By: Martin Lortz
The options can be overwhelming when choosing the perfect destination for your next snowmobiling adventure. However, suppose you're looking for a place with abundant snow, well-maintained trails, comfortable accommodations, and plenty of activities to enjoy off the sled. In that case, Hearst, Ontario, is the place for you.
Nestled in the picturesque Algoma Country, Hearst offers over 1000 kilometres of snowmobile trails at your doorstep. As a popular stop along the Northern Ontario Adventure Tour, this charming town is a must-visit for snowmobiling enthusiasts.
Getting to Hearst is a breeze whether you prefer to drive or ride your snowmobile. Highway 11 and the A Trail provide easy east and west access.
Once you arrive in Hearst, the first item on your agenda should be the renowned Missinaibi Expedition Tour. The 165-kilometre loop is a source of pride for the local snowmobiling community. With well-groomed trails and abundant snow, you're guaranteed an unforgettable ride. You can ride the loop in either direction, but we recommend going counterclockwise for a unique experience.
The southern part of the Missinaibi Expedition Tour, along trail L155, offers long stretches of wide trails with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Make a pit stop in Mattice for a coffee and snack at Tibob Gaz before continuing your journey. Remember to refuel, as the next gas station is approximately 120 kilometres away in Hearst.
Heading north, you'll follow the historic Missinaibi River, surrounded by picturesque tree-lined trails covered in fresh snow. The lack of sled traffic creates a serene and dream-like atmosphere that every snowmobiler craves. As you cross the Missinaibi River on a single-track trail, you'll continue to enjoy the fantastic riding experience along the northern stretches of the loop. Take a break at the warming shack along trail L159 before continuing on trails L165 and L163, eventually leading you back to the A Trail and Hearst.
But the adventure doesn't end there. Beyond the Missinaibi Expedition Tour, more trails are waiting to be explored. The entire length of trail L163 offers a fun and exhilarating ride. You can also venture to Hornepayne in the west or Kapuskasing in the east for a fantastic day trip.
For those seeking the ultimate snowmobiling adventure, Hearst is the starting point for Destination James Bay. This off-the-beaten-path ride takes you along the Missinaibi and Moose River to the shores of James Bay. Closer to town, you can enjoy a local backcountry tour with Follow Her North, a local adventure expert and guide.
If you want to combine your snowmobiling experience with ice fishing, Hearst's many lakes are known for their abundance of walleye, pike, and perch. Ride your sled to a cozy ice fishing hut or a backcountry lake with Follow Her North in search of trout.
When you need to refuel your body, stop by Veilleux Camping & Marina for a late breakfast or lunch. Their highly recommended breakfast poutine is a must-try, but be sure to check their opening hours, as they may not be open every day of the week.
Special thanks go to the Hearst region Snowmobile Club Voyageur for their dedication to keeping the trails in shape.
After a thrilling day on the trails, Hearst still has plenty to do;
• Lumber Jacks Hockey Game - enjoy some Junior A hockey action.
• Curling - Winter in northern Ontario sounds like a perfect setting to give curling a try.
• Theatre / Théatre - Hearst Theatre is an independently owned Cinema with current movie releases being shown weekly.
• Distillerie Rheault Distillery - a small, artisan distillery in Northern Ontario, home to the award-winning "Loon Vodka."
• Scierie Heritage Sawmill - Discover how the Hearst area became a leader in Ontario's lumber industry.
• Galerie 815 - Gallery 815 offers visual arts exhibitions throughout the year.
• Bowling - good food and bowling, sounds like a plan.
The Companion Hotel Motel is a favourite with snowmobilers. Offering 50 guest rooms, a 24-hour front desk, a convenient gift shop, an on-site restaurant, a sports bar and indoor parking for your snowmobile.
The Super 8 by Wyndham offers an indoor pool, continental breakfast, hot tubs, steam and sauna, and 67 modern rooms.
The Villa Inn & Suites is transformed into a new 60-guest room hotel providing suites, king beds, kitchenettes and more. It is a familiar spot for snowmobilers as OFSC trails are a few metres away.
For a more off-the-beaten-path experience, the cozy INN The North Bed & Breakfast, located around 15km north of town, can provide the R&R you are looking for.
INN The North is also the home of the local adventure expert and guide Mylene Coulombe-Gratton, aka @followhernorth.
With its incredible trails, diverse activities, and comfortable accommodations, Hearst, Ontario, is the ideal snowmobiling destination for a day or a few. Come and experience the thrill of snowmobiling in this winter wonderland.