Top 10 Motorcycle Routes in Ontario for 2016

Each year we review the “state of the roads” in Ontario, evaluating each of the motorcycle routes - how far they've come, where they are now, and if any changes in conditions have made riding them extra fun.

Click here to see our picks for the Top Motorcycle Routes for 2020!

This year, there are a couple of upsets in our top ten list. Those of you who have already been out riding in Ontario, Canada are likely familiar with some (or all) of these routes and know there’s good reason for this list to be updated each year; namely, construction, frost heaves, sand in road corners, re-routing of roads, rider-friendly hotels, restaurants and scenic areas being closed or changing hands…there’s a lot to consider when putting together a killer motorcycle route.

After much debate and review by our team of experts, here's our list of the top motorcycle routes to ride in Ontario, with links to trip planners, and downloadable and paper maps.

10. Aventure Nord ADV

The new kid on the block just emerged this year and comprises of the already established “Mooseback” ADV route, as well as 3000km of mapped backroad riding in the northern reaches of the province. Currently, the website and map are only available in French, as that is the dominant language of the communities in the region, but true ADV riders know dirt only speaks one language – and that language is BRAPPPPPPPP.

Plan this trip on the GoTourOntario trip planner

9. The Champlain Route

Another franco-inspired route joins the list for the first time after recently being completed. The Champlain Route loosely follows the path of the first Europeans in this area, the famous explorer Samuel de Champlain. This route is full of the history of Canada and is well-suited for the touring crowd who likes to learn a little something about this land as they pass through it. The scenery is great, there are plenty of great places to eat along the way (Champlain was the founder of the “society of good cheer” which basically meant “eat well”) AND the route avoids most major highways so you’ll enjoy the ride.

8. The Georgian Bay Coastal Route

After years of being one of the first recognized Ontario motorcycle routes, the Georgian Bay Coastal Route finds itself down at number 8 mainly because the top half of highway 69 is a bit scary on a bike, and there’s a lot of riding on major highways. It redeems itself with a ferry ride, the bits through Grey-Bruce and Manitoulin, and the fact that this is probably the closest big tour for the population centres around Toronto, Hamilton, Michigan and New York State. We’ve heard there are plans to rejuvenate the route and that highway 69 will eventually be four-laned all the way to Sudbury. If this happens, you may see the GBCR rise significantly on this list.

Plan this trip on the GoTourOntario trip planner

7. The Nor’Wester

The step-child of the massive Ride Lake Superior loop, the Nor’Wester never seemed to get the attention it deserved – however, we had a chance to ride this loop two years ago and it is nothing short of stunning. OK, it doesn’t have the views of the big lake, but it does have truly incredible roads. While the Trans Canada sections are good rides, with lots of long sweepers, views of lakes, rock cuts and majestic boreal forests, the connecting highways that complete the loop, namely Highway 71, 622 and/or 522 are truly spectacular. There are lonely stretches of highway without any major towns, but the asphalt is good, the twisties are amazing, and the scenery is just killer. Just make sure you keep your eyes open for wildlife.

6. Cruise the Coast

Actually a series of routes that criss-cross the countryside in the southernmost part of Ontario, these routes are likely most well-known for their proximity to the grand-daddy of all motorcycle events, Port Dover’s Friday the 13th. Make no mistake though, the backroads that zig-zag from Michigan to New York State along the coast of Lake Erie will keep any rider entertained, and these communities are known for their laid-back coastal lifestyle. Don’t forget to bring a swimsuit!

5. Ride the Edge – The Big Loop

When you tell someone that you’ve got a route that combines Muskoka roads with Algonquin Park and the quiet, twisty rides of Parry Sound and Almaguin, the reaction is generally “When do we leave?” – The Explorers’ Edge region of Ontario is naturally blessed with the lush Muskoka and its numerous lakes, Ontario’s most beloved and well-known provincial park – Algonquin, and miles and miles of quiet twisty backroad in the Almaguin and Parry Sound areas. While their Small Loop is fun, it misses the majesty of Algonquin Park (and the potential for an overnight camp there too, if that’s your thing) – also the possibilities of continuing north or east to extend your ride really sweeten the pot.

