Georgian Bay Loop


Ever since this tree

fell on my 2002 Trailblazer in April

I have been working on a new and improved Trailblazer. My original plan was to embark on a Toronto - Colorado - Toronto expedition in late August. But with the mishap, and the subsequent challenges in the new build, I have had to postpone the expedition till September 7.

This Labour Day long weekend however presented a great opportunity to test out the new vehicle (which is 90% done).

So here is the Georgian Bay Loop mini expedition

As any canuck knows, the successfull expedition always starts at Canadian Tire.

I am leaving Mississauga, Ontario a little later than I had hoped on this Friday (Aug 31), but I should be able to get to Tobermory before midnight. No fish & chips by the bay tonight though :(

The promise of great weather this long weekend.

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Day 2 - Saturday Sept 1

The 7:00 Am Chi-Cheemaun ferry from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island was all booked up so the only alternative is to take the 11:20 which has 70% of her space designated as first come - first served. So it was up at 6:30 AM in order to get in line with the Trailblazer and guarantee a spot on the next sailing.

The 7:00 AM leaving Tobermory.

Sunrise over Tobermory harbour

The famous Craigie's Fish and Chips at the foot of the harbour (no fish this trip, but I did grab a quick breakfast)

Some views from the Chi-Cheemaun. Quite windy today on Georgian Bay.



Day 2 - Saturday Sept 1 - Part 2

Once on Manitoulin, I needed some AC to set up the Ontario Topo map for the area on my Garmin 276C. This is where the power inverter (temporarily on the dash) comes in really handy.

First stop was the Carter Bay sand bluffs. The bluffs are on private land but the owner has graciously allowed use as long as the rules are observed - no motorized vehicles, stay on the trail, no litter.

Some activity on the beach over the last dune.

Great beach, very clean, and not very crowded.

My Garmin indicated the continuation of the road going west from the bluffs, then a trail north back to the main road. The trail however turned out to be too overgrown to tackle with a lone vehicle so I decided to turn back. But not before driving out onto the rocky shoreline.



Day 2 - Saturday Sept 1 - Part 3

Next stop was to Providence bay and the public beach there. They are also preserving the dunes so there is a boardwalk that follows the entire beach with specific crossings.

I took a break here and had a nice lunch on the beach. Great weather today, seems like its still the middle Summer.

Back to the vehicle and on to Sudbury tonight.

Found a small diversion off of a snowmobile route. I guess its sort of a version of "slickrock"

Thats it for today. Tomorrow's plan is for some exploration south of Sudbury and a visit to Killarny Provincial Park before heading off to Huntsville.



Day 3 - Sunday Sept 2 - Part 1

Sunday morning I made the decision to not head south to Killarny Provincial Park as I had visited there a couple of years ago. As for the potential trails I scoped out on Google Maps just outside the park, they will have to wait until the Autumn.

So instead I decided to head back west where I came from and La Cloche Provincial Park. La Cloche is "the bell" in French and that is what the modest mountain range south-west of Sudbury is called.

I headed back along 17 (Trans Canada Highway) and south through Espanola looking for Fox Lake Rd. which my Garmin told me continued west towards the park.

As a side note, I am using the great TrakMaps set of Ontario topographic vector maps at 1:10000 scale which are in the Garmin format. These maps provide extreme detail for offroad exploration.

The road ended up being a well maintained snowmobile track but did not extend south enough to get a glimpse of the La Cloche Ridge. It mostly went through fairly thick forest. It opened up onto a lake at the end though which provided a view of the ridge in the distance.

Ultimately I ended up on the south side of the Spanish River and right into the heart of the Anishnawbek Nation. One must carefully observe the speed limits here as the road continues directly through the most populated area.

A left turn onto Ft. La Cloche road takes you into the park and to the mouth of a small river.

A little further south and the road opens up onto an awesome hard-packed sand beach. Driving west slowly along the beach, through some water crossings, this is where I decided to set up for an afternoon lunch.

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Day 3 - Sunday Sept 2 - Part 2

Being extra-careful not to leave anything behind I drove along the beach back to the road and headed out of the park. The topo maps again pointed out an alternate way out so I decided to explore the trail.

Halfway to what I anticipated was going to be the end of the trail on the main road, I entered an unexpected pit.

The trail continued up this bank and into the forest.

