Minnesing mountain bike trail (Algonquin park) report [large images included]- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Minnesing mountain bike trail (Algonquin park) report [large images included]

    Overview and location

    The minnesing mountain bike trail system is a mountain bikers’ gem located inside Algonquin park, Ontario. Precise location is on km #23 inside the park (this is, from it’s west gate along highway 60. If this is confusing you now, don’t worry – it all becomes very clear as you enter Algonquin park – all of the attractions there are marked according to the “km” system) While there is no trail fee, per say, Algonquin park charges $12 for the day, per vehicle for the use of the entire park.

    Trail layout and distance

    The trails system consists of four loops – 4.1, 10.1, 17.1 and 23.4 km in length. These loops share some sections as you can see from the map – total unique trail distance is 27.8 km. Keep reading for detailed trail descriptions and impressions!

    ---------------------------------

    Let’s head to the trails!
    (a couple of notes about the photos: yes, I know they are quiet large and might take a while to download. However, I figured that someone on download will have a hard time getting them to load, even if they are 1/3 of their present size. Also, the photos make it hard to capture the true steepness of the terrain. Perhaps it is my photographing style – but keep that in mind)

    At the trailhead a warm up cabin is located which has some couches, as well as trail maps and information. On it’s exterior is a message board with some quick notes about the trails – the loops, the conditions, and the reminders to wear a helmet . It’d be stupid not to wear one here!


    The warm-up cabin

    After a very brief climb the trail welcomes you with a preview of what’s to come – lots of rocks, roots, and mud!


    One of the few climbs on the opening stretch of the trail

    The first section of the trail is mostly downhill – perhaps giving a false sense that what’s to come is going to be a breeze. I personally like this because it does give you a chance to warm up before tackling the more nasty climbs – and there be many of those!


    One of the rocky descents on the first section of trail.

    The trails are very well marked and I can’t see anybody getting lost there. At every fork in the road, there is a clear sign indicating directions for your desired route. The locations of trail splits appear to be well planned, as here you never miss a trail marker because you’re going “too fast to even notice”.


    A typical fork in the trail

    Let’s explore the trail that lies to the left on our last photo – the “Sugar Bush run”.


    The immediate view onto the “Sugar Bush run”.

    This 700-meter section of the trail is a non-stop climb that is for the most part ride-able. One section which I have not managed to clear despite numerous attempts features a steep ascent, and some slick-rock and roots to keep things interested.


    The dreaded technical climb. The big slick rock at the top is not visible from this shot (unfortunately) – there is more to this climb than the photo reveals.

    Onto the fun (well, funner ) stuff. As mentioned before, there is plenty of mud to go around on these trails. One thing though – the mud doesn’t seem to stick to your bike! It just seems to dry and then peel off. This is perfect for those of us who like to play dirty but don’t like to clean.


    This mud-rock combo is typical of the minnesing trails.

    The rock gardens on the trails are in-frigging-credible. Spanning distances of up to 50 metres (as best as I can approximate anyways), and loaded with rocks, these are a definite challenge. For me, there was a lot of “try – nope. Stop, try again – and repeat” (see a video of me doing one of them rock gardens)


    One of the rocky sections. There’s a couple of tougher one on the trails here, too!

    There is really not that much to say about the rest of the trails as they all fit the bill of what’s been outlined up above. Tons of fun – not enough images.

    The descent on the last stretch of the trail is one to hold your breath for. It is long and gradual with a lot of loose rocks, and launchers off of rocks. My personal max here was 41 km/hr – and that felt damn fast. It is unfortunate that like most good things – this descent had to come to an end. All I could say was wow!


    Clocking some major speed on the last descent

    And that wraps up your minnesing mountain bike trails! I would highly recommend that anyone with a chance rides these – I know I’m not disappointed!

    ---------------------------------

    And here is a story about some of my adventures:

    The very first day on the trails, about 8 km in I did something very stupid. Upon coming to a huge mud puddle, I decided that if I carried enough speed, I would be able to ride through it. I ended up not lifting up my front wheel enough, and endo-ing right into the yuck. You could say I took a plunge. In the process I managed to loose my specialized cyclo-computer in the mud. This is what happens when the bike gives you too much confidence.

    The result – see here. Actually, this was supposed to be a photo – but camera was set in the wrong mode! What a bummer.

    ---------------------------------

    Anyways, I hope you guys enjoyed this report. Questions? Comments?

