Photo credit: Michael McKenzie. Shuniah Mines Mountainbike Trails, Thunder Bay
Cyclists in Northwest Ontario will find themselves immersed in a rugged and untouched environment, with many great trails and road routes to discover. Tear down the hills and mountainsides of the Canadian Shield, perfectly suited for mountain biking in the summer and fat biking in the wintertime. Head out on your road bike for long stretches of country roads through beautiful landscapes and small communities. A perfect destination for an off the beaten track cycling adventure.
The vast region of Northwest Ontario covers the largest part of Northern Ontario with many remote and untouched destinations with no road access. Most cycling will be found in the southernmost part of the region around the Thunder Bay and Kenora areas, offering both trail and road cycling options.
Thunder Bay Regional Road Routes – The Thunder Bay Cycling Club has created multiple road cycling routes starting from four different locations around Thunder Bay.
- Best Western Nor’Wester – 25 or 70km option available starting at the Neebing Hotel on the western side of Thunder Bay. Some roads have smaller shoulders. Riders carefully have to watch for traffic. 25km option & 70km option.
- Lakehead University – Challenging route – A 58km long ride through the farmlands north of the city with rolling hills. Starting from LU is difficult since it forces travel on high traffic corridors. Accordingly, use extreme caution when travelling on some of these high volume roadways. Lakehead U to the Moose Coffee shop and back – Ride westwards on Oliver Rd towards Kakabeka Falls for a stop at the Moose coffee shop. Head west for a further 1km and view the “Niagara Falls of the North”; Kakabeka Falls.
- County Fair Plaza Routes – 25 or 35km options available starting at the County Fair Plaza Mall heading north to Wishart Conservation Area. 25km option & .
- Paipoonge Museum Routes – Starting at the Paipoonge Museum there are two 30km and one 90km options available. 30km Easy Option & 30km Medium Option & 90km Challenging Option.
Kenora Regional Road Routes – The city of Kenora offers 6 different on road cycling routes to get people to enjoy the scenery and points of interest by bike. The routes are set up as loops starting at the Lake of Woods Discovery Centre which functions as Kenora’s tourism visitor information centre. A PDF map can be found HERE.
- Anicinabe Park – This 15km long route follows the Kenora Waterfront past the downtown area and loops through the Lakeside neighbourhood. The highlight on this ride is the Anicinabe Park offering camping, swimming and a small store at the park entrance.
- Rabbit Lake – A 16km route circling Rabbit Lake and passing through Garrow Park and the beach area. The route includes a 500m section of paved, off-road nature trail known as the Rotary Way. A short detour off Veterans Drive offers a nice viewpoint over the Winnipeg River.
- Laurenson Lake – Following the Kenora waterfront and through the downtown area, this 15km ride loops through some of Kenora’s busiest shopping areas. The highlight is the beautiful country riding along Transmitter Road and the old railroad rock cut along Gould Road.
- Round Lake – This route is an extension of the Rabbit Lake and Laurenson Lakes Routes. On 22km riders will pass by rolling country hills and scenic vistas. The route returns to Kenora along Transmitter Road. A perfect ride to enjoy Kenora’s country scenery and lots of small rolling hills.
- Keewatin Route – This 9km route heads west from the Discovery Centre into the historic village of Keewatin. The route passes through downtown Keewatin and returns along the lakefront with some magnificent waterfront homes. In Keewatin there is opportunity to stop for lunch or ice cream and some additional activities and more out-of-the-way quiet roads.
- Jones Road – For a bit of a longer ride, the Jones Road and Airport Road loop is a nice 36km ride. The ride starts at the discovery Centre and leads east on the Anicinabe Park loop. Heading east out of Kenora. After 10km, the route will turn northwards into the countryside before circling back towards Kenora returning on the Rabbit Lake Route.
