Getting Muddy on the French River ATV Tour

What is it about ATVing in Northeastern Ontario that keeps you coming back? Sure, there is the camaraderie of friends, the beauty of the land, and the challenge of the trail, but I feel that there is something more, something deep inside your soul.

This is a special day for our family. We are at the French River ATV Tours about to embark on family ATV ride, a first time experience for all but me. As Brad the owner and guide takes us through the instructional process, something he says and the resulting look on my wife's face answers that deep soul searching question. Why, why do we ATV?

“There will be mud out there and you will get dirty.”

In my head I can hear many mothers everywhere, including my own, gasp. Yes moms, we will get dirty. The look on my wife's face is that of total disapproval and suddenly I understand. Getting dirty is exactly what makes ATVing so much fun. 

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As a toddler you deal with a muddy puddle on the trail by walking in, sitting down, and maybe having a taste. This is when you first hear that life altering phrase, “ Don't get dirty.”

By the time you are a teen and with, “Don’t get dirty” stuck on repeat in your head, you tiptoe around that same muddy puddle. By adulthood you skip the muddy puddle altogether.

Then you get on an ATV and the only way to get around that mud filled puddle is to splash straight through it and just like that, you are a kid again. Proof is in the photo, even the dirt-wary matriarch of our family can’t help but smile when she hits that first puddle and the mud flies.


As learning curves go, the ATV might just be the easiest way to get your first power sport fix in the backcountry. With automatic transmission, amazing plush suspension, a comfortable seat and plenty of storage, today’s crop of ATV machines provide ease of operation, comfort, and safety. For our first timers, the learning process from “Here is the machine” to “Ready to go” took about twenty minutes. With the instructional formalities done and a couple of laps around the property to make sure we were listening, it’s time to hit the trail.


Today’s destination is the French River Multi-use Trail. Established in 2012 with support from the area’s local tourism businesses, the trail is accessible to hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers, and ATVs. With its full length situated on Crown land, the trail zigzags over barren rock ridges, marshy lowlands, and skirts beaver lakes as it showcases the area’s unique Canadian Shield topography.


We further hone our skills along gravel roads that gradually narrow to a single dirt path. We climb over rocks and splash through mud holes. In an effort to limit environmental impact, each mud hole section offers a dry way around; this eliminates the need to skirt the obstacle and prevents widening of the trail. Lunch is lakeside. Brad informs us that this is a good spot to see moose but no luck today. A quick snack and we roll on.


What an amazing family experience—easy learning curve, quality equipment, spectacular environment, and yes, we all got dirty. After all, isn’t getting dirty what ATVing is all about?

P.S. For that inner child in you, remember to keep your mouth closed, or you might get a taste.

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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