Mattawa-Bonfield – The Power Sports Capital of Ontario

Mattawa-Bonfield: the power sports capital of Ontario. You won't find this slogan on any billboards. In fact, this statement is just one man's opinion and that man happens to be me. Proclamations of anything or anybody as “The Best” is not something I take lightly. I have invested a significant amount of good times exploring the Mattawa-Bonfield area on ATVs, snowmobiles and motorcycles, and I can't think of another Ontario town that has embraced the power sport movement quite like this quiet riverside community. 

Located in the more southern reaches of Northeastern Ontario on the shores of the Ottawa river, Mattawa-Bonfield is close enough to be weekend getaway-worthy, but far enough to qualify as an adventure.

So if your good times include a full tank of gas and the roar of an engine then, trust me, Mattawa-Bonfield is the place to be. 


Mattawa dirt copy

Build it and they will come. With virtually no funding, a group of dedicated volunteers created what might just be the best dirt riding destination in the province. The Voyageur Multi Use Trail System (VMUTS) is now 300-plus kilometres strong and no matter your vehicle of choice—ATV, dirt bike, side by side, UTV or adventure bike—you can get as dirty as you wish. From single track to mud holes, to hundreds of kilometres of back roads stretching far beyond the VMUTS trail system boundaries, this playground might just be endless. For accommodations, check out nearby Cedar Gables Lodge, with great rooms and indoor parking options for your toys.


It’s not hard to figure out when the Ontario snowmobiling trail system gets the green flag for another season. Almost overnight Mattawa-Bonfield is inundated with hundreds of snow machines and their handlers. Accommodations like Mattawa Adventure Camp has trailheads at your doorstep and a trail network that stretches in all directions. You will find ample space to park the trailer and start your adventure. You can also simply arrive on your snowmobile as part of a grand tour—accommodations, food, gas are all here waiting for you. 


Mattawa pave copy

For the two-wheel wanderer, day trip possibilities extend in all directions. You can head west around Lake Nipissing or east where you will find the ever-twisty Ontario Highlands. But the ultimate Northeastern Ontario day trip stretches north. The spectacular Temiskaming Loop Tour follows the shore of the Ottawa River offering vistas of rock faces, old pine forests, northern lakes and agricultural valleys. Spectacular scenery aside, what differentiates the Temiskaming Loop from the rest is the two provinces in one day deal, as the loop shares part of its 460-kilometre length with Quebec. 


Matawa Water copy

With more PWC owners realizing the potential of their machines as means for travel, Mattawa-Bonfield’s proximity to the Upper Ottawa River offers an exciting playground for the splish-splash lovers. Accommodations like Valois’ Motel & Restaurant offers docking, rooms, food, and a perfect setting for a weekend adventure. Can it get any better? PWC touring on the Upper Ottawa is something that I haven’t yet done but after reading Craig Nicholson's account, it’s definitely on my bucket list now. 

So there you have it. ATV, PWC, motorcycle, snowmobile—Mattawa-Bonfield: the power sports capital of Ontario. A slogan that is the opinion of just one man but might soon be seen on a billboard near you. 

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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