Keeping it simple on the Lake Nipissing Circle Tour

How do you relax? Read a book? Knit? Yoga? That’s all good, but for me I find that a few hours at 5500 rpm does the trick. Yes, the relaxing activity of riding a motorcycle, the rhythmic sway as you lean from turn to turn and the mental clutter-clearing focus required to stay on task. Out with the bad and in with the good with each twist of the throttle. With a work project eating up my summer and my brain bordering burnout, I find myself in a desperate need of some R&R. Not interested in studying maps, dealing with the GPS, or making decisions, I need to keep it simple. At 300 km and just five roads – all of which have numerical names containing no more than three digits, Northeastern Ontario's Lake Nipissing Circle Tour might just be the perfect day trip, a no-brainer decision of sorts.

Keep it simple I say, absolutely! Our clockwise circumnavigation of Lake Nipissing requires making a right turn at every major road intersection until we are back in North Bay. Can it be any simpler?

The beauty of this loop is that you can jump on anywhere along its length and follow it in either direction. For us, the starting point happens to be North Bay. We head southwest on Hwy 654 as it skirts the shore of Lake Nipissing. The lake’s glass-like surface glows brightly with the morning sun, fishermen in their boats bob on the horizon seeking their own type of relaxation. On to Hwy 534 and a tight set of rhythmic twists that instantly perk up our spirits, then it’s right on to Hwy 522. The road opens up, long straights, big swipers and BIG vistas. The rhythm of the road is infectious. We top up our tanks in Port Loring and continue west. Something to keep in mind, if you need gas and your bike has a taste for high octane, this is the only station in the area selling the good stuff.

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Corner of Hwy 522 and 69, Grundy Lake Provincial Park, is a family favourite. I have spent many an evening at the Grundy Lake Supply Post, kids in tow, ice cream in hand. No kids on this trip but I’m not about to pass up a scoop of ice cream.
 From here it’s right on to Hwy 69.

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Keeping our mellow-ride vibe going, we avoid the turn for the French River Interpretive Centre. Instead, we turn down the French River Supply Post Road. A gravel road takes us down to a quiet spot on the river’s edge. Nice view but not as impressive as the towering cliffs of the main channel.

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Turning on to Hwy 607 we are alone again. With the country road surface quality, Northeastern Ontario scenery, and turns that just keep coming, my Yamaha FJ 09 growls with approval at every change of direction.

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Hwy 64 – It was a last-second decision to make the turn into a rest stop just before Mashkinonje Provincial Park. What a pleasant surprise – this woodsy cottage-like setting by the lake is a gem. This will be a must-stop from now on and next time I will be sure to pack some swimming gear and a fishing rod.

Lavigne, Ontario – water, sky, greenery, and that sweeping S-turn on to the bridge. Coming or going, this postcard setting is a WOW moment every time. Be sure to stop in at the Lavigne Tavern. The owner is a Moto Guzzi enthusiast who is always happy to talk bikes and serves a mean pizza to boot.

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One more right turn, one more stop, one last look at beautiful Lake Nipissing this time from above Hwy 17. Amazing ride, amazing day, the desperately needed 300 km Nipissing Circle Tour relaxation session is almost over with North Bay just down the road. A few hours at 5500 rpm to clear the mind – mission accomplished.

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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