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the report. Though I doubt I'll make a special trip up there just to ride I'll probably bring a bike up there next time I'm in the area and not going on a camping trip.
    I suspect the trails would have been more fun if they were drier.

  3. #3
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    Good job! Thanks

    Thanks a lot for the write up and post. Algonquin is an amazing park. It is especially amazing in the fall. I have gone there a few times, and had a blast every time. I only rode Minnising once, but I loved it. The rest of the trips were canoe oriented. Glad you had fun. Looks like it was a blast.

    Ps.
    How was your new FSR?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by rkj__
    Thanks a lot for the write up and post. Algonquin is an amazing park. It is especially amazing in the fall. I have gone there a few times, and had a blast every time. I only rode Minnising once, but I loved it. The rest of the trips were canoe oriented. Glad you had fun. Looks like it was a blast.

    Ps.
    How was your new FSR?
    Great post - I read the Western Canadian forum for the most part, but am originally from S. Ont, so I thought I would check this out...

    We rode these trails for the first time in 97, and must concur with you - great loops, and it finishes strong! Get out on the Bruce Trail near Burlington, and practice up on your rock riding - it's worth it!

  5. #5
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    It's been a long time since I was there

    The trail was originally a cross-country ski trail.
    The vegetation has grown in quite a bit since I was there. Looks like many sections are now truly single-track.

    I do remember the rock gardens. They were always in low lying areas, and I suspect that is because the soil has been washed away by the strong spring snow runoff.

    Nice pics!

  6. #6
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    It's interesting that you guys brought this thread back to life now..

    Anyways, I rode there again on Thanksgiving. Despite the wetness and the leaves, I actually didn't find the trail that technical this time around.

    I guess this is what riding "bent rim" at hilton falls does.. makes everything else seem easy

  7. #7
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    An update for many moons later. The gate is open (why I don't know) but the trail is in no state to be open. I hike and biked up the west side to Linda Lake. There are a lot of downed trees across the trail. There are bike tracks as far north as the 3rd Loop.

    My only ride on the trail was about 10 years ago and I didn't think the west side was this rough. There seems to be some spots due to spring runoff where there isn't a lot of "soil".

    IMO, unless a person considers themselves as "expert" & riding a fatty, I'd pass on the trail. It's definitely not for anyone that is camping & wants to go for a leisurely ride.
    Last edited by revrnd; 06-06-2016 at 02:31 PM.
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  8. #8
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    Hate to say it but I agree.

    I love Algonquin and am there roughly four times a year to camp, hike and bike. I really want to like this trail but (last time I was on it was last summer) it is just an overgrown mess. Real shame, it's a very unique and brutally challenging trail.
    ..now just tinker with our bikes and feed the cats. - oldbear52

  9. #9
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    I phoned the park last summer to discuss this trail's deterioration. Reason given was they have no funds to maintain it ...especially the 22K outside loop. And without the outside loop it's not worth the trip. Sad ...I rode it in 1999 and it was a hoot back then!
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  10. #10
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    If anyone hears of an outside group thinking of trail work, let me know. It would be an interesting project to help out w/. Mind you involving the provincial gov't it might be difficult for a group like IMBA Canada to assist in maintaining.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by revrnd View Post
    If anyone hears of an outside group thinking of trail work, let me know. It would be an interesting project to help out w/. Mind you involving the provincial gov't it might be difficult for a group like IMBA Canada to assist in maintaining.
    I ran into my mole at APP today (a long time park staffer) and mentioned revrnd's comments. I also mentioned the fact the the long loop was closed all last year for maintenance. He snorted. His comment, the park should fix it or forget it. Fix it is not likely to happen under the current climate, but they won't man up and forget it.

    Feel free to try but I doubt the volunteer effort will get far. Sorry to be a downer but that is the reality at Ontario Parks these days. No dinero.

    Try this guy, he is the most forward thinker there and is open to MTB ideas: [email protected]

  12. #12
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    Funny that the long loop was closed last year when it appears a lot of the downfalls were south of the third loop cutoff on the west side.

    The talk about volunteering for bike rangers, maybe the APP/OP could outsource the trail maintenance?

    On the other hand, it was great to see that in the past they extended the ORBT to Cache Lake. Maybe they could extend it east to the Barclay Estate and a bit further east? The can't say that would interfere w/ users on the Booth's Rock Trail when the western extension uses part of the Track & Tower Trail.
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  13. #13
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    So I went around the long loop last summer for one last kick at the can.

    To be clear, the 22km loop of the Minnnising isn't just "closed" by fallen trees. It's overgrown to the point that it's basically gone.

