Ontario North West Passage?

Discussion in 'Canada' started by RoadSlug, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. RoadSlug

    RoadSlug Adventurer

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    I've travelled highways 11 and 17 for years, hauling freight to the west. This year I plan on stopping in all the small towns and back roads to mines and lumber camps that I blew past for years. North of Superior is such a beautiful area!
    Hwy 11 drops down from Geraldton to meet 17 at Nipigon, then heads back north from Thunder Bay. I've always wondered why there was no direct route from Geraldton to Upsala, across the top of Lake Nipigon?
    Now that I'm retired, I'm searching for a passage through this area. Google maps, and Ontario Topo maps show logging roads running east from Armstrong, (Jackfish Rd.,) and north, and west from the rail town, Auden. Auden is north of the end of Hwy. 801, which runs north of 11 at Nezah, which is west of Geraldton.
    The satellite images show roads exist where the maps say they quit. Google maps however, also shows a route through the area just west of Toronto Lake, and south of Juneau Lake, but the sat. image shows that road ends at a river running out of Juneau Lake. (No bridge.) If you were able to get across that river, it appears single track runs from there to join Jackfish Rd. much further west, and then follow it to Armstrong.
    I know this is complicated, but if anyone lives near this area, do you know if there is a way across that "Juneau" River, and is the single track actually real?
    I am willing to ride to the river to find out, but that's what these forums are for, right?
    Thanks to anyone who has taken the time to figure out what I'm asking. I've spent several hours pondering this, and now it's become an obsession! Not something I'd want to ride alone though. This really IS remote stuff!!
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  2. NORTH RIDER

    NORTH RIDER Long timer

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    I few Thunder Bay guys tried to go around lake Nipigon but no go . I think they tried twice and did not make it . Can’t remember if anyone else tried and succeeded . The guys that tried are members here but not very active . Good luck if you do try it . What bike are you planning on riding ? Gas is an issue. They had DR 650 ‘s with big tanks and maybe a KLR or two. Don’t think you can make it through on a big bike .

    North Rider
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  3. RoadSlug

    RoadSlug Adventurer

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    Thanks North Rider. I figured someone up there would have tried it at some point. I'm riding a DR650 with big tank and a spare gas container. I'm thinking my bike would be fine for most of it, but the single track may be too much for it. Unless there is a new bridge at the river, or shallows nearby, i won't make it to the single track anyway. I suspect the bugs may prove to be my undoing while sawing through fallen trees on that stretch of single.
    It's strange that so much of the route is logging road, and only a few kilometers separates both sides. I suppose neither company that own the timber rights are willing to invest in that bridge.
    If nobody else replies that it's do-able, I'll head up from the eastern side, expecting to turn around at Juneau Lake.
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  4. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    i've been on the road running north out of Armstrong Station, but not all the way to where ever it ends. it was well graded and also well traveled at the time. i've been told that the logging roads are off limits even though it's Crown land, something about First Nation permits from whichever band is in the area.

    there is an OPP station in Armstrong, wouldn't hurt to ask about any specific roads and the permit/trespassing issues.
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  5. RoadSlug

    RoadSlug Adventurer

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    Hmmm... I considered that the logging company might have an issue, but never thought about First Nations. I'll check with OPP, as you suggest. I'd think that if the road doesn't enter a reserve, it shouldn't involve them, but I may be wrong. Also, with Jackfish Rd. out of Armstrong, and Toronto Lake Rd. at east end being officially called "roads," they may NOT be logging roads. I'll find out. Thanks!
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  6. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    like many other areas besides northwest Ontario, First Nation issues can be a little touchy. better to check rather than chance being cited for a "violation" by the First Nation. another helpful hint, watch your speed on 527, likewise 599 if you decide to make a run up that road.

    the OPP station in Armstrong is assigned trainees, and they really like to try out their equipment, like breathalyzers, ya know, to make sure it's calibrated. use caution, they're especially happy to try it out on non-residents of Armstrong.
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  7. ChuckUFarlie

    ChuckUFarlie Send lawyers, guns, and money. The SHTF.

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    I'm not qualified to offer a suggested route as I've never ridden that area at all, but the lines seem to connect up in Ontario Backroads Map book.
    Basecamp wouldn't route on the roads and kept messing up any route I tried to create, but here is roughly the line they claim connects the sides (forgive the track nonsense that Basecamp created on the East side... frustrating software to use):

    However, I haven't been able to make the same line connections on any other source including the Ontario topomaps... although they are a bit dated now and may not be accurate.
    If I find the time, I'll study the satellite imagery and see if the lines connect up.