Thunder Bay Multi-use Trail Network – Thunder Bay offers over 56km of multi-use trails and over 42km of bike lanes and shared lanes throughout the city. Multi-use trails are open for all people-powered transportation: bikes, walkers, joggers, e-bikes. Bike lanes and shared lanes are on-road facilities for people on bikes.
Kenora Urban Recreational Trails
- Rat Portage Urban Trail – The Rat Portage Urban Trail meanders along flat or gently rolling, paved city streets with sidewalks of wood, interlocking brick or concrete and along Laurenson’s Creek nature walk. The trail is 6.5 to 8km long, easy to moderate.
- Rabbit Lake Trail – This 5km trail system is partially accessible and paved. The trail starts at the end of Nairn Avenue and this portion is called the Rotary Way Trail. It merges with the main Rabbit Lake Trail at a spectacular outlook overlooking Rabbit Lake. It continues along the shore of Rabbit Lake to Garrow Park. The trail then follows Birchwood Crescent, circling back towards the start. There are multiple resting areas along the trail.
- Mink Bay Trail – The Mink Bay Wetland is a stunning area nestled in the west of Kenora. This area is known of being the earliest settled area in Keewatin. The trail system zigzags through the wetlands and wilderness areas of Mink and Portage Bay and into the parks and businesses of downtown Keewatin.
- Tunnel Island Trail – Breathtaking views of the Winnipeg River and Norman Dam can be enjoyed along a series of trails, which make up Tunnel Island. The trail also features several lookouts and points of interest along its way. Wildlife such as eagles, pelicans, deer and fox can be seen along the 6 to 10km long route.
Kenora Regional Trails
- Minaki Trails – Minaki Trails system offers 25km of scenic trails throughout the boreal forest. Natural trails meander through this lush forest with scenic views of the Canadian Shield and the surrounding area. The trails are all off-road including some more some challenging parts that are best suited for a mountain bike.
- Vernon Nature Area: The Vernon Nature Area is a unique area that links three very diverse vegetarian zones found within Canada. The designated trail system lets cyclists enjoy the Boreal Forest Region, the St. Lawrence-Great Forest Area and the Prairie Grasslands on their ride.
Trowbridge Forest Multi-Use Recreation Trails – Located on the north end of the City of Thunder Bay, the Trowbridge Forest Multi-Use Recreation Trail System consists of 21km of mountain bike optimized single-track trail and 16km of Nordic double-track. The trails are broken out into two main areas
Trowbridge Forest & Kinsmen Park – Trowbridge Forest consists of approximately 16km of double-track Nordic skiing/ multi-use hiking trails and 4km of single-track spread throughout the rolling hills above the Current River. The forest is dominated by a single large mesa and many of the trails in the area either climb or descend the slopes. All of the trails are accessible from the parking lot at Kinsmen Park on Copenhagen Rd. Make sure to check out the views of the iconic Trowbridge Falls from the footbridge into the trails. Key trails in the area include:
- Prospector Skills trail A short beginner trail off the parking lot that offers riders a chance to learn all the skills they will need for the more advanced trails in the system. The main link is a pump track with rollers and berms. Two optional lines will introduce riders to large sections of rock work and a series of wooden technical trail features.
- Conveyor Belt – This 2.2km machine built beginner access trail will provide riders with the best way to enter the heart of the single-track system. The trail is dominated by the rocky tread, high ridgelines, and even a few views out to Lake Superior.
- Drift A 1.6km machine built progressive flow trail that is the first of it’s kind in the region. High speeds, big berms and plenty of options to get airborne can all be found on this single-track rollercoaster. This trail is rated as intermediate.
Shuniah Mines – Found in the center of Trowbridge Forest is the original legacy trail area know as Shuniah Mines. This section of the system contains 17km of purpose-built mountain bike single-track that winds through the century-old silver mine grounds and takes full advantage of the unique topography of tailing piles, rock features, and small ridgelines. Be on the lookout for the following signature trails:
- Grand Chasm – A 1.1km hand-built tech-flow intermediate trail that is known mostly for its iconic ‘Chasm Bridge’. For locals, it is a playground of optional features and unique lines. Keep an eye open for the old mining relics.
