel ride in Ontario isn’t too taxing; in fact, its undulating hills and twisty gravel ensures you’ll have enough energy for the other activities and hiking in the region. On this ride through Mennonite country you might spot some pop cans locals put out for gravel riders on the route. Stand on top of an old silver mine embankment for a view. After the ride, hit the Thornloe Cheese Factory on highway 11. In New Liskeard, Zante’s is a local favourite. Local bikes shops sell all kinds of bikes, including gravel bikes. To ride with locals, Facebook group @biketemshores organizes group rides.

7. Best Gravel Ride near Sudbury (21 km)

This 21 km stretch of the Waterfront Trail offers some punchy steep climbs. The combination of compacted dirt with some large loose rocks makes for a fun trail near rest stops. Before leaving, Adventure 365 can get you ready.

This Ontario gravel route follows along the northern shores of Lake Huron, parallel to route 55, and isn’t far from a picnic table or rest stop. From Centennial Park in Sudbury camp near Holiday Beach, then take off for the day finishing the ride in Gibson. A fun stop in the town of Lively is the Anderson Farm Museum. You’re only 15 minutes from Sudbury if you want to carb load at the Italian favourite: Respect is Burning Kitchen + Bar. Get the route map here.

8. Best Gravel Ride near Sault Ste. Marie (+50 km)

For the more experienced rider who wants a variety of terrain including gravel, some mud and rock and loads of gravel, this gravel ride through Ontario’s Canadian Shield is spicy! Starting 30 km east of Sault Ste. Marie, Echo Bay is a jumping off point for many gravel rides. The ride from Echo Bay to Bruce Mines is about 50 km, and it’s possible to ride it as a loop. Turn it into an overnight or return to Echo Bay the same day. In Echo Bay, stop into Lucey Loos for comfort food. Tune up at Velorution or stock up on bike tubes and gear. Red Pine Tours offers 2, 4, and 8 hour guided tours, or overnight Ontario gravel route excursions.

9. Best Gravel Ride near Moonbeam (40 km)

Families that want to have a true north experience will enjoy Moonbeam. It’s your own secluded biosphere of outdoor adventure from swimming to exploring gravel riding in Ontario. Stay in a bunkie or train caboose on Remi Lake and choose from a handful of gravel loops leaving right from the Twin Lakes Campground.

Gravel riders can really do it all here, which makes it one of the best rides in Ontario for families. Get the heart pumping on a ride up to the peak of Mount Remi (3.5 km) on the Ski Hill Trail or take a longer smooth path on The 3 Park Loop (8.5 km). From the Twin Lakes campground, then ride beside the Villeneuve Pit overlooking a naturally eroded basin from the Ice Age. Be warned there are some steep slopes. The region also includes shorter trails including the Bonner Loop (6.5 km) that passes by a tree cloning plantation growing to protect our Boreal forest. For local bike servicing, drive 20 minutes to Kapuskasing for repairs and servicing. Moonbeam has a few grocery stores, including the Coop and a hearty Italian restaurant Della Pieta.

Plan Your Trip Now

These Ontario gravel routes are fun one-day excursions close to home, but far from the crowds. Safe and secluded, enjoy the remote possibilities when you get off the asphalt and hop onto the gravel trails of Ontario.

About Melanie Chambers

Melanie Chambers is a writer and university instructor living in Toronto. Ever since cycling from Holland to Spain in 1996, Melanie has penned stories about her amateur athletic challenges such as cycling 105 uphill kilometres in Taiwan's KOM Challenge road race and hiking Northern Africa’s highest peak. As an editor and instructor, she has conducted writing workshops around the globe. Locally, she’s provided workshops at the Alice Munro’s Writers and Readers Festival and Western University’s Homecoming. When she’s not on the road, she teaches food and travel writing courses at Western University.

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