5 Most ATV Friendly Communities in Northern Ontario

Jeff McGirr
by Jeff McGirr
These communities have embraced ATV and UTV enthusiasts

Northern Ontario boasts many fantastic ATV and UTV trails, but what sets some of them apart is how the surrounding communities have embraced off-roaders. These are the trails you keep wanting to go back to again and again.

When you combine outstanding trails, beautiful scenery, and local communities that welcome ATV and UTV enthusiasts with open arms, you have something truly special.

The communities listed below are off-road destination themselves. I’m a motorsports enthusiast and know how important it is to the overall experience and enjoyment to be welcomed where you ride!

Having easy access to services like fuel and food as well as the ability ride to and from accommodations without having to load up your truck or trailer makes a big difference in having an effortless trip. When you combine this with smiling local faces, warm welcomes, and big thumbs up as you pass by headed to the trails, you will know you are in an off-road paradise.

#1 Mattawa

Mattawa, Ontario is just a short three-hour drive from Ottawa or four hours from Toronto and is home to the Voyageur Multi Use Trail System, which possess over 300km of signed, marked, and mapped off-road trails. The trails on this system offer great diversity and amazing destinations, including Birds Eye View, the Mica Mine, and the Redbridge Lookout.

The town itself has been coined as one of the Off-Road Capitals of North America and has been known for some 20 years as an ATV & SXS paradise. Local accommodators such as Mattawa Adventure Camp, Le Voyageur Inn and Sid Turcotte Park all cater to us off-roaders. You should also consider beautiful and historic Camp Conewango on the shores of Talon Lake for a great place to stay.

Mattawa is a very historic place and has plenty to do and see other than ride, make sure to get a group photo with Big Joe, famed by Stompin Tom Connors who sangBig Joe Mufferaw paddled in to Mattawa All the way from Ottawa just one day.

#2 Kearney

Located on the west side of Algonquin Provincial Park in the Almaguin Highlands, Kearney is always a top destination for ATV & SXS rides! It’s just a short drive from Toronto at 2:45 minutes up the four-lane highway or four hours from Buffalo, New York. The area’s trails are managed by the Algonquin West ATV Club who oversee over 350km of off-road trails. Trails here offer some of the most fantastic terrain with rolling hills, steep inclines and continuous elevation changes, making this area one of the best places for both adventure seekers and family outings. Being on the west side of Algonquin Park, the opportunities to see wildlife are plentiful so be sure to slow down as you pass by a lake or a swamp as it’s the perfect opportunity to see a moose grazing on vegetation. Check out Edgewater Park Lodge, Dayspring Cottages, Bookers Clear Lake Cottages, Silversands Resort, as well Scarlet Point Retreat for places to stay. Rentals and guided tours available through Outdoor Adventures ATV.

#3. Elliot Lake
Elliot Lake

This is a community that has embraced ATVing and off-roaders for decades, a community that is known as a pioneer in off-road tourism. Elliot Lake is a beautiful city of 11,000 and offers a tremendous number of local services, as a rider visiting you will never be more than 20 minutes away from everything you may need. Restrictions are few in terms of where you can ride in the city, except for sidewalks, parks and the downtown core. You will have easy access to and from accommodations and services to the trails you are riding. Recently, the Elliot Lake ATV Club joined the Ontario Federation of ATV Clubs and thus all their trails are now available on the QuadON map and app. Be sure to check out my article here of the May and Whiskey Lake Loops that are named as one of the Best Off-Road Trails in Ontario.

#4. Dubreuilville

This is a small community that really embraces the Northern Lifestyle. Dubreuilville is surrounded by wilderness and is home to the Mooseback Trail System, which offers a unique experience with a bit of challenge. The terrain here is rugged, with thick black spruce forests, countless lakes and rivers and of course jagged Canadian Shield on never-ending Crown Land and from Dubreuilville you can ride in any direction. The challenge portion of this trail system could result in you being a winner. It’s simple…first download the Mooseback App here, second ride and record your adventure, and third share your experience on social media! I would highly recommend staying at the MagPie Relay and be sure to check out the “Man Cave” with your pals during the evening. This is a community that caters to the off-road rider and explorer… it’s their heritage!

#5. Elk Lake
Elk Lake

The Elk Lake area might be home to the best backcountry trails in all of Ontario. With easy access to all types of terrain including deep mud, rocky climbs, scenic lookouts, and even historic sights, this area is quickly becoming one of the top go to off-road destinations. However, although it’s becoming increasingly popular, the area boasts so many trails it’s unexpectedly tranquil and it’s not uncommon to ride all day without seeing anyone else. Local accommodators such as the Elk Lake Wilderness Resort and Poplar Point Camp are calling out to us off-roaders to come and experience the area! They both have a tremendous amount of knowledge about where to ride and this makes all the difference. Best of all, the owners will be eager to hear your stories and see your smiling faces after each day! This, my friends, is home away from home.

Each one of the communities allows ATV & SXS use on local roads, but be sure to check with the local municipality, trail organization and or your local accommodator on the best routes to and from the trails as well as access to local services. With all this in mind, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t kick the mud off your boots when entering a local business in these communities! Let’s all be stewards of this fantastic sport that is ATV and SXS riding and ensure that we are welcomed for generations into the future. See you on the trails!

Jeff McGirr
Jeff McGirr

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