If you were to look at a topographic map of Ontario, you wouldn’t think there was much mountain biking potential in this Canadian province. Afterall, you need mountains to mountain bike, don’t you?
We don’t have Whistler with its elevation of 2284m, and we’re not Quebec where the climbs can be over 5km. Compared to those well-ridden locations, Ontario is pretty flat.
But what we lack in never-ending climbs and long descents, we gain in punchy hills, fast, flowy singletrack, and technical Canadian Shield rock sure to bring a smile to the faces of any rider out there.
A quick glance at Trailforks Ontario and you’ll see the extraordinarily large number of trail networks available here.
Ontario boasts hundreds of mountain bike trail systems for all levels, and many in close proximity to one another. You can stay in one place and have a week’s worth of riding within a short drive of your central location.
Mountain biking happens all year long, whether it’s summer singletrack or winter fat biking. Whatever the season or terrain, there’s riding to be done!
In my relatively short mountain bike experience I’ve ridden only a fraction of the trail networks across the province, but what I have ridden, I’ve loved! If you’re thinking of a visit to Ontario for some trail riding fun, check out the amazing trail systems below. Whether you’ve been mountain biking all your life, or just discovered the magic of singletrack, there’s sure to be an adventure that’s perfect for you.
Trail Association/Club: Turkey Point Mountain Bike Association & Ladies On Single Track
This is one of my favourite ride locations in southern Ontario. An hour and a half from Hamilton, on the shores of Lake Erie, these trails are well groomed for beginner to advanced mountain bikers.
Because the trails are sandbased, they absorb moisture quickly and therefore are open to riding earlier in the season as well as late into the fall. When other trail networks struggle with mud and puddles, the Turkey Point trails are usually in mint condition, ready for shredding and extending the mountain bike season.
The trails feature fast, flowy singletrack, punchy climbs and some technical rooty descents. The twisty fun is sure to please riders who love speed and a heart-pounding workout. Well signed with information hubs throughout, you won’t get lost and will likely run into a few locals ready to recommend your next turn.
Thanks to the TPMBC volunteers and L.O.S.T. ladies, these trails are well maintained and groomed for riding all summer and throughout the winter fat bike season as well.
After you’ve spent a day of riding, visit Long Point Eco Adventures for dinner and a cold, locally brewed beer. Overnight camping and glamping are available as well.
Not far off are wineries and lakeside pubs to close out your day of riding. You can also take the short trip to Port Dover, a popular Friday-the-13th motorcycle destination.
Too many trails to name a favourite. There’s even an EFT (Every F-n Trail) event each year to see who can ride each of the over 65 km worth of trails at Turkey Point Provincial Park and St. Williams Conservation Reserve.
Whatever your ride level, you’re sure to have a great day (or three!) of riding at Turkey Point.
I can’t write about mountain biking in southern Ontario without mentioning The Hydrocut. Located in Kitchener, the network is home to over 35 km of fast, flowy singletrack. Technical features including bridges, jumps, skinnies and steep flowy berms weave throughout the broad forest.
Trails range in difficulty from a few green, many blue, to a handful of technical, double black diamond challenges for adventure seekers. Make sure to pass the “filters” so you know you can reach the trail end safely.
With twisty ascents, and terrific home-made wooden and rock features throughout, Hydrocut is among the most popular riding spots for mountain bikers across Ontario. New trails and tricky challenges are being built regularly and only add to the fun.
If smooth, fast flow is what you crave, there’s no shortage of options here. Emotional Roller Coaster and Muddy Paws are sure to have you grinning ear to ear!
Riding this network is weather dependent, and it closes at times due to rain. This helps protect the trails and the hard work of the volunteers and makes this fabulous network even better for any shredder out there.
Before your visit is done, head to nearby King City Cycles for any last minute bike needs.
Durham/Dagmar Trail Networks
If you are just getting your wheels under you with mountain biking, Durham Forest is a terrific place to start. It is absolutely huge with 405 hectares of land and carved trails.
While there are some trails that are more advanced, most of the green and blue-rated trails are friendly, flowy and not over-filled with technical features. The scenery and views will add to the experience.
