Ride on Ontario’s Least Congested Network of Snowmobile Trails

Our region not only covers a huge geographic area, it has some of the most pristine scenery in the province of Ontario, but the best thing is that there are no crowds!

Giant spaces, small towns and cities, thousands of kilometers of groomed snowmobile trails crossing wilderness lakes and cutting through pristine Boreal forest – that’s what snowmobiling in Sunset Country is all about! Our region not only covers a huge geographic area, it has some of the most pristine scenery in the province of Ontario.

Trails in Sunset Country are groomed and maintained by volunteers of the various snowmobile trail clubs. They operate under the umbrella name of the Northwest Ontario Snowmobile Trails Association (NWOSTA). NWOSTA consists of 8 local clubs each covering a large region in Ontario’s Sunset Country.

Working our way down from North to South, we’ll focus on the Red Lake District first, and the trail system operated by the Red Lake Trailmasters. With an extensive network of trails crossing lakes and through endless miles of forest, the Trailmasters provide sledders with a fantastic riding experience. How fantastic, you ask? Well, just check out the snowmobiling video below of one of their trails and we think you’ll want to head up their way for a ride. The club also holds organized fun rides for its members as well as many other fun activities.

Moving a little east towards Sioux Lookout, you’ll encounter the well-groomed trails operated by the Ojibway Power Toboggan Association (OPTA). With the many wilderness lakes right around Sioux Lookout, this area of Sunset Country offers truly spectacular riding with huge rock outcrops to see along the route. In total, OPTA maintains 150 km of OFSC “TOPS” trails and an additional 150 km of local trails. The club hosts many events throughout the seasonm including a poker derby. For some fun time riding, a trip on the OPTA trail system offers that and more.

Beautiful views along the way!

Not far south of Sioux Lookout, you’ll encounter the sleek trails maintained by the Ignace Otters Snowmobile Club, a small group of local volunteers with a big job! This club maintains 97 km of TOPS trails and an additional 223 km of local club trails. With the Ignace area often having the most amount of snow in the Sunset Country region, riding on these trails is always a fun experience and there are several good restaurants in Ignace where you can stop off for a bite to eat after a vigorous trail ride. Sioux Lookout has several nice hotels you can stay at and some really good places to eat. 

Riders at the start of the season at the bottom of Sioux Mountain in Sioux Lookout.

About 200 km east of Ignace is the (relatively for us) big City of Thunder Bay, Ontario on Lake Superior. This City of 115,000 people has an airport you can take a commercial jet into, so if there’s no snow where you live, then get on a plane and fly to Thunder Bay. The local club here is the Thunder Bay Adventure Trails Snowmobile Club and if you ride this trail system, you’ll be sledding in the awe-inspiring Superior Country Travel Region.

In addition to some incredible views of Lake Superior and the giant rock formations that surround it, you have the opportunity to enjoy some great dining and nightlife in Thunder Bay after a long day of riding. If you’re looking for lots of activities to do after you’ve gone snowmobiling all day, then the Thunder Bay area is probably your best bet. 

Moving west from Ignace, you will encounter the smooth trails maintained by the volunteers of the Dryden Power Toboggan Club. This Club grooms both TOPS and local trails running between Vermilion Bay and Dryden. There are some really good riding opportunities around these communities and you can find a place to stay overnight either of these communities. There are many good shopping and dining options for you to choose from as well. The Dryden Power Toboggan Club also holds local snowmobile events, and has been a fixture on the trails since it was first formed in the 1960s.

As you get near the Ontario/Manitoba border and the City of Kenora, you’ll be riding trails operated by the Sunset Trail Riders Snowmobile Club. Cover the central and northern portions of Lake of the Woods and north of Kenora to Minaki, the Sunset Trail Riders maintain hundreds of kilometers of TOPS and local trails. The Club also offer driver training from this trail system; you can link to the Manitoba trail system as well so there is lots of great riding to be had. Go ice fishing on one of the many lakes, or just ride the trails all day. You can find a nice place to stay at the many hotels in Kenora as well as enjoying local cuisine. Try a pint of locally- made beer or go shopping in Kenora. It’s definitely worth the time to stop in either Sioux Narrows, Nestor Falls or Minaki while you’re here!

Fresh snow on the Dryden trails.

As you head south towards the Canada/US border, the trail system you’ll encounter will mean a great day of riding. You’ll be enjoying these trails courtesy of the Borderland Snowmobile Club which covers the communities of EmoMorsonRainy River, and Fort Frances. This is a large area so the trail network here is extensive and crosses many waterways as well as going through tracks of Boreal forest. Stay overnight in any one of these four communities and enjoy the local hospitality, shopping, and dining. 

Finally, we go east of Fort Frances and reach what is possibly the nicest system of trails in Sunset Country – those maintained by the Atikokan Sno-Ho Snowmobile Club. This system skirts Quetico Park and you can go see the White Otter Castle on one of their trails! Stay overnight in Atikokan and enjoy the small-town charm this community offers. The Club offers a number of formal rides each year as well as many fun activities for families and for visiting riders! 

The best part of taking a snowmobile trip to Sunset Country is that fact the trail system is so big and the local population so small, that the trails are never congested. You can be assured if you buy a permit and stay on the trail, you will have a safe and enjoyable riding experience – one you’ll never forget!

Buy your OFSC Trail permit online and get out and enjoy beautiful Ontario’s Sunset Country during the winter months!

About Gerry Cariou

Gerry is Executive Director of Ontario's Sunset Country Travel Association and is an avid fisherman and nature photographer. Gerry has been writing about Sunset Country's varied travel experiences for over 20 years and lives these experiences year-round in Kenora, Ontario.

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