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Jul 10, 2018

10 min. read

Riding through Ontario’s Highlands on a motorcycle feels like streaking through a Group of Seven painting: lush greenery and clear lakes blur by beneath a bright blue blanket of sky. The inviting roads curve and wind, offering a challenge for even the most seasoned rider.

To plan your expedition, choose from five routes curated by Ride the Highlands, an online resource for riders. For insider tips, we spoke with Chris Hughes, who has ridden through the region approximately 30 times. A partner at BC Hughes—which developed Ride the Highlands—Hughes shares this golden rule: “It’s not a race. The only way you’ll experience the full fabric of the place is to take your time and stop whenever possible.”

To make a day of it: Rideau Ridge

The shortest of the five routes, Rideau Ridge includes a figure-eight loop around the Rideau Canal. Since it’s one of the Highlands’ easternmost riding routes, Ottawa locals can easily do this as a day trip.

A motorcycle parked on a rock near a river.

Point of interest: Westport Road. “It follows a lake, has some 180-degree beasts in it and has good asphalt,” Hughes says. “If you want good camera shots, that’s the road.”

Distance: 261 km

Duration: 1 day

To enjoy small-town charm by bike: Dynamite Alley

Dynamite Alley starts just east of the Kawartha Lakes region and snakes through Haliburton, Algonquin and Bancroft, among other towns. When you finish your first day’s ride, be sure to stop at Rhubarb Restaurant—try the duck poutine—and grab a Kungaroo IPA at its attached brewery, Boshkung Brewing.

2020 kawasaki ninja zx-10r in niagara falls, ontario - photo 9.

Point of interest: Dorset Lookout Tower offers good photo ops, as do the many hiking trails along Highway 60 in Algonquin Park.

Distance: 508 km

Duration: 2 days

To slow things down: Riding and Relaxation

As the name suggests, Riding and Relaxation is best done at a leisurely pace. Stop and check out the views around Haliburton and Perth, and be sure to smell the flowers.

A person riding a motorcycle down a road with trees in the background.

Point of interest: Hidden Goldmine Bakery. According to Hughes, the owner, a motorcyclist himself, once rode a dozen tarts to Barrie, delivering them to a customer who had ridden all the way to the bakery only to find it closed.

Distance: 703 km

Duration: 2 to 3 days

To get a chip-truck fix on your motorcycle trip: Deep Valley Run

Stretching along the eastern portion of the Highlands, Deep Valley Run features the spectacular sights of the Ottawa River and Valley.

A person riding a motorcycle down a winding road.

Point of interest: Wes’ Chips in Arnprior and Whitewater Brewing Company in Cobden. “Even when I’m 600 kilometres away, I still buy their [beer] when I can find it,” says Hughes.

Distance: 771 km

Duration: 2 to 3 days

To see it all by motorcycle: The Highlands Loop

This is the full experience. The Highlands Loop is for the adventurous biker who wants to see what the region offers from end to end. “It threads the whole thing together,” Hughes says. “Riders get to experience different terrain, scenery and twisties.”

A motorcycle on the road.

Point of interest: Night owls should visit the Lennox and Addington County Dark Sky Viewing Area for stargazing.

Distance: 1,000 km

Duration: 3 days

Ready to take a ride?

Check out our guide to getting your motorcycle road-trip ready, plus our handy tips for beginners.

Make sure you’re covered; CAA Insurance will give you peace of mind on the open road. Click here or visit your local CAA Store today to get a quote.

Image credit: Colin Field, Martin Lortz and Mike Jacobs

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