Bike Sault Ste. Marie
It's time to bike Sault Ste. Marie. The city is drawing on its wild side to become Ontario’s best biking destination, part of a growing number of cities to embrace cycling as a means toward urban renewal.
Bentonville, Arkansas, population 50,000, is the poster child of the Biketown model. Sam Walton established his Walmart empire here in 1950. Lately, the Walton family has invested millions into bike trails, with the hope of making the city attractive to the professionals needed for Walmart's online retailing future. The investment seems to be paying off: House prices have tripled, and cycling contributes $51 million annually for local businesses, about half of which comes from tourists.
Sault Ste. Marie has similar potential, insists Travis Anderson, an MBA who returned to his hometown to serve as the project manager of FutureSSM, a $2.6 million community development initiative. Travis says the city has options for all types of cycling at all skill levels. He’s bolstered by the enthusiasm of local riders who are playing a key role in the Soo’s emergence on the cycling map.
At the same time, City Hall is taking note of cycling’s huge tourism potential. Currently, Anderson is working with partners, including the Sault Ste. Marie Regional Conservation Authority, to expand the existing 30 km of single-track mountain bike trails to 100 km over the next five years. This will be a huge boost to the growing network of Sault Ste. Marie bike trails.
“What always blows me away is the terrain and quality of our trails,” says Anderson, a former competitive mountain bike racer. “It’s equivalent to what you would see in Quebec or British Columbia.”
Here are six ways to get a taste of Canada’s newest cycling hub:
An urban introduction
The paved John Rowswell Hub Trail weaves in and out of neighbourhoods for 22.5 km. Along the way, it links area hotels with attractions like the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.
Singletrack - ride the hiawatha bike trail sault ste. marie
Get a taste of the Soo’s rugged terrain at Hiawatha Highlands, in the city’s north end. Singletrack trails range from the beginner-friendly Pinder network to the more challenging Crystal and Red Pine trails, featuring steeper drops and heart-pumping ascents, as well as plenty of rock, mud, and roots. “There’s a perfect progression to the Hiawatha trails,” says local rider Danielle Anstess. The Sault Cycling Club is a great place to connect with the broader mountain bike Sault Ste. Marie community.
This is by far the most popular of a series of group rides that are organized by the best bike shop Sault Ste. Marie has - Vélorution Bike and Ski. The weekly mountain bike outing attracts dozens of women to Hiawatha’s singletrack network on Tuesday nights.
Ride the roads
The province-spanning Great Lakes Waterfront Trail now links Sault Ste. Marie with Sudbury and includes the newly opened 25 scenic kilometres that run west of downtown Sault Ste. Marie to the village of Gros Cap on Lake Superior. Meanwhile, paved country roads on picturesque St. Joseph Island, a 45-minute drive east, offer countless options amid maple-clad hills on Lake Huron’s North Channel.
Crank the Shield
In 2018, 180 riders from across North America discovered Ontario’s most challenging mountain biking during the northern reincarnation of Crank the Shield—a three-day, 200-km wilderness race based in Sault Ste. Marie, set to return in 2021.
There is no offseason
Sault Ste. Marie also features one of Ontario’s longest networks of groomed fatbike trails at Crimson Ridge, along with single-track options available for winter riding off the Hub Trail.
Sault Ste. Marie bike rental locations include: Vélorution (mountain, electric assist and fatbikes—year-round); Algoma Bicycle Company (urban hybrid—summer only) and Parks Canada-Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site (fatbikes—summer only).
ROLLING INTO THE FUTURE
The addition of political will to such a strong grassroots community suggests no biker will be left behind as Sault Ste. Marie rolls into the future.
But don’t wait to visit, discover incredible heart-pumping road tours, single-track mountain bike rides and leisurely rambles now.
Come ride the best bike trails Sault Ste. Marie Ontario has to offer.