When you think of snowmobiles busting snow drifts and effortlessly floating through waist deep powder, what destination comes to mind? Wawa Ontario? No, well it should.
Located on the north eastern end of lake Superior in the region of Algoma, this small northern Ontario town has been crafting a reputation as snowmobiling's best of trail, aka, boondocking destination east of the prairies. Judging by the sleds lining the parking lots, it seems the effort is working. Blessed with the perfect combination of lake effect snow (courtesy of the largest fresh water lake in the world) at towns door step and thousands of acres of sparsely treed rolling hill and hydro corridors, Wawa's success is no surprise.
As a trail rider and being powder curious, I made the trek north to hook up with the crew from Top Secret Boondocking to see what the hype is all about.
Welcome to Wawa and the headquarters of the Top Secret Boondocking. Compared to the landscape around it the little white cabin is just a drop in a bucket but hey, we're not here to sit around. A bit of chit chat and it’s time to ride.
As a guide and Wawa Boondocking know it all (I say this in the most complimentary way), Russ Jones is always happy to share his knowledge and point you the right direction if you want to explore on you own.
First thing first, before we can head deep into the wilds a little skill testing is in order. A few turns to check everyone’s powder riding abilities.
The benefits of a guide quickly become evident. There is plenty of backcountry around Wawa to share with all, but it’s hard to beat local knowledge when it comes to the extra secret, top secret boondocking locations.
Welcome to the playground. Like kids in a candy store you can feel the sugar jitters even before you stuff that first handful of candy in your mouth.
Just like kids in a candy store, we over indulge, but man, what fun!
All that powder slashing and an occasional digging mission make for hungry crew. Luckily the Big Bear Hotel is up to the task. On the menu, The Boondocking burger, how can I pass that up on a day like this. I must say the burger and fries were delicious but the serving was so big that not only was I not able to finish it, I was not interested in eating anything else for the next twenty four hours. Give yourself plenty of time if stopping for lunch here, the place is as the kids say, lit.
After lunch it’s time to check out the famous Badlands. Just cruising along the groomed trail, the jitters are back as the landscape opens up and snowmobile tracks disappear in every direction.
What a view? The Badlands, a snowmobilers version of the bouncy castle, 15,000 acres of go where you wish.
Isn't it always the case, when the good times are rolling there is never enough time in the day, and winter is the stingiest season of all when it comes to daylight. That said, a sunset over Lake Superior is not a bad way to call it a day.
The Wawa Motor Inn, with the Top Secret Boondocking headquarters around back and sleds lining the parking lot, most of which are sporting backcountry worthy long tracks, this seams to be the snowmobiling epicentre in the area. After a day of powder the requirements are simple, a hot shower, a good meal and a comfortable bed, the Wawa Motor Inn is happy to oblige.
So what’s the verdict? Believe the hype, when it comes to off trail snowmobiling, Wawa has it going on. Awesome terrain, cool town and good people. Oh yah did I mention the lake effect snow cutesy of Lake Superior, which is always set to refresh.