Ultimate Guide to Biking the Walden Trails

The hard rock landscape and beautiful forested views make for an epic bike experience.

The Walden Trails Park is a hub for all-season human-powered outdoor activity in Sudbury. The skiing and trail running is fantastic, and cyclists will love it as well. In the summer, the Walden Mountain Bike Club maintains over 15 km of exciting singletrack with sections of double-track ski trails.

These trails received national recognition in 2013 and 2014 as the host of the Ontario and Canada Cup mountain bike racing series. It’s possible to ride nearly year-round at Walden, with groomed winter fat bike trails weaving amongst the cross-country skiing trails on this 350-acre property.

On your next visit to Sudbury, make a stop at Walden to get your fix of Northern Ontario biking. Here’s how to make the most of your visit.

Getting there

The Walden trails are in the west end of Greater Sudbury, a 20-minute drive from downtown, in the community of Naughton. There’s ample parking at the trail centre off of Regional Road 55.

There’s signage at frequent intersections along the trail system, or riders who prefer navigating with their phones can use the Trailforks app, which has all 39 trails loaded in, along with the suggested routes.

man rides over a rocky hill in summer at Walden
Find incredible riding. Photo: Rory Lepage // Walden Mountain Bike Club

Summer Trails

The summer trails are typically open from early June, after the snow melts and the ground dries, until October, when the centre starts gearing up for ski and fat bike season.

The trails offer natural and built features, utilizing the rugged Precambrian Shield bedrock that dominates Sudbury’s landscape. The highly technical trails challenge you as you navigate the roots and rock bluffs. Built wooden features like bridges and boardwalks add even more fun to the mix—courtesy of the local trail gnomes (volunteers) who maintain the trails year-round and continue to add more exciting features throughout this network. Cyclists can take both hardtail and full-suspension bikes on these trails, but more suspension will certainly soften some of the bumpier descents.

Walden Mountain Bike Club has compiled their trails into six routes which take riders throughout the system. Beginners can start on the 3.1-km pink-signed Nice & Easy or 4-km green First Steps route with minimal elevation and a few optional features. Enjoy the fun, flowy berms of the Twist and Shout Trail.

After getting a feel for the trails, more experienced riders can step up to the blue-signed Dialed In. These are mostly easy trails, with a few more difficult ones thrown in like the double-black Roller Coaster Bike Trail. Most of the difficult sections have bypasses, or you can opt out of the route onto the double track if it gets to be too much.

Push your skills even further with some of the features on the more advanced trails, like the wild boardwalks on Double Down or the skinny drop at the end of the otherwise flowy Fozzie.

The 12-km red Kitchen Sink route is just like the name implies: a bit of everything. Plan on this longer ride to take in all the highlights of Walden’s trails.

person cycling in winter at Walden Trails Park
Don't forget to get out there in the winter, too. Photo: Rory Lepage // Walden Mountain Bike Club

Winter Trails

When the snow falls, over 7 km of the trails are packed and groomed for fat biking. Fat biking is a totally different experience, with the snowfall changing the nature of the trails—and providing a nice cushion in case of a tip-over. The trails are shared with snowshoers, and near daily condition updates are posted on the Walden website, Facebook page and Trailforks.

The Lower Loop is more suited to intermediate riders, while the Upper Fat Bike Loop has some more advanced trails.

person cycling in fall at Walden Trails Park
Fall is one of the best times to ride. Photo: Rory Lepage // Walden Mountain Bike Club

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 early in the season. 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.

people ride along a rocky trail at Walden
Everyone can join in the fun. Photo: Bob Miller // Walden Mountain Bike Club

Rentals

Sudbury bike shops offer mountain bike and fat bike rentals, as well as great local knowledge to point you towards the best trails. Options include:

  • 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.
man rides over rocky outcropping at Walden Trails Park
Whether you're just learning or are looking for a challenge, Walden has a trail to suit. Photo: Rory Lepage // Walden Mountain Bike Club

Fees

In the winter, Walden XC sells season-, day- and evening use passes for fat biking the trails. View this season’s fee schedule here.

Summer cyclists are encouraged to purchase a membership or make a donation to help support the volunteers who build and maintain the trails.

Events

The Walden Mountain Bike Club commits to fostering a welcoming environment for aspiring cyclists with weekly social rides. The club hosts these rides for all skill levels, with specific nights for families, fat bikes and women-only rides. The groups break into smaller groups according to skill level and are open to club members.

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

a fat bike parked on a snowy winter trail at Walden
A word of warning: you'll be stopping often to take in the views. Photo: Bob Miller // Walden Mountain Bike Club

Nearby Accommodations

Most accommodations are centred around Sudbury’s downtown, but it isn’t a far drive to the trails from there. Stay at the luxurious Parker House Suites or opt for one of the many familiar chain hotels through the area. For campers, Fairbank Provincial Park is a half-hour drive from the trailhead.

Food and Drink

Post ride, grab a bite at one of Sudbury’s local restaurants. There’s a great range, from casual dining to more upscale spots. A specialty Grilly (gourmet grilled cheese sandwich) from La Fromagerie is the perfect comfort food after a chilly day. In the summer, The Laughing Buddha has an excellent patio and selection of craft beers. Speaking of which, Sudbury’s award-winning hometown craft brew Stack Brewing has two locations where you can pick up their beers, or choose to enjoy them at many bars throughout the city.

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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