Cycle Manitoulin’s safe and scenic roadways
Cycling on Manitoulin
Cycling is very rapidly becoming one of the most popular ways of exploring Ontario by vacationers who want to combine a healthy lifestyle with a means of transportation that also ensures they’ll enjoy their holiday landscapes at eye level.
Manitoulin Island is a holiday destination that is uniquely appropriate for cycling. In fact, Manitoulin has its own biking cheerleading organization: Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) that came to prominence provincially through its recently successful lobbying efforts that resulted in a long section of Highway 6, the Island’s north-south corridor, being fitted out with metre-wide paved shoulders when the portion of the highway from the Chi-Cheemaun port town, South Baymouth, to Ten Mile Point was being reconstructed by the Ministry of Transportation. There is a commitment to add similar paved shoulders to the balance of the highway, (on to Little Current), and MICA further has been promised paved shoulders when Highway 551 is rebuilt between M’Chigeeng First Nation and the town of Mindemoya. There is more of this nature in the works too.
This is all by way of saying that Manitoulin Island is a place that embraces a cycling-friendly attitude and, just now, there are over 20 ‘Welcome Cyclists’ accommodation establishments.
The MICA group has published a cycling map, ‘Manitoulin Cycling Routes and Roads’ that is available throughout Manitoulin and also online at www.manitoulincycling.com. It lays out a dozen recommended loops, each with its own highlights and vistas.
Manitoulin’s highways are all well paved, properly cambered and, even at the height of the summer season, the roads are relatively free of motorized vehicles because the people who come here in their cars for their vacations are snugged away where they want to be; at a resort or at the family cottage, so driving the roads isn’t a priority for them.
Manitoulin features breathtaking views, one after another, especially along Highway 6 and Highway 540, the east-west corridor that connects Little Current on the east to Meldrum Bay on the western tip.
There is even a special bicycling event every year: it’s called the ‘Passage Ride’, organized by MICA. Participants coming to Manitoulin from southern Ontario via the Chi-Cheemaun ferry enjoy free passage on the ferry and can look forward to fun and camaraderie with other cycling enthusiasts, great food and musical entertainment at supper and lunch. Some resorts offer free shuttle services for their cycling guests. The Passage Ride is in June and you can find out more about it (and register your participation as well) at www.manitoulincycling.com. To find the ‘welcome cyclists’ resorts on Manitoulin, visit www.welcomecylists.ca.
Information on Manitoulin cycling is also available at www.ontariobybike.ca.
So what else do you need to know? Perhaps that our towns, First Nations and hamlets are in easy cycling distances from one another and in them you can catch your breath, refuel your energy.
Come and ride our quiet roads, see the migrating birds and discover the native orchids along your paths. Smell the hay drying in the sunshine and swim in as many of our 100-plus lakes as you please. You’ll be able to admire a grazing deer, smile at the butterflies, pick wild strawberries in spring and chokecherries in fall and the dark nighttime skies of Manitoulin, unblemished by ambient light from streetlamps, will render you wonderstruck by the multitude of stars and constellations you can see.
By the way, for the trail bike enthusiasts, there are two sets of trails available for you to challenge on Manitoulin.
One of them is at McLean’s Park (20 km north of South Baymouth along Highway 6, then down the New England Road). McLean’s Park is a beautiful hardwood bush.
The other is at the Wikwemikong First Nation community and is part of the Bebamikwe Memorial Hiking Trails system, located on the First Nation territory at the end of Beach Road.