At OSM, we know life gets in the way, and trying to sneak away with the guys to go snowmobiling for 7 days isn’t always in the cards. Last February we talked about this, and decided to do a three-day ride in North Eastern Ontario. We wanted to cover big miles and ride all sorts of different trails, but also needed to be back at the office by Tuesday morning. Our trip would have us starting in North Bay, making tracks to Elk Lake, hauling over to Sudbury, and then back to North Bay. We called it the perfect Long Weekend.
Less than 4 hours out of the central part of Ontario, North Eastern Ontario is undeniably big, and unbelievably close. To start the perfect long weekend, we would get in the truck and trailer and drive to North Bay after work, and make the Ramada Pinewood Park our first overnight location. The Ramada Pinewood Park in North Bay, is a great location to start the trip. The hotel itself is located directly off Highway 11, and could be considered the gateway into the region. There is ample truck and trailer parking, and the hotel features a fully operational restaurant/pub, so after a long day at the office and 4 hours on the road, you can eat in the hotel, get to bed and be ready to start the sled trip the next day.
The route on the first day had us depart North Bay where we left our truck and trailer, and ride north to Elk Lake Wilderness Resort which was our first overnight location. This day has you on-trail for about 290kms, so we like to get an early start and arrive in Elk Lake in the daylight. Getting out of North Bay is very easy, as the trail cuts directly through the Ramada parking lot. Follow the signs to the A/D trail and head north towards New Liskeard. Once you get out of the town limits, you immediately find some amazing fast trails with some sweepers and awesome forest trails. The A/D trail will split and you take the A trail towards Temagami. The best part of riding in this region is that the trails are not crowded and have that remote feel, but you are never far from civilization. The A trail will take you into New Liskeard where you can fuel up the stomach and the tanks for lunch. From lunch to the Elk Lake resort, keep on the A trail and follow the signs; it’s an easy afternoon ride to the resort.
Our first overnight location was the Elk Lake Wilderness Resort. Located directly off the main A trail, the resort offers an absolutely amazing sledding experience. With the sledders’ package, your group stays in modern clean cottages that have a full working kitchen, free WIFI, satellite TV and four piece bathrooms. The owners Roger and Mary-Jo know exactly what snowmobilers need when you stay at the resort. When you arrive and check in, you immediately feel like you just made new friends. Then you get to your cottage where they will bring a hot homemade dinner with all the fixings to you. The food is renowned in the area, and it was like you just had dinner at your buddy’s cottage (presuming your buddy is a really good cook). Travelers Note; The Resort does not have a working bar, so if you want to have some nighttime beverages, you can head into town via the lake trail, and there is an adult beverage store in town. There’s lots to do at the resort as well. In the sledders package, you get unlimited access to two saunas, a hot tub, and you can even sit around the bonfire and stretch the truth about your amazing riding skills. The next morning, Roger and Mary-Jo have fully stocked the fridge with everything you need to make a hot breakfast. It’s great to be able to set your own schedule in the morning, cook breakfast, eat, clean up and be on your way when you want. (Travelers Note: Be nice and do the breakfast dishes) After breakfast we said goodbye to our new friends, gassed up with premium gas on site, and started making tracks towards the Sportsman’s Lodge in the Sudbury area.
The route on the second day had us leaving Elk Lake and heading along the A107C main trail towards Gowganda. This part of the trail system has some really great trail riding. It keeps with the theme of uncrowded, with lots of fast portions and wooded areas. You can make up time along this part of the trail, but take your time as the next stop is at Auld Reekie lodge, that is only around 70kms to lunch and gas. You will need to stop here, as the next gas stop is not until the Sudbury area, which is 170kms away. The Auld Reekie lodge is another amazing snowmobiler destination that caters fully to snowmobilers. Owned by Diane and Urs, the Auld Reekie is one of those places where you just know they understand the needs of a snowmobiler. Without the Auld Reekie, it would make riding in this area tough. We tip our helmet to Diane and Urs! After Gowganda you are looking at a full ride into the Sportsman Lodge. You head down the C trail, which is a full mixture of wooded trails, fast straightaways, and some of the coolest elevations you can find. If you are squeezing the throttle and making up time on this portion of the trail, you will need to either consider gas conservation, or we suggest having an extra 10 liters on board, because it will be tight in fuel from Gowganda to Sudbury. It can be done conservatively on one tank of fuel, but on these trails, who wants to be conservative?
The second overnight is at one of the ultimate snowmobiler destinations in Northeastern Ontario; The Sportsman’s Lodge. Owned and operated by George Robbins for 13 years, it is truly a classic destination for the region. After pulling in after the biggest day on the tour, you instantly feel you are part of a group, as the only patrons there are avid snowmobilers. “When people check in, I want them to feel at home, feel comfortable, and have a clean room and good food. I also want them to go and play and have fun. Snowmobile for the day, come back and call it home, as this my home as well.” says George. After checking in and a quick shower, it’s off to the main lodge for dinner. George puts on a family style dinner service where you’ll be enjoying your meal with other sledders and having a few beverages from the bar. George goes on to explain that he sees this all the time; snowmobilers that sit together at dinner, ride together the next day. Then next year, the two groups of two have become one group of six or eight. Repeat business is a big part of the Sportsman’s Lodge business model. “If your guests are coming back, they’re definitely happy”, says George.
After a great dinner, you can hang out in the main lodge and get to know the other sledders, or head back to your cabin and let the night’s festivities begin. If there is one thing to say about the Sportsman’s is that you ARE going to be tired the next day. The next day is the shortest day of the trip, (done by design) as the ride back to Truck and Trailer in North Bay is a short 160km back. Seeing how it is a short day, we do suggest you take the time and make the quick run up to Wolf Mountain look out. It’s a short run from the lodge, and boasts the highest elevation in Ontario. It should definitely be on your sledder’s bucket list.
Our trip to Northeastern Ontario was the perfect long weekend, and it really showcases what you can expect to find when in the region. From amazing trails to amazing people, you get the overall feeling that as a snowmobiler, you’re very welcome. It also helps that the region is just a short drive from our offices, but you do also realize just how big this region really is. If you wanted to do a 7 day trip, this region also can support that no problem. I guess it’s like they say; it’s the region that is unbelievably close and undeniably big.
To check out the entire full length video of our trip head over to www.snowmobilerTV.com/featured
OFSC District 11 Near North Trail Association
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Northeastern Ontario Tourism
Toll Free: 1-800-465-6655
Ramada Pinewood Park
201 Pinewood Park Dr, North Bay, ON P1B 8Z4
Phone: (705) 472-0810
Elk Lake Wilderness Resort
Roger & Mary-Jo
590 Highway 65 Elk Lake, Ontario P0J 1G0
Auld Reekie Lodge
Urs & Diane Brunner
Toll Free: 1-(800) 511-1191
Sportsman’s Lodge Wilderness Resort
240 Kukagami Lake Road Wahnapitae, Ontario P0M 3C0
Toll-Free: 1-877-708 8882