Ontario’s Most Stunning Lakeside Bike Rides

Pedal alongside shimmering waterfronts on these scenic trails, paths and roads.

With more than 200,000 lakes in Ontario, there’s no shortage of cycling possibilities that travel alongside water. The routes in this guide to our favourite lakeside rides in Ontario were chosen for their beauty as well as proximity to connecting cycling routes, tourist attractions, and amenities cyclists need, like bike shops and bakeries.

Ontario’s landscape is diverse. In addition to enchanting lakeside vistas, these waterfront rides promise to immerse cyclists in wilderness forests, charming communities, rolling countrysides and historical sites. So, whether you’re an avid cyclist or just getting started, use the guide below to plan your next two-wheeled adventure and enjoy the best way to experience the beauty of Ontario.

bike proped against a pine tree in front of a bridge to St Joseph Island
Cross the bridge onto St. Joseph Island where the roads are scenic and there’s little traffic. Source: Martin Lortz

Island Loop, St. Joseph Island

St. Joseph Island is a cyclist’s paradise. The quiet and quaint island boasts a well-established 68-kilometre road-riding loop that includes rolling hills, pastoral views and friendly locals, nestled amongst maple forests, century farms and the Canadian Shield. Add in beaches, cozy accommodations, farmers’ markets and two picturesque waterfront communities—Hilton Beach and Richards Landing—and the island has almost all the amenities a cyclist needs. See a map of the route here.

St. Joe’s, as it’s often called, is more than just a pretty island. There is plenty of history here, too. Cyclists may want to include a stop at Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site, the island’s museum and a small turn-of-the-century jail site, which claims to be North America’s oldest and smallest poured concrete lock-up. Green thumbs won’t want to miss the expansive and lovingly cared-for grounds at Adcock’s Woodland Gardens. This hidden gem has wildflowers, roses, lilies, poppies, begonias, dahlias, hydrangeas, irises and more. It’s also home to what may be the world’s most northerly outdoor-growing pineapple plant (as of 2022, it was tiny). If that’s not enough reason to love St. Joe’s, roughly 18 percent of Ontario’s maple syrup is produced on the island. Stop in at Gilbertson’s Pancake House for a taste.

For cyclists who want to continue their journey, St. Joseph Island is close to the North Channel Waterfront Trail and the cycling mecca of Manitoulin Island.

Rentals

Bicycle rentals are available at Hilton Beach Marina and Richards Landing. A bike repair station in Richards Landing has an air pump, bike stand and tools for minor repairs.

Lake Laurentian Loop, Sudbury

Lake Laurentian Conservation Area is located just a 10-minute drive from downtown Sudbury. The protected green space is a pocket of wilderness amongst the city’s urban development. It encompasses 950 hectares and boasts 20 kilometres of trails to explore, which include impressive lookouts, lakes, wetlands, and bird and wildlife spotting opportunities. These multiuse trails are open year-round and shared by cyclists, runners, hikers and skiers.

The Lake Laurentian Loop is a challenging 10-kilometre trail ideal for intermediate cyclists with good fitness on mountain bikes. The trail travels around the lake and includes a climb to a stunning panorama viewpoint over the water and surrounding area, as well as two bridges with viewing decks. View a trail map here.

Combine visiting the Lake Laurentian trails with a day of riding at Walden Trails Park or Kivi Park to get a taste of why cyclists say Sudbury is home to some of Ontario’s best mountain biking. Sudbury is also a connection point for two long-distance cycling routes—the Lake Huron North Channel Tour (380 kilometres) and the Voyageur Cycling Route (645 kilometres).

Rentals

Adventure365, Sessions Ride Co. and The Outside Store offer bike rentals, sales and service.

cyclists look at a cycling map while standing along the shoreline of Manitoulin Island
Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates’ map makes planning a self-guided trip on the world’s largest freshwater island easy. Source: Maja Mielonen // Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates

Mindemoya Lake Loop, Manitoulin Island

As the world’s largest freshwater island, Manitoulin Island offers a bounty of beautiful lakeside pedalling for cyclists of all abilities. Whether winding along the windswept shores of Georgian Bay and the Northern Channel or pedalling alongside some of the 108 inland lakes that dot the island, there’s something for everyone.

Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) has mapped more than 850 kilometres of cycling routes, loops and quiet back roads. Review the maps online or order a detailed hard-copy map for $10 (shipping and taxes included).

The central and bustling town of Mindemoya is the starting point for the recommended quiet, paved and relatively flat 35-kilometre Mindemoya Lake Loop. This shallow lake is a favourite on the island for its relatively warm temperatures and abundance of whitefish. The lake has several beaches along its shores. For picnicking cyclists, the sandy public beach at the Ketchankookem Trail boat launch offers a lovely location for swimming, sunbathing and snacking after your ride. For the perfect post-ride treat, we suggest stocking up on some famous apple fritters at Mum’s Restaurant and Bakery.

Guided Trips and Rentals

Alvar Cycle Tour’s five-day cycling adventure promises majestic views, including glimpses of many of the 108 sparkling inland lakes while riding along quiet country roads. E-bike rentals are available. In June 2024, MICA hosts the annual Passage Ride, which features two days of island riding with mechanical support.

For touring cyclists who want to pedal self-guided but don’t want to be weighed down with luggage, contact Sunny Skies Island Courier service, which operates from May 5 to October 15, matching the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry’s operating season.

For bike repairs, contact Breakaway Sports in Little Current.

a bike leaning agains the ground on the Toronto Islands, with CN tower and city skyline in background
The Toronto Islands are a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Source: Destination Ontario

Martin Goodman Trail and Toronto Island, Toronto

The sweetest part of Toronto is the city’s most southern reaches, hugging the shore of Lake Ontario. The multiuse Martin Goodman Trail runs 56 kilometres along the waterfront, traversing the city’s lakeshore from east to west.

The loveliest stretch runs from the Humber Bay Arch Bridge east to birding hot spot Tommy Thompson Park. This stretch travels along the water’s edge for much of the route and past scenic highlights like the enchanting Toronto Music Garden and sandy, sprawling Cherry Beach. It also passes within a few blocks of tourist attractions like the Harbourfront Centre, CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium. Picnic in Tommy Thompson Park and see how many different species of birds you can count—more than 300 have been recorded. Then pedal back to the Humber River for a flat 42-kilometre round trip.

Alternatively, take the public ferry across to the Toronto Islands ($9.11 for adults, $4.29 for kids, round-trip) and rip around the 15 interconnected islands for an additional 15 kilometres. Pedal through the quiet paved paths of Ward Island and Algonquin Island to peek at the eclectic homes of Toronto’s most unique community. Ride west among the islands, passing Centreville Amusement Park (open seasonally) and visit Gibraltar Point Lighthouse—the oldest lighthouse on the Great Lakes, built in 1803. Stop for a swim and snack at any of the southern shore’s many beautiful beaches.

Want to pedal farther? The Martin Goodman Trail is part of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, where cyclists can extend their adventure east or west across the province.

Rentals

Bike Share Toronto offers convenient 24/7 access to more than 7,000 bikes in 630 stations across the city, including stations on either side of the Humber Arch Bridge and just outside Tommy Thompson Park. A five-hour pedal bike rental costs $37.

Wheel Excitement is downtown on the waterfront and does brisk business all summer. A five-hour rental costs $35, and helmets are free with rental.

Guided Trips

Find hidden gems and gain local insight when you take this ride with a guided tour offered by companies like Toronto Bicycle Tours or Pedal Toronto.

a group of cyclists stop to take photos along the Sault Ste. Marie waterfront
Pedal through Sault Ste Marie’s downtown historic district and enjoy expansive views over the St Mary’s River, where Lake Superior flows into Lake Huron. Source: Colin Field // Destination Ontario

Downtown Waterfront, Sault Ste Marie

Enjoy a scenic, mostly waterfront 10-kilometre stretch, including the famous Hub Trail, in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. Start by exploring two kilometres of paved trails in pleasant Bellevue Park, then pedal west through the city’s historic district. Here, you can imagine the Soo in the olden days as you pass landmarks like the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre and historical reenactments of the 19th century at the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site.

Continue west along the water into the bustling downtown core. This stretch passes Roberta Bondar Park, the Sault Ste. Marie Museum, the Art Gallery of Algoma, and local cafes and shops where you can find unique local treasures and tasty treats.

