Almost every year I make a motorcycle pilgrimage up from the U.S. to Canada, and the reason is simple – unbeatable riding. The Eastern United States has some incredible riding, to be sure. There’s the famous Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina, and also the state-straddling Blue Ridge Parkway. Even in my home state of Ohio we have the infamous and snaky Triple Nickel OH 555. Yet as incredible as each of these roads are, there is a wildness, an openness, and ever-surprising element to Canada, in this case specifically Ontario
, that can’t be beat.
Let me explain further before you readers from the States call me a traitor and try to revoke my passport. Just across that invisible border north in Ontario there is riding comparable to the roads I mentioned in the previous paragraph, but not just that. On my trip this year I found roads also comparable to those in the western United States. Roads you think you could only find in the Redwoods or Moab or Colorado. Roads that transcend highways to dirt trails.
On this year’s trip I set out from Toronto switching back and forth with my riding partner on two different BMW
adventure motorcycles, an F800GS
and a G650GS
. The bike type is important here because it allowed for both on-road and off-road riding. This gave us twice the road options and twice the fun. This was my first time in Ontario where I got to let a bike off the pavement leash and get a little dirty.
Toronto is an exciting multi-cultural metropolis, but my goal was to get out of it as fast as possible and do some real open-road riding. One thing to know about riding around the Great Lakes area is the weather is entirely unpredictable and only a fool doesn’t bring rain gear and layers. We ended up getting doused by sheets of rain in fairly heavy weekend traffic for about 200 miles on our way up to North Bay
via ON-400 north and ON-11 north. This is the toll you pay the boatman to get up to paradise.
The next day we headed north roughly 90 miles to Temiskaming on ON-11. This is when the roads started opening up, the weather started clearing, and the traffic started subsiding. You get your first taste of the thousands of lakes and lush scenery in Ontario
on this easy rider stretch. This stretch goes by pretty quickly, but there are several surprises waiting for you once you reach Temiskaming Shores
The Temiskaming area holds more than 250 miles of trails, and having brought adventure motorcycles, we were grinning ear to ear upon arrival. We unloaded at the hotel, picked the first dirt road we saw and started getting dirty. Where the asphalt ends the adventure begins. There is such an abundance of well-kept dirt trails I cannot recommend a single one, but I can tell you there are few feelings like riding through the Canadian wilderness on a dirt trail. This was the riding I was waiting for.
When we were done playing in the mud, we took a ride around part of the massive Lake Temiskaming and worked our way through some campgrounds and down some dirt roads to get to Devil’s Rock. After a short hike into the forest you will find a striking cliff face hanging a few hundred yards above the lake. This is Devil’s Rock and the big payoff, definitely a place you won’t want to miss.