    [​IMG]
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  8. RoadSlug

    RoadSlug Adventurer

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    Yessir, Farlie...
    That's my route! The questionable river crossing is...where your track makes the jog at Horsetail Lake...follow track to the West, to the first dot, or waypoint. Zoom in on Topo maps there until the sat image displays, and it shows no bridge, but it may be shallow enough to cross. From that point West, it's really overgrown single track. I'm not sure it's passable, but it IS the route you've found!
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  9. ChuckUFarlie

    ChuckUFarlie Send lawyers, guns, and money. The SHTF.

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    I think I see the spot you mean... the river running to Juneau Lake, right?

    [​IMG]

    It looks like there is a crossing there... whether a bike can do it or not???? Maybe wait until the end of a couple week drought.

    If that is not the spot, do you have the rough coordinates?
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  10. RoadSlug

    RoadSlug Adventurer

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    Yep, that's the spot! I was thinking the same thing about drought. The single track on the west side of river doesn't look too hospitable, does it?
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  11. ChuckUFarlie

    ChuckUFarlie Send lawyers, guns, and money. The SHTF.

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    It's hard to say. I doubt a path would exist at all up there as a single track... as that would mean only riders use it.
    I've ridden many paths in this part of Ontario that are this visible or even less so in the imagery, yet a full size truck can traverse it.

    As an example, below is a trail I ride on a hydro cut near Parry Sound. You can barely see it, yet my buddy drove it in a jeep cherokee with room to spare (i.e. the trees were not rubbing either side).

    I'd think for such a narrow, remote, and potentially challenging ride, I would not attempt it alone, and I personally would not do it on a 500lb 'adventure bike' (although some crazy buggers probably would). I wouldn't hesitate to try it with a buddy or three and my DRZ with some spare fuel though.

    [​IMG]
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  12. ChuckUFarlie

    ChuckUFarlie Send lawyers, guns, and money. The SHTF.

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    If the starting point wasn't over 1200km from where I live, I might even consider attempting this ride... but 2400km round trip plus the ride around the lake; I doubt I will make that happen any time soon.

    Then again... I am planning a couple days riding up at the Abitibi Canyon this summer, and Nipigon is only another 5.5 hours from there, maybe I can make it happen this summer?!?
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  13. sturgeon

    sturgeon Long timer

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    Up there, I'd worry a bit that what you're seeing in satellite images might be snowmobile trails, which are not always easily passable in summer.
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  14. RoadSlug

    RoadSlug Adventurer

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    That crossed my mind as well. I guess there's only one way to find out!
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  15. RoadSlug

    RoadSlug Adventurer

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    I have no intention of tackling a difficult backcountry trail alone, or on a 2-wheeled battle cruiser. I have one of those things, and I have no idea how anyone could take one off road. I think the DR650 I'm taking will be a hand full!
    When are you planning the Abitibi Canyon ride for?
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  16. sturgeon

    sturgeon Long timer

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    In the end, it's not much over 100 km from Hwy 11 to the questionable part, so I'd think no big issues around gas if you have to turn back. In the ideal world with a bit of spare time, you could have a go at it from both ends. If I had a suitable bike I might consider it.
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  17. ChuckUFarlie

    ChuckUFarlie Send lawyers, guns, and money. The SHTF.

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    That trip is still to be determined. Depends when I can get my annual leave.

    I typically like to do my camp and ride trails in the late summer or early fall to try and avoid being eaten alive by insects. Up there, the latter half of August might be ideal.
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  18. RoadSlug

    RoadSlug Adventurer

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    I'll have a month available from last week of July to 3rd week of August for this northern adventure. I was going to concentrate on Hwy 17 north of Soo, with detours here and there, then north from Nipigon to try this. Nothing concrete yet, so I can venture north from White River to meet you if you need a partner for Abitibi Canyon. We could then attempt the Northwest Passage, then find our own ways home, or do them in reverse. Just a thought.
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  19. RoadSlug

    RoadSlug Adventurer

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    Most of the route is full blown road. Its only the aforementioned river crossing, and the tree buried trail that joins the roads that may be tough. I didn't buy the DR, (Bush Pig,) to ride enduro. There are far better bikes for that! It's more of a poor man's adventure bike that I WILL drop, and curse her for being so overweight when I attempt what I said I wouldn't do. Therefore, if any of this route is obvious KTM EXCF stuff, I'll be turning around. It may surprise my friends, but I'm not THAT stupid! Just attempting this is enough adventure. Nothing to prove...
    #19
  20. sturgeon

    sturgeon Long timer

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    By 'suitable' I meant something a bit lighter than my R1200R :lol3

    I sold my WR250R a couple of years ago; it would be ideal for this, could even ride it up there from S. Ont.
    #20