Manitoulin is the unknown island in the snowmobiling world. It has trails that stretch from one end of the island to the other. There are also staked ice trails from Little Current to Killarney and Gore Bay to the other side of the North Channel near Spanish, Ontario. The system is staked, brushed, signed, groomed and maintained by the Manitoulin Snow Dusters with 2 groomers operating on a regular basis.
Many sledders will trailer to a place, say Sudbury, unload the sleds and then “bag it” from destination to destination. A Loop would be say Sudbury to Killarney, Killarney to Manitoulin, spend a day or two on the island and then sled across the North Channel to Elliot Lake and then loop back to Sudbury. In this day and age you can expect 200-300km per tank of fuel so the sleds offer a long range option.
With the addition of heated handlebars, larger windshields and a more plush ride this form of touring is very comfortable and relatively warm.
As I said Manitoulin can be covered in two days.
We, on the other hand trailed straight to our destination [this cottage] at the south end of Lake Kagawong. The trail is about 8 km from our cottage at Spring Bay but the roads and shoulders allowed plenty of room to access the trails. Another option I explored was parking in Spring Bay either at the Community Center or at the Church. Both were available.
In Spring Bay you will find the Buie General Store, which is a large variety store with gas ( non-ethonol) an LCBO outlet as well as a Canada Post station. The owners Rick and Wendy are great people and are also sledders.
Kagawong is in the perfect location as it is central on the island making for two beauty rides, one day east, one day west. Both trails offer varied scenery and some great running. If you run west you must be aware of the fuel situation. Fuel is only availbile in Spring Bay, Gore Bay or off the trail in Sheshewaning ( not hard to find).
On the west run you have to stop in Silver Water at Stop 540 and visit Joyce for lunch during the week or all day Sat andSunday. Great food. This trail takes you all the way to Meldrum Bay. You have the option on the way back to cross the staked ice trail on Bayfield Sound and follow the trail to Gore Bay and then south to the cottage.
Running east takes you through Providence Bay and then east to Mindemoya, Sandfield , Manitouwaning and then north towards Little Current. All three have fuel readily accessible as well as places to eat.
As you travel north ( top end of Lake Manitou) you have the option of right to Little Current or left to M’Cheeging ( big big long beautiful hill!!!) At M’Cheeging you once again can go left to Mindmoya or continue to Gore Bay and return to the cottage.
Permits: The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs operate the trail system within the Province of Ontario. There are four different permits, a full season, a 7 day or a 3 day. If your sled is older than 15 yrs you can get a “Classic” permit for about half price of a full season.
Ice Crossings: are a use at own risk but there is a minimum thickness required before clubs will stake trails. Clubs watch ice conditions quite closely.
What else do you need to know? Well. Most sledders like to know where the groomer has been or is going to for the best conditions but there is so little traffic on the island that the trails, once established, hold up very well.
Contacts: As I mentioned Rick and Wendy in Spring Bay are good contacts and /or can put sledders in touch with the right contacts.
Lake Kagawong had a large pressure crack running from Twin Harbour north to the big island and apparently this is a yearly thing.
Mechanics/Service: I would suggest BJ’s/ Addisons in M’Cheeging. Lindsey is a long time sledder and very knowledgeable. There is also Fogels in Gore Bay.
Oh, and don’t forget the fishing poles for the perch. Guiding is available from Merv Bauerman in Spring Bay. All your tackle needs are in Mindemoya at Up Top Sports (great place!)
And after you have read this, forget the complete article, we like things just the way they are!!!
For more details see Manitoulin Snowdusters Club Inc