Bicycles

Bikepacking Ontario

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!

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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.

Algonquin Park:

  • 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: http://algonquinoutfitters.com/maps/biking-maps/

Bikepacking beyond Ontario

Other useful links

I hope you are inspired to get outside and try out this neat new form of biking this spring!

 


 

Miles Arbour

Miles Arbour

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!

Website: www.milesarbour.com

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MilesArbourIsOutside

Twitter: @MilesArbour

Instagram: @MilesArbour

 

6 Comments

  • Jon Gift says:

    Hello. I’m looking for a little help. I would like to do an overnight bikepacking trip. I have all the equipment but I need pointed in the right direction. My preferred route would consist of mostly double track and dirt forest roads @ 70k in length. I would like to backcountry camp preferably on crown land or remote back country campsites away from the crowds and be a loop format. Any help would me much appreciated. Thank you!

    Jon Gift
    705-984-9388
    [email protected]

    • Randy Mitson says:

      Good day Jon, great question. There’s a few official Biking routes in Algonquin Park; Highway 60 links them and most of the highway has a good paved shoulder to ride on. There’s the Minnesing Mountain Bike Trail, Old Railway Trail and Byers Lake Mountain Bike Trail. From these there are some camping sites that you can access for a multi day trip. As for riding “dirt forest roads”, if you were thinking logging roads not only is it illegal to do so but also very dangerous. Drop me an email if you would like to discuss further, I have some other ideas too. [email protected]

  • Jamie says:

    Good afternoon,

    I’m not sure if this site is referenced regularly but I wanted to see if there has been some progress with more bikepacking routes in Ontario. I’m located in the York Region and have been using some local trails and creating my own out and back or loops for some local adventures but would like to branch out to other new spots.

    Any help would be appreciated and even joining some friendly fellow bikepackers.

    Jamie

  • Leo Burns says:

    How much of a hardship would be a “bob trailer single wheeled” trailer be instead of the frame packs on my 29 inch mountain bike? Looking to bring just a little more gear… would I be at a lost versus frame packs?

    • Single wheeled trailers are great if you are looking to carry more gear than will fit in frame packs. Their centre of gravity is low, and with the single wheel it makes them roll along almost unnoticed. The Bob Ibex is an off road trailer with suspension. Make sure to pack your gear in a dry bag. – Carlee Woods, AO Bikeshop Manager 705-787-0262 x24

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