Awesome trails just north of Barrie, great chance to test the new Can Am XMR 1000

Photo: David Harrison

Photo: David Harrison

I have heard about the trails near Coldwater, or “The Swift” for many years, and I finally had the chance to ride them. Maybe it was the stories about the unreal amount of water, or the drowned ATV’s that turned me off, but I discovered that there is so much more than that to explore in the area.

Photo: Wayne Knelsen

Photo: Wayne Knelsen

The weather was fantastic, a cool 20 degrees and the sun was shining. The night before it had rained and the trail was nice and wet, with no dust issues at all. At first the trail was quite ordinary, but it wasn’t long before we encountered one mud hole after another.

Photo: Wayne Knelsen

Photo: Wayne Knelsen

Each hole had a bypass, perfect for the two wheel drive riders that accompanied us, and for those not interested in the exotic “Mud Bath”, but I wanted to see what the new Outlander XMR was like in the serious mud. Since I picked the ATV up from Factory Recreation in Midland a few weeks earlier, I had only been on tame trails, something the XMR handled surprisingly well.

Photo: Wayne Knelsen

Photo: Wayne Knelsen

I was expecting something this beastly to be a beast to drive, as you would expect from a similar “normal” ATV with that many upgrades. This was absolutely not the case, the XMR handled the rail trails, and the laid back trails like a Cadillac. Sure the aggressive tires vibrate at low speed, but above 10km/hr the ride smooths right out, and the adjustable air suspension makes the bumps in the trial all but disappear.

Photo: Wayne Knelsen

Photo: Wayne Knelsen

As you might expect, the two wheel drive machines did find some spots a challenge, but that’s what fellow riders are for, to lend a hand. I found my self in some almost bottomless holes and needed a little hand too.

Photo: Mark Hamerton

Photo: Mark Hamerton

One very long, very deep, and rutted hole had one rider challenge another. “I’ll give you $100 if you make it to the end on your own power” It didn’t seem that deep, so the challenge was accepted, and the 750 Kawasaki Brute Force hit the mud.

Photo: Mark Hamerton

Photo: Mark Hamerton

After an hour and a half of spinning, pushing, lifting, digging, cursing, and refusing help the rider emerged out the far end of the hole, exhausted, and happy to accept a brown note. Unfortunately later that same rider, in an effort to clean his machine and rad, ended up submerging, and after two more hours of trail side repairs, was going to need to be towed all the way back.

Photo: Wayne Knelsen

Photo: Wayne Knelsen

As the one with the biggest, baddest machine, I was selected to be the tow unit. The 1000cc machine hardly grunted as it pulled the dead ATV back through all that gnarly trail.

All I can say about the XMR is “Outrageous”, this thing does what ever you want it to do, and willingly. I love a ride where I never need a tow, and on this monster the only need for a winch was to pull the other guy out. I love not being intimidated by any hole, and best of all, after you’ve hit the mud for hours overheating is a distant memory.

In the end I didn’t want to leave, the remaining trails were calling to me, and talks about the next ride there were shared by all. Thanks to my friend Remi for setting up this ride and leading the way, I cant wait to go back.

 

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Mattawa ATV Trails, Ontario’s Most Diverse

TBEX 02Recently I had the privilege of joining three travel bloggers on their first ATV tour in Northern Ontario. We met in Mattawa, just north of Algonquin Park and east of North Bay, a shining example of the Ontario landscape. It was a pleasure meeting and coaching these journalists on safe riding, and the trip was nothing short of epic. We encountered all sorts of riding conditions, and after a full day had barely scratched the surface of the hundreds of kilometers of trails on the Voyageur Multi Use Trail System. Read the full article here.

ATV Search For An Abandoned Steam Locomotive Wreck

Call it a myth, folk lore, or an urban legend, everyone I have spoken to about this has the same response: “Yeah, I heard about an old steam locomotive wreck up there.”

Executive Director of the Park to Park Trail Association, Peter Searle, had heard of these stories for years, when he decided this fall to take action. Calling on club members, friends, and local residents he has cross-referenced all the information and nailed the area down to a few square miles north of the Sequin Trail, only accessible now by ATV.

In an attempt to locate and document the wreck before winter sets in, a group of seasoned ATVers headed in to the unknown last fall solve the mystery, and locate the wreckage.

Our quest to locate and document the steam locomotive was all kinds of fun, and we covered a huge amount of some really gnarly trails. We unfortunately did not find the locomotive, however we did learn of a hidden ghost town deep in the bush north of the area we rode.

We all arrived in Bear Lake on Sunday night and the folks at Lighthouse Cottages & Camping were kind enough to put us up in their recently winterized cabin. We spent the evening enjoying the fire, looking at maps, and for me, learning about the Seguin Trail.

Monday morning arrived and we all headed out dressed in multiple layers to ward off the cold. We could have left on our ATVs right from the resort, however we chose to unload right at the Seguin. Not 500 feet east of the parking area we headed north away for the Seguin and through some really great, challenging trails. The route was wide at first, but as we passed a few hunt camps the trail diminished to a thin winding path that only an ATV could manage.

Ice covers most of the water held back by this beaver dam

Ice covers most of the water held back by this beaver dam

All day we explored different fingers of trails, all looking to the side hoping to catch a glimpse of the train. Most trails ended at scenic lakes with small clearings that we noted were just right for a tent. At our farthest point we reached Fifteen Mile Lake, a beautiful site, secluded and quiet, and probably very inviting on a warm day to those who like to swim.

We headed back to the Seguin, with one more lead to follow, a trail to the south, oddly enough, just west of where we had parked. Our source had described it as a few minutes ride west of the parking area with two steel bridges on the trail leading to where parts of a steam locomotive had been spotted. We almost missed it, and turning back we noticed a steel bridge visible from the Seguin. Excitedly we followed the trail a short piece, now more than ever inspecting the brush beside the trail. We ended up at the end of the trail, in the back of a hunt camp … and still no wreckage. The folks at the camp had not heard of the wreck, but told us of the hidden town, miles in the bush, abandoned for many years near an old mine.

Peter Searle of Park to Park checking the depth before we proceed.

Peter Searle of Park to Park checking the depth before we proceed.

Heading back to pack up for the day we did not feel defeated: rather, we had simply finished the first step of many in exploring the area, and the hidden treasures it held. Upon returning home, and inspecting the satellite view of the area, I found an odd collection of what must be abandoned roads in a cluster, far in the bush (marked on the map below), leading me to believe that a return trip will be required in the spring.

Here is a map of the adventure.

If you have any information to offer regarding this or any other hidden spots on trails please feel free to email me mark@atvfanatic.ca

The next chapter in this saga will be coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking back.