Check Out Ontario's New Timber Trail Loop for ADV Riders

Adventurers are going to love this new route in Ride the Highlands.

Good things come to those who wait. A statement that applied a couple of years back when Ontario's favourite motorcycle destination, Ride the Highlands, extended their fun pavement offerings onto the dirt. The Pick-Axe Loop was and still is, as far as I know, Ontario's only official adventure bike loop.

While the Pick-Axe Loop buzz is still going strong, success breeds desire for more, and it's time to dust off some more of Ride the Highland's dirty secrets. Welcome to the making of the newest adventure route, for your riding pleasure, the Timber Trail Loop.

Motorcycle riders on a stretch of highway.

Build it, and they will come.

Creating a successful adventure motorcycle route is challenging. It requires meticulous planning, consideration of various factors, and a deep understanding of what makes a route genuinely adventurous.

A successful route strikes a balance between the level of difficulty and technicality of the terrain. It's designed to challenge the experienced while keeping the less experienced riders smiling, ensuring a thrilling adventure for all.

Provide a sense of isolation, a big part of adventure motorcycle riding. Sprinkle in some points of interest and make sure there is fuel, food, and accommodations along the way.

Countless hours are dedicated to scouring Google Maps for promising squiggly lines, and a wealth of local knowledge is collected. All this ensures a smooth journey from point A to points B, C, and D and back to point A while guaranteeing good times for all.

A Motorcycle rider in water.

Just the Facts

What's the new ADV trail called in Ride the Highlands?

It's called the Timber Trail Loop.

Where is the new Timber Trail Loop? 

The Timber Trail Loops is located in Haliburton, Hastings County, Ontario, Canada. 

How long is the Timber Trail Loop?

The loop is 446 kilometres.

What's the riding surface like on the Timber Trail Loop?

The surface is 60% pavement and 40% dirt.

What's the Timber Trail Loop like to ride?

Designed for full-size and loaded adventure motorcycles. The route primarily consists of gravel roads with a variety of surface conditions.

An optional 18 km advanced section provides rocky climbs/descents and mud holes. Our BMW 1250 Adventure test rider named this section "Call My Mom." Read on to find out how the name came to be.

Is there a map for the Timber Trail Loop?

Yes! Download the route map here

Let's Do This: Riding the Timber Trail

It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it. With the nitty-gritty planning work completed, it is time to put some wheels to the dirt.

The loop is doable as a two-day adventure if you are within a couple hours ride from any point on the loop. However, we decided to make it a three-day and two-night trip because, you know, more is better.

Arrival: Day 1

With many accommodation options along its length, no matter your plan, a good night's rest is assured. For us, the home base is Sir Sam's Inn. Their two-story lakeside suites are perfect for a group. There is good food on-site and various activities for some post-ride R&R.

Our group comprises a Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro, a BMW 1250 Adventure, and a couple of KTM 990s. Three bikes have 50/50 tires; one sports the road-byiest 70/30 set-up. For luggage, there are three bikes with a complete set of hard cases and one with a top case and duffle. On day two, we rode light with most of our luggage left at our accommodations.

Four Motorcycles on grass.

Let's Ride: Day 2

Coming from different directions, we meet at the midpoint of the southern stretch of the Timber Trail Loop and make our way west. The road goes from pavement to gravel and narrows to a single lane as we splash through shallow water crossings and bounce along fire access roads.

The route links stretches of twisty pavement with equally twisty gravel that ventures from buffed two lines to lose country lanes.

At Sir Sam's, we enjoy a fantastic meal and do what any good day on the bike deserves: we relive the fun times and laugh at the challenges.

Motorcyle riders on a long stretch of highway

Day two picks up where day one left off. Long stretches of gravel and dirt and fun stretches of pavement, and then we turned into the forest.

An adventure loop can be called that without a bit of, you know, adventure. The following 18 or so kilometres promise to deliver just that.

On Google Maps, it's marked as a road; in person, well, if Google says so, it must be true, and there is only one way to find out.

Motorcycle riders on a stretch of highway.

As the path inclines, rocks become more prevalent than dirt, occasionally causing forward progress to veer off course and into a holly sh...t moment, but overall, we make good progress.

One puddle leads to another and another, filled with dark brown liquid that hides signs of depth or obstacles beneath the surface. Empowered by the company of friends, we push on, each following the successful path of the rider in front. Of course, the biggest bike offers the greatest challenge at this point; we watch the big GS veer off course and violently bounce over something under the surface, sending rider and machine splashing into water and mud. After a couple more turns at picking up the big GS and muscling it through a long stretch of mud, rock and ruts. The conversation goes something like this:

"How's it going?"

With heavy breath and sweaty brow, he replies:

"I feel like I need to call my mom."

And just like that, the "Call my Mom" namesake for the optional expert/ advanced section is set.

A split screen photo on the left it's a rider whose bike has fallen over and on the right a rider on a dirt road.

Tough times make the best memories, and with the struggle behind us, all is good again as the mud is replaced by sand, and we surf the loose stuff back to the pavement.

The day continues with the same fun playlist of pavement, gravel, and dirt set on repeat. We try another potentially advanced section but are forced to turn back by obstacles that are more worthy of dirt bikes than loaded ADV machines.

Back at Sir Sam's, it's all about good food, cold beer, conversation and laughter, about what else, the struggles along the "Call my Mom" section.

Homebound: Day 3

All good things must end, but there's always next time. We chat over breakfast, pack the bikes, say goodbye, and head off in different directions. On the way back, we could retrace part of the route, take in some of Ride the Highland's enjoyable paved roads, or head straight home, depending on the time.

Presented by Ride the Highlands for your riding pleasure and coming soon to a GPS unit near you, Timber Trail Loop, it's a good one.

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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