What is “Bikepacking”?
Bikepacking is a relatively new term in the grand scheme of cycling for most of us, however, it has been around for years. In essence, it’s the amalgamation of cycle touring and mountain biking; stripped down to its simplest possible form. Bikepacking.com defines it perfectly…
“Simply put, bikepacking is the synthesis of mountain biking and minimalist camping; it evokes the freedom of multi-day backcountry hiking, with the range and thrill of riding a mountain bike. It’s about forging places less traveled, both near and afar, via singletrack trails, gravel, and abandoned dirt roads, carrying only essential gear. Ride, eat, sleep, repeat, enjoy!”
Bikepacking opens up the areas that were previously inaccessible on a standard touring bike, while making use of bike trails and gravel roads that exist all over Ontario.
Packing Light…Really Light
A typical backpacking trip, let’s say 4 nights out, would call for a 50 to 75 liter pack (depending on the time of year). I would bring a 2-person tent, a very comfortable sleeping system, high quality food to look forward to (that involves cooking), and plenty of extra clothing. I would pack light, but I would pack comfortably, because even 50 liters is quite a lot if you pack right.
Things get tricky when you take all the stuff out of your 50 liter pack and have to load that onto a mountain bike without racks like traditional cycle touring bikes have. Things get even more complicated when you start splitting that gear up into smaller packs onto different parts of the bike; you end up loosing packing space. I take it as a fun challenge, “what do I really need?”
Not sure if you have the right gear? Algonquin Outfitters in Huntsville can provide awesome gear rentals to get you ready to go in no time!
Why Bikepack – A Salsa Cycles short film
Bikepacking Routes Near Algonquin Park
Linking together designated mountain bike trails with camping is a relatively new idea for Ontario, but we already seeing official routes being put together to get people outside and trying this new activity. Fortunately, there are some great mountain bike trails in Algonquin Park that are perfect for those looking to give bikepacking a shot. Remember, there is no rule against incorporating traditional road cycling between mountain bike trails, which really means Ontario has huge, potential because of all the great trails for mountain bikers.
- Old Railway Bike Trail: a leisurely family bicycle trail during spring, summer and fall. During the winter, the trail is a multi-purpose winter recreation trail. The trail runs from Rock Lake Campground to Cache Lake.
- Minnesing Mountain Bike Trail: a steep, rugged mountain bike trail consisting of hilly, sometimes muddy, terrain filled with rock, roots and obstacles unsuitable for small children and unfit adults. Access to Canisbay Campground close by.
- Byers Lake Mountain Bike Trail: A short mountain bike trail of 6.5 km (13 km round trip) and moderate degree of difficulty can also be accessed east of the Kingscote Access Point.
Central Ontario Loop Trail (COLT)
- A unique 450km loop that passes through 5 different counties, following quiet gravel roads and trails that can be enjoyed all year long. Although there are no designated campgrounds along the trail, with a bit of planning and creativity, this would make a great introductory bikepacking route.
- More info: http://www.ontariotrails.on.ca/trails/view/central-ontario-loop-trail
Trans Canada Trail
- The Trans Canada Trail is one of the world’s longest networks of trails offering over 18,000km of operational trails for cyclists to use. The trail can be accessed from Huntsville by Hunters Bay Trail, which either heads North towards North Bay or South to Bracebridge and Gravenhurst.
- More info: http://tctrail.ca/explore-the-trail/
Limberlost Forest & Wildlife Reserve
- The Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve is a well-maintained network of multi-use trails located at Limberlost Lodge, just 25 minutes East of Huntsville. The trails are free to use, and Limberlost Lodge offers cottage and cabin rentals if you are looking for a place to stay.
- More info: http://limberlostforest.com/activities/hiking-trails/
All Biking Near Algonquin Park
- Algonquin Outfitters has put together a great list of biking locations around Algonquin Park, so whether you are looking to try bikepacking or just looking to get outside, one of these great locations will serve you well.
- More info: https://algonquinoutfitters.com/maps/biking-maps/
Bikepacking beyond Ontario
Other useful links
- Introduction to Bikepacking Book – available at Algonquin Outfitters, Huntsville
- Algonquin Outfitters Huntsville Bike Shop
- AO Bikes Facebook page
- Revelate Design Bikepacking bags
- Salsa Bikes
- Salsa Bikepacking frame bags
- Specialized Bikes
- Devinci Bikes
I hope you are inspired to get outside and try out this neat new form of biking this spring!
Bio: After graduating from Trent University with a Business Degree, Miles enrolled in Algonquin College’s Outdoor Adventure program. He is always looking for ways to merge his love for outdoor activities with business and marketing… when he isn’t biking of course!