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Tourism

RAINBOW COUNTY: Pot of White Gold

John Arkwright
10/18/2010

My first venture into touring with saddlebags strapped onto my sled was in the winter of 1991. Our destination was the Sudbury area as we had heard good reports about the Sudbury Trail Plan's trails. Our journey saw six gung-ho guys leaving Powassan, Ontario with overloaded saddlebags heading north to Temagami as our first night's destination.

As I look back, I chuckle a bit - I would have sold my soul for a bag of bungee cords back then. After a very long day we pulled our sorry, tired butts into Temagami well after dark. By today's standards those trails were less than stellar and the signage was minimal at best. How times have changed! Today we think nothing of riding up to Temagami for lunch.

On our second day of riding we headed south and got onto the STP trail system. In the blink of an eye we were rolling kevlar down wide, smooth, impeccably groomed trails and I was hooked on snowmobiling in Rainbow Country.

I became a Rainbow junkie as my wife, Donna, daughter Carrie and I became regulars at the ultra successful Indy 500 Rally in the early nineties and over the years have taken week-long tours throughout Rainbow Country.

Most of our rides had Parry Sound as our starting point and we've experienced firsthand the transformation around the Pickerel and French Rivers. Back then there were no snowmobile bridges and you had to book the Snowmobile Shuttle up Highway 69.

Today, the two massive bridges spanning the Pickerel and French Rivers are amazing and are really something to experience. Over the years we've pretty well visited every part of Rainbow Country with rarely a shortage of snow.

Last winter we visited Rainbow Country the first week of February with plans to start from Pleasant Cove Resort in Point Au Baril. We were greeted by Bruce Bishop who we soon found out is an absolute snowmobile nut. This is my kind of lodge owner.

Bruce offers something we have a real shortage of in Ontario - snowmobile rentals! He's put together a series of great getaway packages catering to couples wanting to try the sport, perhaps for the first time. His rentals are current year Ski-Doo 2-up models.

Bruce took us up to the Britt Inn for dinner where we met owner Jim Sorrenti. Jim is a very hands-on operator and he has restored and transformed this old inn into a fun and enjoyable experience. Jim serves up a great meal and is a highly entertaining host.

Our next stop was the Sportsman Inn in Killarney. We hooked up with Chris Puhuel and opted to ride the big ice of the North Channel to view the La Cloche Mountains. The Sportsman's Inn over the years has been a snowmobile hotspot and new owners Kevin and Rochelle McConnell have given the Inn a huge upgrade! Get ready to have some big-time fun during your stay there.

We headed north to the Sportsman's Lodge Wilderness Resort on Kukagami Lake, north of Sudbury. I swear, over the years the Sportsman has been an overnighter for a jillion snowmobiles.

Owner George Robbins is in his fifth year at the Lodge and has put his stamp on the place. He's managed to keep the same atmosphere as I experienced on my first visit with the boys back in 1991.

No visit to the Sportsman would be complete without a rip up trail C206D to the Wolf Mountain Lookout and, as usual, there were quite a crew of folks up there. On a clear day the view is awesome!

We headed east on C206D to Pine Falls Lodge on Murray Lake where we met new owners Fred and Louise Dunham. We quickly realized this enthusiastic couple is here for the long haul and I guarantee they're making this one of those places you will always come back to visit.

Although the snow was a bit scarce on this ride last winter, we still had some excellent riding. Is this shortage of snow the norm for Rainbow Country? Emphatically, no! On the contrary, the Sportsman's Lodge had so much snow last year they had run out of places to push it.

We had the opportunity to spend some quality time with these proprietors and it was really enjoyable. Bruce, Jim and George would fall into the veteran's category while Kevin and Rochelle and Fred and Louise are just getting into catering to snowmobilers. What we realized is that each one of these properties is totally committed to making your visit an enjoyable one.

I've always said that snowmobiling is the greatest sport in the world. It's addictive, infectious and even contagious and no other sport appeals to such a broad range of people.

If you're interested on information on this region please visit: ontariotravel.net/goride or call 1-800-ONTARIO

Places we visited on this Ride

Pleasant Cove Resort – Point Au Baril
Call :1-888-641-4629
Visit: www.pleasantcove.com

Little Britt Inn – Britt
Call: 1-888-383-4555
Visit: www.zeuter.com/~lilbritt

Sportsman’s Inn – Killarney
Call: 705-287-9990
Visit: www.sportsmaninn.ca

Sportsman’s Lodge Wilderness Resort – Kukagami Lake
Call: 1-877-708-8882
Visit: www.sportsmanslodge.net

Pine FallsLodge & Resort - Hagar
Call: 705-858-1026
Visit: www.pinefallslodge.ca