Ever since I could walk, I was riding on a snowmobile. My life-long love of snow machines started then, too. I have such great memories of riding to and from our camp on a snow machine with my family. When I was 10, I learned to drive my dad’s 1990 Ski-doo Cheyenne all by myself at our camp. I’d go around and around, up the hill and back down to the lake for hours—until I had to stop or I’d run out of gas. I just loved being outside in the fresh air riding that skidoo. And you know what? I still do!
The North Shore area around Massey, Ontario where I grew up and still live is a winter paradise. The snowmobiling, ice fishing, hiking, and snowshoeing in this area–and the beautiful views–keep people coming back time and time again.
Even though I’ve been riding snow machines since I was little, last year was my first time riding OFSC Trails. And I can’t believe I waited so long! We are so lucky–we can leave our house on snow machines, and within five minutes we are on the trails headed west to Spanish, or east to Espanola because Massey is right on the OFSC District 12 Trail System. Riding OFSC Trails has made me a more confident and skilled rider, for sure. There’s definitely a learning curve, but it’s worth the challenge.
We are so lucky to have dozens of beautiful lakes located in the North Shore area around Massey, like LaCloche Lake, Rivers Lake, Cutler Lake, Lang Lake, Birch Lake and Loon Lake; each with their own character and shoreline to explore. The Espanola and District Snowmobile Club maintains a sweet selection of trails—which you can access off the D Trail which runs from Sudbury via Vermilion Lake to Espanola, and then loops south before running up through Massey—that let you explore many of those lakes on the North Shore. There are often beautiful ice caves and frozen falls to see, and if it’s clear you can catch some views of the La Cloche Mountains. If the trails are open across the North Channel, you can extend your trip down D110 through this ancient mountain range to Manitoulin Island for a longer tour.
I always love to ride trails over a frozen lake. It’s amazing to have the freedom to explore parts of the lakes you’ve never seen before. If you feel like that too, you can also get into the area from Sudbury on the Connector Trail, C108D over frozen Lake Panache, which generally opens later in the season—it’s important to wait to ride this trail until the ice has been tested and marked safe to ride.
Riding the trails is a great way to see the scenic views of Northeastern Ontario, get fresh air and some exercise, and to clear your mind. That is one of the main reasons I love snowmobiling, because whatever is going on in the world, you leave it at home–it’s not hitting the trails with you. You don’t have time to think about anything else except the trails, your machine, and pure enjoyment.
For anyone who is in their first year on the trails, I recommend taking your time to get comfortable, and riding within your limits. There are a few simple safety rules to make sure everyone has a good time out there, like stay on the marked trails, don’t trespass on private property, follow the speed limit, always ride with someone else, make sure to always tell someone where you’re headed, and always be prepared. I carry a tank bag with me with extra gloves, socks, toque, extra food and–of course–toilet paper. It’s important to always have the right tools as well. My fiancé carries a backpack with stuff like fire starting tools, lighter, knife, pliers, screwdriver, sparkplug wrench, sparkplugs, spare belt, fuses, a tow rope, etc. An emergency kit is definitely a must.
There are lots of places to go and beautiful scenery to see out on your snow machine while you’re in the North Shore area. We have a great little motel in Massey; if you’re thinking about coming up this way you can check out the family-owned and operated eco-friendly Mohawk Motel. You could even stay in Sudbury, or at the Pinewood Motor Inn in downtown Espanola. From the Pinewood front door it’s just a few minutes til you’re on the OFSC D Trail Sudbury Connection. If you need lunch or a snack in Massey, visit Poirier Clover Farm for daily deli specials and pizza. And don’t miss the classic road trip favourite The Dragonfly Ristorante for casual fine dining with a comfortable friendly atmosphere!
For any gear needs you might have on the North Shore, you can drop in to Royal Distributing in Sudbury and they’ll set you up.