Ontario has so much to offer for Canadian riders. Well-maintained trails, the beautiful great lakes region, extensive trail systems close to civilization and heck, we’ve heard the riders are pretty cool too!
There are so many trails in Ontario that it would be hard to narrow it down to one or two you want to ride on, but we’re gonna try to make your decision a little bit easier by narrowing it down to 8 of our favourites!
Ontario’s Trail Pass System
Before we get into the great trails, one of the reasons Ontario has so many great, well-maintained trails is because of the trail pass system they use.
You’ll need a trail pass to ride in many of the province’s trail networks. You may need a different pass depending on your riding area. The one that covers the most trails is the OFATV permit.
For a detailed look at where each pass gets you, there’s a great article by Northern Ontario Travel which has the passes nicely outlined HERE.
While a trail pass adds an additional cost to your ride, it also secures a better one. The majority of the funding goes toward the maintenance of the trails. In a way, you get what you pay for in Ontario. Although there is an extra cost, the trails are more likely to be well maintained with better water-crossings, less destruction to the environment and a cleaner area.
That being said, to ride every trail in the province, you would need over 40 trail passes. So you definitely want to know where you’re riding before you go.
Voyageur Multi-Use trail system/Mattawa
Never mind Ontario, the Voyageur Multi-Use Trail System is in contention for being Canada’s best trail system!
Located just outside the town of Mattawa along the Quebec border, riders of anything with wheels travel from far and wide to experience the thrills that all these trails deliver.
All in all, VMUTs says that it would take over 2 weeks to ride every trail in the system. Wow.
With this many trails, you could’ve guessed that you’ll have the opportunity to ride however you want. Ready to put the pedal to the metal and go full throttle down a wide-open trail? Go ahead! Want to take a scenic route around some of the best views Ontario has to offer? There are options for those kind of rides too.
As is the case with many towns in the province, the nearby towns are pretty OHV-friendly, making getting to the trails that much easier.
You can learn more about the trail at https://www.vmuts.ca/#trails
You might be surprised to hear that there are no dedicated offroad trails or riding areas. However, riding is permitted on the streets of Cochrane and all the rarely-used roads around it.
Cochrane is also over an 8-hour drive north of Toronto. You’re not gonna get much more north than Cochrane when it comes to great riding areas in Eastern Canada!
The trails around Cochrane can take you through some of the most northern trails in the province.
This riding area is massive! This is a great place to ride if you want to ride for days without touching your tires to the same dirt twice.
Also in the area is the worlds only facility dedicated solely to the care of Polar Bears, the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat! Don’t worry, you won’t be riding in it… But you can ride up and check out one of the most impressive animals in the world. While you’re there, your only footsteps away from the Cochrane Vintage/Classic Snowmobile Museum, so check that out as well!
Depending on who you ask, Elliot Lake might just be the epicenter of riding in northern Ontario. It has many of Ontario’s best trails just minutes away from town!
First of all, the city of Elliot Lake has been accommodating toward riders from its inception. The town allows riders to use the streets so you can stop for gas, grab some grub, and pick up supplies for the ride!
Once you’re on the trail, you’ll get a special look at some of the best that Canada’s outdoors have to offer. You’ll be surrounded by all sorts of lakes, marshes, streams and rivers. If you want to throw your tackle box in your cargo box, we hear the fishing can be great as well!
Imagine being able to go for a beautiful ride, taking in wildlife, catching some fish, grabbing delicious food, and, I don’t know, getting groceries at the end of the day all in one ride. That sounds like living the dream to me!
The trails are maintained by the Elliot Lake ATV Club, the signage is great and overall, this is one of the best riding getaways in Ontario!
Park to Park Trail System/Seguin Trail
This 238 km trail system goes through 7 different provincial parks, ultimately connecting Killbear Provincial Park and Algonquin Provincial Park.
Just how big is that? It’s about the same width as the whole country of Slovenia.
These trails aren’t too hard to ride. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to throttle down on the wide-open trail.
