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Rider, photographer and all-round adventurer Martin Lortz does the honours again this year – heading out onto this region’s Top 10 Roads to determine the shape they’re in this spring (after the longest winter ever). An added bonus for 2018: his “Notes From The Road” give fellow motorcyclists additional intel on touring this stunning part of Ontario’s cottage country, including great places to eat and stay.
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 2018 Review: “Excellent condition. Some sand turning off 141 but overall a pleasure to ride.”
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 2018 Review: “Excellent condition from Huntsville to Fox Lake Road. Once on Fox Lake Rd you can expect some sandy corners”
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 is Crossroads Restaurant in Rosseau, especially for a break on their patio overlooking the village.
Spring 2018 Review: “ Excellent condition. Judging by the signage there was some flooding this spring but all dry and ready to roll now.”
Please note: Muskoka Rd 3 will be closed from July 9-31, 2018 due to construction. Click here for details.
Connecting the towns of Gravenhurst and Bracebridge, this is a great starting 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.
Spring 2018 Review: “The best early season condition I have experienced on Muskoka Beach Road in recent memory. Sure there are a few bumps here and there – it’s part of the country road charm – but no sand to be seen.”
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 2018 Review: “Excellent condition. Always such a good ride. Some ongoing road work at the south end.”
5. Highway 520
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 2018 Review: “ As per usual, excellent condition!”
4. Highway 35
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 rock cuts and take you all the way to the top of the Dorset 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 2018 Review: “Excellent condition. A traffic light controlled a one-lane section as you approach Highway 60.”
3. Highway 141
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 2018 Review: “Excellent condition. Great news – the bridge construction south of Rosseau is finally done so it’s smooth riding over the Rosseau River.”
2. Highway 522
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 2018 Review: “Excellent road surface east of Port Loring but things get a bit bumpier as you head west.”
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 2018 Review: “Excellent condition! A few spots east of Pog Lake – down to one lane due to ongoing road work.”
Notes From The Road
The arrival of spring in 2018 seemed to be a work in progress taking longer than usual, but here we are a handful of days into May and finally the weather forecast appears to be worthy of our annual spring moto pilgrimage in to the twists and turns of Muskoka’s best motorcycle touring roads with the Ride The Edge routes.
With the sun shining, motors purring and grins on, we roll north. Taking advantage of the weather the plan is to make today a long one. We turn east at Orillia, meander along the south end of Algonquin Park before turning north – gas and lunch in Whitney then it’s Highway 60 west through the park. With ice still on some lakes, people and car traffic is at a minimum leaving the road for our personal enjoyment. The home stretch is south along Highway 35, Highway 117 and Muskoka Road #3 bound for Gravenhurst.
Lunch – The Mad Musher Whitney
Dinner – Muskobilly’s Lakeside Tap and Grill
Accommodations – Residence Inn by Marriott Muskoka Wharf
Nightcap – Muskoka Brewery, Cream Ale and Mad Tom IPA
What’s with the night cap you ask? As a fan of the end of the day local brew, Muskoka with it’s numerous craft breweries is like a slice of heaven. That said, alcohol and motorcycle riding do not mix, so for us it became a treasure hunt to be enjoyed at the end of the day.
There is a relaxing comfort in retracing roads previously traveled. Maps are no longer a necessity, allowing the mind to take in the surroundings – and it just so happens today’s surroundings included a bunch of good eats! We started off just downstairs with one of the best complimentary hotel breakfasts you will find anywhere (at the Residence Inn Muskoka Wharf), then it was coffee and sweets in Orrville, pierogis in Burk’s Falls, and a fine steak in Parry Sound. Oh yah, the riding; another sunny spring day on clear twisty roads, awesome. Tonight’s accommodations a first for me, glamping at Harmony Outdoor Inn.
Coffee Stop – Orrville Bakery Barista
Lunch – Curb You Appetite Burk’s Falls
Dinner – Trapper’s Choice Parry Sound
Accommodations – Harmony Outdoor Inn
Nightcap – Trestle Brewing Company, Golden Ale
I must say the glamping experience was pretty awesome – fresh air, a cozy warm bed, the sound of frogs croaking, and rain drops on the roof made for one of the best sleeps in a long time. Now as we roll out that rain and single digit temperature makes today’s plans more chore than pleasure. What’s a rider to do? The ride must go on, get to where you need to go, stretch a late breakfast into lunch and remember there is no shame in hitting the hot shower early.
Coffee Stop – Starbucks Parry Sound
Lunch – Jake’s Place Restaurant Port Loring
Dinner – The Mill on Main Huntsville
Accommodations – Rodeway Inn King William Huntsville
Nightcap – Lake of Bays Brewing Co, Oxtongue IPA
The sun is back but not the heat with the temperature reading 6 celsius. Home is 200 kilometres south down Highway 11 but we are not done yet and expect to double those K’s before we park the bikes for the night. First on the agenda is ‘art by bike’. I’m not sure art by bike is a thing, but there is a fabulous outdoor exhibit in Huntsville featuring mural replicas of the work of the Group of Seven, The Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery. Surprisingly, much of the art can be enjoyed from the seat of your bike. Back on the road it’s coffee and a muffin in Rosseau, pizza for lunch in Torrance and of course a nightcap to go.
Coffee Stop – Cottage Law Canteen Rosseau
Lunch – Pie Wood Fired Pizza Joint Torrance
Nightcap – Clear Lake Brewing Co, American IPA
There you have it, another Ride the Edge is in the books. As one might expect of spring weather, over the four days we saw the good, the bad and the ugly; but the good news is Muskoka’s best moto roads are in great shape and open for business.
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.