Snowmobiling in Hearst, Ontario: How to Stay and Play in Algoma Country’s Friendliest Town for Sledders

Looking for a perfect launch pad for a day on the trails? This is one town that gets it right.

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.

2 people on snomobiles ride a snowy trail through dense forest
This place is made for sledders.

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.

a collage of snowmobiles on snowy trails, parked outside a gas station, and of a snowmobile helmet sitting next to a cup of coffee at a gas station table
Trails to write home about: the Missinaibi Expedition Tour (and a stop at Tibob Gaz).

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.

A solitary person riding a snowmobile down a snowy tail, surrounded by snow-covered spruce trees.
Thank you to Hearst region snowmobile Club Voyageur for keeping the trails in tip-top shape.

What's Next?

  • 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.
a smiling woman in snow gear kneeling next. to an ice fishing hole, holding a large fish. 2 snowmobiles are parked in the background.
More to do around town: find some of the best spots and get in some ice fishing time.

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

two snowmobiles parked in the snowy parking lot in front a a brown building and a sign that says "Companion Hotel"
Hearst knows how to welcome snowmobilers: the Companion Hotel Motel is a great pick.
  • 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.
the INN the North; a grey and white wooden inn covered in snow at sunset
 The INN The North Bed & Breakfast is the perfect place relax after a day on the trails.

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!

About Martin Lortz

Martin Lortz is a freelance photographer/writer specializing in the outdoor lifestyle. Whether he is covering adventure motorcycling, kayak fishing or family oriented outdoor pursuits, his passion for capturing the beauty of nature and the people that partake in it, is evident in his work. His photos and articles have appeared in magazines such as Ski Canada, Explore, Bike, Mountain Life, Couloir, Kayak Angler and Family Camping, as well as in calendars, catalogs and brochures.

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