Onward to Scenic Ontario

Reliving history and making new memories on the Explorers Snow Tour
It is no secret that snowmobilers like destinations. The Explorers Snow Tour is a 234km (145 mi.) loop that takes riders to 10 specific destinations or points of interest throughout its entirety. This small loop doesn’t seem like a long day on the trails for some, but is very scenic for riders who like to pace themselves. It has something for everyone and certainly everything that a snowmobiler would ever look for. From tight technical trails to wide-open sweeping turns, you can be assured that it will please everyone from a beginner to a seasoned rider.

■ Warm welcome
We started our journey at the Ramada Pinewood Park Resort located in North Bay, Ontario. North Bay is a 300-mile drive from Buffalo, NY – which can easily be done in approximately five hours. I met up with Jeff McGirr from Yamaha Motor Canada who would be my tour guide along with his wife Kim and friends Mike and Matt. Jeff is the one who initiated the Explorers Snow Tour and has put countless hours into the route, signage and points of interest. I couldn’t think of a better person to show me around the area.

The tour officially launched in the 2015/2016 season and has become a popular destination for snowmobilers. Each one of the signs includes historical and geographical information provided by Bill “Back Roads” Steer who is a professor of all things in the wild as well as the founder of the Canadian Ecology Centre located within the Samuel De Champlain provincial park, which the Snow Tour circumnavigates.
■ The journey begins
Heading east from North Bay we picked up the A1 trail, which would take us to our first POI location known as Stepping Stones. This location is said to be more than 570 million years old. This historic trading route was used as a marker spot for portages by Native groups and voyageurs. Back on the sleds we continued along the main A trail down through Bonfield, Ontario. This club in District 11 is responsible for a lot of the trails that run through the Snow Tour and their hard work shows in every aspect. These are some of the best-kept trails in Ontario, which is why the Bonfield club was the recipient of the 2016/2017 Near North Trails Association Club of the Year award.

Our next stop was at location #6, also referred to as Devil’s Canyon. A deep gorge carved from glaciers over 10,000 years ago, also home of Windigo, who was a mythical cannibal creature from the Great Lakes Region of Canada. For those who are spiritual, this is a place where the spirits are said to be strong! With a squeeze of the throttle we blazed down the freshly groomed trail towards Boulter View, which was another one of my favorite stops along the route. We were fortunate enough to have clear skies and the scenery didn’t disappoint. Looking over the hills, we were high enough to see for miles, which makes for a fantastic opportunity to take lots of photos.

As we continued to head east along the main trail we had some fast but smooth trail to look forward to. With short stops at locations 8, 9 & 10 we checked out Pioneer Springs, Amable du Fond and White Pines point of interests. This area is known to have plenty of whitetail deer roaming around. I wouldn’t be surprised if your group sees them down by the water, or at the very least an abundance of tracks along the trail.

We pulled into Mattawa, Ontario where we stopped for lunch at the Valois Restaurant and Motel, which is situated right on the Ottawa River. If you are looking for a place to spend the night or eat a home cooked meal, this is where you’ll want to stop. I would suggest ordering the poutine, a Canadian food staple of fries, cheese curds and gravy. We enjoyed our lunch as we took in the views of our neighboring province of Quebec from across the river. The sleds were topped off with fuel before checking out one of Mattawa’s landmarks; Big Joe Mufferaw. “Big Joe” is a legendary French-Canadian logger much like Paul Bunyan. Big Joe’s statue stands proudly outside of the Mattawa museum and was hand carved by local carving artist Peter Cianafrani.
■ Rinse and repeat
The next section of trail was one of the most exciting sections. The A112A has everything a snowmobiler could be looking for. I was tempted to turn back and run it again. POI #2 named “Bird’s Eye View” had a wooden deck where you can enjoy the lookout. It wasn’t long until we arrived at Mattawa’s Mica Mines, which was our next POI. Bring a flashlight so that you can venture into the mines to explore many of the dark cut-outs of granite and mica. These mines were once one of the largest producers of mica in North America back in the 1940s.

With only one stop left on our tour, we stepped it up across the A112A trail. The group was all smiles as we pulled into the Redbridge Lookout for a few more pictures and what ended up being a fantastic day with great people. Although it is only 234km, the trails have so much to offer any level of snowmobile enthusiast.

■ Hard goodbye
I would like to thank Jeff McGirr of Yamaha Motor Canada for not only putting together such an incredible loop but for also being my personal tour guide for the day. To my new friends Kim, Mike and Matt, it was a pleasure enjoying the trails with you and I hope that we can do it again soon. If you are looking for an area that has it all, this is where you want to be! A vast variety of trails, lodging, tasty food and some Canadian hospitality all make the Explorers Snow Tour one to add to the bucket list.
For real time photos and stories follow the author’s social media pages @CanuckPowersports on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
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