The View From Behind Bars

If I had to pick my favourite time of year to ride it would have to be fall, and not just any time, but specifically that small window of opportunity when glowing colours, blue sky and comfortable temperatures make it magic.

It’s all about the peak colour experience and like most things in todays world I’m sure there is an app for that; but being somewhat old fashioned I prefer to see it for myself. With the added weekend time, courtesy of Thanksgiving, I point my trusty steed north for three days of fall colour research, both on and off the beaten path.

So here you have it from my lens to your screen in seventy-two hours. I might be old fashioned in my research but it doesn’t mean I can't be new-age savvy. So if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter this might be old news.

Welcome to the first in what will be an annual series of never-before-seen fall colour photo reports from behind bars.


Ahhhh Fall, you can be as cold-hearted as you can be beautiful. That’s frost on those boards along the shores of Lake Nosbonsing in Bonfield. A two degree Celsius morning proves that a fall weather forecast is just a guideline and you have to be ready for anything. My summer gloves are just not cutting it this morning. Thank goodness for heated grips!


When in Rome do as the Romans. Well, we are in Bonfield and in Bonfield they ride dirt bikes. Rightfully so, there are hundreds of kilometres of trails and old logging roads crisscrossing these woods. A few locals offered to show me around. Me on my 500 lbs adventure bike, it’s like a hippo chasing gazelles, lol.


What’s the next best thing to scouring a hundred kilometres of roads in search of fall colours? Seeing them all from one spot. It wasn't easy getting here but the view is so worth it!


I don't know of another town in Ontario that embraced the motorsports experience like Mattawa has. Boating, snowmobiling, ATV, motorcycling, Mattawa has something for everybody. The VMUTS trail system offers a mapped 300 km playground for the dirt lover. For the adventure tour rider, there is plenty of this; long, remote dirt roads where it’s just you and a billion leaves.


Highway 533 is part of the spectacular Temiskaming Loop Tour that heads north from Mattawa. This photo shows that it’s not only trees that look good in yellow. Luckily for us, these yellow signs never go out of season.


You might have noticed that when it comes to touring I have a preference for the path less travelled. So when it's time to head home, the straightforward way is not the best way. From Mattawa to Powassan it’s all about the back roads.


Following the 'Forgotten Trails' along Old Nipissing Rd., the area heading south from Highway 522 offers amazing single lane dirt road riding and spectacular views along the way.


I might favour the dirt road but I'm not about to pass up Muskoka's famous paved twisties. Highway 518 looking good all dressed in its fall season best.


Highway 632 just south of Rosseau. Blue sky, peak colour, twisty road and shimmering lakes, Muskoka at its finest.


If photos could talk then this shot of a freshly paved section of Southwood Road in Muskoka would only need a couple of words to get its point across: Ride Me.

I encountered rain, howling winds, frost and 20°C heat on this trip all in the name of research. So what’s the hard-earned conclusion; yah fall is definitely on. Things are peaking from Barrie north to Huntsville. I’d say North Bay and Mattawa are 85% there. The proof is in the photos but there is really only one way to know for sure, the old fashion way, go see for yourself.

The Stats

Start and End - Toronto, Ontario
Duration - 3 days
Total Kilometres - 1220
Paved/Dirt - 50/50
Means of Transport - Triumph Tiger 800xc


Day One - Cedar Gables Lodge, Bonfield, Ontario
Comfortable rooms, breakfast is included and you can park your bike in the garage.

Day Two - Valois Motel, Mattawa, Ontario
Nice rooms good food on the shore of the Ottawa River.

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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