Muskoka's Southwood Road

With 33 km of uninterrupted twists and turns, you barely get a chance to take in the incredible scenery whizzing past you. Southwood Road is an underrated gem in the list of the top 30 motorcycle roads in Ontario.

Southwood Road aka Country Road 13, might occupy number twenty- one on the list of Top 30 Motorcycle Roads in Ontario but ask any motorcyclist in the GTA area or even in Southern Ontario and this Muskoka gem will definitely rank way higher on the list, if not number one. Why you ask, well the photo below captures the reason in all of its golden glory. 33 kilometres of twists and turns is unmatched in these parts. Southwood delivers on the sign’s promise with a grin-inducing consistency.

33 km of fun ahead on Muskoka's incredible Southwood Road

Where is Southwood Road?

This thrill ride is located in Ontario’s Explorers’ Edge region, an area often referred to as Muskoka but also includes Algonquin Park to the east, the coastal areas of Georgian Bay to the west, Loring-Restoule and the Almaguin Highlands in the north. This is a region blessed with very few straight roads and Southwood Road is the cherry on the cake, full of motorcycling opportunities.

Accessible from Highway 11 at its south end and Highway 69 to the north, the ride experience is equally enjoyable in either direction. I tend to prefer jumping on from Hwy 11 simply because after an hour plus on the straight highway heading north from Toronto I am itching to get my lean on.

Rideability and Pavement Quality

It begins with gentle sweepers to get you in the mood but soon it’s “game on” as the radius tightens and the frequency of turns increase. You know you’re on a good moto road when you don’t notice anything around you except the next turn—focus is on full. 

A typical country road, two lanes, no shoulder, the road conditions are generally good and go from new pavement to a few bumpy corners. During the early season, sand from winter road maintenance can be a hazard.

Enjoying the open space at Torrance Barrens

From the south, the road traverses farmlands then dips into the forest only to emerge from the tree tunnel into the unlike-anywhere-else landscape of the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Reserve. Here the road zig-zags through sparse vegetation and ancient rock. An awesome place to stop to stretch your legs, maybe even take in a hike.

Food & Drink

There are no amenities along Southwood Road, gas can be had along Highway 11 before turning off and then again in Bala or Gravenhurst, a between-gas-stretch of around 55 km (34 miles). What you will find as Southwood meets Hwy 69 is a chance to sample some delicious wood-fired pizza at Pie and stock up on some post-ride refreshments at Clear Lake Brewing Co.

Where to Stay

Residence Inn Gravenhurst Muskoka Wharf makes a great home base while in Muskoka

One road does not a weekend make. But the Explorers’ Edge region has a wealth of roads worth travelling to. If you want to make Southwood Road the centerpiece of your trip, you can find accommodations in Bala to the north as well as Gravenhurst to the south.

So somehow Southwood Road, aka Country Road 13, is number 21 on the Ontario best road list. But that ranking depends on who you ask. Try it for yourself, and I bet you’ll agree with me it should be bumped into the top five. It’s definitely one of Ontario’s must-rides.

Check out our series on Ontario’s Best Roads:

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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