Adventure Motorcycle Touring in Muskoka

We know Muskoka for the excellent roads and places to eat and stay, but what does it offer the ADV rider looking for a challenge?

When discussing the idea of motorcycle touring in Muskoka, the conversation quickly turns to twisty pavement and lakeside attractions. I can’t dispute Muskoka's stellar touring potential for pavement craving riders, but what if your idea of a moto good time has less to do with the quality of the road surface, and in fact depends on just the opposite, a good dose of gravel, dirt and rocks? Can Ontario's premier cottage country deliver the goods for a memorable big bike adventure ride? Only one way to find out. We load the GPS with a loosely strung together track of local knowledge, been-there-done-that and I-think-you-can information, and point the bikes north.

There is a price to pay when starting a ride in the GTA. In this case, it’s an hour plus in the company of hundreds on HWY 400 and HWY 11, but as soon as we make a right on to Coopers Falls Road, it’s so long traffic. We meander north along country roads, some paved others not, a few grand sweepers on HWY 118E and then it’s hello Black River Road, let the fun begin. 

The plan is to follow Black River Road then Pine Springs Road all the way to HWY 35. The road slowly narrows and gravel fades to dirt. A couple of loose rock-covered uphills along Pine Springs Road can be a challenge, as my fairly new-to-adventure-riding companion proves when he deals with unexpected rock induced direction changes that leave an impact on his heart rate and sweat production.

Next on the list is Troutspawn Lake Road. First of all, getting here along the paved and twisty Livingstone Lake Road was a blast. Secondly, it sure looks like Troutspawn received some TLC over the last couple of years, taking it from a dirt path to a full-on gravel road. Less fun maybe, but definitely easier and safer.

Once on HWY 60, we set our sites on the Town of Huntsville for lunch and gas but not before a slight touristy detour along Oxtongue Rapids Park Road. The road's unpredictable dirt/gravel surface means that we most likely won’t be sharing it with our slickly equipped two-wheel friends.

With tanks filled, both mechanical and personal, it’s time to head for the unknown. Kearney and the Almaguin Highlands are located along the west side of Algonquin Park. This area is home to the Algonquin West ATV Club and is riddled with trails vanishing into the forest. Taking our 500-lb two-wheelers onto ATV trails sounds like a bad idea, but a study of the Ontario Backroads Map shows a trail traversing the area labelled The Algonquin Dual-Sport Route. Sounds good.

The next hour and a half is what it’s all about: a single lane dirt track, rocks, roots and a bit of mud, exploring the unknown at the mercy of land and weather. I must emphasize the area's remoteness, no phone service and no support; what we encountered as an easy passage during a super dry summer may be impassable after a heavy rain.

Back on pavement, just north of Burk’s Falls and with the sky threatening rain, it is time to set our sites on home... well, in a roundabout kind of way. Still plenty of gravel ahead Old Nipissing Road, Orange Valley Road, Broadbent Road, the gravel continues till well into the heart of Muskoka. But first, a visit to The Screaming Heads, one man’s 25-year commitment to creating a landscape of art. Definitely one of the more quirky and cool attractions in Muskoka. 

All in all the Muskoka portion was 500 km, making it an 800-km day and 14 hours in the saddle. Sounds long? I agree; next time we will partake in more of the area’s superb eateries and lakeside accommodations and turn this ride into a weekend.

So the question was, can Muskoka cottage country deliver the goods for a memorable adventure ride? Absolutely.

About Martin Lortz

Martin Lortz is a freelance photographer/writer specializing in the outdoor lifestyle. Whether he is covering adventure motorcycling, kayak fishing or family oriented outdoor pursuits, his passion for capturing the beauty of nature and the people that partake in it, is evident in his work. His photos and articles have appeared in magazines such as Ski Canada, Explore, Bike, Mountain Life, Couloir, Kayak Angler and Family Camping, as well as in calendars, catalogs and brochures.

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