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Discovery Routes: There is no end to our trails.

Discovery Routes promotes over 1000 km of trails. These are water routes as well as land-based routes

The Near North has much to offer outdoor enthusiasts looking for magnificent scenery and impressive trail systems.

The Discovery Routes Trails Organization is a charitable trail organization that supports trail use and development in the region.

The idea is to “create, maintain, and promote non-motorized ecologically sustainable trails.”                                        

“We cover quite a large area. Geographically, we stick basically around Lake Nipissing. North Bay is sort of central to the region that we cover, and then all the surrounding communities,” explained Executive Director Jennifer McCourt.

Its slogan “There is no end to our trails,” is a reflection of the more than 1000 kilometres of trails, used year-round.  

“These are water routes as well as land-based routes, used for hiking, cycling, paddling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking, and road cycling as well,” shared McCourt.  

Volunteers do their bit to ensure the network of trails is in good shape.

“There are so many different projects going on with different trail groups across the region. The North Bay Mountain Bike Association is expanding its trail system at the end of Tower Drive. It is called the Three Towers Trail System,” explained McCourt.

“The Forgotten Trails out in the South River area have just reestablished themselves. They’ve been kind of in a bit of a slump or volunteer burnout over the last few years. There are about eight to 10 kilometres of hiking trails near the west entrance of Algonquin Park that will be revitalized over the summer.”

Expansion, maintenance, and improvements to trails closer to home in North Bay are ongoing.

“We’re hoping that there will be some work done on the trails across the escarpment, to formalize them. Laurier Woods, they’re always improving their trail system. They just put in a new boardwalk last year, so that is a fairly new improvement to the trails.”

The organization also promotes trails within provincial parks in the region which include Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, Restoule Provincial Park, and Marten River Provincial Park.

“They all have wonderful trail systems that you can go in just for the day, or if you’re camping, you can also use the trails. “  

Check for day-use trail fees when going to a provincial park.  

While specific to this region, Discovery Routes also make up a portion of the Trans-Canada Trail system.

“We’ve got about 340 km of the Trans-Canada Trail through our region.”

Contrary to what some might think, Discovery Routes does not own or operate any trails, rather it promotes the use of trails.

“We advocate for say cycling, we advocate for trail development, and work with municipalities and trail groups to be able to have the resources to maintain the trails and to develop the trails,” shared McCourt.

Cyclists looking for a challenging full-day event, where their riding abilities are truly put to the test, need look no further than the Voyageur 200 gravel cycling adventure, a charity ride being held in and around North Bay.

See: Nipissing area the 'perfect venue' for an epic gravel bike race

And: Voyageur 200 charity gravel cycling event returns this fall

The cross-country adventure is set for September 7th with distances of 60 km, 100 km, or 200km, over rugged terrain.

Organizers of this event want to “showcase this area as a premier destination to explore by bicycle. “

Discovery Routes was established in the 90s by volunteers who saw the many benefits of having trails.

“Connecting communities and people. Inspiring trail use for health and well-being. Promoting safe, responsible, and equitable access to trails. Supporting the local economy,” stated McCourt.

“And they wanted to be able to connect all the great things happening in trails across the region together under one umbrella organization, to be able to combine resources,” explained McCourt who encourages people to get outside and do it often.

“It is so good for your mental, physical, and emotional health to be out and enjoy our beautiful outdoors. We are so close to nature. It is good for the soul.”