At Canal Drive, veer south from the Hub Trail and take a side route to visit the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site. This historic landmark was the longest lock in the world when it opened to commercial traffic in 1895. It was converted to a recreational lock in 1998, and it’s still fascinating to watch boats and kayaks lock through as they gently rise to Lake Superior or lower to Lake Huron. Continue your ride onto the serene oasis of Whitefish Island, a former Indigenous settlement and trading post with three kilometres of easy loop trails to explore by bike.

Pedalling back to Bellevue Park makes this route approximately 20 kilometres of flat and easy riding.

Rentals

Bike rentals are available at the Roberta Bondar Marina from July to September; see the hourly rates here. Local bike shops Velorution and Algoma Bicycle Company have everything else a cyclist might need.

Tay Shore Trail, Midland

One of Ontario’s most scenic rail trails takes cyclists for a spectacular 17 kilometres along the clear waters of the Georgian Bay coast in Southern Ontario’s Simcoe County. Pedal the fully paved and family-friendly Tay Shore Trail between Midland and the tiny community of Waubaushene and enjoy frequent lake view vistas, small beaches, forested hillsides and historic landmarks. Cyclists will pedal past Wye Marsh, where more than 200 bird species have been observed, including the uncommon least bittern, black tern and trumpeter swan. See a map of the Tay Shore Trail here.

Cyclists will also pass along wetland Hogg Bay, Waubaushene Beaches Provincial Nature Reserve and Sainte Marie Among The Hurons National Historic Site of Canada. This living museum is a reenactment of the French Jesuit settlement from 1639 to 1649. It was Ontario’s first European settlement and was built on the ancestral lands of the Haudenosaunee nation.

From Waubaushene, cyclists can return to Midland to create a 34-kilometre out-and-back trip or connect to one of the many excellent cycling trails in the area. The Tay Shore Trail is part of the Trans Canada Trail and also part of the popular Simcoe County Loop Trail (160 kilometres), which can be tackled as a challenging big day out over several days for a relaxing cycle tour.

Guided Trips and Rentals

Ride the Tay Shore Trail as part of the Simcoe County Loop Trail over three or five days with Humdinger Bicycle Tours.

three cyclists ride along the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail
The Northern Channel Waterfront Trail regularly routes riders along picturesque shores of lakes, ponds and rivers. Source: Martin Lortz // Destination Ontario

Lake Huron North Channel Tour

For experienced cyclists looking for a multiday challenge, the 370 kilometres between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury is an enchanting part of Ontario’s Great Lakes Waterfront Trail. World famous for boating, cyclists will experience the beauty of Georgian Bay and its stunning crystal blue waters from shore. The Lake Huron North Channel Tour route can be tackled as a five-day active vacation, or cyclists can ride highlights and drive between destinations. Get a mini guide to the route here.

Not surprisingly, a route this length packs a lot of diversity. Cyclists will pass 12 heritage rivers, 16 beaches, 26 communities (most with amenities), forests and farmlands, fishing villages, historic landmarks and local breweries. Most of the route is on paved road—60 kilometres is on provincial highways with shoulders and 40 kilometres is on gravel. Cyclists can also diverge from the trail to experience even more great cycling on Manitoulin Island and St. Joseph Island, described above, and extend the route to 570 kilometres in total.

Six towns along the route have marinas that offer public services to cyclists, including Sault Ste. Marie, Hilton Beach on St Joseph Island, Bruce Mines, Thessalon, Blind River and Spanish. A touring, hybrid or gravel bike is recommended.

Tour Guide

The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail organization produces a detailed itinerary with accommodation suggestions for self-supported cyclists here. Suggested overnight locations include Sault Ste Marie, Bruce Mines, St. Joseph Island, Blind River, Massey, Espanola and Sudbury.

About Kaydi Pyette

Kaydi Pyette is the managing editor of Paddling Magazine and an outdoors journalist with a passion for words and wilderness. She's travelled by bicycle on five continents and, in 2022, she paddled across her home province of Ontario. When not at the editor's desk, she's a volunteer puppy raiser for a service dog organization.

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