Collections of stories and anecdotes of ATVing in Canada by Andrew Ryeland of 




- Andrew Ryeland  

ATVing a Four Seasons Trail Experience

Trail Adventure in Georgian Bay Country is not limited to the warm seasons alone.  The explosive growth of All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) sales in Canada has created a massive pent up demand for those seeking to escape indoor inactivity and replace it with quality outdoor experiences.  Popular television series feature survival and challenges that most urban dwellers can only dream about.  ATVing is one way to taste the excitement that our rugged Georgian Bay landscape can provide. 

It’s a fact that today’s life is full of too many goals and objectives and not enough challenges.

Challenge Autumn

Don’t bemoan the fact that summer is behind us.  Experience the haunted feeling that a dark sky punctured with shafted sunlight on brilliant deciduous colours creates.  Adrenaline flows freely, when cool air hits your face.  Bumps, hills, rocky creeks, crevasses and wide-open Canadian Shield framed trails all normally inaccessible, are ours to conquer.


We laugh at rain!  Puddles are a lot of fun especially when they have a frosting of orange and yellow from the birches and sugar maples above.  All your senses are on full alert!  An ancient foreboding of a winter to come adds to the adventure. You rejoice in the knowledge you are cheating the forces of nature by the very fact you are embracing her transition. A very Canadian thing to do eh!


Challenge Winter

What would the weather channel say?  So much for cocooning, its time to get out and play.  The vagaries of this season, an inconsistent irritation to some activities, are a delight to ATVers!  There are so many options for winter ATV fun that its almost a sin to miss the opportunity to get out on the trails.  There is that marvellous crunchy frost that spikes up early on the trails, the white dusted mirrored black ice that seals the puddles each night and yields to the sun the next day, the slush that sprays in your wake and the frigid powder that squeaks with gladness that you’ve come out to play.


Animals favour the trails for their daily jaunts so all kinds of prints provide endless fascination for the ATV adventurer.  A slow snake under a winter tunnel of snow-laden boughs brings ample opportunity for mischief.  Tailgaters will learn the refreshing meaning of an impromptu snow shower.  Those who tarry will wonder how the tracks disappeared.

On a good frozen trail the bumps and rocks are all grouted with a deep layer of snow and ice.  Four Wheel drive makes the trips effortless and should the snow get a little too deep all that is needed is to back track your path and try again.  For real adventure an electric winch and a friend or two with a tow strap can embolden even the most dubious riders to ‘push on’.

There are plenty of places to ride an ATV in winter in the Parry Sound/Georgian Bay area, but OFSC snowmobile trails aren’t one of them!  Our tires and traction leave a streetcar track like path in the snow that is detrimental to the snowmobile trail surface.  Touring a snowmobile trail is also a safety hazard, in that the speed differentiation between the two machines is vastly different and a sure recipe for a collision. 
Snowmobile Clubs spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each season preparing, grooming and signing their routes.  Private property owners who have given permission to snowmobilers have not necessarily granted those same rights to ATVers.  Stay off!

The advent of the snowmobile and the evolution of the ATV have given us many creature comforts that allow for a full warm winter experience.  Snowmobile clothing coupled with electrically heated handlebars and packsacks stuffed with goodies make ATVing in winter a joy.  Comfort is a main factor in determining whether or not to venture into the winter wilderness.  So is safety.  Most late model ATVs are equipped to provide both.  It’s always advisable to travel in a group.  Know exactly where you are going to travel and carry gear, such as cell phones, tow straps and survival supplies.  In addition those at home should have an idea when to expect you back and know which trail system you are following. 

Night riding highlights the wondrous aspects of the glittering snow, but brings other challenges.  Unexpected cold snaps or wind chill may cause a turn around earlier than anticipated.  Ice build-up needs to be monitored to ensure that none of the mechanical attributes of your ATV are threatened.  These precautions sound ominous but a little due diligence and common sense is all that is needed … and it’s WELL WORTH IT!


Challenge Spring

Rubber boots, splashing, lengthening days, a taste of maple syrup and fresh green sprouts everywhere.  Is it any wonder that this season is celebrated?  Ontario’s pride and joy, the Trillium, lays down a carpet of white and purple but only for a few weeks.  Ice covered beaver ponds yield to fast flowing streams and the trails appear again beckoning those with winches across the rapidly disappearing snow.

In Parry Sound we celebrate the season with Canada’s largest ATV Jamboree - Spring Jam 2004.  Last year’s event at the end of April, drew over 400 ATVers to the district and offered 5 different tours to challenge spring.  It also featured an ATV Expo, dance and a Rumble Ride through the streets of Parry Sound.  Over $100,000 poured into the region giving tourism a real boost in an otherwise slow period.  The Four Wheelin’ Women’s Ride for Breast Cancer Awareness complimented the jamboree by raising $10,000 for local hospital equipment.  Judging by all accounts Spring Jam 2003 was a huge success. 

Spring Jam 2004 will be held on April 22 – 25 and is expected to draw 1,000 ATVers.  An extra day has been added to the festival and many more trail adventures are planned.  Keep abreast of the Jamboree by checking out .

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 The best way to see all that ATVing can offer is to join with others who know where and when to take the right trail.  ATVing is one of the fastest growing pastimes in North America and year round use is the main reason.  There are more ATV trails opening each year and the sport is benefiting from organizations dedicated to its enjoyment and sustainability.  Seek out an ATV club in your area and join or check out ATV Ontario’s tourism related offerings at For quality ATV tourism experiences in Georgian Bay Country check out TRAX – Georgian Bay at


The PARRY SOUND ATV DISTRICT CLUB sponsors a whole host of events. To get an update of what might interest you frequent our web site at or phone 705 774-9778.

 If you don’t own an ATV you can still take the ‘challenges’.  There are several ATV touring companies that operate on the Canadian Shield and many of them operate year-round.  If you are new to the sport or would like to taste a bit of the ‘other seasons’ of Ontario, you can affordably sample the experience by hooking up with them.


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 About the author:

Andrew Ryeland is the president of Bear Claw Tours Inc., which provides ATVs, equipment and Half Day Guided ATV Adventures in Parry Sound, Ontario (  He has over 30 years experience in snowmobiling in the Parry Sound area and has been operating ATVs and conducting year-round experiences for patrons for over 7 years.  He is an active member of the OFATV through the Parry Sound ATV District Club and the OFSC (Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs) through the South Seguin Snowmobile Club.