Northern Ontario is a vast and breathtaking landscape, dotted with pristine lakes, dense forests, and winding roads that seem tailor-made for adventurous spirits. Among these scenic routes, Highway 129 stands out as a hidden gem. This picturesque highway offers a thrilling riding experience, weaving through the rugged beauty of the Canadian Shield and providing a journey that's as exciting as it is awe-inspiring. At Canada Rides, Route 129 is no stranger; it figures prominently in both our on-road Five Day Northern Ontario Excursion and our Mooseback and Mini Moose ADV rides.
Highway 129 stretches approximately 220 kilometres from Thessalon to Chapleau, offering a diverse range of landscapes that showcase the true essence of Northern Ontario. The route takes you through dense forests, past sparkling lakes, and across the iconic Canadian Shield, offering a constantly changing backdrop for your road trip.
With the vibrant colours of changing seasons, a fall colours ride is a unique and unforgettable experience.
Nicknamed "Ontario's Tail of the Dragon," Highway 129 is renowned for its challenging twists, turns, and elevation changes. While not as well known as the U.S. version, the road offers a riding experience that appeals to enthusiasts and casual riders alike. This section has been well-maintained and resurfaced recently, making it a haven for those who appreciate the joy of navigating winding roads with precision. But take note: you are not alone. Apart from the standard caution of lane discipline while cresting blind rises (which are often followed by a curve), wildlife is abundant in the area. Be on the lookout specifically for deer crossing the highway, but also be aware that there are bears and moose in this part of our province. Tangling with either of these would definitely ruin your day. Just be alert and be careful.
Landmarks Along the Way:
While the journey itself is a significant part of the experience, Highway 129 is also home to various landmarks and points of interest. The Halfway Lake Provincial Park is an excellent spot for a pit stop, offering the chance to stretch your legs and enjoy the natural surroundings. Additionally, the Algoma Central Railway crosses the highway in multiple places, providing a unique glimpse into the region's industrial history. We stopped in Chapleau at the northern terminus of 129 to look at the memorial to all those who lost their lives building the railway.
Other points of interest include the Tunnel Lake Trading Post and Motel, and Black Creek Outfitters. On both road and ADV adventures, we make sure we stop at these locations for food, fuel, scenery, and to recount the thrills of the paths that got us here: be they tarmac or gravel. At Tunnel Lake, you will find great photo opportunities with the many dragon sculptures. At Black Creek Outfitters, Cathy is there to greet riders with a hot cup of coffee.
Before embarking on a journey along Highway 129, it's essential to be prepared. Ensure your motorcycle is in good condition, and bring along essentials such as water, snacks, and a camera to capture the breathtaking views. Cell phone reception may be limited in some areas; a satellite communicator such as SPOT or InReach can give you and your family that peace of mind knowing that you can summon help in an emergency. As a bonus, they can follow your journey on an app on their phone, or a website. It is highly recommended to carry extra fuel if you have a motorcycle with a smaller gas tank. There are theoretically a couple of places where you can get gas on the route, but these are independent stations, not conglomerates, so opening hours & availability cannot always be counted upon.
Northern Ontario's Highway 129 is a motorcyclist's dream. With its stunning scenery, challenging twists and turns, and a sense of remote wilderness, this highway offers a unique and unforgettable riding experience. Whether you're a thrill-seeker, nature lover, or simply searching for a scenic adventure, Highway 129 delivers a journey that encapsulates the raw beauty of Ontario's northern landscapes. We recommend not rushing through the whole route in one go. There are so many opportunities to stop and enjoy the environment and scenery, it would be a shame if everything was just a blur as you rode by. So, throw on your helmet, hit the road, and get ready to experience the magic of "Ontario's Tail of the Dragon."