3 Remarkable Snow Tours for Your Long Weekend Getaway
The City of Greater Sudbury is on the snowmobile map big time with three top-notch OFSC-Promoted Snow Tours operated impeccably by the Sudbury Trail Plan – Cartier Moose Loop, Chiniguchi Wolf Loop and Rainbow Elk Loop. As Ontario’s largest city north of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Sudbury (pop. 160,000+) is also a premier staging location for snowmobilers heading off to explore Northeastern Ontario’s incredible trails.
What’s more, with the 4-laning of Highways 400 & 69, the 390-kilometre drive to Sudbury from the GTA and other points south is a breeze. That makes Sudbury a gateway hub where riders can easily trailer in for a long weekend and ride two or three different day loops, while staying at the same hotel each night. No need to carry saddlebags, and Sudbury has enough variety of restaurants, nightlife and attractions to more than fill any non-sledding hours and desires.
I‘m impressed with the overall quantity and quality of trail signage throughout the Sudbury area trail system—far better than many other places, and the grooming is second-to-none. Yes, it can get a little scratchy around the city proper from frequent sled traffic. There are also a few major roads to cross getting out of town but that’s a small price to pay because, once out in the hinterlands, there’s one fabulous trail after another.
Lodging & Staging
It’s not surprising with a city of this size that trail routing and access is mostly around the periphery. So it follows that the snowmobile-friendly accommodations with trail access are in the “suburbs” so to speak. On the east side, try staging from the Chateau Guay Motel & Restaurant or Moonlight Inn & Suites both on Highway 17 at the junction with TOP Trail D111, or the Colonial Inn on TOP Trail C at Highway 17.
To the north, there’s lodging at Rocky’s on Wanapitei Lake at the intersection of Local Trails 71 and 64 or Sportsman’s Lodge & Wilderness Resort at the junction of TOP Trails C206D and C105 on Kukagami Lake. West of town, you’ll find the Northland Motel, Valley Inn and Windy Lake Lodge for overnighting.
If you’re staying in Sudbury for a multi-day ride getaway, another option is to stay at one of the many more centrally-located, full service hotels and trailer each day to ride out of one of the six staging areas designated on the district map with a green “P” symbol.
Chiniguchi Wolf Loop
At 223 km around, the Chiniguchi Wolf Loop is positioned northeast of Sudbury. Essentially, its TOP Trails circle the largest area water body, Wanapitei Lake. They are also adjacent to the Wolf Lake Forest Reserve, the world’s largest old growth red pine forest. One highlight of the Chiniguchi Wolf Loop is the scenic lookout at the top of Wolf Lake Mountain, accessed by Local Trail 76. At 503 metres, it’s the region’s highest trail accessible elevation. Except for the north section of the loop, there are several locations on route for fuel and food, including Sportsman’s Lodge & Wilderness Resort on the east side and Rocky’s (detour off loop route). The west side of this loop passes by towns like Capreol and Hanmer where services are available.
Cartier Moose Loop
The 254-km Cartier Moose Loop is located northwest of Sudbury and shares some sections of its east side trails with the Chiniguchi Wolf Loop. That’s why in some places, you’ll spot signs for both tours on the same post. It’s easy to make good time on this loop’s TOP Trails as they follow old logging roads through the Laurentian Highlands, but be sure to stop at the picturesque Onaping Bridge. On its west side, the Cartier Loop has only one stop for fuel and food at Windy Lake Lodge.
Rainbow Elk Loop
This snow tour is the longest of the three loops. At 349 km (including a new detour for the 2017 season), it extends southwest from Sudbury all the way to Espanola. Unlike the Cartier and Chiniguchi Loops, the Rainbow Elk Loop involves some lake running toward its southern end, albeit on clearly marked and staked trails. Scenic points of interest include Sherwood Forest and the Vermillion Bridge.
Taken together, these three snow tours make Sudbury a must-visit destination for snowmobilers looking for a memorable long weekend sledding getaway – and don’t forget, Sudbury is also an outstanding staging location for saddlebag rides to other destinations in Northeastern Ontario.