The Madawaska Loop covers 180 km of trails spanning from Barry’s Bay, Madawaska (go figure), Whitney, down to Lake St. Peter over to Combermere and back up to Barry’s Bay. On your adventure you can expect to zoom by Kamaniskeg Lake and Lake St. Peter, all the while circling around the famous Bark Lake. And did we mention you get to experience The Madawaska River? Quite possibly the most beautiful spot you can reach by snowmobile; where the river runs alongside the trail and opens up to a very scenic set of rapids. If you’re brave enough to venture down one of the pathways leading off of the trail, it makes for a beautiful snack spot or photo opportunity.
One thing to take notice of when you come to this region is the hard work and dedication that the Opeongo Snowbirds Snowmobile Club has put into their club trails. If you look at the map, club trails 159/155/157/153 are all great routes that are often overlooked by newbies coming into the area. On each of these trails you will find something unique; whether that’s an old mill set up where the Opeongo River runs down, a lookout point or just great forest travelling. It may add some extra time to your day, but these trails are worth it – and hey, we never said you had to do the 180 km in one day, so why not take your time to enjoy!
If you leave from Barry’s Bay and take the B Trail all the way to Whitney, you will find yourself on a big wide open highway with limited stops along the way. This is why we recommend you fill up before you leave. Not only does it take away the added stress of potentially being stranded, but it allows you to just sit back and enjoy the ride – the way all snowmobiling trips in the Ontario’s Highlands should be. Continuing on the B trail you will soon find yourself inching closer and closer to the boundaries of Algonquin Park. Once you hit the town of Whitney – where if you fancy a snack and hot drink to warm up you’re in luck – the snowmobile B Trail carries right through the park. Although the parks trail isn’t included in the Madawaska Loop it’s worth the added few miles just for bragging rights alone. For those who didn’t know, this is the only trail through the park that is granted access to snowmobilers. If that isn’t worth the extra drive, go for the scenery. Algonquin Park has been one of the most written and talked about parks (remember the Group of Seven?) since its start in the late 1800’s –making it also one of the oldest provincial parks in Canada. It’s famous for its untouched land, lookout points, and many wildlife sightings: an outdoor enthusiasts dream come true.
Once you get down to Lake St. Peter on the B106E which follows the parks limits and the lower and upper Hay Lakes, you’ll realize why every other snowmobiler dreams of coming to ride here. If you don’t feel like taking the whole Madawaska Loop back, it’s a good idea to cut back up club trail 173/175. It’s not as long of a route and it leads right to the door of our favourite staging area– Spectacle Lake Lodge.
Spectacle Lake Lodge knows outdoor adventure and they do everything possible to make you feel welcomed. You can chose between staying in a motel style room or get together with your family and friends to rent a lake side cabin, complete with your own kitchen, BBQ and snow covered porch. Their big parking lot makes getting in and out with a trailer as easy as pie – but we recommend just letting them serve you their own homemade ones available at their onsite restaurant. If pie isn’t the perfect finish to a three-course meal after hitting the trails, we don’t know what is! When its time to cozy up at night you can join the rest of the sledders at the bar or take your beverage over and plunk yourself down in the comfy leather chairs. Perfectly situated in front of the big screen TV, it makes watching the hockey game that much more enjoyable. In your rooms you will even find a coat rack (great for hanging up the extra gear) and wash cloths dedicated to cleaning your machine – we told you they welcome you with open arms!
If we haven’t encouraged you to head to Madawaska yet, then we either need a new job or you need to read this again. No matter when you go there are always friendly people waiting to greet you and great rides ready to be had. That’s all part of the experience when you come to know snowmobiling in the Ontario’s Highlands.