Snowmobiling in Hearst, Ontario: How to Stay and Play in Algoma Country’s Friendliest Town for Sledders
With over 30,000 kilometres of OFSC Prescribed Trails across Ontario, it's no surprise that choosing a destination for your next snowmobiling adventure can be challenging. If your requirements include lots of snow, excellent local trails, comfortable places to stay and things to do after the ride, welcome to Hearst, Ontario.
Located in the northern reaches of Algoma Country, with over 1,000 kilometres of snowmobile riding goodness accessible from your front door, this popular stop along the Northern Ontario Adventure Tour is a worthy snowmobiling destination.
Getting To Hearst By Snowmobile
Whether by car or snowmobile, Highway 11 and the OFSC Prescribed Trail A will get you to Hearst from the east or west.
Welcome to Hearst: Now What?
Top of the list should be the 165 km Missinaibi Expedition Tour, the pride and joy of the Hearst snowmobiling community. With snow aplenty and groomers always on the move, the trails never disappoint.
We opted to travel counterclockwise on this day, but you can ride this loop in either direction.
The south end of the Missinaibi Expedition Tour along OFSC Prescribed Trail L155 offers long straight stretches of wide trail peppered with grand vistas of the surrounding landscape.
In Mattice, stop for a coffee and a snack at Tibob Gaz and top up the gas tank, as there will be no gas available until back in Hearst, approximately 120 km away.
Turning north, we follow the historic Missinaibi River north along tree-lined trails over fresh snow with very little sign of sled traffic, making for the kind of experience snowmobilers dream of.
A single-track trail guides us over the Missinaibi River and back on to more of the same fantastic riding along the northern stretches of the loop.
We stop at the warming shack along Trail L159 before continuing along L165, south on L163, back to the A Trail and Hearst.
- There are more trails to explore beyond the Missinaibi Expedition Tour. The full length of Trail L 163 is a fun ride.
- Ride to Hornepayne to the west or Kapuskasing to the east, a fantastic way to spend the day.
- Hearst is the starting point for Ontario's ultimate snowmobiling adventure Destination James Bay — an off-the-beaten-path ride along the Missinaibi and the Moose River to the shores of James Bay. Although this might be a bucket list trip, the next best thing is a local backcountry tour with Follow Her North.
- Combine some trail time with ice fishing. The many lakes are known for their walleye, pike and perch abundance. Ride your sled to a cozy ice fishing hut or a backcountry lake with Follow Her North in search of trout.
Wherever the trails take you, be sure to stop by Veilleux Camping & Marina for a late breakfast or lunch; the breakfast poutine is highly recommended (but do check if they are open, which is not always the case during the week).
Out and About Town: Where to Eat, Drink, and Relax in Hearst
If you still have energy left after a day on the trails, here are a few around-town ideas to explore.
- Lumber Jacks Hockey Game — enjoy some Junior A hockey action.
- Curling at the Hearst Community Curling Club — Winter in Northern Ontario sounds like a perfect setting to give curling a try.
- Theatre / Théatre — Hearst Theatre is an independently owned Cinema with current movie releases being shown weekly.
- Distillerie Rheault Distillery — a small, artisan distillery in Northern Ontario, home to the award-winning "Loon Vodka."
- Scierie Heritage Sawmill — Discover how the Hearst area became a leader in Ontario's lumber industry.
- Galerie 815 — Gallery 815 offers visual arts exhibitions throughout the year.
- 241 Bar & Grill — good food and bowling, sounds like a plan.
Accommodations for Snowmobilers in Hearst
- The Companion Hotel Motel is a favourite with snowmobilers. Offering 50 guest rooms, a 24-hour front desk, a convenient gift shop, an on-site restaurant, a sports bar, and indoor parking for your snowmobile.
- The Super 8 by Wyndham offers an indoor pool, continental breakfast, hot tubs, steam and sauna, and 67 modern rooms.
- The Villa Inn & Suites is transformed into a new 60-guest room hotel providing suites, king beds, kitchenettes, and more. A familiar spot for snowmobilers as OFSC trails are a few metres away
- For a more off-the-beaten-path experience, the cozy INN The North Bed & Breakfast, located around 15km north of town, can provide the R&R you are looking for.
- INN The North is also the home of the local adventure expert and guide Mylene Coulombe-Gratton, aka @followhernorth.
With trails to ride, things to do, and fun to be had, Hearst is a worthy snowmobiling destination in its own right — for a day, or a few!