Article By: Martin Lortz
So, what's the plan? It’s not a complicated question, so it has an easy answer - winter in Ontario means snowmobiling season.
Ontario offers an impressive 30,000 kilometres of groomed snowmobile trails weaving throughout the province. You are missing out if you haven’t yet experienced Ontario's snowmobile scene. Imagine arriving at a hotel or restaurant in Northern Ontario and seeing a parking lot filled with more snowmobiles than cars - it's truly remarkable.
Despite the usually five-hour drive that took nine due to winter conditions, I arrived at Dunlop Lake Lodge. Located west of Elliot Lake in Ontario's Algoma region, Dunlop Lake Lodge is a favourite snowmobiling destination. It offers comfortable rooms, an onsite restaurant, and live entertainment on weekends. After a tough start to my trip, it was our starting and ending point as we tackled Algoma's North Shore snowmobiling loop.
Getting Loopy on the North Shore
Our day one destination was Sault Ste. Marie via Elliot Lake and the Lake Huron North Channel. The North Shore loop is 446 kilometres total, plus we added an extra 160 kilometres to get to and from Sault Ste. Marie, making for a 600 km two-day ride. On paper it looked easy-peasy, but time tends to tick away rapidly.
The trails are fantastic and the view of the North Channel is breathtaking. We enjoyed lunch at Bobbers Restaurant in Bruce Mines and arrived in the dark at the Fairfield Inn by Marriot in Sault Ste. Marie after a long but enjoyable day.
On day two, we encountered fresh snow on the trail as it weaved through the dense forest. We even had the trail to ourselves once we left the city limits. We only stopped for lunch and a gas refill at Black Creek Outfitters, which ended up being our only encounter with civilization on the day. We returned to Dunlop Lake Lodge just in time for a sunset, a good meal, and a few post-ride refreshments. Our two-day ride consensus: Algoma's North Shore Loop is highly recommended.
Adventures on Ice
It was time to say goodbye to my sledding buddies, pack up my truck, and hit the road to my next destination. Although it may seem close as the crow flies, nothing in the north is truly close when you follow the road. After a couple of hours of driving, I arrived at the Snowshoe Camp Cottage Resort ready to hit the snow once again.
I spent a few days ice fishing with my friend and guide Adam from Angling Algoma. We planned to search for trout in nearby backcountry lakes in the hopes of snagging a brook trout, lake trout, and rainbow trout all in a single day, which we call the ‘ice-fishing trifactor.’ The mission was underway.
I was thrilled to have the Ski-Doo Expedition with me for the adventure. With its large track and towing capacity, I can easily transport a sled that converts into a fishing hut, along with all the necessary gear, across frozen lakes, deep snow, and narrow trails. It's an impressive workhorse.
So, how did we fare?
Our original and simple plan quickly became the adventure of a lifetime once we snuck through some trees along a skinny trail and set up a fishing hut beneath towering cliffs on a lake all to ourselves. We experienced ice fishing at its best – at least at first. We hooked a dozen lake trout in the first hour but then watched the time star to tick away, putting our trifactor in jeopardy. Persistence is the key to success, and after trying a few new locations, the trout trifactor was completed.
After another great day and the ‘trout trifactor’ completed, we set our sights on a new plan.
Back on groomed trail and in the company of a few local snowmobiling friends, we turned the nose towards Hearst, Ontario.
The excitement level was high as we packed the sleds at the Wawa Motor Inn. Over the next three days, we experienced sunshine, snow storms, and perfect trails covered in fluffy fresh snow. A little bit of everything.
If you’re traveling along the same way, Agich's Riverside Cabins in Hornepayne, Companion Hotel Motel in Hearst, and Magpie Relay in Dubreuilville all provide the good hospitality that keeps snowmobilers returning season after season.
After covering a distance of 720 kilometres, we were back in Wawa to bid farewell to another fantastic snowmobiling adventure in Northern Ontario. To sum it up, it really was Ontario snowmobiling at its best.
Thanks for the good times Algoma. See you next winter.