For the more adventurous and advanced riders, head over to Dagmar North for some steep descents and punchy climbs. Specifically made for mountain biking, these trails are filled with technical, rock & wood features to grab your attention. Skin & Bones, one of the newest trails of this network, is sure to get the hearts pumping of even the most daring riders!
The view from the Trail Hub at Dagmar is tremendous. Save time for a beer and lunch at the chalet of this once active downhill skill location or visit Second Wedge Brewing Co. to toast the day with local brew in their beer garden. If you’re in the area for a few days, be sure to check out the other 9 trail networks all within a short drive of the town of Uxbridge.
Trail Association/Club: Ottawa Mountain Bike Association
A short drive east of our nation’s capital, Larose Forest is a well-maintained network of flowing single track for riders who love green and blue level trails. Don’t let the lack of hills deter you. It’s fun, flowy, and a great place to spend a good chunk of your day.
Many of the trails have off-chutes where you’ll find G-outs, high-walled berms, loops & swoops and jump lines too.
A huge parking lot, with an adjacent picnic area, makes it a terrific get away for family adventures. Not far away, you can explore many other OMBA trails, or cross the provincial border into Quebec and continue your mountain bike experience. There is always lots to see and experience in this eastern half of Canada.
Horseshoe Valley and Simcoe County
About an hour north of Toronto, is the city of Barrie. Still further north is an area that offers some of the best mountain biking and fat biking in the province.
SCMBA is second-to-none with their trail grooming and maintenance. The dedicated volunteers have created a world of biking that offers experiences all year long.
Whether it’s downhill or cross country riding that you crave, the Horseshoe Valley trail network has what you need. A ski resort in winter, Horseshoe flips to its alter-ego as a bike park and downhill riding network during the summer months.
Bike passes allow you and your bike a lift to the top of this family oriented ski-slope with a number of downhill trails to choose your line. Ladders, boxes, bridges, tight turns and fast berms make up the tapestry of this mountain bike hub.
Across the street from the main chalet are the trails of Horseshoe Valley and Copeland Forest. For those who love winter fat biking, cross-country, and even a bit of enduro in the summer, this resort offers biking most of the year. You can rent fat bikes, and purchase trail passes if you are riding the valley trails.
While Copeland offers over 400 acres of singletrack, you’ll need a keen sense of direction if you’re exploring the forest as many of the trails are not marked. Don’t let that deter you, however. Copeland offers a wide variety of experiences for all riding levels. Stay on the greens, or challenge yourself on the “Mile High” climb to the top.
If you visit in winter, make sure to ride the Silver Creek and Severn fat bike loops. SCMTB membership tags can be inexpensively purchased on-line prior to riding the trails in this area.
Here for an extended stay? You’ll have time to visit the many amazing trail networks of Simcoe County. Summer or winter, you’ll find one perfectly suited for you to enjoy.
Name: Guelph Lake Conservation Area/ Arkell Springs
Trail Association/Club: Guelph Off Road Bicycling Association
Just northwest of Toronto is a terrific trail network bordering beautiful Guelph Lake. These trails are built and maintained by the hardworking volunteers of GORBA.
When you ride you’ll find trails of all levels, and no matter your terrain preference, there’s sure to be a series of trails for you. From technical rock gardens, to short fast flowy berms, these trails will be great fun.
Challenge yourself riding up Phoenix or let out a yell as you whoop your way through the features along Fight Club. There’s even a jump section to practise getting air, as well as wooden builds for skill and balance practice.
I like the Guelph Lake trails because many of the advanced features have ride-arounds for those who aren’t “there” yet – and sometimes that’s me! Ride down the causeway along the southwest side of the lake and you’ll enjoy even more singletrack to escape the worries of everyday life.
The beauty of the surrounding area only adds to the experience of the ride. Detour down to the lakeside and take in the breeze and view of the water. Whether you’ve got a full day or just a few hours to spare, there’s plenty of great riding in this well-maintained network.
When you’re done, stop in at Speed River Bicycle, and meet the friendly folks at one of Guelph’s terrific local bike shops.
