Snowmobile season is a call to arms for the intrepid riders who live to brave the worst weather winter can throw at them. Snow? Bring it. Sleet? No problem. When you’re on a snowmobile there’s nothing you can’t take on, boots first.
Snowmobilers may love winter but that doesn’t mean one of the best things about their trip isn’t the moment when they pull off their helmet, gloves, and jacket and sink into the warmth of a padded bench in a restaurant bustling with activity, and with a hot meal and warm bed just minutes (or feet) away.
We've selected some of the more manageable snowmobile loops as inspiration (~less than 500-kilometres). When you’re riding the trails this winter, here are a few of the snowmobile-friendly places you’ll want to make a pit stop along the way.
Rails & Trails in Lanark County
You won’t run out of opportunities to make a pit stop while traveling on Eastern Ontario’s newest snowmobile loop. This route takes you through a number of small towns, including Sharbot Lake, Smiths Falls, Perth, Carleton Place, Almonte, and more.
- Comfort food will never taste so good as one of the pizza pies from Centennial Restaurant in Pakenham.
- When you’re on the hunt for a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate, The Good Food Co. in Carleton Place won’t disappoint. Ask for their salted caramel apple latte for something a little different.
- In Calabogie, The Redneck Bistro’s pulled chicken poutine will stick to your ribs for hours on the trail.
Trail Riding in Haliburton Forest
Haliburton Forest offers a network of groomed snowmobile trails covering more than 400-kilometres through 100,000 acres of pristine woodland in the heart of Haliburton. If you are new to snowmobiling, you can book a guided snowmobile tour of the forest, and they will provide everything from the snowmobile to gear and guide. For a first-hand account of this experience, read the Intrepid Snowmobiler’s experience here.
*Please note these are private trails and a permit is required.
While riding the trails in Haliburton Forest, Truss Foodworks is located right in the forest so you won’t need to travel far to warm up. This smokehouse offers all the feel-good menu options, like smoked brisket, pulled pork, and even the kitchen sink (who knows what’s in that one!).
Go FAR in Haliburton Highlands
The Forest and Rail (FAR) snowmobile loop is a daytrip ride spanning 75 kilometres through the communities of Minden, Haliburton, and Carnarvon. Although a shorter loop, this is the perfect easy ride with lots of opportunities to stop for a bite to eat, or to warm up for a while.
- Molly’s Bistro & Bakery in Minden has one of the best breakfasts in the region but is worth a stop all day long. Don’t leave without trying a slice of one of their homemade pies.
- You don’t need to rough it when it comes to dining while snowmobiling. Rhubarb Restaurant in Carnarvon makes fine dining accessible to everyone.
- The Dominion Hotel & Pub often has live music on weekends and is typically bustling with activity and hungry diners in winter.
Riding the River Loop in the Ottawa Valley
The Ottawa River is front and centre in this approximately 500-kilometre loop through Renfrew County. Along the way you’ll pass by invitations to stop and warm up in Calabogie, Pembroke, Petawawa, Combermere, and more. As you travel the Ottawa River Loop you may notice a small warm-up just west of the stretch of Hwy 17 than runs through Cobden. This hut was built by the Whitewater Sno-Goers and is available for all snowmobilers to use as a warm-up spot.
- If you’re craving the carb injection from a gooey cheesey pizza then Bent Pizza in Combermere is a must visit.
- After the silence of the trail you might be looking for the hustle and bustle of the roadhouse atmosphere at Kelsey’s Roadhouse in Petawawa.
- On the Rocks in Calabogie is located in Calabogie Lodge and caters to snowmobilers. Recent renovations have transformed this waterfront spot into a cozy winter oasis. Their menu is stellar, too!
There are many locations along this route where you can spend the night. Consider the Holiday Inn Express in Pembroke, the Best Western Pembroke (with its on-site restaurant), or the Sands on Golden Lake between Eganville and Barry's Bay, which features an on-site restaurant and a spa.