Spirit of The Bay: A Cycling Tour of North Bay

Multi-Adventure in North Bay

North Bay’s vibrant arts and cultural scene comes alive in the Spirit of The Bay self-guided outdoor adventure. Set your own pace as you cycle the lively city of North Bay and the charming town of Callander on the shores of Lake Nipissing. Paddle the quiet waters of the many lakes and hike the endless natural spaces that inspire the community’s creatives.

North Bay’s trail system connects riders to downtown  Photo: Tourism North Bay

Start your tour in downtown North Bay with its colourful murals and unique shops and galleries celebrating local arts, hand-crafted wares and Northern cuisine. Downtown is also home to the North Bay Farmer’s Market, a great place to meet the makers and savour locally grown and homemade treats. Stop by the WKP Kennedy Gallery, a public art gallery downtown that showcases Northern, Canadian and International visual artists. And, there is always an innovative and sometimes “risky” artistic practice being presented at the artist-run White Water Gallery.

While downtown it’s an absolute must that you download the It Happened Downtown podcast. Hilarious, heartfelt and downright quirky tales told by locals, it’s an audio-based tour of North Bay’s downtown and waterfront.

Colourful murals decorate downtown North Bay   Photo: Discovery Routes

Cyclists of every age and ability will love the paved pathways winding through the heart of North Bay; including the beautiful Kate Pace Way and Kinsmen Trail. The ride can include a distance of anywhere from 30 – 80 km moving from trail to quiet, country road. 

Itching to get out on the water? Rent a kayak or SUP from Boathouse Rentals at North Bay’s Waterfront. Or head on over to one of the public beaches on Trout Lake to dive into the cool fresh waters. Day-trippers and longer haul canoeists will be inspired by the flowing waters of the historic Mattawa River.

A unique and creative trail experience is Forest Talk Radio at Laurier Woods. Download the radio App to listen to a conversation amongst the trees telling folktales and forest science while walking the trails at the Laurier Woods Conservation Area.

Back on the bike, ride to the city’s North end stopping at Sweetman’s Secret Garden or for a meditative walk through the labyrinth at the St Joseph Motherhouse. Cyclists can choose to head to Nipissing First Nation to Aanmitaagzi; the Big Medicine Studio or continue on the paved pathway to the main campus of Nipissing University and Canadore College, another cultural hub in the city and trailhead to a network of hiking trails. The route goes right by musician-run Gateway City Brewery with their warehouse-style tap room and the Miso & Shiso food truck conveniently parked outside!

Lake Nipissing is never far from view    Photo: Tourism North Bay

North Bay offers a full day of exploration, but for those who prefer a longer ride, there are a few options looping from Lake Nipissing’s “North bay” to its rugged South shore along municipal roads and secondary highways. The bicycle-friendly village of Callander has a number of delightful, locally-owned patio restaurants ready to welcome hungry riders. 1886 Lakehouse Bistro won best bicycle-friendly business in Northeastern Ontario in 2021.

1886 Lakehouse Bistro in Callander voted best bicycle-friendly business in Northeastern Ontario 
Photo: Discovery Routes

Riding on, the route wraps around the South shore of Lake Nipissing along a quiet secondary highway with wide paved shoulders and some gentle ups and downs. Venturing off the highway gets riders closer to the rocky shoreline with its wind-swept pines and occasional beaches where a dip in the cool northern waters soothes the soul. Alternatively, cyclists can head east towards Astorville along the Voyageur Cycling Route and loop back through the community of Corbeil along the wide paved shoulders of Hwy 94.

The Boat at North Bay’s Waterfront offers live music while dining on the shores of Lake Nipissing 
Photo: Tourism North Bay

Cap off the day’s adventure with something delicious paired with entertainment. You can find live music on The Chief Commanda II with a sunset cruise of Lake Nipissing, also a number of restaurants such as Raven and the Republic, The Boat, and Average Joes offer live music! The historic Capitol Centre in North Bay presents live theatre, films, concerts and live comedy. There is always something happening in North Bay’s creative spaces where you can get a glimpse into of the community’s culture and uniqueness.

For more information visit: ​​ https://discoveryroutes.ca/spirit-of-the-bay-bike-route/

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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