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Algoma Country,snowmobiling,Ontario

Epic Trail Riding in Algoma Country

Start Planning Your Ontario Snowmobile Adventure Today

By Craig Nicholson, The Intrepid Snowmobiler
Photos Algoma Country

Winter’s coming, there’s chill in the air, and I-75 is calling your name. Yes, now’s the time to start planning your northern snowmobile adventure – and no trail riding is more epic than Ontario’s Algoma Country.

Just steer your rig onto I-75 and trailer about 5 hours north (from Detroit area) to Sault Ste Marie Ontario, the vibrant Canadian city that’s your gateway to over 2,000 miles of the best trail riding you’ll ever experience.

As an avid snowmobiler, I’ve visited all the top trail-riding destinations across North America and I’m a big fan of Algoma Country. Here, the snow’s deep, reliable and long lasting. Their easy-riding snowmobile trails criss-cross the iconic and unspoiled Canadian Shield wilderness. These snowy corridors are wide-open, sweeping and breath taking. They are also regularly groomed and well marked. Visitors can always find their way around conveniently, and visit their many trail-accessible, hospitality services.

What’s more, Michigan riders used to constantly crowded trails will be amazed at how little traffic there is. Algoma Country’s snowmobile trails simply swallow up 1,000s of sleds into its 28,000 square miles of hinterlands in the blink of an eye. I’ve never had to line up for lunch or fuel in Algoma Country.

Best of all, Algoma Country offers plenty of memorable sledding choices in both Algoma East and Algoma North. I’ve snowmobiled both areas many times, so this article shares details of my favourite rides to help you plan your own Algoma visit. Whether you’re a day rider or a high mile saddle-bagger, you’ll find exceptional trail riding that suits your preference, here in Ontario’s Snowmobile Paradise!

Algoma Country,snowmobiling,Ontario

Algoma Country,snowmobiling,Ontario

Understanding Trails In Algoma Country

As many Michigan snowmobilers have already discovered, member clubs of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) operate snowmobile trails in Ontario. Their trails fall into two main categories, Trans Ontario Provincial (TOP) Trails and club trails. The distinction between these two trail categories indicates their primary purpose within the OFSC trail system; the category has nothing to do with trail quality; all are equally well signed and groomed.

Trail Categories: TOP Trails are the primary Ontario touring routes that run in and through multiple regions and across the province. Club trails are more localized in and around communities, and are often access routes to services. They show in orange on maps and signs, and are designated by the initials of a club name and a number (e.g. SSM4, operated by the Sault Ste. Marie club as access to TOP D from a parking/staging area).

Types of TOP Trails: TOP Trails have three different sub-categories, Trunk, Connector and Feeder. Trunk trails cross multiple regions and are the longest continuous corridors. They are colored Red on trail guides and signs, and are designated by a letter (A thru F). The three trunk trails running thru Algoma Country each originate far to the east in other regions. Within Algoma Country, they are TOP A (Hornepayne to Hearst), TOP D (Spanish to Marathon) and TOP F (Spanish to Black Creek).

TOP Trails that link two trunk trails are called “connector” trails. These are displayed in Green and designated by a letter-number-letter, where each letter indicates one of the trunk trails at either end of the connector (e.g. TOP D108A, running between Dubreuilville and Hornepayne in Algoma North, and linking TOP D to TOP A).

Feeders originate within various areas and provide access to trunk trails. Their color is blue and designation is letter-number (e.g. D130 “feeds” snowmobilers from Sault Ste. Marie to TOP Trail D).

So, now that we understand how to navigate the trail system in Algoma Country, let’s explore riding opportunities…

Algoma Country,snowmobiling,Ontario

Algoma Country,snowmobiling,Ontario

Basing Out Of Sault Ste Marie

Algoma East Loops: Michigan riders can choose Sault Ste Marie as a base for several nights of your visit to enjoy the restaurants and nightlife. Day rides from the Sault into Algoma East include the 120-mile Soo Highlands Loop northeast of town through the old growth forests of the Soo Highlands. Or try the 190-mile Island Getaway Loop to the east, which takes in a scenic circuit through a St. Joseph Island deeryard.

Algoma East also offers two-day rides on the 395-mile North Shore Loop (clockwise or counter-clockwise), with its rugged, hilly and panoramic trails, especially the hill country between Aubrey Falls and Elliot Lake. Alternatively, you can ride only the loop’s southern trails, a 265-mile journey east to Spanish, returning on parallel trails connecting the numerous snowmobile-friendly communities along the North Channel of Lake Huron.

