Come Wander
ATV in Renfrew County

There is nothing like getting out as a family in the spring when the leaves start to bud, the world wakes up from its winter slumber and the trails and back roads of Renfrew County are teaming with new wildlife and the smells of spring.

For our young family, this is a time we look forward to all winter long; a time when we can once again wander on our Side by Side ORV’s and ATV’s through the Ottawa Valley and Renfrew County. We spend our winter months dreaming of the chance to explore both the new trails of the Renfew County ATV Club (RCATV), along with our old family favourites. The Club’s trails connect Greater Madawaska to Madawaska Valley, from Calabogie to Golden Lake and beyond.

Having ridden many of these trails before, we wanted to share one of our favourite long-weekend ATV trips. Since we travel as a family, we tend to incorporate many stops and shorter days for our young daughter, but this is a route that is both beautiful and fun whether you’re travelling the first long weekend of the summer or the last, with family or with friends.

Evening Before

Our ideal long weekend starts with an evening stay at Calabogie Lodge Resort and we always plan to arrive in time for dinner so we can dine at Redneck Bistro, where everyone is welcomed like a neighbour.

Day 1

Wabun Lake Lookout


The first early morning, we enjoy the breakfast, friendly service, and view of the morning mist coming off Calabogie Lake at the Valley Food & Drink Co., located inside Calabogie Lodge Resort. Then off we wander, following the trails out of the Lodge with a goal to piggy back our way along Calabogie Road to Hydro Dam Road and grab some scenic pictures as we cross the Hydro Dam Bridge. These trails wind past countless little lakes and camps, offering high points and awesome scenery along the way, but somehow few riders know these routes and vast lookouts exist.

After enjoying the view from the bridge, we like to work our way over to the top end of the Omhpa trails networks and appreciate the easy riding of the SXS trails back north towards Matawatchan, where an RCATV trails welcome sign marks the perfect place to stop for a snack.

Madawaska River

Credit: Teresa Hebb

Following the Matawatchan Road, we head towards the Madawaska River and often end this day a bit early, so we can enjoy this beautiful waterway, perfect for swimming, fishing, and roasting hot dogs on an open campfire. With cottage rentals, bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds around, there are many options to stay overnight, but we usually go the cottage route. For dinner, we like to head into Griffith to grab some handmade well-topped pizza and fries at Calvyn’s.

Day 2

The second morning, we hop on the bikes and head down the road to the Pine Valley Restaurant in Griffith for an always satisfying breakfast, the best coffee in the valley, and even live music on occasion. Once we’re fuelled up, we take this opportunity to top up the bikes as well at the Griffith General Store.

Then off we go down Blueberry Lane to find some of the best riding trails Ontario has to offer, weaving through awesome forest scenery, around untouched lakes and past highland lookouts. We head towards Opeongo Road, created by early pioneers, which is the perfect place to catch some spectacularly high views of Lake Clear before heading to the Opeongo Mountain Resort/Moose On the Beach chip truck to enjoy a lunch break by the water. After lunch, we pick our way through the trails and foothills of Foymount Hill (which is the second highest point in Ontario) to find the town of Cormac.


Credit: Teresa Hebb

Heading back down the Foymount Hill we turn into Cormac and back on the trail headed to Wolfe Road where we start to leave the high country, travelling past memorable century-old farms and stone fences to connect up with the old Arnprior Parry Sound Rail Line, now the B102 recreational trail, in Bonnechere Valley. We prefer following this east into Pikwakanagan Algonquin First Nations, where we can grab gas and some snacks for the night at Pikwakanagan Fuels. A stop in Golden Lake/Pikwakanagan would not be complete without a visit to see Amanda Welk at her quaint log house, turned Cottage Cup, for ice cream, butter tarts and some shopping.

There are countless great options for an overnight stay in the Golden Lake area. If we’re looking for another night on the water, we tend to stay at the Sands on Golden Lake where we can get in some swimming (it can be chilly in spring, but you have to do it) and an evening fire. There’s a restaurant on site, but this is also only a quick ATV jaunt down Highway 60 should we want to grab dinner at Golden Lake Chinese Restaurant.

Day 3

This last day is time to turn back towards home. After breakfast, we head back through Golden Lake and follow the trails southwest, weaving past some amazing old pioneer cabins.

We like to make a stop at Teewy’s Lake park along Highway 41 for a quick break and snacks before heading back down to Flat Road in Dacre and through Balaclava, yet another Ontario ghost town, then south on Flat Road towards Kennelly Mountain Road.

