Northern Ontario’s Greenstone Region

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Story By: Captain John B. Arkwright

A large part of the Superior Loop is encompassed in the Municipality of Greenstone. It extends from east of the town of Longlac down to Nipigon along Ontario’s Highway 11. For the most part, this region is relatively unknown to the touring snowmobiler.

We visited this region in the last week of February, 2005 and because our time was limited, we traveled north to Kapuskasing and started our snowmobile trip there. If you’re arriving from the west, Nipigon would be your best choice to start from. From the south, Wawa would be an excellent starting point.

Yet another option you may wish to consider is the Algoma Central Railway Snow Train out of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. There are several locations between Wawa and the town of Hearst where you can unload your sleds from the train.

Our first day’s ride was from Kapuskasing to Hornepayne with a lunch stop and visit with local tourism officials in Hearst. Arriving in Hornepayne in the late afternoon, we were surprised to find the motel parking lot full of sleds – a bit of a surprise, as in our 180 miles of riding we had seen no more than twenty sleds. If you’re planning to stay in Hornepayne, book ahead! The accommodations are excellent and tend to go quickly.

The next morning we headed up Trans-Ontario TOP Trail A to Hillsport. If you go south to Manitouwadge you can ride the original Snow Challenge Loop or the Stage 2 Loop of the Snow Challenge. If you go north to Longlac you have the option again of doing the Stage 2 Loop, but in the opposite direction – that would be my choice. Decisions, decisions, what’s a person to do? Arriving in Longlac with 200 miles under our belts, we had again experienced very little traffic on the trails. Unbelievable!

On day 3 we rode from Longlac to Hearst. With easy availability of gas, you can relax and enjoy an awesome day of riding. Just east of Longlac, you’ll ride TOP Trail A107A and for the next 80 miles you’ll be playing the part of a pipeline inspector and have a “hoot” doing it. Talk about heavenly snowmobiling!

On our last day of riding we chose to ride secondary club trials rather than TOP Trail A back to Kapuskasing. You can’t really tell the difference in this area because pretty well all the trails are groomed wide and tabletop smooth. In our four days of riding we covered about eight hundred miles and probably met less than one hundred sleds.

It’s easy to chalk up high miles because the trails are so safe to ride on. Good sight lines in the corners, gradual approaches with the trees cut back, wide trails with plenty of room for oncoming sleds – there aren’t even many road crossings to deal with.

Without a doubt, some of the finest riding I have ever experienced is in this region. What’s equally impressive is the fabulous condition of the trails despite the fact the northern snowmobile clubs have long grooming seasons, many miles of trails to maintain and a very small membership. Their hard work and unfailing commitment to snowmobiling is immediately clear after riding here for a few days.

Wherever you ride in the province of Ontario you are obligated to purchase an Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs trail permit. These groups operate on shoestring budgets, so if you plan on riding in this region you may want to purchase your trail permit from one of these northern clubs. They deserve your support.

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