Where I’ve Stayed in Sault Ste Marie (trail accessible with truck & trailer parking): Ambassador Motel, Fairfield by Marriott

Staging From Sault Ste Marie

Algoma North: You can also stage a multi-day saddlebag tour out of Sault Ste Marie to explore the more remote Algoma North. This vast area runs north from the city between the eastern shore of Lake Superior and the Town of Chapleau, and all the way north to Hearst. In fact, that’s where this 470-mile ride from Sault Ste Marie to Hearst got its name – the “All The Way There Tour”.

All The Way There Tour: Many of its trails are on logging roads, cut lines and utility corridors, perfect for racking up the miles. No doubt, this northern Algoma Country wilderness ride can make you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. Partly that’s because, since it’s such a huge area, you won’t see many road crossings other sleds. But it’s certifiably one of the most incredible rides I’ve done in Snowmobile Paradise Ontario – truly what many refer to as “God’s Country”. It’s the very best of the Great White North, with an endless, groomed ribbon of trail stretching for mile after mile to far beyond every horizon.

The All The Way There Tour follows TOP Trail D from north of Sault Ste. Marie to Dubreuilville (where it turns west for the 150-mile ride through White River to Marathon). There’s no fuel stop on the 120-mile stretch on TOP D between Goulais River and Halfway Haven. So after departing Sault Ste. Marie, be sure to top up in Goulais River, but it’s always a good idea to carry extra fuel anyway – just in case you run into a fresh snowfall. Speaking of Halfway Haven, that iconic rest stop (positioned at about the mid-point between Searchmont and Wawa) will be open this winter for gas and lunch!

From Halfway to Wawa is another 90 miles, with 55 miles more to Dubreuilville. From there, take TOP D108A 89 miles to Hornepayne, and then TOP A for the final 107-mile leg into Hearst. Each of these snowmobile-friendly towns offer trail accessible fuel, food and lodgings. To add even more distance as you go, you can also explore Hornepayne’s 60-mile Bobcat Loop or the 109-mile Missinaibi Expedition Tour on Club Trails north of Hearst.

Hot Tip: If you’re planning to overnight in any of these communities, remember there’s a gold-mining boom in many areas, so book your room in advance!

All The Way There Lodging (listed south to north by community): Searchmont – Driftwood Valley Chalets. Wawa – Beaver Motel, Outdoorsman Motel, Wawa Motor Inn. Hawk Junction – The Big Bear. Dubreuilville – Magpie Relay Motel. Hornepayne – Agich’s Riverside Cabins, Uncle’s Restaurant & Cabins. Hearst – Companion Hotel, Super 8 by Wyndham, Villa Inn & Suites.

Algoma Country,snowmobiling,Ontario

Algoma Country,snowmobiling,Ontario

Staging from Searchmont

Another Algoma Country option for Michigan snowmobilers is to trailer to Searchmont and stage your saddlebag tour from there. Yes, your drive north from Sault Ste. Marie is a little farther (29 miles), but if you fill up your tow vehicle and sleds before arriving in Searchmont, then the first northbound leg of the All The Way There Tour to Halfway Haven for fuel is only 97 miles or so.

North Shore Loop: You can also access the North Shore Loop from Searchmont via TOP Trail D north to TOP F to the next fuel at Black Creek, which is about 100 miles. Black Creek is the northern-most stop on the North Shore Loop. From there, you can continue southeast on TOP Trail F to complete the circuit counter-clockwise, returning to Searchmont via Club Trail SSM5 north off TOP Trail D. Just be sure to gas up in Thessalon or Bruce Mines before embarking on this final 85-mile ride back to your truck & trailer at Searchmont.

Hot Tip: If anyone in your group or family is also into downhill skiing, check out Searchmont Ski Resort.

Where I’ve Stayed in Searchmont (trail accessible with truck & trailer parking): Driftwood Valley Chalets.

A few words on a page can only begin to describe the sheer exhilaration of trail riding in Algoma Country. You actually have to experience the thrill for yourself, as I have. That’s when you’ll join that special group of snowmobilers who’ve discovered the world-class trails and epic adventures that make Algoma Country a premier destination in Snowmobile Paradise Ontario.

So why wait for I-75 to call your name? Start making your Algoma Country ride plans today!

 

Plan Your Ride

Ontario’s Algoma Country – algomacountry.com/sledalgoma

Algoma Sno Plan Affiliation – algomatrails.com

Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs – ofsc.on.ca

Destination Ontario – www.destinationontario.com/en-ca/things-to-do/outdoor-adventures/snow-winter/snowmobiling

Crossing the Border – www.travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/
exemptions

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