I Rode the Best* Snowmobile Loop in Ontario and Here’s What It Was Like
In terms of snowmobiling, this is the most exhilarating riding I have ever done. The hills, the valleys, the lookouts, the best-kept trails, and most of all the epic diversity of snow-covered woodlands and forests. All these goodies perfectly describe my experience riding the 234 km Explorers Snow Tour over a course of three exciting days. The only other thing I need to add is the great company, because there’s nothing better than being able to share an awesome adventure with good friends!
My partner Brandon and I had the privilege of riding with the two founders of this snowmobile loop, Jeff McGirr (aka Lucrestyle) and Backroads Bill Steer. These two are the masterminds behind the information signs at each point of interest (POI)—there are ten total—as well as the overall development of the tour.
With Jeff’s knowledge and experience as a long-time snowmobiler and big supporter of the OFSC, and Backroad Bill’s keen knowledge of the outdoors and history of the area, they created the perfect combination of a fun winter snowmobile excursion that can be enjoyed by outdoorsy folks with interests ranging anywhere from history and geology, to folklore! On day 3 we were also joined by our friend Claude who is also an experienced snowmobiler and winter-activity enthusiast. Also, did I mention we got to use some slick Yamaha snowmobiles for this trip?? Bonus!!
- Check out our complete guide to the Explorers Snow Tour
- Check out the 10 points of interest on the Explorers Snow Tour
getting started in north bay
We used North Bay Holiday Inn as our home base, being that it was such a convenient location right off Highway 11 and also close to some great spots to eat when we arrived back after each day of recreational riding. It was comfortable and clean, and just what we needed, since we were driving our vehicle each day to hook up with Jeff, Bill and our sleds to set out from different locations*.
We woke up early on Friday morning to meet Jeff and Bill at the Canadian Ecology Centre (founded by Backroads Bill himself and located in the Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park) to grab our snow gear and get organized. Then we headed down into the heart of Mattawa, a cute little Northeastern Ontario town posted up along the Ottawa River. This is where we unloaded the Yamahas and rode to the first point of interest (POI) along the ride, which features a HUGE statue of Big Joe Mufferaw, made famous to fellow Ontarians by Stompin’ Tom, and explains all about his accomplishments.
After that, the trip continues onto OFSC Prescribed Snowmobile Trails! I must give big props to the District 11 snowmobile clubs because their trails were sooo buttery smooth and a real pleasure to ride!
Another one of the POIs that really took my breath away, and one which no photo or video could ever do as much justice as actually seeing it with your own eyes, is the Mica Mine! It’s stop number three on the trip and a very, very memorable one. I can’t stress enough that you will just have to experience that one yourself.
Location! Trail Diversity! Weather!
We took on this adventure in the very late stages of winter, mid-March, and still managed to have the most perfect snow conditions. This made for gorgeous wintery scenes as we explored each stop. I can’t stop thinking about just how exciting it was to be exploring so much beautiful Ontario wilderness. The snow was coming down in big fluffy flakes, and it seemed like around every corner we were in a new place.
You start off riding through hardwood forests filled with maple and birch trees, and beech trees that were characteristically hanging onto their dried brown leaves. Moments down the trail you find a coniferous forest, filled with huge spruces and white pines, with boughs just loaded with snow! Moments after that you’re riding along exposed Canadian Shield. Not to mention the diverse types of trail riding, some areas of the trails challenge your riding skills with narrow and winding paths, and other trail sections are wide open and straight, ideal for that one person in your group who wants to feel a little more breeze under their helmet…
The points of interest are amazing and loaded with beautiful lookouts and fascinating information. In addition, the 234 km of diverse OFSC trails are what completely drew me into this amazing tour. I have always been very passionate about nature and outdoor adventure, so having the opportunity to be so fully immersed in a true Canadian winter adventure on this particular snowmobile trip was an experience I will always cherish and hopefully get to do again soon!
Final Notes on the explorers snow tour
I would encourage anyone who loves snowmobiling to add the Explorers Snow Tour to your bucket list! The beauty of the layout is that you can complete the tour in as many days as you like, taking in all the sights and adventures at your own pace. Make sure to check out the video all about my experience on the tour to get a great sense of everything you have to look forward to!
*Editor’s Note: Click here for lodgings with direct trail access to the western side of the Explorers Snow Tour (located about 12 km east of North Bay).