    I was pretty much just randomly riding/walking/carrying my bike through the woods for 10km.
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  14. #14
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    I rode it last August and thought it was great...challenging but great. I plan to ride it again this year. Funny thing with this trail is that it seems to go up hill way more than down but you start/stop at the same place so it simply isn't the case. I loved the almost abandoned feel of it and the fact that the puddled areas were not destroy-able as they started and finished with rocks. I have a video somewhere...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruiser View Post
    So I went around the long loop last summer for one last kick at the can.

    To be clear, the 22km loop of the Minnnising isn't just "closed" by fallen trees. It's overgrown to the point that it's basically gone.

    I was pretty much just randomly riding/walking/carrying my bike through the woods for 10km.
    The loop was "passable" on the west side to Linda Lake, but I can't comment on the east side.

    X2 on the ride/walk/carry.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by revrnd View Post
    The loop was "passable" on the west side to Linda Lake, but I can't comment on the east side.

    X2 on the ride/walk/carry.
    The last time I rode the Minnesing was in November 2012. We did the big loop and found the trail easy to follow, just very wet and eroded in many spots. And the babyhead cobbles are a killer when your pedals are iced up. TR here if you are curious.

    Regarding pedaling to the Barclay Estate: a friend was trying to develop a relationship with park staff to open up the trail from Whitney to Rock Lake. He did ride it (with some hike/bushwhack) but there is definitely work to be done. He finally gave up because the park guys just wouldn't make a decision and kept flip-flopping. Riding to the Barclay Estate from the existing trail would be easy, it just gets bushy going east beyond that point. I think the park is a bit reluctant to open that end of the rail trail for fear of facilitating ATV access from the Whitney side. Another issue is the difference in perspective: when APP staff think about trail building, they think about backhoes and bulldozers, not mattocks, rakes and pruning saws. There is much education to be done.

    There is much potential in APP but there is already so much more better MTBing closer to major centres, I am not sure if the effort is worth it. I live in Huntsville and I would sooner drive to Buckwallow or Torrance Barrens than APP for MTB. Or ride a local snowmobile trail, which will be more rideable than Minnesing and accessible right from my house.

    So here is the question for those of you in Southern Ontario: if there was a modern singletrack MTB trail system in Algonquin Park, would you make the effort to ride there more than once?

  17. #17
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    For me the drive to APP is much easier than to Muskoka & I do an annual camping trip so I'd be interested.

    I have hiked a ways east of the Barclay Estate in the past for my railfanning hobby. I have plans to hike further east along the railbed and in hindsight I should've done that that than tackle Minnesing.

    I've also hiked the railbed west of Cache Lake to a point south of Source Lake & east from the Mizzy Lake Trail. The former section is relatively solid just wet due to drainage on either side of the highway.
    Last edited by revrnd; 06-07-2016 at 08:51 PM.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forestdawg View Post
    The last time I rode the Minnesing was in November 2012. We did the big loop and found the trail easy to follow, just very wet and eroded in many spots. And the babyhead cobbles are a killer when your pedals are iced up. TR here if you are curious.

    Regarding pedaling to the Barclay Estate: a friend was trying to develop a relationship with park staff to open up the trail from Whitney to Rock Lake. He did ride it (with some hike/bushwhack) but there is definitely work to be done. He finally gave up because the park guys just wouldn't make a decision and kept flip-flopping. Riding to the Barclay Estate from the existing trail would be easy, it just gets bushy going east beyond that point. I think the park is a bit reluctant to open that end of the rail trail for fear of facilitating ATV access from the Whitney side. Another issue is the difference in perspective: when APP staff think about trail building, they think about backhoes and bulldozers, not mattocks, rakes and pruning saws. There is much education to be done.

    There is much potential in APP but there is already so much more better MTBing closer to major centres, I am not sure if the effort is worth it. I live in Huntsville and I would sooner drive to Buckwallow or Torrance Barrens than APP for MTB. Or ride a local snowmobile trail, which will be more rideable than Minnesing and accessible right from my house.

    So here is the question for those of you in Southern Ontario: if there was a modern singletrack MTB trail system in Algonquin Park, would you make the effort to ride there more than once?
    I go to Oxtonge Lake for a week every summer and intend to ride in the park every year while I am there but I would not make the trek up there for a day trip or anything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Forestdawg View Post
    ...snip...

    So here is the question for those of you in Southern Ontario: if there was a modern singletrack MTB trail system in Algonquin Park, would you make the effort to ride there more than once?
    A couple of times per year, yes.

