Snowmobiling to the Giant's Tomb Island Ice Formations

According to NASA, ice cover on the Great Lakes reached 88% during mid-February this year, which hasn’t been seen since 1994. This year has been amazing for snowfall and winter conditions, so it's no surprise that the Great Lakes are more than half frozen over. With that being said, the ice on these massive inland bodies of water can create magnificent works of art—in particular, on Georgian Bay.

In southern Georgian Bay, just east of Christian, Hope, and Beckwith Islands, there is an island called Giant's Tomb Island, which is just north of Midland, Ontario. Giant's Tomb is an ever-popular destination for boaters in the summertime The shallow, clear waters (you can walk for 10 minutes in the water before getting to the beach), easy anchoring and beach draws hundreds of people and boats to the island every summer. This year, Giant's Tomb Island has also been a very popular destination for snowmobilers as well.

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On the west side of the island, massive ice caves and formations have been the result of a few high wind winter storms coming from the open part of Georgian Bay, which pushed the existing ice up onto shore.

As we were making the snowmobile trip down the bay from Parry Sound to Giant's Tomb, we planned to go on a sunny clear day, as none of us wanted to get caught in snowfall on Georgian Bay. We also made sure that we had a GPS mounted on one of the snowmobiles with the “Track Back” option on, so if all else failed, we could follow back the way we came to return to Parry Sound.

A longtime family friend, a helicopter pilot with the Canadian Coast Guard out of Parry Sound, who knows Georgian Bay like the back of his hand, told us where to go.

Of course, the morning of a massive ride I was the one to sleep in, and had to get dressed and geared up real fast so that we wouldn't be late meeting our friends on the trail. I forgot to put on a thermal layer, which I kicked myself in the butt for while going down the bay (Always wear a thermal layer if you’re going down a big bay for over an hour!).

We fueled up at the Esso gas station in Nobel and got onto Georgian Bay from there, following the bay south past the Salt Docks, by the Canadian Coast Guard in the big sound. From there we followed the trail that took us to the open part of Georgian Bay (I call it “The Open”). Along the coast, we passed the famous Henry’s Restaurant, and 12 Mile Bay. About half-way we stopped, just south of 12 Mile at this cool marker for a quick break and photo op! After our break, we cut across the bay headed towards Giant's Tomb Island.

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As you approach, you can actually see the ice formations along the shore; it was a really cool sight. Arriving at the ice caves, there were snowmobiles and people everywhere along the whole west side of the island! In addition to the snowmobiles, cross-country skiers also were there. There were people on top of the ice formations taking pictures, children sliding around and having fun on the ice inside the caves, and I even drove my snowmobile inside of one of the caves to take some pictures. People brought snacks and were enjoying the beautiful sunshine on the ice!

Although the Giant's Tomb Ice Caves are a very popular destination for snowmobile trips and cross-country skiing, police are warning visitors to be cautious of the ice caves, as the longer hours of daylight and warmer temperatures are causing them to melt and further collapse, which could possibly result in someone getting trapped or seriously hurt by falling ice. When visiting the ice caves and going inside of them, please do so with extreme caution. Always check with the local snowmobile clubs to find out if the ice is thick enough. 

We put our helmets back on and got on the machines to head back home, continuing south down the west side of the island. As we kept going, we saw even more snowmobiles and people further down at an even bigger ice cave. We didn’t have time to stop though, as we had plans to head up to Memories of Muskoka to eat. I’ve never been to such a popular snowmobile destination before—it was really awesome.

We continued around the Island, and headed north through random channels and at one point, passed The Delawana Inn. We took the same route back up the bay into Parry Sound and took the C trail south to Memories of Muskoka. It was certainly a relief getting to Memories after such a long ride and no thermal layer! I sat by the fire half the time I was there, just to warm up. After a great meal and some hot chocolate, we suited back up and took the 201 north to the Seguin Trail and back home.

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In total, we did around 300 kilometres over the course of the day. It was an amazing ride, and I’d have to say, probably the best ride I’ve been on this season. The views, being able to snowmobile on Georgian Bay from Parry Sound to Midland, exploring some cool ice caves and a perfect sunny day to ride, all made it awesome. I have never been snowmobiling on Georgian Bay before, and I'm glad that I got the opportunity to do so on such a great day!

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About Chelsey Hennig

I am a lifelong gearhead who grew up in northern Ontario, with a passion for virtually anything with a motor. I am the Public Relations and Communications director for the International Women’s Diesel Association and have my Honours Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

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