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



- Andrew Ryeland  

The ALL TERRAIN VEHICLE or ATV excels at everything our Georgian Bay climate throws our way!  Equally adept at traversing wet, dry, frozen, soft or hard terrain this baby delivers freedom, in a big way, all year round.

 FALL gives a haunted feeling to the trails.  Every hue of orange, red, yellow and brown adds an exclamation point to this mysterious season.  Crisp cool days offer a hint of anticipation and tweak the explorer in all of us.  Ink black lakes, brilliant sunshine and migrating birds beckon us to discover the paths deep in our backcountry.  Later in the season when frost and snow dusts our crossings we can see the many tracks of wildlife that often choose the same route as us in search of their own adventure.

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 share. 

 WINTER. The vagaries of this season, an inconsistent irritation to some activities, are a delight to ATVers! 

It is said that there are many names for snow.  We can certainly attest to that fact here in Georgian Bay.  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.

Playing includes time to appreciate where and when you are.  Our expectations are higher and our appreciation of nature much more dramatic than faster modes of backcountry travel.  The extraordinary carrying capacity of an ATV means that a trailside lunch or access to a camera is just a reach away on the racks in front of you.  A slow snake under a winter tunnel of snow-laden boughs brings all kinds of opportunities 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! 

SPRING Hallelujah! Trickles of water and maple sap mark the advent of this glorious season.  Sunshine and lengthening days convert the snow banks and ice packed paths of Georgian Bay into crystal-covered fascinations. 
It’s not long before trickling creeks turn into gushing rivers and the ATV adventure now includes fording streams and avoiding newly formed swamps.  The winch becomes as intimate as the throttle and rubber boots replace their oversized, felt lined winter cousins.  Trilliums and assorted greenery start popping up on all sides of your passage and warmer weather beckons us outside once more.  The trails take different detours in spring, often to avoid the temporary wetlands but also opportunities to deek down the road to the maple sugar shack. 

FREEDOM ROCKS is a descriptor of both the geography and activities of the east Georgian Bay region.  ATVing is, without doubt, a freedom experience.  The sport is shaking up the myth that our so-called ‘shoulder seasons’ are barren down times.  We are rocking, both figuratively and literally, all year round!

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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.  Seek out an ATV club in your area and join.

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 ‘rock’ with us.  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 6 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.