By: Mike Jacobs
The late start to our snowmobile season has a lot of sledders asking this most important question: Where Can I Ride Right Now? This is the first in a series of articles that aims to get you where you need to go as quickly as possible—the place with the snow!
Most of these early recommendations are in Northeastern Ontario, only a few hours’ drive from most of the major cities and towns of Southern Ontario. However, because these areas are the first to get their trails open, hotels are quick to fill up, especially over the weekends. We highly recommend booking in advance.
While the snow down south might be unpredictable, all of the locations we’ll be highlighting here are in the path of Canada’s “Polar Vortex” which means that cold and snow are predictable all winter long. In fact they’ll often have trails open long into April.
For the record, Temiskaming Shores is the official name of this town—New Liskeard is the name of one of the three original towns that were amalgamated into Temiskaming Shores, but many people still call it New Liskeard.
Temiskaming Shores is the next large city north of North Bay on the TransCanada Highway 11 corridor, and is only an hour-and-a-half further north. The town is complete with plenty of big box stores like Canadian Tire and Wal-Mart for any last-minute shopping needs, as well as plenty of chain and local restaurants, gas, and even snowmobile rentals at Temiskaming Power Sports. The Wabi River serves as the connector for hotels/motels, shops, gas and restaurants.
The local snowmobile district is number 14. Better known as TATA, the Temiskaming Abitibi Trails Association, this is one of the most legendary districts in all of the OFSC. You should definitely read all about them here. There’s a reason they call this place the World’s Best Snowmobiling.
Temiskaming Shores has plenty of rooms for every taste and every budget, but it’s well known as a snowmobile playground—so don’t be surprised if everyone else has the same idea as you. Most parking lots have plenty of space for trucks and trailers. Temiskaming is a snowmobile town, so if you need something, don’t hesitate to ask the hotel or motel staff. They’re always happy to help.
Located right on the TOP A trail, sleds can be parked directly in front of your room. The Quality Inn also has an on-site restaurant, hot tub, sauna, and swimming pool. Fuel is available next door. If you’re saddlebagging to another destination further north, you can leave your truck and trailer here for the duration—just check with the hotel.
Directly across the street is the Econo Lodge. As the name suggests, this is likely one of the most economical places to stay in the city.
A newer hotel with free breakfast, great rooms, and a swimming pool, the Holiday Inn Express and Suites is the perfect spot for people who need a little more luxury.
With the trail right outside the door, on the frozen Lake Temiskaming, the Waterfront Inn is a great spot with a great restaurant (Roosters). You can take the ice trail on the Wabi creek to get gas or access the town.
A favourite with sports teams travelling to Temiskaming Shores, the Leisure Inn has thousands of movies to borrow in their lobby, as well as XBOX and Playstation. Prices are very fair, rooms are clean, and the trail is close by. The parking lot is a bit small, but there is plenty of street parking.
For groups who want to take over an entire building and live it up in style, there’s the Presidents Suites. Hot tub, BBQ, full kitchen, plenty of bathrooms, and one big living room with a giant TV. The only downside is it’s not right on the trail and parking isn’t great.
Step back in time with the Auberge Country Inn. Close to the trail, with friendly local owners, this is definitely the mom and pop option.
Temiskaming Shores is the perfect spot to stage a saddlebag tour out of, or just setup in a hotel and do multiple day trips—there are trails literally in every direction from town, so it’s easy to ride a full day without seeing the same spots twice. As of the publication of this article, you can do a loop up to Earlton and back down without riding the same trails twice, and only using 5 km of yellow trails, but we’re confident that by the time you’ve arrived for your trip there will be plenty more green. The local clubs work tirelessly once the conditions are right to get those trails open.
A longer ride on all green trails will take riders up to Elk Lake, where they serve incredible food—just call and check to make sure they’re open. You’ll find fuel on the way there as well. Finally, you can also currently ride south into Haileybury, once known as Millionaire’s Row for all of the fancy homes owned by early mining barons.
Day trips can include riding north to Kirkland Lake on Trail A, returning on A108. The local trails are nothing to ignore either—L185, L186, L180, L190 between Cobalt and Englehart. The western loop to Gowganda and Matachewan uses the A trail, L136, C106A and L162/L161.
Conditions change quickly, for the better, so be sure to check the OFSC interactive guide on your way up—we’re sure you’ll find even more trails ready for your weekend adventure.