Unfortunately, at about the 3/4 mark where the trail crosses some power lines, 4 huge mounds of dirt were dumped completely blocking access. I guess someone doesn't want any traffic through there. Oh well, back the way I came.

Back on the main road I headed north to the Trans Canada. With some daylight left I took a small diversion north and parallel of Hwy 17.

At least one cow seemed curious of the white vehicle passing by. Kind of reminds me a little of the cover of Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother.

Standing on guard at the kennel.

Once back on the Trans Canada, I prepared for the 3.5 hour drive through Sudbury and North Bay to my destination of Huntsville.

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Day 4 - Monday Sept 3 - Part 1

Huntsville is a great town right in the heart of Ontario's famous Muskoka cottage country. Today was very busy with vacationers taking advantage of the great weather this last summer long weekend.

Looking over my maps I decided to drive east around Lake of Bays and head for the Leslie Frost Provincial Natural Resource Centre, an area I was not familiar with at all.

Some spirited driving through Muskoka reminded me why I like the area so much. I'm glad I upgraded my anti-sway bars and bushings.

On the way to the park, I stopped off just outside of Dorset at the Scenic Lookout Tower. I had been in the area before but never checked it out.

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Day 4 - Monday Sept 3 - Part 2

The Dorset Scenic Lookout Tower seems only slightly intimidating when you look at it from the ground. But when you start to climb, then pass the mid level deck where the stairway is actually outside the tower, and have to deal with ever skinnier stairs, it becomes a tad scary (for me in any case).

The views up there are spectacular though. You can see Dorset down below, and the entire Lake of Bays.

Looking east, is this the first sign of autumn I see?

A glimpse of the Trailblazer through the trees.

And finally at the edge of the rocks looking west over Lake of Bays.



Day 4 - Monday Sept 3 - Part 3

The Leslie Frost Provincial Natural Resource Centre (located on Crown Land) proved to be an amazing discovery for me. The main road in (Sherborne Road) which terminates at Sherborne Lake is a somewhat maintained gravel road. But with the terrain in the area, frequent washed-out sections, and a couple of sharp and modestly steep switch-backs right before the lake, it turned out to be a nice challenge for my slightly-more-than-stock vehicle.

Along the road are several primitive camp sites, some with pit toilets, none with running potable water. At the end of the road are more camp sites and access to Sherborne Lake.

The park map posted there provided more insight into the side trails I spotted on the way in. These non-maintained trails provide access to secluded back-country camp sites on several other lakes, definitely something I will be investigating further and with full camping gear.

I hiked along the shoreline a little bit and set up a nice lunch for the afternoon. I was joined by a frog or two.

On the way out of the park, I stopped at one of the nicer campsites I spotted on the way in.



Day 4 - Monday Sept 3 - Part 4

After a great visit to the Frost Centre, I had some daylight left so I decided to investigate a lonely road I spotted on my map called Pine Springs Road. The plan was to follow it west until it crossed Old Wagon Road which would take me north, through Bigwind Lake Provincial Park and back to the main road to head home.

Pine Springs Road is a great drive and part of the snowmobile routes in the area. Its good it was late in the season as I could see many sections that would get extremely muddy and probably would not want to drive it alone under those conditions.

Another unexpected sand area. Lots of ATV tracks around.

The road crosses the Black River which I know from an earlier exploration further south from here.

The day was getting late and the sun was setting so ultimately I did not head north on Old Wagon Road. Definitely a route to come back to.

And finally the trip home. I decided to stay off the main highways as traffic can be quite bad at the tail end of a long weekend.

Overall a great 4 day Expedition. The weather was outstanding, I found some interesting new places, can't wait to come back in the Autumn when the forests come alive with colour.

No time to waste though, my big expedition to Colorado starts this Friday :safari-rig:



Hey Alek. Looking at this thread I noticed a familiar camp site on Sherbourne lake road. Sarah and myself (Ryan) stayed at the site for a full week last September, we use the site as our home base. Great site, not a soul around. Here's some of my picks from that area, hope you don't mind me posting the pics on your thread... All the pics were on crown land trails, we did some exploring around the area. I noticed there are some gnarly trails to explore.... soon as I get the lift, tires, winch on. We may head back this September..... Anyway...

The last pic was looking back at the camp site from the lake.

Later Ryan.... :camping: