Ultimate Guide to Biking Sudbury’s Lake Laurentian Trails

Explore a natural refuge full of rugged Ontario wilderness.

The Lake Laurentian Conservation Area is a natural refuge in the centre of Northern Ontario’s largest city. Straddling Ramsay Lake and the Highway 17 bypass in Sudbury, this 950-ha greenspace encompasses Lake Laurentian and is home to countless wildlife-viewing and recreational opportunities. The LLCA is managed by the Nickel District Conservation Authority with the goal of preserving the watershed for all to enjoy. It’s one piece of a mosaic of nature in the area, joining Laurentian University’s campus.

The network of multi-use trails is used by cyclists and hikers. In the winter some trails are groomed for classic cross-country skiing, but others are used by local fat bikers, making it a place to enjoy year-round.

Combine a visit to the Lake Laurentian trails with a day of riding at Walden Trails Park or Kivi Park to fully experience why Sudbury is home to some of Ontario’s best mountain biking.

Getting there

Trails meander through the area, connecting to farther-reaching pathways like the Rainbow Routes trail network. This makes LLCA accessible from nearly anywhere in Sudbury.

For visitors farther away, there are a few access points that can be used. Park at the Bioski chalet, Loach’s Road or Ida Street to jump onto the trail network. There is signage throughout the Conservation Area for trails, but using Trailforks to navigate will show some of the locally-built trails, and most up to date bypasses, as well as your location in real time.

Coffee break at Lake Laurentian Conservation Area
A well-earned coffee break at Lake Laurentian Conservation Area. Photo: Thomas Merritt // @tjsmerritt

Summer Trails

The summer trails are generally good to ride from early June until October, after which the trails can get quite muddy until the ground freezes. Sudbury’s bedrock-dominated landscape means the trails here generally dry a little faster after periods of rain.

Many of the trails near Lake Laurentian were built for hiking, although mountain biking is permitted on them. Some are quite technical, with lots of the bedrock drops and tree roots that are emblematic of the Sudbury riding scene. You’ll be rewarded with nice scenery like ponds and marshes on the sides of the trails. Cyclists can take both hardtail and full-suspension bikes on these trails, but more suspension will certainly soften some of the bumpier descents. The multi-use paths are shared with hikers, but there are so many trails around they’ll never feel crowded.

Use the double-track, gravel Moonlight Beach Trail to get into the trails and warm up. Many of the Laurentian Lake trails are more challenging and recommended for intermediate to advanced cyclists; be prepared to walk the occasional section. The Lake Laurentian Loop is a longer ride around the full lake, with some more exciting offshoots like Laurentian Trails 1-5 on the west side of the lake. Summer riders can also cut into Laurentian University’s ski trails, which feature some fun, challenging climbs.

Again, it’s best to use an app like Trailforks to navigate this system or stop into one of Sudbury’s local bike shops to get an idea of the current trail conditions and ideal routes.

Winter fat bike at Lake Laurentian Conservation Area
Don't forget about winter riding. Photo: Bob Miller // @boppabob007

Winter Trails

Walden Trails Park and Kivi Park feature Sudbury’s best groomed fat bike trails. Locals still ride some of the trails in the Lake Laurentian Area, especially the more mellow trails like the double-track to Moonlight Beach.

When to Go

The mountain bike trails begin to dry out in early June and are good through until late fall. The riding in September is beautiful as the leaves turn and colours come out.

Fat biking season often starts in December, but the trails can be iffy through the month. There’s a good snowpack by February, and the weather warms up just a little bit in March to make riding more comfortable. March Break is one of the most favourable times of winter for fat biking, and certainly worth visiting.

What to Bring

The trail network is expansive, and being prepared can help save a long walk back to the parking lot. You’ll want to have a phone with you for emergency communication. Bring enough water, as there are no fill-ups on the way, and a small kit with standard tools and a spare tube if you need to carry out any trailside fixes.

Bike Shops and Rentals

Stop into a local Sudbury bike store to grab any last-minute items you may need and get the most current trail information. The staff at these shops ride themselves and are happy to point you in the right direction. Fat Bike rentals and mountain bike rentals are available at most shops in the city:

  • Adventure365 (705-222-2772/705-618-KIVI) provides bike rentals, sales and service at 444 Barrydowne Road in Sudbury as well as on-site mountain- and fat-bike rentals at Kivi Park.
  • The Outside Store (705-522-1755) offers rentals, sales and service at 2140 Long Lake Road in Sudbury. 
  • Sessions Ride Co. sells and repairs all types of bicycles and offers a full lineup of rentals from its store at 609 Notre Dame Avenue in Sudbury.

Fees

These trails are free to use, and there’s no fee for parking at the trailheads.

Winter fat bike at Lake Laurentian Conservation Area
Get the trails (and views) all to yourself. Photo: Bob Miller // @boppabob007

Events

The Walden Mountain Bike Club occasionally hosts social rides for its members at Lake Laurentian.  The club hosts these rides for all skill levels, breaking into smaller groups according to skill level and are open to club members.

The local Bush Pig enduro races happen nearby at the Walden trails twice a year, with a fat bike race in the winter and a cross-country race in the summer. There are other clinics and races nearly every month; the club updates these on their Facebook page

There is a summer XTERRA triathlon and duathlon event, Conquer the Crater at Kivi Park for multi-sport racers as well.

Nearby Food and Drink

Most accommodations are centred around Sudbury’s downtown, just a short ride to the conservation area along some of the city’s dedicated bike paths. In addition to larger chain hotels, there are some self-catered short-term rentals like Legacy Suites, complete with a kitchen for making some of your own meals. Pick up some pastries from one of the bakeries in town.

There’s no shortage of options for dining out. Made in Canada (MIC) Restaurant has comfort food after a full day outdoors offering combinations of meat and melted cheese you didn’t even know were possible, along with a well-stocked whiskey bar. For plant-based options, try Tucos Taco Lounge on the north end. For a fresh cup of coffee and a nice atmosphere check out Sudbury cafes like Kuppajo, Twiggs, Old Rock or Salute.

About Jake O'Flaherty

Jake O’Flaherty is a freelance outdoor guide who loves to explore the remote corners of the world, but Lake Superior is where he feels most at home.

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