296 km loop around two provincial parks and partially along the Trans-Canada Trail
Mapped by Paul Galipeau
This 3-night, 296 km bikepacking loop highlights the vast trail network in the uninhabited wilderness of the highlands north of the Trans-Canada Highway. Best suited to plus sized or fatbike tires, the route follows rugged terrain along historic railway trails, ATV paths, rolling hydroline trails and windy logging roads that despite having all been marked as multi-use trails by the Eastern Ontario Trails Alliance and despite its serious bikepacking potential, isn’t known to cyclists. The route loops around two provincial parks through large parcels of beautiful Crown land where there are a number of free campsites as well as a remote beach and an abandoned airstrip. To avoid flooding and bugs, this route is best done in late summer. A trailhead in Sharbot Lake is the easiest access point for anyone living between Ottawa and Toronto but other trailheads may help make resupplies easier.
Mountain Chute Dam - In service since 1967, this remote generating station is an impressive piece of civil engineering that’s accessible either via sandy ATV trails or a very satisfying paved descent. Be warned though - you’ll need to climb back up to continue the route so if you don’t care about dams and a nice river view, you can skip this!
Irvine Lake Airstrip - Built in the 1980s, this abandoned government runway that continues to be occasionally used by the Canadian Army makes for another unique reminder that this secluded route has seen a real mix of human activity over the years.
Merrill Lake Beach - It’s a muddy, buggy, hike-a-bike kind of trail to get there but access to a remote sandy beach that’s a must for beach lovers who want a swim friendly campsite.
Foodland Northbrook - A well-stocked 24 hour grocery store in the middle of nowhere. For real!
Crown Land Camping - Canadians in Ontario can camp on Crown land for free. Pitch your shelter anywhere or scope out one of the many established sites that speckle this loop. Not sure how to find Crown land? Google “CLUPA”. Short jaunts onto side roads or trails may reward you with spectacular sites. Fortune favours the bold. And remember, always LEAVE NO TRACE.
Distance: 296km (184 miles)
Total ascent: 2317m (7602’)
High point: 422m (1,385')