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A hotspot for outdoor enthusiasts, the Georgian Nordic Ski Club is located just a short drive from downtown Parry Sound and boasts more than 30 km of exceptionally well maintained trails that attract skiers from near and far. But folks are talking about something other than winter at the club these days: instead they’re raving about the new mountain bike trails that opened this summer, providing another great reason to ride in Ontario’s cottage country.
Recently, I had the opportunity to hit the trails at Georgian Nordic. I headed there the day after the site hosted Element Racing’s XTERRA Parry Sound off-road triathlon, at which over 220 participants swam in nearby Nine Mile Lake before completing both the running and the cycling legs of the event on the trails.
When I arrived at Georgian Nordic, I found Will Smith, president of Get Outdoors Parry Sound, taking down barricades and fencing from the previous day. Smith is a passionate advocate for cycling and was full of enthusiasm (despite the almost 30 degree heat) as he explained the trail system. The main advantage of my riding so soon after race day was the fact that the mountain bike course from the triathlon was still marked and easy to follow. Jumping on my bike and hitting the trails, I had no pre-existing expectations for what I was going to encounter. What I experienced both surprised and challenged me.
The trail system features double track (trails wide enough for two or more riders to bike side by side ) created for skiing in the winter. These are well signed and multiple maps posted around the property make it easy to know exactly where you are. A mix of hard packed surface, grass covered sections and some areas of softer sand, these trails are great for a leisurely off road ride or to test one’s speed and endurance in a multi-hour suffer-fest.
But it’s the cycling-dedicated singletrack that really set Georgian Nordic apart. Singletrack refers to trails narrow enough that only a single bike can navigate them.These trails are usually designed to wind through the natural contours of the land, linking as many unique features of the landscape as possible to create a technically challenging and rewarding ride.
As a result of its proximity to Parry Sound, with its rugged and exposed Canadian Shield granite, the singletrack at Georgian Nordic features many neat ridges for the rider to navigate. With natural cracks, drops and narrow spines linked together by switchbacks and elevation changes, there is really interesting terrain to challenge you. (At times it feels as though the rider has been transported to a different landscape altogether, as the trail follows bare rock with only painted-on arrows for direction.)
And maybe the best news of all? Every level of rider can enjoy the trails at Georgian Nordic. Whether it’s cross training for pro-level ‘roadies’, an all-out hammer-fest with some buddies, or a ride with adventurous youngsters, the trails have something to test and reward riders of all abilities, including kids.
IF YOU GO: Before riding, cyclists must purchase a summer membership or day pass and sign a waiver from Get Outdoors Parry Sound at either Parry Sound Bikes or Trysport Parry Sound.
To plan your visit to the great Canadian wilderness, click here. For more info on mountain biking in Ontario’s cottage country, click here. And consider riding the Park to Park Trail as well.
Guest Blogger: Bill Farnsworth
Bill Farnsworth is a freelance writer who has lived in Muskoka for more than 30 years. When not writing, Bill can be found cycling, running, and paddling.