If you keep a real keen eye while you’re riding on the area’s most popular trail, Seguin Trail, you’ll see the remnants of what was once quite a bustling logging area. Rail tracks, stores, hotels, trains, and more are slowly becoming engulfed by the nature around it.
What sets many Ontario trails apart are the lakes around them. At times, this trail feels more like an island with how many lakes are around.
Ganaraska is under an hour east of Toronto! The deep, lush forests will make you totally forget that there are nearly 6 million people just a short drive away in the Greater Toronto Area.
The trails are relatively easy to ride. Ganaraska provides the perfect opportunity to get away from the busy city life and enjoy some peace and quiet for a weekend day!
Rather than sitting in traffic, you can throttle down on some of the wide-open trails that Ganaraska has to offer. Or, instead of weaving through traffic, navigate through the tight one-track trails on your dirt bike!
Kawartha/Five Points Trail System
With over 250 km of well-maintained trail, it’s not hard to see why Kawartha is one of Ontario’s best riding areas.
The trail system is so diverse, it has mud, climbs, muddy climbs and plenty of different routes to make sure you can always explore more!
One highlight of the Kawartha area is the 55 km long Victoria Rail Trail! In the past, it was only opened to non-motorized vehicles. During the pandemic it opened up to ATVs as well, giving you a prime opportunity to explore some new trails! As of now, SxS access is still restricted. South of Fenelon Falls, OHV use is still restricted in many areas. Please visit https://katva.ca/trails/ to learn more.
The trail runs right along a river, eventually taking you through Fenelon Falls. Be sure to take it slow around the falls by Trent-Severn Waterway Lock 34, which are found by Fenelon Falls. It’s a beautiful area!
Maybe you just love to explore; waking up and knowing you’re going on a ride, but you don’t have a specific, drawn out path. The Thunder Bay Region is great for you!
The area doesn’t feature a ton of designated trails, just tons of crown land for you and your riding buddies to get out and explore.
You can use your ATV or off-road vehicle on Crown land (excluding provincial parks and conservation reserves). Although you may not need a pass to ride on crown land, you still have to follow all bylaws and legislation from the municipality you are riding in. Some land may be restricted as well through planning or placement of a sign. Please know the rules before you go, and follow them!
In an area like this, you’ll be able to get lost from the stresses of the everyday life. That being said, you don’t want to actually get lost… That’s just a whole new level of stress. Make sure that when you’re riding around Thunder Bay you go with someone who knows the area and/or come well equipped with GPS’s, maps, compasses and anything else.
If you want to ride some of the more well-known trails in the area, the Silver Mountain Train Station is a great place to start. Bring your boots and ugliest clothes here, things can get muddy!
Due to its relative remoteness from the bigger centers, you probably won’t see the Atikokin area being ridden as much as some of the trails closer to more populated areas.
All that means is there’s more trail for you to explore!
The town of Atikokin largely grew on the mining and forestry in the area over a hundred years ago. To this day, the area remains a great outdoor getaway for a Canadian adventurer. Atikokin is called the “Canoeing Capital of Canada”! This is the perfect spot to bring out your OHV and your canoe to experience a great adventure on land and water!
One of the popular trails in the area is the “mine loop” by the former Steep Rock Iron Mine Site. The red soil in the area creates a unique riding experience that you won’t get elsewhere!
Also nearby is the Charleson Recreation Area with plenty of trails that suit riders of any experience level. Many of the trails are also made up by the area’s signature red soil! Every September, the Atitokan ATV/UTV club holds a poker run that lasts four hours taking riders on a beautiful tour in and around Atikokan. This event would be the perfect way for a rider to experience the area for the first time!
Before You Go
Be sure to research the trails before you go.
Ensure you have the proper permits and insurance to ride the trails legally. Many of these trails require passes/permits to ride. Also, make sure to check that your machine meets the specifications the trail requires.
Any trip could throw unexpected curveballs. Run-ins with nature or sudden weather changes can happen. It’s important to be prepared, check out our Riding Checklist here.
What do you think of our list? Send us your favourite riding pics from Ontario on our Facebook or Instagram @UTVCanada!
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