Bigwind and Beyond (75 km)
Route Author: Thom Lambert
Location: Bigwind Lake Provincial Park, Muskoka, Ontario
Distance: 75.3km (46.8 miles)
Suggested Tire Width: 40-45mm or more
Amenities: While there are no amenities on the route itself, the nearby town of Baysville provides
access to a couple of general stores, restaurants and a brewery
Estimated gravel time: 80%
Parking: Dirt parking is available off of Black River Rd., near the south-east corner of Bigwind Lake
Provincial Park. Please do not block access to the cottage just off the road. Parking is also available
slightly off-route in the town of Baysville.
This figure eight loop explores the rugged Muskoka cottage country south of Huntsville, highlighted by a traverse of Bigwind Lake Provincial Park via the aptly named Old Wagon Rd.
Beginning from the dirt parking lot off of Black River Rd, head counter-clockwise and follow the Black River as it winds its way north to Hindon Forest Access Rd. From here, continue north for
approximately 6km, before eventually reaching a T-junction on the south-eastern shores of Grouse
At the fork, head east along the rugged Haliburton ATV Trail 101 for approximately 8km, passing by
several gorgeous lakes and potential campsites. Eventually, the route returns to maintained gravel
upon reaching South Ril Lake Rd., which hugs the eastern and northern shores of its namesake lake
as it winds its way to the junction with Echo Lake Rd.
At the fork, riders have the option of making a left on Echo Lake Rd., forgoing the second loop and
shortening the overall length of the route by approximately 31km. Those wishing to complete the full
route should continue north on Brown Brae Rd. to Paint Lake Rd. Be sure to exercise caution shortly
after passing Pine Lane North, as the route descends steeply for just over a kilometre to the shores of Paint Lake. From here, follow the southern shore of the lake to Muskoka Road 117.
Upon reaching the country highway head west, continuing on the narrow paved shoulder as the route follows the southern shore of Lake of Bays for just under 10km, occasionally leaving the asphalt behind as the loop manages to find some brief sections of dirt, before reaching Old Highway 117. Here, the loop makes a right and follows this quiet stretch of pavement for just over 5km, eventually returning to dirt via Brown Brae Rd., as the route doubles back on itself before once again reaching the junction with Echo Lake Rd.
From here, continue west on pavement for approximately 4km before eventually reaching the route’s pièce de résistance, Old Wagon Rd. As the name implies, this 20km section consists almost solely of rowdy and rugged single-lane unmaintained, with several lake-side campsites both inside and outside Bigwind Lake Provincial Park, affording riders the opportunity for a well-earned rest. Or better yet, a chance to set up a basecamp to explore the area’s many forest access roads and side trails over the course of several days.
For those continuing to the end of the loop, Old Wagon Rd. eventually enters Bigwind Lake Provincial Park at the 67km mark, as the route follows this forest access road through the park for 7km back to the start.