There is something special about crossing water to a destination beyond. Whether it’s a 5 minute ferry jaunt or multi hour journey, that getaway feeling is inescapable. When you pair it with the freedom of two wheels you’ll find the ultimate way to slow down to island time. With an abundance of lakes and rivers, Ontario has beautiful waterfront cycling and thousands upon thousands of islands to visit. Here are a few top picks for island cycling this summer.
Recognized as being the largest island in a freshwater lake, Manitoulin has a sizeable road network that will keep even the most avid cyclists pedaling for days. Explore the island by bike with 14 mapped routes that take in the top sites with plenty of forest, shoreline and farmland vistas. Make time to park your bike and stop at sandy beaches, hike a trail and cap the day off by visiting one of the small towns and an array of unique and welcoming businesses.
Tour de Meldrum – Credit: Maja / MICA
The Chi-Cheemaun ferry runs May to October, crossing from Tobermory to South Baymouth in less than 2 hours. There are special rates for ride-on cyclists choosing to leave their car on the mainland. A free ride on the ferry is included for all participants in the Manitoulin Passage Ride, a popular 2 day cycling event, June 3 and 4. Guided tours are available at other times of the year.
To read more about cycling on Manitoulin Island see page 28 in the 2017 Cycling in Ontario guide.
For more info on bike routes, maps and bicycle friendly places to eat, visit and sleep: www.ontariobybike.ca/manitoulinlacloche
Trivia Question: Name the common biological environment found on Manitoulin Island that supports unique flora and fauna on top of a limestone base.
Float away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto, on a 15 minute ferry journey, to enjoy a ride in the car-free and park-like setting of the Toronto Islands. Board the ferry with your own bike, bring a rental from city side, or pick up a bike at the rental kiosk on Centre Island for an easy cruise exploring sandy beaches, water inlets, gardens and the unique cottage community.
Stop for a picnic under the tree canopy or have lunch at the Rectory or Island Café, both at Ward’s Island. The paved roadway is just over 5km from one end to the other, but there are plenty of other pathways to explore the archipelago of islands, a short jaunt away from Canada’s largest urban area, Toronto.
For more info on bike routes, maps and bicycle friendly places to sleep in Toronto: visit www.ontariobybike.ca/toronto
Triva Question: How many islands are in the Toronto Islands archipelago?
Looking for the best of urban and rural worlds, easily slip between the city of Kingston and the quiet country-side charm of Wolfe Island with the free 20 minute ferry ride connecting the two. From the island dock it is hard to make a wrong turn, with several mapped routes ranging from 18km to 58km.
Big Sandy Bay is a top destination for both beach and nature lovers, and makes for a pleasant 30km return ride from ferry. Other attractions unique to the island include the wind turbine farm and giant corn maze. Plan to arrive early for the return ferry to enjoy refreshments at the bakery or grill patio in the small community of Marysville.
Trivia Question: In what year did the wind turbines get installed on Wolfe Island?
Pelee Island has a special lure not only for human visitors but winged ones too, as it is an important stop for migratory birds and butterflies and home to a variety of other rare species, flora and fauna. Take it all in on the 28km circuit of the island, following the signed Waterfront Trail route.
Choose from bed and breakfast accommodations or camping, and stay awhile as there is lots to see and do by bike including swimming, hiking, visiting local winery, artisans and heritage sites. Ferries depart from Kingsville or Leamington for a 90 minute crossing from the Canadian side, and Sandusky, Ohio on the southern US shores of Lake Erie.
To read more about cycling on Pelee Island see page 4 in the 2017 Cycling in Ontario guide.
For more info on bike routes, maps and bicycle friendly places to eat visit and sleep:
Trivia Question: What type of butterfly famously migrates annually with a stop on the island?
Trivia Challenge Answers: Alvars; 15; 2009; Monarch.