Golden Lake Lookout

Credit: Teresa Hebb

Time permitting, we often stop at the Kennelly Mountain Motocross track to watch dirt bikers traverse the challenging terrain and jumps of this amazing course built along the side of a rolling hill.

Once past the motocross track, we make our way to Black Donald Lake. We can’t drive past Black Donald Tent and Trailer Park without stopping in for an ice cream and a final top up of fuel, where we get to ring the hosts on an old wind-up phone for help with gas and goodies.

From there it’s back out to Calabogie Road, then we switchback our way along the trail to the Calabogie Lodge, where our truck and trailer is waiting for our tired and happy crew.


Beer, Butter Tarts & Burritos (By Bike)

Could this be Ontario’s tastiest bike route? A natural backdrop of Canadian Shield, shimmering lakes and lush Crown land forests surround you as you pedal down a 50/50 mix of quiet paved roads and gravel rail trails that traverse a series of communities. These small towns and rural hamlets are now known for art and […]

Cycle Through Fall

In my humble opinion, there is no better time than fall to hop on my bike and hit the roads, gravel, and trails of Ontario’s Highlands. I don’t have to worry about overheating, nor will I find myself pushed to my limit while trying to outrun a swarm of deer flies for 20 kilometres (true […]

Cozy Up to Fall Camping

So you’re not ready for camping season to end? Here’s a tip: It doesn’t! Just because the summer is over doesn’t mean we need to head indoors, when it comes to camping experiences, fall is where it’s at. Fall camping is an entirely different (and some would say better) experience from summer camping –no bugs, […]

The Best Fall Canoeing

Discover these top lakes and rivers in Ontario’s Highlands to discover the beauty of fall colours from a canoe.

Best Highway 60 Hikes

So, you’re ready to hit the road. The King’s Highway 60 is calling your name – and who could blame you? The vistas on this route are stunning, from the Ottawa Valley to the Madawaska Valley. Every kilometre is a captivating experience. It may seem like you could cruise forever on this roadway, but everyone […]

With Love, to Frontenac County

Now more than ever we are drawn to our community, and the places that help us to unwind and get outdoors. To get away from the crowds and reconnect with our roots. Frontenac County tempts us to sit back, unwind and check into vacation mode, to rediscover a world of countless lakes and a region […]

With Love, to Haliburton Highlands

We are so lucky to come from a place that has it all: phenomenal views, rugged landscapes, abundance of trails, and infinite opportunities for recreation, all enticing you to leave your comfort zone and step into the wild. Here, endless forests meet cool, clear lakes and rivers to create incredible vistas that reach out to […]

With Love, to the Ottawa Valley

From the rushing waters of the Petawawa, Madawaska and Ottawa rivers to the unspoiled woodlands of Algonquin Park, the Ottawa Valley is a sultry enchantress, enticing us with adventure. Renowned as a world-class whitewater destination and for the challenges found in its rugged hills and lush dales, the Valley pushes us to do more, live […]

With Love, to Lennox & Addington

Known for its pristine wilderness, incredible views and rugged natural spaces, the majestic beauty of Lennox & Addington speaks to the wanderer inside us all. From the craggy peak of Mazinaw Rock at Bon Echo Provincial Park to the starry skies overhead, there is wonder waiting to be discovered here, a vivid reminder of how our […]

With Love, to Hastings County

The deep lakes and meandering rivers here are ripe with life, both on land and in the water. This land is known as a region rich with minerals, and we haven’t forgotten how our communities were settled by the gold rush, where miners flocked, eager to delve into the earth to unearth its riches. Thick […]

Feel Like a Kid Again

Remember when your whole summer was devoted to swimming, playing, catching frogs, and finding adventures? At one time, this was an entire season fueled by ice cream, Freezies, and hot dogs. August always felt so short, and by the time it rolled around you’d scramble to finish your summer bucket list, savouring each shortened day […]

Cycle Haliburton

What’s your favourite flavour of cycling? Do you prefer digging in off-road, pedaling hard for speed and distance, or just a light taste with a short meander? A bike ride can be what you want to make of it, which is part of the fun, isn’t it? Haliburton Highlands’ varied terrain calls cyclists to explore […]

Bikepacking in North Frontenac

Imagine a weekend of backcountry camping in a quiet forest just a few hours from Ottawa or Toronto. As you settle down at camp, you think back to the fresh moose tracks you saw earlier that day and the amazing swim you had when you stopped for lunch. The scenery feels familiar but something’s different. […]

