Winter is here! It’s time to shed the indoor isolation and adventure into the white powder! Fat bikes continue to grow in popularity and it’s the perfect way to extend your riding from warm weather to year-round. Eastern Ontario offers plenty of snow and plenty of awesome riding destinations. Here’s a few of our favourite rides.
Algonquin Park – Old Railway Bike Trail (Map 71/C3)
While Algonquin Park is a spectacular summer destination, winter is entirely something else. The scenery is absolutely amazing and fat bike riders will find a 16 km (10 mi) route running between Rock Lake and Cache Lake along a relatively level railbed. Bring your bike and pick up the trail at Lake of Two Rivers, right on highway 60.
Charlottenburg Forest (Map 64/B3)
From the parking lot on Caber road, south of Alexandria, Charlottenburg Forest is an old trails park for mountain bikes. There are a number of looping trails to ride, totalling about 6 km (3.7 mi), most of an intermediate level. Be wary of the old wooden bridges, jumps and features, many of which are now quite rotten.
Tip: Never ride on groomed cross-country ski trails. In fact, it’s great trail etiquette to carry your bike over ski tracks when they are encountered.
Forest Lea Trails (Map 93/G4)
From Highway 17, east of Pembroke, it’s about a 5 km drive to the end of the pavement on Forest Lea Road to reach the trailhead for these fat bike trails. Fat bikes, however, are only permitted on the snowshoe trails marked with yellow circles but this does offer a pair of loops, one 2 km (1.2 mi) and the other 4 km (2.5 mi) in length. Looking to extend your ride? Pick up the gravel portion of Forest Lea Road and head west. This road is closed to winter traffic but gets well packed by snowmobiles and leads to kilometres of non-sanctioned snowmobile trails!
Tip: Winter riding requires a lower tire pressure so as much tire tread as possible connects with the snow. Try around 10 PSI on a packed trail and drop pressure as more traction is required.
Gatineau Park (Map 78-79)
While technically in Quebec, Gatineau Park is a destination for most outdoor enthusiasts in the Ottawa area as it’s a short drive across the Ottawa River. The park has over 40 km (25 mi) of fat bike trails that are shared with snowshoers (who have the right of way). The trails range from easy to very difficult. Parking lots 1 and 2 lead to six trails of varying difficulty but at the north end of the park, lots 15 and 17 offer access to the difficult and very difficult routes of the Meech Creek Valley. A daily or season pass is required.
The K&P Trail is a 180 km (112 mi) route that stretches from Kingston in the south through Frontenac, Lanark and Renfrew counties to Renfrew in the north. Well packed by snowmobiles, it makes a great winter ride. While the northern portion of the route is a bit remote, the 75 km (47 mi) section from Kingston to Sharbot Lake is well developed and visits numerous communities offering plenty of points to jump on and ride!
Manilla to Fowlers Corners (TCT) (Map 12-13)
This section of the Trans-Canada Trail running along an old railbed makes its way for 50 km 31 mi) from just south of Manilla to south of Fowlers Corners, west of Peterborough. Shared by snowmobiles, snowshoers and skiers, the route is well-packed, making for a good ride. The route crosses numerous roads, offering plenty of access and crosses the very cool Doube’s Trestle, east of Emily Park Road.
Tip: You will warm up quickly once you get riding. Plan to dress in layers and carry a backpack to store clothes as you ride.
Northumberland Forest (Map 14)
North of Cobourg and accessed off County Road 45, Northumberland Forest is home to over 45 km (28 mi) of winter trails. The trails pass through successional forest, pine plantations, mature oak, poplar forests and black oak woodland. The Woodland Trails, to the east of Country Road 45 offer the best winter riding.
Ottawa Valley Recreation Trail (Map 76/D4-45/C3)
Another of the old railway beds converted to multi-use trail, the Ottawa Valley Recreation Trail travels 62 km 39 mi) from Renfrew south through Arnprior, Pakenham, Almonte, Carleton Place and into Smith Falls. When complete, this trails system will run almost 300 km and finish at Mattawa. That said, in the south, the trail passes numerous communities and offers plenty of access to get out and ride!
Prescott and Russell Recreational Trail
The Prescott and Russell Recreational Trail spans a distance of 72 km (45 mi), making its way east from Orleans through Bourget, Plantagenet and Vankleek Hill, leading to the Quebec border. The old railway bed, packed from walkers and hikers, is perfect for a fat bike ride. There are plenty of access points for this trail that travels through woodlots, farmland and wetlands.
South March Highlands (Maps 60-78)
During the summer, the trails in South March Highlands in Kanata offer technical and challenging features but the winter snow helps smooth things out for fat bikes. Trails range from easy in the east to progressively harder the further west in the trail network you ride. The trails are multi-use so please be courteous to other users. A parking lot off Innovation Drive offers access from the east to the 23 km (14 mi) of trails found here.
These are just a few of the many great trails spread throughout Eastern Ontario and Cottage Country. For more trails to explore be sure to check out the Cottage Country Ontario Backroad Mapbook or visit BRMBmaps.com to start planning a memorable trip.
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