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Rider, photographer and all-round adventurer Martin Lortz does the honours again this year – heading out onto our Top 10 Roads in spring to determine the shape they’re in! An added bonus this year: his “Notes From The Road” give fellow motorcyclists additional intel on touring this stunning part of Ontario’s cottage country.
A shorter stretch compared to the other recommended roads, but satisfying all the same. The pavement is beautiful, traffic is light, and it makes for an escape from the major highways. This is a connector between the village of Orrville in the north and the village of Rosseau in the south – both in Seguin Township – and the scenery is as picturesque as you’ll find anywhere in the region.
Spring 2017 Review: “Excellent condition! Love the casual big sweepers. Orrville Bakery Barista is a must-stop when in the area; amazing coffee and sweets to match.”
While it’s tough to ride the full length of this road without a smile on your face, it’s generally only ridden by those comfortable with a little bit of road wear for manoeuvring certain sections. This is a connector between Sprucedale and Huntsville, Ontario.
Spring 2017 Review: “Excellent with a few potholes, some sand on Fox Lake Rd. But the riding lanes are clear, with sand in centre of road and sides. Hopefully gets cleaned up a bit as summer approaches.”
A quick connector between the village of Rosseau and Huntsville, Muskoka, with lots of tight corners so be prepared to check your speed. A favourite stop for riders traversing this road is Crossroads Restaurant in Rosseau, especially for a break on their patio overlooking the village.
Spring 2017 Review: “Good condition, quite a few tar snakes in sections, mainly clustered around the centre line. Tar snakes are cracks in the surface filled with tar that tends to soften in the sun and can affect bike handling.”
Connecting the towns of Gravenhurst and Bracebridge, this is a great start point for riding in the region. Leave Highway 11 in Gravenhurst and follow this through to Bracebridge, and enjoy the canopy of trees over all the curves. (Just take it easy in the fall when leaves can make the surface a little slick.)
Spring 2017 Review: “Still quite a bit of sand and some rough patches, nothing that a pass with the sweeper and a bit of TLC can’t fix. ”
Muskoka’s iconic touring road from the village of Rosseau in Seguin Township to Port Carling in the Township of Muskoka Lakes. Essentially you’re riding a ridge between two lakes on what is the most technical road in the region – best for sport touring bikes.
Spring 2017 Review: “Excellent condition, such a fun road. Always a good ride but at its best pre and post cottage season. Some ongoing road work at the south end.”
Starting in the scenic village of Burk’s Falls in the Almaguin Highlands of Ontario and right around the corner from the unique “Screaming Heads” sculptures (and Midlothian Castle), Highway 520 is packed with incredible vistas. Don’t forget to stop in beautiful Magnetawan for a snack and a view of the meandering river named for the village.
Spring 2017 Review: “Excellent condition!”
If you can avoid long weekends (when folks are travelling to and from Algonquin Park and traffic is heavier), this windy roller-coaster of a road will whip you around lakes, plunge you through deep rockcuts and take you all the way to the top of Dorset’s Lookout Tower, where you can survey the road you just covered. This is a connector to the Lake of Bays area and the charming village of Dwight.
Spring 2017 Review: “Excellent condition for most part, road work in a couple of spots between Hwy 118 and 117, including a traffic light controlled one lane section.”
A connector between the villages of Rosseau in Seguin Township and Windermere, Muskoka, this route features fresher pavement, long sweepers, descending radius corners, and probably the most iconic turn in the region (at Skeleton Bay on Lake Rosseau) – maybe in all of Ontario (at Bent River). Make sure you give yourself the time to enjoy this road, and have your camera ready; this route is officially designated a “scenic corridor” by the Ontario government.
Spring 2017 Review: “Excellent condition…bridge construction south of Rosseau…down to one lane.”
This quiet road in the Loring-Restoule area (at the northern tip of the Explorers’ Edge region) is likely one of our best kept secrets; this is backcountry touring at its best. Take Highway 69 north of Parry Sound to get there, then turn off to enjoy smooth riding all the way to Trout Creek in the Almaguin Highlands. Long sweepers with gentle rising and falling hills, plenty of lakes and a little waterfall halfway through the ride are just part of the reason this road rocks. Take it easy on the first 30k, which is chip-tar (good condition, but a little rougher on the tires).
Spring 2017 Review: “All clear, love the big sweepers and excellent road surface east of Port Loring. West of Port Loring is showing some surface wear and tear, aka pot holes. That said we did pass the crew working on the problem. Wildlife potential – watch for deer and moose!”
- Highway 60 Through Algonquin Park
There’s probably nothing more enjoyable than an unhurried ride through Canada’s oldest provincial park. The pavement is great, there are plenty of places to stop and take a break (check out Lake of Two Rivers for a neat little beach and stop in at the Visitor Information Centre).Spring 2017 Review: “Excellent condition! Construction east of Pog Lake – down to one lane.”
Notes From The Road: Martin Lortz on Ride The Edge
Nothing says spring like the smell of motorcycle exhaust! (To some of us, anyway.) Add to that lengthening sunny days and rising temperatures and the itch to ride becomes irresistible. Be it for a day or a few, the twisty roads in the Explorers’ Edge region have been my go-to motorcycling destinations for years, with many of them counted as my personal favourites.
While planning at home (in southern Ontario) the roads might look good to go, up north, sand (which is used instead of salt) and the effect of winter extremes can linger. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it – we took up the early-May assignment from Explorers’ Edge to once again ” Ride The Edge” to determine the condition of the roads (I don’t know of any other tourism promoter that offers these reviews…)
From the GTA to the top of Muskoka it’s approximately 200km but, winding our way through epic roads, we managed to turn our trip into 500km. We set up camp for the first two nights at the Rainbow Inn, an economical and comfortable choice in Huntsville, but its number one attribute is its walking distance to downtown. It’s so nice to park the bike at the end of the day and be able to walk to all the action. First night’s dinner was at the On the Docks Pub. Man! This place is always hopping – even mid-week in May.
Day 2 starts off with breakfast at the Coffee Cabin, which was so filling that we had no need for lunch. On the agenda: Parry Sound and back via Highways 522, 124 and 520. This was a chilly day and some rain, but a good ride never the less. Dinner number two: some delicious food at Bo’s Authentic Thai Cuisine back in Huntsville.
Day 3: Good morning in Algonquin Park! Mirror-still lakes and moose sightings (o.k. one moose but sighting never the less). We make the mandatory stop at the Portage Store; I love the energy here as people come and go on their backcountry adventures, plus the canoeing first-timers make for some enjoyable people-watching over a good cup of coffee. Breakfast was delicious at the Algonquin Lunch Bar in Whitney.
Night three we settled in at the Oakwood Motel in Gravenhurst. Another edge-of-town location that let us explore on foot. We enjoyed dinner on the water’s edge patio at Dock of the Bay. The nightcap was courtesy of the taps at the Sawdust City Brewing Co., and a fine breakfast the next day before our ride home was served up at Old Mill Family Restaurant.
Despite some rain and low temperatures, it’s so nice to be out on the bike and in no hurry. For the most part, the roads are in excellent condition with some sand and rough surface conditions that need attention. We passed crews working on both problems – so hopefully roads will be even better when I return.
Guest Blogger: Martin Lortz
Martin is a freelance photographer and writer specialising in the outdoor lifestyle. Whether he is covering power sports or family-oriented pursuits, his passion for capturing the beauty of nature and the people who partake in it is evident in his work. His photos and articles have appeared in magazines such as Ski Canada, Explore, Bike, Mountain Life, Snow Goer,Kayak Angler, and Family Camping.