Hello Summer! Your Guide to COVID-19 Safe Travel in Ontario’s Highlands

We are happy to see that summer is in full swing here in Ontario’s Highlands, and even happier now that we have seen the lifting of many restrictions here in Ontario. After months of staying home we are eager to get out and stretch out legs and imaginations in a region made for discovery. This […]

Secret Swimming Holes

Shhh…we’re not supposed to tell you about these swimming holes…some of them don’t even have names and you may never find them without a map, but we understand that when it’s 40 degrees out with the humidity and the public beach is packed the hunt is on for the perfect swim spot. Those in the […]

Go Backcountry

You waken slowly in the early morning, the high-pitched warble of birdsong drifting lightly through the trees overhead. The sky is faintly brightening with the coming of dawn, and the natural world is gradually blossoming to life. Around you there is no trace of human activity, no murmurs of voices, clanging of dishes, or whir […]

An Ode to Summer

A throwback to summers gone past, with inspiration for this year’s adventure.

Just Show Up

Hit the water and take advantage of these easy kayaking and canoeing opportunities in Ontario’s Highlands.

Highway 7 Hikes

Stretch your legs by exploring these nature hiking trails along Highway 7.

Coming Home

Discover the story of Sarain Fox and her journey home to the Ontario’s Highlands, relieving memories of ice fishing and snowmobiling along the way.

Spring is Calling

Hanging around the city when the scents of spring are tantalizingly tickling your nose is tough. This is when you yearn to get away from the slush, pack the car and head out for an almost-spring getaway to the countryside, where baby animals, maple syrup, G-rated fun, and fresh air are calling. Get out of […]

Spring Break

The sun is warm, the air smells like spring, and the birds are singing their special warm weather songs. It’s official; spring has sprung. After a long Canadian winter, spring getaways are a time-honoured tradition for families here in the great white north, and haven’t we earned a little fun in the sun? This is […]

Winter Just Got Awesome

Learn to climb or brush up on your skills with an epic ice climbing adventure at SOIceFest 2020 in Maynooth, ON.

Ultimate Après-Ski Experiences

Meet up with friends after a day well spent on the slopes or on the trails. Discover these top places in Ontario’s Highlands to celebrate the Apres Ski!

Fall in Love With Winter

Unique winter experiences in Ontario’s Highlands that will give you something to brag about.

Climb a Wall of Ice

Challenge yourself to reach new heights with an ice climbing adventure at these places across Ontario’s Highlands.

Embrace the Dog Days of Winter

If you can’t beat winter, join it with an epic dog sledding excursion through some of the most beautiful forests in Ontario.

3 Cheers for Mom

Discover ways to give a mom a Mother’s Day to remember, with gift ideas that go above and beyond.

Batter up!

Get a behind the scenes look into the world of baseball at Sam Bat.

Where Am I?

Climb to new heights at the Medeba Ice Wall and enjoy the unique view from the top.

Where Am I?

Make fresh tracks along premium snowmobile trail, the RAP Tour Loop.

Winter? Bring it!

Discover your love for the season with a classic Ottawa Valley winter.

One Last Ride

Watch JR Alli’s video and see what he discovers when he allows himself to just wander.

An Action-Packed Weekend

Read how Will Tang from Going Awesome Places raced muscle cars and experienced thrills on the rapids with whitewater raftering in the Ottawa Valley.

Whitewater Rafting as a Family

Read about how one family took on whitewater rafting on the Madawaska River and why they can’t wait to do it again.

The Freedom Finder

I’m a Freedom Finder. I wander with speed! I seek out opportunities to make fresh tracks, blaze new trails, and get my adrenaline pumping.

Where Am I

Explore the sweet moments and ageless beauty of Perth, Ontario.

Recharge in the Snow

Disconnect from the everyday with a snowmobile trip through Ontario’s Highlands.

All Terrain, All the Time

Pack your saddle bags and press the throttle for an ATV adventure like no other in Ontario’s Highlands.

Raging the Rapids

SUP Instructor Courtney Sinclair takes her passion for paddle boarding to the whitewater.

Hair-Raising Drives

Explore roads of Ontario with these drives that make you reach for your hairbrush.

Roads Worth Riding

Plan your next motorcycle ride along the hand-crafted roads of Ontario’s Highlands. Wind around vast lakes, to fill up on culinary delights, and converse with friendly locals.