The history of the Addington Highlands is a rich and colourful one. Starting with its first peoples, the Ojibwe, whose sacred pictographs featuring the creator (and trickster) Nanabozho adorn the 100m high Mazinaw Rock. Next to leave their mark were the Irish, who arrived in great numbers in the early 19th century to supply the manpower necessary to support the booming logging and milling industries that fed the international appetite for Canadian timber. Then, as was often the case, farmers were lured to the area with promises of free and freshly deforested land, only to find the rock hard Canadian Shield ill-suited for anything but the most hardscrabble sustenance agriculture. Similarly, prospectors arrived but soon found little more than low-grade ore.
By the early 20th century the area, anchored by Bon Echo, became a summertime tourist destination for those looking to escape the cities and commune with nature. Today, not much has changed with hundreds of lakes, rivers, streams, dirt roads and ATV trails providing unlimited opportunities to hunt, fish, or simply explore.
This 257km bikepacking route samples some of the best and most challenging scenery the Addington Highlands has to offer. While the route itself is not particularly long, don’t take it lightly. It includes a number of steep climbs and many kilometres of muddy/sandy dirt roads and ATV trails. So it is recommended that anyone attempting this loop[ budget three to four days to complete (and enjoy) it.
Adrian Grant of www.ridegravel.ca
The Addington Highlands Bikepacking Loop was not designed as an easy gravel ride. It will provide copious amounts of challenge to riders of every calibre.
For detailed route notes, check out the Ride Gravel website.
This route goes through some of the best parts of the Outaouais region, the Papineau Labelle Nature Reserve, various Provincial and Regional Parks, and ski resorts. Passing through many small towns there are ample opportunities to find a hotel for the night. Campgrounds are located sporadically and there is always the option to wild camp.
Although the Addington Highlands Bikepacking Loop is not the longest route, it provides many challenges. This route is never flat for long, and offers continuous rolling terrain with sustained climbing. Add to the the frequent ATV trails that can get pretty muddy and rough, some really steep climbs and amazing descents and the adventure begins. Top all that off with water crossing that can vary from calf depth to waist depth and it’s just icing on the cake. For all these reasons, I rate this ride as an average difficulty of 6.
This route includes many steep climbs and many kilometres of muddy/sandy dirt roads and ATV trails, which will challenge the hardiest of riders. Although much of it is not technically difficult, the riding conditions will challenge your bike handling abilities. In terms of technical difficulty this route merits a rating of 5.