The cold winter weather may send some Canadians indoors, but others embrace the cold and snow with various outdoor activities. One popular activity among more adventurous Canadians is snowmobiling.
If snowmobiling in Ontario is your favourite pastime or you just want to try it, a key part of an enjoyable experience is finding the perfect trail for you. Below, we outline the best Ontario snowmobile trails to help you find the right one — plus a few tips on getting started for newcomers.
Finding a top-notch Ontario snowmobile trail is key to maximizing your trip out into the great white wilderness. Let’s review the six best Ontario snowmobile trails.
The snowmobile trail network in the Northern Corridor may very well be the best in the world. You can choose from loops of all distances and even partake in some off-trail riding to mix things up a bit and become a trailblazer.
Officially known as OFSC District 15, the Northern Corridor trail system connects over 1,700 km of trails, connecting Cochrane, Smooth Rock Falls, Kapuskasing, Hearst, and Hornepayne by one giant loop. Along this larger loop, you’ll also find five smaller loops and tons of local trails.
The Northern Corridor trails are impressive in size and have been compared to snow-covered highways.
You can make the Northern Corridor a multi-day event too, as there are enough trails to last you a good three to five days. And with the five communities all connected by the large loop, there are plenty of places to stay overnight.
The Algoma area offers many benefits, including no traffic, friendly faces, impressive Ontario snowmobile trails, and loads of snowmobiler-friendly accommodations. But one of its biggest draws is that snowmobile season lasts longer in Algoma than in many other parts of Ontario. It typically lasts well into late March.
Algoma Country is home to nearly 52,000 square kilometres of vast wilderness with Lake Huron bordering it on the south and Lake Superior on the west. There are also several small towns nearby to stop to rest or warm up, including the popular retirement community Elliot Lake in the east and Sault Ste Marie in the west.
Algoma is a favourite of trail riders from Canada and the U.S., thanks to its 3,700 kilometres of some of the best trails in Ontario and serene surroundings. Plus, it’s less than a six-hour drive from the Greater Toronto Area, making snowmobiling the Algoma North Shore Loop an accessible and exciting event.
The Ottawa Valley runs along each side of the Ottawa River, spanning from Mattawa in the west almost to Ottawa itself.
In the south, the Ottawa Valley touches the Madawaska Highlands, which is listed lower on our top Ontario snowmobile trails list. Many riders will tour both regions at once, and they only distinguish them by the names of the towns they typically start their ride from.
The ride to Ottawa Valley isn’t hard, as the nearest access point of Pembroke is only 380 kilometres from Toronto. So, accessing the roughly 1,000 kilometres of snowmobile trails in Ottawa Valley is fairly simple.
The Madawaska Highlands are immediately adjacent to the Ottawa Valley. They combine to form a swath of terrain that many snowmobilers consider some of the top trails in southern Ontario. You can take your own course through the Madawaska Highlands or enjoy one of the many snow tours available in the area if you prefer a guided ride.
From Toronto, Madawaska Highlands is only a 240- to 305-kilometre drive, making it rather accessible. And with over 1,000 kilometres of trails to explore, it can easily become a multi-day riding opportunity with various points of interest.
If you make it a multi-day trip, you can stay in one of the nearby towns, including Barry’s Bay, Bancroft, and Whitney.
Viewed as one of the top Ontario snowmobile trails, the Round Algonquin Park (RAP) loop is known for stunning views and a range of wildlife sightings.
While sledding the RAP loop, you’ll see a bit of everything, ranging from evergreen forests to sites of historical great tectonic quakes. Plus, RAP’s trails are always well-groomed and have plenty of refuelling stations and overnight accommodations galore.
This 850-kilometre loop is also great for multi-day snow tours. RAP tours typically last four to five days, with you riding about 200 kilometres per day (six to nine hours). The closest spot from Toronto to RAP is Muskoka, where you can stay overnight and access the trails. Plus, the accommodations in Muskoka will generally allow you to leave your sled trailer parked in their lot during your trip.
Surrounding the city of Sudbury is a 150-kilometre circle known as the Greater Sudbury Area. In this area is the original Sudbury Trail Plan, one of the most established and well-developed Ontario snowmobile trails with impeccable trail conditions all season long.
The Sudbury trail network is unique because it has a central destination with trails that fan like spokes on a wheel. This makes it a very easy trail to handle as a self-guided tour.
You can also make this a multi-day tour, as the roughly 1,100 kilometres of trails can give you two to four days of riding excitement. And because the trails fan out from a central destination, you can plan on staging from Sudbury every day.
With a handful of the best Ontario snowmobile trails at your fingertips, you’re just about ready to pack up and head out. Not so fast, though. You still need to prepare for the trip. Here’s how to ensure you’re 100% ready to hit the trails.
Before you can hit the trails, you’ll need an Ontario trail permit for your snowmobile. Fortunately, this is pretty easy to get. You can order your snowmobile permit directly from the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs. You only need proof that the snowmobile is registered to you plus a valid vehicle identification number (VIN) and licence plate.
Ontario snowmobile trails can close periodically due to weather and maintenance, so you’ll want to ensure your destination trail is open and ready for you. Fortunately, today’s technology makes this easier than ever. Simply check the trail availability on the OFSC Interactive Trail Guide or the Go Snowmobiling Ontario Interactive Trail Guide App.
Here, you’ll be able to see what trails are currently open and closed. And if you’re still unsure which trails you want to hit, you can filter them by services like accommodations, clubhouses, fuel, food, and more.
Finally, you need to choose the type of snow tour you want: guided or self-tour.
In a guided tour, you’ll get a professional guide to take you through all the trails and show you the ropes. This is a great way for a novice sledder to get some experience in the sport with minimal risk of getting lost.
Guided tours are available for those who already own a snowmobile as well as those who need a package that includes a machine and equipment rental.
A self-guided tour is great for experienced sledders ready to go it alone in this popular snowmobiling region. Fortunately, most trails throughout Ontario are well-marked and have clear signage, making it easy for an experienced sledder to navigate safely without a guide.
And since you’re guiding yourself, you’re free to take your time, change your route as needed, and explore areas a guided tour may not include.
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