The more than 180 miles of...
The more than 180 miles of ATV trails in the Elliot Lake area link to everything from pristine lakes to hotels, restaurants, gas stations and even local dealerships (Wendy, one of the owners of the Polaris dealership, is pictured).
After a 45-minute ride that included stream crossings, mud holes and trails twisting through the thick forest of Northern Ontario, we arrived at Flying Goose Lake. The crystal-clear water is ringed by pine trees and slabs of granite, with downed trees, logs and rocky shoals providing a natural habitat for brook trout (or, as the locals say, "speckles").
Our ATVs were packed with fishing gear in hopes that we could hook a speckle or two for lunch. The fishing didn't produce even a nibble, so turkey sandwiches had to suffice. The outing was hardly a loss--we spent a great afternoon exploring the lake, casting for trout in clear waters and basking in the sun on the granite shores.
Elliot Lake offers about...
Elliot Lake offers about a dozen great little lodges that rent cabins or rooms at very reasonable rates.
We were in the area to check out the trail system at Elliot Lake. It is the centerfold model of an Ontariowide effort to make the Canadian province one of North America's premier ATV destinations. The result of about four years of work by the local trail club and community leaders is an OHV trail system that allows ATV riders to motor up to anything from Tim Horton's (a fast food restaurant) to dozens of the area's 4000 pristine lakes. This 180-plus-mile trail system is linked to hotels, restaurants, gas stations and ample outdoor and cultural destinations. "Riders can come to Elliot Lake, unload their ATVs at a hotel and spend three to five days riding without ever loading up the machine again," said Howard Hennessy, one of the community leaders who has helped build the system.
Visitors can also ride to the local history museum, hiking trails or a horse ranch. Lake trout, brook trout, walleye ("pickerel" to the locals), northern pike and bass can be found here.
"Do you want fries with t...
"Do you want fries with that?"
Unlike rail-to-trail systems, where most of the riding is straight and smooth, the well-marked Elliot Lake trails are cut from the wilderness and have mud holes and rivers to cross, rocky hills to climb and one-lane sections that twist through stands of pine, hardwood and poplar.
Elliot Lake is in the southern edge of Northern Ontario, five hours from Toronto and two hours from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
On the Elliot Lake trail system...
On the Elliot Lake trail system opportunities to fish are abundant. The area offers plenty of walleye, northern pike and lake trout fishing.
Stay tuned for an upcoming feature about our visit to Elliot Lake. We promise all the highlights of an ATV adventure to remember, including ratings and recommendations, more photos and details about the trail system, the story of the ill-fated Big Sam mud bog fiasco, where to find the best burger in town, a fly-in fishing outing and how to catch walleyes without a reel.
Ontario ATV information: 800/661-6192; www.atvontario.com
Local guides and truck-supported ATV tours: R&S Northern Tours, 888/744-7544; www.northerntours.com
Elliot Lake activity and lodging: 800/661-6192; www.cityofelliotlake.com/tourism