ATV Trails: Rainbow Country's Hidden Gem [Video]
Visiting Sportsman's Lodge and its endless ATV trails
Story by Lucas Cooney, Photography by Virgil Knapp, Video by Chris Blanchette, Sep. 30, 2011
When we first rolled into the Sportsmanís Lodge it was obvious to everybody that this was a special place for ATV riders. No doubt about it Ė this was going to be a heck of a day.
ATV riding in Ontario has a way of making you feel like youíre alone in nature, far away from everything and everybody, and this was no exception. Of course, perception is often different than reality. Though Sportsmanís Lodge and the surrounding trails feel secluded and light years from the bothers of city life, itís actually in the heart of Rainbow Country just a short drive from both Sudbury and North Bay (just head north on Kukagami Lake Road from Hwy. 17) and easily attainable from Toronto (take Hwy. 400 north to Hwy. 69 to Sudbury) on trailer-friendly roads.
Get the Flash Player to see this player.
We met up with our riding group as Sportsmanís Lodge Owner George Robbins and his team gassed up the ATVs with the lodgeís on-site fuel pump. Robbins knows the surrounding trails as well as anybody and he would act as our guide as we navigated a small portion of the available trails. Typically Robbins doesnít accompany his customers when they go on ATV rides from his lodge, but working for an ATV publication has its perks.
ďI try to talk to the customer and find out really what type of riding they want,Ē says Robbins. ďThen we map them accordingly.
ďItís a large area. We cover well over 1000 kilometers (621 miles) in trails and thereís well over that that we donít actively use, but itís there and can be used. Some of our riders that have been up here multiple times start venturing out into these areas that I really donít map, but I can guide them to the right direction.Ē
A huge bonus for ATV riders in this area is that the vast majority of trails are on Crown land, so you donít have to worry about private land issues. ATVs are also allowed to ride on most of the roads in the area, so itís quick and easy to get from one trail to another.
As Robbins led our group into the woods and through a variety of trails, it did not take long before we happened across our first secluded lake and the first of many stops we would make to take pictures and just enjoy our surroundings. Like so many other ATV destinations in Ontario, itís the natural beauty of this pristine wilderness that takes your breath away. Mark Hamerton, Marketing Director for the Ontario Federation of All Terrain Vehicle Clubs (OFATV) was part of our group and heís had a chance to experience quite a lot of Ontarioís ATV trails in recent months.
ďThis year Iíve had the opportunity to travel north to Wawa, about an hour and a half north of Sault Ste. Marie (Algoma Country), where I was able to do a guided tour and saw some areas of the province I never knew existed and to be honest I donít think I would have come across without that guide,Ē says Hamerton. ďIíve also had the opportunity to visit Haliburton this year courtesy of Back Country Tours. We had a fantastic day. My wife loved every minute of it. She got nice and muddy. They had her in all kinds of crazy situations, but made her feel very confident throughout.Ē
Hamertonís experiences are all too familiar. Every time we go riding in Ontario weíre greeted by helpful locals, impressive accommodations and amazing trails. Weíve had the opportunity to ride all over the United States and parts of Canada and itís awfully tough to beat what Ontario has to offer. This trip was certainly no exception.
When we werenít riding through technical, tree-lined trails we were motoring alongside lakes and rivers and whipping down old logging roads. Terrain was varied enough that the most experienced riders could challenge themselves while newer riders could comfortably and safely traverse the trails and take in the views.
As mid-day approached we stopped to eat lunch, provided by the Sportsmanís Lodge, alongside the trail with a view of a winding river as our backdrop. Weíll take that any day over sitting in a crowded restaurant.
After lunch we checked out even more trails, including an easy cruise down what used to be a railroad but is now a raised ATV trail. It was a good spot to kick up some rocks and have a little fun.
Unfortunately, the day eventually had to end and we made our way back to Sportsmanís Lodge to load up and go home. An ATV washing station makes cleaning up a snap and if you happened to do a little damage to your machine while you were out on the trail, Robbins and his team are capable of minor repairs. That would come in handy if you planned on staying in one if the 70 beds at the lodge before heading out the next day for another ATV adventure.
We didnít have a chance to stay over this time, but weíre tempted to go back before too long. Fortunately, the Sportsmanís Lodge is open all year round and caters to snowmobilers, canoeists and anybody who likes the great outdoors. Itís one Rainbow Countryís many hidden gems.
If you want to see more of our trip to Rainbow Country, check out our photo gallery.
ATV Trails: Touring Ontario's Algoma Country [Video]
ATV Riders Flock to Ontario for Can-Am Spring Jam [Video]
Fall ATV Riding in Ontario's Near North
Women in ATV: Head North for Adventure [Video]