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Ontario-Northwest Loop Trail
From North Bay’s trails and South River’s waterways, to Renfrew’s whitewater rafting opportunities and the maple forests of Algonquin Provincial Park, northwest Ontario is a veritable outdoor playground. Tourists in the region can also sample local culture and art at Huntsville’s Muskoka Heritage Place or the eclectic galleries of North Bay.
Staying on the move in North Bay, Ontario, is easy, considering the area’s abundance of all-purpose trails. Whether you prefer walking, biking, ice-skating, or cross-country skiing, North Bay delivers a venue for your favorite mode of locomotion. The city and surrounds also accommodate the interests of snowmobilers and ATV enthusiasts; if railways are your thing, you can take a scenic train trip on the Dream Catcher Express. North Bay’s Trout Lake and Lake Nipissing are popular with swimmers, fishermen, paddlers and sailors. When it’s time to move your North Bay tour indoors, you can shop to your heart’s content at downtown retailers, in North Bay Mall, or at Northgate Square, a shopping centre boasting more than 100 stores and an international food fair. If pursuing local art is your passion, North Bay’s galleries will keep you intrigued with a variety of media, from unique jewelry creations and glassware to sculpture, photography, and woodworking.
From North Bay, travel south on King’s Highway 11 all the way to Huntsville. The village of South River is our next stop, a popular hub for canoeists who want to paddle their way into the fabulous Algonquin Provincial Park via the water. Observant birders catch sight of species such as boreal chickadees, black-backed woodpeckers, common loons, and magnolia warblers. Hikers and cyclists should plan to try out South River’s Forgotten trails. Be on the look out for beavers, birds, and bunnies usually spotted from the trails. Anglers, grab your poles to land the likes of whitefish, smallmouth bass, and rainbow trout.
The numerous lakes, forests, and wetlands around Huntsville make it another favorite stopover for nature enthusiasts. However, the town contains other attractions, as well. At Muskoka Heritage Place, you can gain a close-up view of The Portage Flyer, a turn-of-the-century (make that the 19th Century) steam train. Moreover, there are plenty of chances to learn about First Nation culture, see a genuine pioneer village, rub elbows (or hoofs) with farm animals, and stroll along quiet garden paths while in the area. For a rousing night on the town, dine in one of several area restaurants and take in a show at Huntsville’s Algonquin Theatre.
From Huntsville, drive east/northeast on King’s Highway 60 to Renfrew. Algonquin Provincial Park attracts visitors with its wild, rocky landscapes, thousands of lakes, and hilly maple forests. The densely wooded center of the park can only be reached on foot or via canoe. Algonquin’s Visitor Centre showcases the history of local inhabitants and their natural environment. Take time to enjoy a bite to eat in the park restaurant, browse through the bookstore, and view works of art at the “Algonquin Room. The Algonquin Logging Museum and the Art Centre’s indoor/outdoor galleries are other park highlights.
While you’re traveling through the outdoorsy wonders of the town of Renfrew and surrounds, be sure to schedule a round of golf, a boating, fishing, or skiing excursion, or whitewater rafting adventure. From Renfrew, travel north/northwest on King’s Highway 17, completing the loop back to your former starting point at North Bay.