If a snack and beverage are on your mind, make the 10 minute drive to Flow State Bike Co., one of the area’s newest boutique bike shops with a licensed coffee bar. Nate and the gang will welcome you and even point you in the direction of your next adventure at Arkell Springs, yet another terrific trail network just down the road.
Christie Lake Conservation Area
Trail Association/Club: Hamilton Burlington Mountain Bike Association
It wouldn’t be right for me to talk about mountain biking in Ontario without mentioning the trails at Christie Lake. It’s my home trail, and where I first found the mountain bike world.
Perfect for beginner to intermediate ride levels, these fast flowy trails are fun and speedy. With limited climbs, it’s terrific for all levels. While advanced riders would miss the technical challenges, they too will love the speed of the flowy berms and G-out swerves.
Rain and seasonal weather can make riding unsuitable on occasion as the trails are susceptible to mud and puddles. The trails are maintained by the Hamilton-Burlington Mountain Bike Association volunteers who cooperate with the Hamilton Conservation Authority for access to build and groom the trails.
Because the trail network is not extensive, you can cover the entire area in an hour, but stay for fun loops on Runway and G-out to extend your fun. It’s perfect for a half day adventure followed by a lakeside picnic.
Visit Tiny Shop Bakery and Hanes Corn Maze just across the street, or drive a few minutes down the highway to old Waterdown for a wide selection of pubs and restaurants.
It’s not big, it’s not technical or steep, but it’s fun and for me it’s where it all began.
More Shoutouts For Your Tour of Ontario MTB Trails
Mountain Bike Association/Club: Conservation Halton, Kelso Conservation
Whether you’re seeking rocky, technical features, wide, flowy singletrack, or swooping downhill, Kelso Conservation has tons of fun riding for all ride levels.
Kelso is also a popular spot for hikers who are making their way along the 900 km of The Bruce Trail. Sharing the trails is an everyday occurrence at this location. In the winter, riders migrate to the Halton Agreement Forest to fat bike the rocks and boulders of this nearby forest.
Location: Southern Ontario located in Milton, west of the Greater Toronto Area
Features: wide singletrack with rocky descents, short skill hill to flow down and use your technical skills to climb again.
Favourite Trail: Disco Inferno & Roller Coaster
Trail Association/Club: Woodstock Cycling Club, Ladies of the Pines
Sand-based and ready for shredding early in spring and into late fall, The Pines is a terrific network of punchy ups, tricky downs, wooden features, jump lines and flowing singletrack. Trail hubs with short circuit loops serve those wanting repeats to get their heart pumping. Read the trail descriptions in this well-signed system to find the line just for you. From gap jumps and technical features to fast paced flow, there’s something for everyone at The Pines.
Area: Southwestern Ontario, just outside city of Woodstock and London Ontario
Favourite Trail: Broken Shoulder, followed by Belgian Waffle
Suggested Final Stop: Upper Thames Brewing Company
North Bay, Sudbury & Sault Ste. Marie
Some of the best rock and technical riding in our province can be found up north. Whether it’s riding with the ladies from the North Bay Mountain Bike Association, or finding friends at Walden, or Hiawatha Highlands, it’s fabulous riding all year long.
My favourite season up north is the winter fat bike season. So much snow and so much fun. It’s absolutely worth the drive north to experience this winter riding mecca.
Features: great fatbiking networks, camping close to trails, fun technical rock face riding
North Bay Mountain Bike Association – fun friendly ladies that love to ride and spread positive energy
Our province is not known for its mountainous regions. It’s not known for any sky-high alpine terrain. What we do offer is an incredible number and variety of mountain biking systems. Each network offers a unique experience and character.
Women’s mountain biking in Ontario is a fun, lively, supportive community. The local riders you’ll meet along the way will only solidify our Canadian reputation for being the most welcoming, friendly people on the planet. You may even meet some friends to stay connected with long after you head back home. So bring your bike and discover mountain biking in Ontario. Come play bikes with us!
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About The Author
Jane Gerritsen bought her first mountain bike at age 52 as “retirement prep” and since that time, the mountain bike community has opened up her world to new goals, new adventures and best of all, new friends. She is most grateful for her time at home, where she is learning to renovate her garage, try new recipes, write, and of course, plan her next mountain bike adventure.