6 Reasons Spring is the Best Season for Cycling in Ontario

Wildflowers, wildlife, sunshine—oh my!

I don’t know about you, but when the snow melts, I’m oiling my chain and pumping up my tires. I can’t wait to get out for a ride without putting on a thousand layers of clothing.

Spring in Ontario is full of life—from bursting wildflowers and fresh produce, to the return of birds and birth of baby mammals, spring cycling in Ontario is invigorating.

Here are six reasons spring is the best reason for cycling in Ontario, to get you excited to get back in the saddle and out on the trail.

bicycle propped against the front deck of a chalet in spring
Enjoy the return of warmth. Source: Kyle Slater // @kyleslatermtb

1. You Can Jump-start Summer Training

If you have summer races or events planned, now is the time to train. Spring is the optimal time to get in those long endurance rides. If you don’t have any races in your calendar—find out 10 Reasons You Should Try a Bike Race in Ontario This Year.

A great mountain bike race to work towards is Crank the Shield, taking place in August in Sault Ste. Marie. The three-day mountain bike stage race cuts through some of the province’s best technical singletrack and climbs. It’s a true test for any amateur athlete.

The terrain takes in some rocky Canadian Shield and manicured trails in the Hiawatha Highlands. And when it’s all over, it’s time to reward yourself with the ice cream to end all ice cream at Hiawatha Ice Cream.

2. You Can Enjoy the Wildflowers

Spring in Ontario is a festival of wildflowers. From early May to mid-June, wildflowers can be found in forested areas, marshes and alongside river shorelines.

Many of the provincial parks are also full of wildflowers including bunchberry, moccasin flower, bloodroot, lady’s slipper and hyacinth. One of the best places to cycle through a wetland and patches of wildflowers is Pancake Bay Provincial Park.

The Lookout Trail is a 14-kilometre mountain bike trail traversing wetland and rocky technical sections. Check the conditions and weather before riding.

On your drive back, make a stop to Wilding Acres just west of Sault Ste. Marie. Their spring produce will just be beginning—you can pick up some fresh lettuce, jams or treats.

a mountain biker rides across a wooden bridge in the forest
Once the trails are dry, it’s time to get out in the woods. Source: Kevin Green // @grnology

3. You Don’t Have to Worry about Overheating

Remember what it’s like to run out of the house wearing only shorts and a shirt? With average temperatures varying wildly between 0 and 20 degrees Celsius, there’s less chance of overheating on your rides.

But be warned: spring also brings possible showers. Bring layers and some waterproof gear. Before setting out, check the weather.

Fresh Air in Thunder Bay has one of the largest selections of outdoor wear in Northern Ontario. Find a fancy new jacket or bib shorts for those long rides. They carry brands such as Sugoi, prAna and The North Face.

Located in Sudbury, The Outside Store has more clothing brands that will keep you dry and fashionable.

4. You Can Eat Fresh Veggies and Fruit

Spring is a return to seasonal eating, providing better fuel for your bike rides. May and June are rhubarb and strawberry season. In addition, you’ll find carrots, broccoli, cucumber and asparagus at many markets. Sometimes even more selection like lettuce and peppers if they were started in a greenhouse!

To learn what’s in season check the Foodland Ontario website and then find a local farmers’ market.

In Northern Ontario, many markets don’t open until June, but you can find a few that open in May: NEMI Farmers’ Market and Gore Bay Farmers’ Market on Manitoulin Island, North Bay Farmers’ Market and Powassan Farmers’ Market.

In North Bay, the Farmstand 40, a 37-kilometre ride (with optional 23-kilometre extension) is a paved and gravel ride through farms and markets.

And we can’t forget about the U-picks. Spring means a sea of strawberries ripe for shortcakes and smoothies or just snacking. Try Ruby Berry Farm in Sudbury or Thomson Farms in Sault Ste. Marie.

5. You Can See Much More Wildlife

Pack your binoculars as spring in Ontario is teeming with life—wildlife! As soon as ice-out occurs, the iconic Canadian loon returns to lakes surrounded by forests and rocky shorelines. Stop to listen to its famous call. Songbirds and ducks also return to feast, and eagles can be found high above setting up their nests in tall trees. Depending where you’re travelling, here’s a good guide to what you might see.

One of Northern Ontario’s most protected and loved wildlife areas is the Algoma Highlands Conservancy in Sault Ste. Marie. The area is rich with wildlife such as wolves, lynx, moose, bears, peregrine falcons and several rare plant species.

Head to the heart of the Highlands, about 20 minutes outside of the city: King Mountain is a 583-metre climb that overlooks the Goulais River. This trail is a 4.5-kilometre climb for mountain bike experts.

person rides a bicycle down a rural road on a sunny spring day
Get in some training before the bike season really kicks off. Source: Kevin Green // @grnology

6. You Can Refill on Vitamin D

Ontario often has incredibly dark winters. In spring, it’s time to get your sun fix. Vitamin D keeps your bones healthy, defends your immune system and keeps you young. Not to mention, it keeps the blues away.

And guess what? Thunder Bay is Northern Ontario’s sunniest destination. On average, Thunder Bay has over 2,200 hours of sunshine per year. In early spring, before the foliage has reappeared, you can soak up the rays even in the woods. Go for a mountain bike ride in Trowbridge Forest or find other great rides in this Guide to Cycling in Thunder Bay.

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.

Recommended Articles

Gravel Grinders

Ontario’s best gravel riding events in 2024.

Ontario Bike Law

Know your rights and responsibilities.

Ultimate Guide to Road Cycling Events

Discover Ontario's best races and events in 2024.

Best Bikepacking Routes

11 unforgettable trip options in Ontario.

12 Best Ontario Parks for Bike Rides

Find out what makes these parks so great for cycling.

Ride the Best Bike Parks in Ontario

Choose from pump tracks, jump parks, and downhill mountain biking.

E-Biking Bliss

Everything you need to know about riding your electric bike in Ontario

Sudbury’s Best Bike Rides

Your ultimate guide to cycling the City of Lakes.

Go Now

The only things missing from Manitoulin Island are you and your bicycle.

Ride Gravel

Ontario's 9 best off-road adventures on two wheels.

Are You Up for the Challenge?

8 best 100-km bike routes in Ontario.

13 Spectacular Bike Rides

Where to see the best of the province.

Hiawatha Highlands Bike Guide

Mountain bike in summer, fat-bike in winter—have fun all year round.

Insider’s Guide to Cycling the Algoma Highlands

Find out why this is an incredible place to ride your bike.

A Complete Guide to Cycling in North Bay

What to check out at this up-and-coming cycling hot spot.

Best Ontario Bike Routes on Strava

Find out where the locals love to ride.

Mountain Bike Races & Events in Ontario

Find out when these experiences are running in 2024.

Get The Scoop

Finest bike rides for ice cream lovers.

9 incredible bike rides

These challenging and difficult cycling routes could change your life.

Adventure Riding Near Mattawa

Guide to biking the Voyageur Multi-Use Trail System.