4. Ride the North – The Temiskaming Loop

After you pass North Bay, the world seems to change. Towns turn to treelines, Walmarts become rock cuts, parking lots become lakes… The Temiskaming Loop showcases everything that is truly great about Northern Ontario – the only thing is that half of it is in Quebec! This route used to be the best way to get up and back to the epic Bikers Reunion festival, but seeing as it has just completed its final year, there’s really only one thing left to do – ride on.

Plan this trip on the GoTourOntario trip planner

3. Ride Lake Superior

Billed as the “cure to the common road trip” Ride Lake Superior is reminiscent of all the grand road trips we’ve all done with friends and families across North America. Its greatest selling feature is, of course, the massive body of freshwater smack dab in the middle, but the real treasures are the incredible places that form communities all around the lake – Thunder Bay, Duluth, Marquette, Sault Ste. Marie, Rossport, Terrace Bay, Copper Harbour…and dozens more, each with real character and unique charm, and each ready and willing to welcome riders. Duluth is even home to the legendary motorcycle gear manufacturer Aerostitch.

And there is no possible way we could capture the incredible diversity of scenery you’ll encounter on your ride – but lets’ try anyway:

  • The red rock cliffs near Nipigon
  • The hundreds of miles of sand dunes in Michigan
  • The massive cliffs around the Split Rock Lighthouse
  • The sleeping giant mountain outside Thunder Bay
  • The sandy beaches of Agawa Bay
  • The crystal clear waters of Lake Superior
  • The underwater mineshaft at Silver Islet
  • The picturesque town of Marquette
  • The winding roads and towering views around Copper Harbour
  • The vast vistas of Lake Superior heading south from Wawa

We could go on, but let’s just say that the best views are often the ones you discover for yourself.

Plan this trip on the GoTourOntario trip planner

2. The Grand Algoma

For years the Grand Algoma was Ontario’s top ride. And with good cause. Highway 129, which makes up half of the ride, is Ontario’s “tail of the dragon” with tight winding curves, wide sweepers, huge drops and all framed by cliffs and rivers. And on the other side of the Mississagi Valley is Highway 11, the Trans Canada running south from Wawa to Sault Ste. Marie, with its undulating two lane blacktop winding back and forth against the shores of Lake Superior, revealing its glory and grace and ending the trip back into Sault Ste. Marie on a high note. And it’s still a top ride. Easily accessible from the US of A, and easily combined with other routes in the region for a longer ride, it was pretty much perfect. But for the last few years something has been brewing in the eastern part of the province. And it has finally displaced our number one ride.

Plan this trip on the GoTourOntario trip planner

1. Ride the Highlands – Deep Valley Run

Ride the Highlands is actually a collection of several routes, and all of them are pretty good. And they’ve gone above and beyond by setting up dozens of restaurants, attractions and accommodations that are specifically trained to be ready for the sun or wind burnt, wet, bug splattered or just plain tired rider and make sure they have the best time possible. However, it is one route in particular that sets this region apart, and that is the “Deep Valley Run”.

Holding claim to the idea that the pioneers who settled this area made these roads specifically for riders, the truth is more likely that they didn’t have enough dynamite to blast through all the rock and forest, or enough fill to cover up the rivers and lakes, so they just went over, up and around them – and it certainly pays off for riders. Although the main feature on this route, the Calabogie Road, was in a little rough shape the last time we rode through there, it was nothing short of a spiritual experience.

As always, if you’re looking to plan your route, head to GoTourOntario for customizable routes with motorcycle-ready businesses happy to go the extra mile for you. Cuz that’s how we do in Ontario.

Check out our top 30 roads for short hauls, and complete list of motorcycle events for things to do!

About Mike Jacobs

Mike is an avid Northern traveller, having spent years traversing its backroads, and visiting its remote lodges and fun cities by car, RV, motorcycle, and boat. There's always something new to discover in the North and Mike never shies away from the next great adventure. Mike is the chairman of the board for the Tourism Technology Company.

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