Manitoulin Island & LaCloche Foothills

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Manitoulin Island Lighthouse Cycling Photo

Cyclists enjoy a stop at scenic lookout from Manitoulin Island. Photo credit: MICA

Manitoulin Island & the LaCloche Foothills are attractive destinations for both recreational and touring cyclists. On the island, quiet roadways take cyclists past scenic vistas, 108 inland lakes and lush forested areas allowing cyclists to experience unique attractions enroute and connect with the area’s rich cultural heritage and First Nations communities.

Small towns with an array of amenities and unspoilt shoreline add to the romance of an island getaway easily enjoyed by bicycle. LaCloche Foothills offers long distance touring cyclists a great opportunity to experience the beauty of the North Channel and nearby Killarney Provincial Park. The spectacular views will make the hilly climbs connecting Espanola to Manitoulin Island worth the effort. Long distance cyclists can connect from this area to Sault St Marie, Sudbury and using the ferry service, to Bruce Peninsula.

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Manitoulin Island

As the largest island in a freshwater lake, Manitoulin is big enough for cyclists to enjoy a multi day tour. Many visitors may be unaware of the following distances between towns and destinations in between.

Road Distances on the Island:

  • South Baymouth to Meldrum Bay – 133km
  • South Baymouth to Little Current – 64km
  • South Baymouth to Gore Bay – 83km
  • Little Current to Espanola – 47km
  • Little Current to Gore Bay – 63km
  • Gore Bay to Meldrum Bay – 70km

Manitoulin Island & La Cloche Mountains Cycling Routes & Road Map – This map details 14 route loop suggestions offering combined over 800km off great on-road cycling and 45km off-road trails across the Island. It has something suitable for every type of cyclists. Routes are published online,you can print a route copy or order a physical copy online.

Manitou Loop (Self-guided Itinerary) – Experience some of the best cycling on Manitoulin Island on this 126km, two-day cycling itinerary, developed as part of the Ontario150 – Celebrate by Bike initiative. This route takes cyclists around Lake Manitou, the largest lake on Manitoulin Island. From beaches to historic sites, from quaint communities to First Nation’s culture; experience a local hospitality and a network of quiet, paved roads that reveal a countryside perfect for overnight cycling trips.

Country Roads – With plenty of quiet country roads around it is not hard to create numerous route options. Road surfaces differ from paved with shoulders perfect for cyclists, paved with light traffic, surface treated to hard packed gravel. The only times there is increased traffic and cyclists should use caution, is on the road to/from South Baymouth around ferry times.

LaCloche Foothills – Many long distance cyclists travel this way as they are on round the lakes or cross Canada tours. Communities with many of the amenities and services cyclists are looking for are easily arrived at within a day’s ride or closer. This area encompasses Espanola, communities along the north shore from Spanish to Nairn Centre, and south from Espanola towards Little Current on the Island.

  • Bebamikawe Memorial Trail (Manitoulin Island) – Over 14km of single track and up to 800m of double track trail that can accommodate mountain bikes. Signage is mounted at three lookouts describing the historic and ecological significance of the area.
  • McLean’s Park (Manitoulin Island) – Located towards the eastern end of the island, the park offers an 8km ride through roughly 40 ha (100 ac) of hardwood bush. The path is challenging along its rough terrain, but there is little elevation gain.
  • M’Chigeeng Park (Manitoulin Island) – Located close to Manitoulin Secondary School this road brings cyclists to a few spots where they can swim and takes you uphill through a gravel pit to a spot offering beautiful views overlooking West Bay and the North Channel
  • Great lakes waterfront trailGreat Lakes Waterfront Trail – Stretching over 3000km, the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail is a route connecting over 140 communities and First Nations along the Canadian shores of the Great Lakes: Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, Lake Erie, Detroit River and Lake St Clair, Lake Huron, Georgian Bay and the North Channel. The fully signed Trail uses the safest infrastructure possible, a mix of both on-road and off-road facilities, and is primarily paved, with sections of unpaved path and gravel roads. It can be enjoyed for as part of a day trip or on a multi-day long distance cycling adventure.
    • The trail (signed on-road route) stretches 113km from Espanola to South Baymouth on provincial Highway 6. You will experience paved roads, hilly terrain with some narrow shoulders on some sections through the largest freshwater island in the world. Transit to Bruce Peninsula is possible via the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry (spring and summer only). Green Provincial cycling route designation signs are presently in place on Highway 6 between South Baymouth and Espanola.
    • View ferry Information – Ms Chi-Cheemaun – May to October service.
  • Manitoulin Island & La Cloche Mountains Cycling Routes & Road Map – This map details 14 route loop suggestions offering combined over 800km off great on-road cycling and 45km off-road trails across the Island. It has something suitable for every type of cyclist. Routes are published online – you can print a route copy. Cost for cyclists to purchase map $10 including shipping and tax.
  • Manitoulin All inclusive Cycling Adventure Tours – Enjoy handpicked accommodation and restaurants on these popular 5-day cycling tours of Manitoulin Island
  • Explore Manitoulin – The information and call centre refers cyclists to additional sources for information. The website contains information on cycling as an island activity.
  • Cycling the Backroads of Manitoulin – order your map and find all loops and route descriptions as well as Strava info at Manitoulin Cycling

Please note there may be additional information and map guides for the area that may be of interest and useful to cyclists. New maps and guides are available yearly, and information above may change.

Northern Ontario, Manitoulin Island & LaCloche Foothills – Related Blogs:

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Manitoulin Island / LaCloche Foothills Funding Partners:

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Manitoulin island cycling advocates