The Best of Both Worlds

Sledding the French Connection Loop in OFSC District 1

Editor's Note: As district manager for the OFSC's District 1, John Boals is responsible for helping to oversee some 23 different snowmobile clubs, not to mention a heck of a lot of volunteers. According to John, it's really the community of volunteers and private landowners that make snowmobiling in the region such a great experience. We sat down for a Q & A with him recently, and he shares his love of snowmobiling with us below.

OFSC District 1 is located in Eastern Ontario, headquartered in Morrisburg. It consists of the area west to Napanee, north to Calabogie and east to the Ontario/Quebec border. It has over 3900 km of marked, groomed trails.

Personally, what do you enjoy about snowmobiling in District 1?

The diversity of our trail system. Obviously, it's a farm belt, at least in the far east section. Whereas in the western section, say Calabogie or Perth, the Lanark Highlands… you get a lot of changes in elevation. That means that one day you can be running big farm fields, and the next doing all sorts of tight, twisty forest trails. You get the best of both worlds.

If you want to get from Point A to Point B quickly, you can do that in the farm areas (respecting landowners of course). But, you can also see stuff as you ride through our region. You can turn your head to the side and see big farm operations, water towers, small communities, amazing scenery. The highlands and the west is more crown land, from say Carleton Place to Smith Falls, heading towards Gananoque. There you get more forest, access roads and abandoned rail lines. The French Connection Loop offers so many vistas where you can just turn your head as you ride, and there's something different there every time that you look.

Trail and then groomer March  10 2008 002

What are your personal experiences with the French Connection Loop?

What makes it easy is that it's just the right length. Along the whole route, you're not far from services. For anyone who's never ridden in this area, you don't have to worry. The services are right here for you to access. At any time, you know you'll be at most 50 km away from heated washrooms, restaurants and fuel. So, if you're new to the area, you don't have to be Indiana Jones.

This loop was originally developed as a way of connecting to the province of Quebec. We were aiming to get Quebecers to loop in and out of the province. Of course, there's also the 401 traffic from London, Oshawa, etc… you see them on the 401 heading east to Quebec for long weekend rides. Well, you can stop at Morrisburg, do a one day trip on the French Connection in Ontario, then continue from there. From where we are, it's an easy two hours by snowmobile, entering by land trail at posted speed limits. You can even leave your trailer here, go into Quebec and come back. From the 401, just take exit 750, where the McIntosh Inn is located (which is also snowmobile-friendly).

Any thing else that visitors new to the area should keep in mind?

One thing about Morrisburg, it has it all: there's a Timmie's, bank machines, a pharmacy, an LCBO… the community has everything. As a launching spot we have everything here. In terms of equipment and dealerships, we have a Ski-Doo dealership ten minutes up the road. Even along the trail, in Alexandria we have Ski-doo and Polaris. In Metcalfe, there's Arctic Cat. And the Yamaha dealership in Cornwall is just a drive away.

The great thing about our loops is that we only use top trails. Our whole loop stays on OFSC designated top trails… for the French Connection Loop, you only have to remember 3 signs for the whole route! You don't need to keep in mind all of the small regional trails or local club trails, you just follow the signs for the top trails. It's much easier for riders to follow. The top trail signs are the big 12 by 12 OFSC reflective boards, plus we have custom made French Connection signs as well.

trail 2012
Feb 27 2012 great trails 006

What do you love about snowmobiling?

Anyone can be a snowmobiler. White collar, blue collar, you could be having the worst day ever… but ten minutes on your snowmobile and it all goes away. Whatever's happening in your work or home life, in ten minutes your worries are all gone. It's very calming and relaxing, the scenery's beautiful, and it's not like pavement where you're worrying about cars cutting you off. There's no traffic.

We came off a great season last year. Really good snow. As well as everyone gets along, the 23 clubs in this area are also really competitive, always upping the ante to make the best trails. And it shows. If it wasn't for the signage, you'd never be able to tell when you've left one club's area into another's. The grooming is that consistent. It's a seamless ride.

The wonderful thing about snowmobilers is the sense of community. What we do wouldn't be possible without volunteers and land owners. These are generous, community-minded people that want to see people enjoy the Ontario winter, to see what Canada's all about in the wintertime. It's part of our heritage to be generous, but we also have a sense of community that maybe not all sports have. We always respect land owners and stay on the trails, because we couldn't do this without them… they want everyone to enjoy a safe and fun sport, and that's what it's all about.

Click below to read more about the French Connection LoopRide into an atmosphere of proud French hospitality, warmth and friendliness. This two day loop will take you through woodlots and open fields, a variety of forested trails, farm land and rail bed trails, all on smooth groomed, signed and safe trails. 

While you're in the area, head a little farther north and enter to win a snowmobiling adventure for two! Click below for more details:
Abitibi contest
About Mike Jacobs

Mike is an avid Northern traveller, having spent years traversing its backroads, and visiting its remote lodges and fun cities by car, RV, motorcycle, and boat. There's always something new to discover in the North and Mike never shies away from the next great adventure. Mike is the chairman of the board for the Tourism Technology Company.

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