- The Otherside – An advanced technical trail that defines the identity of Shuniah Mines, this trail is dominated by large bedrock knolls, hand-built tread, and rough-cut cedar features. The signature feature “The Waterfall” consists of a large section of pure rock tread that descends over nine meters to the base of a small cliff line.
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park – Sleeping Giant offers many opportunities for exploration by bicycle. Some of the park roads also provide exciting bike routes. Please use caution as you will be sharing the road with motor vehicles.
- Thunder Bay Lookout Road – A challenging 9km mountain bike ride from Hwy 587 to the spectacular Thunder Bay Lookout. Many steep hills make it a treat to coast down on your return cycle.
- Marie Louise Drive – A 12km mountain bike tour around the west side of Marie Louise Lake.
- Kabeyun Trail – A 6.7km multi-use doubletrack trail that leads from the parking area to a small beach at Tea Harbour. This out-and-back trail is an easy to moderate ride for most riders.
- Sawbill Lake Trail – This trail provides access to the Sawyer Bay Trail from Marie Louise Lake Drive and includes a steep hill with partial views of Thunder Mountain.
- Sawyer Bay Trail – A challenging blue level trail with multiple climbs and descents that will get a riders cardio working. The 6km out and back doubletrack lead from the trailhead to Sawyer Bay on the coast of Lake Superior.
- Pickerel Lake Trail – The 10km trail passes through some of the most impressive white pine stands in the area and is part of the larger trail network.
- Burma Trail – Rolling hills, small lakes and old growth pine stands are found on this trail that can be used for cross country skiing in the winter and mountain bike rides in the summer.
Ghost Lake Trails, Dryden – These trails are great for skilled bicyclists and hikers. The route is made up of bush roads and forest trails. The network of trails are 22 km in length altogether and includes rocky paths, wetlands, swamps and forestry.
- The Boneyard: 2.5km, easy
- Rollercoaster: 1.2km, moderate
- Starlight: 1.5km, moderate,
- Hill Billy Trail: 3.8km, moderate
- Ferguson Trail: 2.5km, difficult
- Ferguson Backside: 1km difficult
- Ghost Hollow Loop: 2km, moderate
- Ghost Hollow Loop 2: 3km, difficult
- Squirrel Nuts: 2km, moderate
- Root-A-Bega: 2km, difficult
Trans Canada Trail – The TCT is a four-season, multi-use trail system with various surface types and users. Visit Trans Canada Trail “Explore The Trail” for information – www.tctrail.ca
While most of Northwest Ontario’s section of the Trans Canada Trail runs on the waterway, there is a small portion of the trail that is suitable for cycling. The 11km long section runs through the Town of Kenora as part of the Rat Portage Urban Trail (City Centre) and the Mink Bay Trail (Keewatin).
Thunder Bay Bike Lane and Multi-use Trail Map – Thunder Bay has over 56 kilometres of multi-use trails and over 42 kilometres of bike lanes and shared lanes. This digital map shows the cities trail and bike lane network.
Kenora Bicycle Routes – The Kenora Bicycle Routes Map showcases 6 different looped routes starting out at Lake of Woods Discovery Centre, Kenoras Visitor Information Centre. Each route is represented by a different colour and can also be combined with each other.
Lake of the Woods Trail Guide – This trail guide is available both in print and online featuring a variety of different regional and urban recreational trails. Each trail is indicated for what it can be used and some of the trails are not suitable for biking. For more information on accommodations, attractions and activities within the greater region visit Thunder Bay or Kenora Tourism or NorthernOntario.Travel websites.
* Please note there are may be additional trails, routes, events and information resources for the region that may be of interest and useful to cyclists. Changes to the above links, listings and cycling routes may occur.
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