Playing Favourites – Highway 6, South Baymouth to McKerrow
What’s your favourite Ontario moto road? A fair question given the fact that I spend a considerable amount of my time in search of just that answer. However, I think it would be a great injustice to all of the fabulous roads throughout Ontario to pick just one as a favourite. I prefer to make lists—lists of my top contenders. That said, just by the organizational aspect of the list some of my choices will occupy the list’s higher ranks.
Location, Location, Location
It often comes down to location, location, location and Highway 6 heading north from Manitoulin Island traverses some of the most uniquely spectacular real estate in the province. Add to that fresh pavement and endless turns and we might have a top of the list contender.
Highway 6 begins its journey north in the southern reaches of Ontario—Port Dover to be precise. It makes its way to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula where you trade in the seat of your bike for a seat on the deck of the MS Chi-Cheemaun. The road resumes in South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island. From here it’s 117 kilometres to its end in McKerrow.
The journey begins like so many in the north with a thick wall of trees flanking the road side. It eventually opens up to the savannah-like grasslands of northern Manitoulin, but it’s not until you leave the island that the WOW factor kicks in. The road twists and turns through white rock walls which tower above you. Each turn exits in to another post card like vista of rolling hills, water filled channels and shimmering white rock.
Welcome to La Cloche Land
Welcome to the La Cloche Mountains, a rolling hill landscape primarily made up of white quartzite, a unique variation of the Canadian Shield that is limited to the northern shores of Lake Huron. Legend has it that the local First Nations used the hillsides as a warning bell. Apparently striking the rock creates a bell like sound that can be heard for some distance. In fact, La Cloche is the french word for bell and was given to the area by the exploring french voyageurs.
What do you do when the riding is this good and is equalled by the scenery? A tough but good position to be in. Luckily, opportunities to stop and take it all in are plentiful. Explore one of the many communities along its length where accommodations, food and gas are all readily available. Partake in the area’s rich aboriginal culture and a history of logging, fishing and boating (the channel is recognized as one of the best freshwater cruising grounds in the world).
History might in fact directly affect your journey, to where the Little Current Swing Bridge has been acting as the gateway to Manitoulin Island since 1912. It swings open for 15 minutes of each daylight hour in the summer to allow boats to pass; if you’re lucky you might have to wait. Through the area’s visual spectacle can be taken in from the seat of your bike, official stops like 10 Mile Point Lookout give you a chance to stretch your legs and enjoy the view.
Some roads offer good riding, some boast spectacular locations, few offer both. This stretch of Highway 6 is more than just a ride, it qualifies as a destination. Every time I set my sights on Northeastern Ontario, it’s my first route of choice. No matter how many times I retrace my steps it always leaves me smiling. One of my favourites, absolutely; top of the list, perhaps.
Sound good? Click on the contest badge to the left and enter for your chance to win a trip for two to Manitoulin Island! We’ll cover $250 of gas, accommodations, breakfast & dinner, and your MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry ticket – all you need to do is bring the bikes.