A Snowmobiler's Best New Year's Resolution

Snow is unpredictable, but not in Northern Ontario, where the Gold Rush Tour reigns supreme

Before you head out, please check to make sure that the trails are available, using the OFSC's Interactive Trail Guide. And check out Ryan Hawkins' great story for American Snowmobiler about this trip here.

What’s in a name? Just about every product or service we use in day-to-day life is selected because it’s a recognized brand name; we go with either the name we trust or something that sounds unique and different from the rest. The same principals can apply when deciding where to book your next snowmobiling vacation. With so many tours available in the province, what makes one stand out above the rest?

Obviously trail conditions, layout, accommodations, fuel access, and meal options are big factors but personally when I hear a cool name that intrigues me, (assuming all the other factors are equal) I’d be going where it sounds like the most fun to ride! With that said, when I first heard about The Gold Rush Tour my interest was peaked I immediately couldn’t wait to know more about it.

The genesis of the original Gold Rush Tour dates back to the early 2000s, thanks to the combine brains of five die-hard snowmobile enthusiasts from the northern Ontario region. Don Studholme (Tourism Kirkland Lake at the time) Will Saari (Tourism Timmins), Sean Mackey (Hotel owner in New Liskeard / avid rider), John Arkwright (Supertrax Media) and Claude Aumont (Ontario Tourism / lifelong powersports rider) hatched the original plan to connect all the communities around OFSC District 14, while identifying it with a name and self-guided tour that people would remember. Because of its close proximity to the mining hub of Timmins, The Gold Rush Tour was born and the rest as they say, is history. 

Staging usually starts in Temiskaming Shores at the Quality Inn, as it's the closest for visitors arriving from the south, and they have tons of parking for big trailers and easy trail access. 

Gold Rush totals 710 km in length and is well known by riders who place trail width and pristine riding conditions as their top priorities. It’s accessible from major city centers such as Timmins, Kirkland Lake, New Liskeard, Elk Lake, and Gowganda. What’s the greatest benefit to major city accessibility? Accommodations! In the times I’ve ridden all or portions of The Gold Rush Tour, we’ve staged out of new hotels, lodges or resorts with Microtel in Timmins and Cedar Meadows Resort coming to mind.

The latter is particularly cool because it hosts its very own wildlife sanctuary complete with deer, elk, buffalo, and even moose. You can take a guided tour of the sanctuary and actually hand feed the animals, which is a once in a lifetime experience in itself. It’s also fascinating to see all these different species interacting harmoniously in one location without separate pens. I also love Cedar Meadows for their ample parking lot catering to sledders (typically full with truck and trailers) where trail access lies just behind the resort.

Every time I’ve ridden on The Gold Rush Tour, our crew will make a point to stop for lunch at The Federal Tavern (known as Club Fed to locals) where the food is always piping hot and delicious. The added bonus is the restaurant doubles as a local museum where it’s walls are covered in memorabilia from the region, showcasing the rich history of Kirkland Lake and some of its community heroes.

World-class caliber trails with width and breathtaking scenery that can satiate rider’s from beginner to pro-check, accommodations to keep every type of traveller happy-check, a unique wildlife experience and restaurant with a built in museum-check.  I don’t know about you but if I could only ride one snowmobile tour this winter, it would be hard to ignore The Gold Rush Tour.

About Virgil Knapp

Virgil Knapp is a freelance motorsports photographer and writer.

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