5 Multi-Adventures to Discover in Northeastern Ontario

Escape the usual just a few hours north of the GTA. Varied terrain, quiet roads, and flowy trails—the North is calling.

There is a song by Canadian rock icons The Tragically Hip that exemplifies Northeastern Ontario’s lesser-known, but soon-to-be-discovered multi-adventures: “The Last of the Unplucked Gems."

There is so much to be discovered in Northeastern Ontario, there truly is something for every outdoor enthusiast! A trip to the North offers you the chance to ride on endless gravel backroads with little traffic and long sweeping hills, hike rugged backcountry trails and paddle historic waterways untouched by time. Northeastern Ontario’s cycling experiences are the perfect blend of adventure and wilderness with a touch of urban comfort and a unique Northern culture.

Getting to Northeastern Ontario from the USA

Northeastern Ontario offers a unique and thrilling experience for cyclists looking for adventure. With its scenic routes, diverse landscapes, and abundant wildlife, the region is perfect for those seeking an escape and a true northern experience. 

Travelling to Northeastern Ontario, visitors can either drive or fly into the region. Driving from the USA takes around 8 hours from Detroit while visitors arriving by air can connect in Toronto or Ottawa and catch a quick flight into the region's major cities, which include North Bay, Sudbury, or Timmins. Once arrived, visitors can expect to be immersed in the beauty of nature, with the chance to cycle through forests, along lakes, and over rolling hills. In addition to the large variety of cycling routes, Northeastern Ontario also offers a range of activities such as remarkable hiking trails, canoeing, fishing and more, making this multi-adventure destination perfect for every visitor. So pack your bags, grab your bike, and head to Northeastern Ontario for an experience like no other! 

Note: As of late 2022, all pandemic-related restrictions to enter Canada have been dropped. Proof of vaccination or a negative test are not required. For more information visit here.

1. The Urban Adventure Tour: North Bay's spirited Multi-Adventures

Colourful murals decorate downtown North Bay

A great start for an outdoor multi-adventure is a slow roll through the heart of North Bay, Ontario to discover a mosaic of creative spaces reflecting the city's cultural identity. Inspired by the mighty Lake Nipissing, Spirit of the Bay is a self-guided adventure to engage with the local arts community while cycling through a secret garden, strolling on the shores of Lake Nipissing to take in a performance and exploring colourful murals throughout the downtown. Meet the makers selling their wares at a local studio and savour the flavours of local cuisine – the perfect beginning before testing your balance on a SUP on Lake Nipissing or taking a self-guided kayak tour on any one of the numerous lakes and waterways. For the nature lover, Discovery Routes details over 85 km of hiking trails in North Bay alone.

2. Small Town Adventures in Mattawa's Voyageur Country

Glorious gravel backroads near Mattawa make up parts of the Voyageur Cycling Route

With a human history dating back 6,000 years, the connections run deep along the Red Toque Tour.  Across the traditional territories of the Anishinaabe, a rich history comes to life while riding the glorious gravel and paved backroads that make up the Voyageur Cycling Route.  The historical pinnacle of the self-guided tour—the town of Mattawa where the Mattawa River meets the Ottawa was once a thriving Indigenous trade center and later used by the Voyageurs on their quest for furs. Modern-day explorers can imagine the whispers of the past echoing from the towering cliffs of the Mattawa River as they paddle this ancient water highway. No multi-adventure is complete without a wilderness hike to the breathtaking Eau Claire Gorge to bathe in the healing powers of the northern forest. Discover all the best things to do in Mattawa Voyageur Country.

3. The Riverside Tour: Vive le Nord! in West Nipissing and French River

Long sweeping hills on secondary Highway 535

With a fiercely proud Francophone heritage, an outdoor adventure through West Nipissing and the Municipality of French River following the Vive le Nord! self-guided tour is an escape to an area with deep roots influenced by the region’s early settlers. Riding the flats through the region’s agricultural lands into the rugged wilderness along Lake Nipissing’s West Arm presents road cyclists with a challenging and exciting ride where the kilometers evaporate over sweeping hills and quiet secondary highways with few cars. Hike the wilderness trails at Mashkinonje Provincial Park or Dokis First Nation to discover a unique and diverse natural history. Launch a canoe at Wolseley Bay and explore the Upper French River renowned for its many islands, wind-swept pines and rock formations.  

4. The Historic Voyageur Route: Red Toque Tour

Following the well-worn trails of First Nation trade routes and clad in the iconic Red Toque, the Voyageurs embodied the freedom of the endless spaces of Northern Ontario’s rugged wilderness. Modern-day adventurers will discover this storied past cycling on quiet backroads of the Voyageur Cycling Route, paddling heritage waterways and hiking along historic portages.

5. The Fresh Farmstand Tour: Farmstand 40

The Farmstand 40 cycling tour in the Powassan area gives travellers a taste of local produce. 

An active adventure to local farm stands in Almaguin Highlands is an intimate experience where you can engage with local farmers and pick up fresh local produce, honey, maple syrup, preserves, and baked goods at roadside stands. The Great Powassan and Area Farmstand Tour has grown since 2020 when it was first introduced to include a 40 km gravel ride affectionately known as the Farmstand 40. Our only recommendation when cycling the tour: don’t put all your eggs in one bike basket :) Savour those fresh goodies on any one of the handful of local hiking trails like The Pines boasting beautiful views of the surrounding highlands from which the area gets its name. To top off the adventure, a leisurely sunset paddle along the South River is the perfect conclusion to this peaceful journey.

About Jennifer McCourt

Jennifer McCourt is the Executive Director of Discovery Routes, a trails and cycling advocacy organization based in North Bay. She lives in Callander, Ontario and is always keen to explore and discover new trails with her family.


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