Snowmobiling in Muskoka: Club Q&A

Hill and GullyAs president of the Hill & Gully Snowmobile Riders Club, Larry Horton can tell you everything you want to know about riding in beautiful central Muskoka, just two hours north of Toronto.

How long have you been involved with the Hill & Gully Riders?

I came up here for the 1989-90 season and started volunteering right away. I’m the president now but it’s just a name really. From signage to trail patrol, administration work to sales and now web design, we all do whatever it takes to get things done. We’re here for the trails.

What changes have you seen to the trails in your area over the years?

The development of the groomers has been the biggest change to the trails. In the 80s and 90s there were no industrial groomers. A four-foot wide trail was the norm and you were lucky if you got six feet. You’d get hit with brush creeping onto the trails all the time. With the modern machines we have trails that are ten and twelve feet wide. This has improved visibility and, along with better signage, has really made snowmobiling a lot safer. We’ve also got two new bridges going up this year. We’re always working on it.

What makes your region different than riding anywhere else in Ontario?

Port Sydney and the Muskoka area are on the Canadian Shield, so you get all this beautiful terrain with overviews of spectacular lakes with a lot of rocks, trees and water. It can be cold, but not as cold as farther north.You’re really in the woods here. A ride on a full moon night is just something that has to be experienced.

EE-Original282A lot of riders come up to get away from the more built-up commercial and residential areas. Yet we’re close enough to so many amenities that you can actually just grab a map and ride knowing that everything you need is here. You end up going to places you wouldn’t otherwise be able to go to.

What are some of your favourite trails in your region? 

We’ve got two new loops that we’ll have open for this year. Working with other clubs in the district we’ve created the The Lake of Bays Watch, which will take you around the Lake of Bays via Port Sydney, Baysville, Dorset and Dwight. Another tour is Muskoka Magic, which is a shorter run around Lake Muskoka.

Some favourite places to stop for food?

As for places to eat I couldn’t choose just one or I’d get in trouble!  Anywhere that supports snowmobiling gets support from snowmobilers. The Pine Lodge Inn has been with us from the beginning and was instrumental in getting us to where we are now, as has the Trillium Resort. Both have restaurants and are open year-round.

Where’s a great place for sledders to start their tour?

For people from Toronto coming up Highway 11,  Port Sydney is an ideal place to start on the R.A.P. Tour (‘Round Algonquin Park’). You’ve got Smith’s Ultramar for fuel and they have places to leave your trailer. Bracebridge and Gravenhurst are also great starting spots.


What would you say to someone who’s never tried snowmobiling?

There’s  no experience like it. I’ve taken novices out and they’re amazed by the scenery and the opportunity to see places you’ve never seen before.You can plan to go out for a 50km ride and end up going 200km because the trails are so great. You could have breakfast in one place, then lunch along the route, and dinnr further along. You can go from Port Sydney to Dorset and on to Dwight and back within a day.

And you can’t beat a bright, blue, sunny day when it’s just you and the trails. Or stop for a chat along the way…snowmobilers are a great bunch of people.

To plan your route in the Muskoka area, click on the links below.

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To plan your visit to Muskoka, click here.

For a guided snowmobile adventures in the Lake of Bays area, visit Back Country Tours.

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