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    Adding some to bottom)) So here is the question for those of you in Southern Ontario: if there was a modern singletrack MTB trail system in Algonquin Park, would you make the effort to ride there more than once?
    Easy to say YES, also yes 3/4 times a year. Some of my Favorite rides when I started my re interest in Mountain biking after a brief stint in back country coneing in Alg or Temagami . I took several people up there and they loved the complete loop and all returned with there friends and families after I showed them in 98+-. Too bad it only needed minor work when I asked park staff , but the washed out start which I attempted with my 8 yr old 3 years ago was not a bike trail!! They are missing the boat huge on this with fat bikes, back country bike camping popping up ever where. The northern part has a abandoned rail line ( rode it when rails were in) was an awesome over night trip east / west. With places like Kingdon trails VErmont ( going for a week next week) almost self supporting towns , Moab, Rayston Lake PA. And others that attract thousands of riders and their funds, Algonquin should be a target. Nope. Worry about Hwy 7 south. We drove up from Gravenhurst last week end , usually do the great local centre, or Barrens, occasional Simcoe or Hydrocut. But the kid teen loves the out there feel in Alg, and tried new Echo Valley. The Moose tracks on trail+ wolf sighting were a hoot! ....Featured Ride: Darling Hill Loop at Kingdom Trails in Vermont
    Last edited by washagorider; 06-08-2016 at 11:36 PM.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by washagorider View Post
    Easy to say YES, also yes 3/4 times a year. Some of my Favorite rides when I started my re interest in Mountain biking after a brief stint in back country coneing in Alg or Temagami . I took several people up there and they loved the complete loop and all returned with there friends and families after I showed them in 98+-. Too bad it only needed minor work when I asked park staff , but the washed out start which I attempted with my 8 yr old 3 years ago was not a bike trail!! They are missing the boat huge on this with fat bikes, back country bike camping popping up ever where. The northern part abandoned rail line ( rode it when rails were in) was awesome over night trip east west. With places like Kindom trails VT ( going for a week next week) supporting towns , Moab, Rayston Lake PA. And others , Algonquin should be a target. Nope. Worry about Hwy 7 south.....
    This is great, keep 'em coming. I could work these responses into a letter to park managers. I do good letter.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forestdawg View Post
    ...

    There is much potential in APP but there is already so much more better MTBing closer to major centres, I am not sure if the effort is worth it. I live in Huntsville and I would sooner drive to Buckwallow or Torrance Barrens than APP for MTB. Or ride a local snowmobile trail, which will be more rideable than Minnesing and accessible right from my house.

    So here is the question for those of you in Southern Ontario: if there was a modern singletrack MTB trail system in Algonquin Park, would you make the effort to ride there more than once?
    Potential, indeed. The angle that I like is it's just bigger. Way bigger. So one would ideally imagine a trail network that isn't shoehorned into a smaller space, switchbacks all bundled together like intestines. That's a legitimate value proposition in my view. I've taken multiple two-day 480 km roundtrip weekends to Algonquin in the course of any one calendar year, but it's just not a day trip from southern Ontario. Enough trail for a two-day weekend would be ideal. A three-day bike-packing loop? Ride-in campsites for base-camping? Trails with chest-deep fords or actual raft ferries? Groomed fat-biking trail in the winter? Welcome to the front of the forward-looking pack. But failing that, with a single day's worth of singletrack riding I think you have to consider whether cyclists would spend a day utilizing the existing opportunities for either hiking skiing or canoe-paddling for the second day of a weekend, or third of a long weekend. I would, but I'm not sure if that is true for most.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forestdawg View Post
    So here is the question for those of you in Southern Ontario: if there was a modern singletrack MTB trail system in Algonquin Park, would you make the effort to ride there more than once?
    Yep, I'd be there a few times a year during our camping trips. The rail trail is great but a bit boring.

    If it's open in winter for fatties I'd strongly consider a winter camping trip as well.
    ..now just tinker with our bikes and feed the cats. - oldbear52

  24. #24
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    Ontario Gov has pledged $25 million over 3 yrs on "cycling infrastructure". I doubt any of that will be targeted at mtbiking
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackCanoeDog View Post
    Ontario Gov has pledged $25 million over 3 yrs on "cycling infrastructure". I doubt any of that will be targeted at mtbiking
    It will but they will consider a gravel community trail to be "off road biking" because they don't know jack...about anything actually.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg_o View Post
    The rail trail is great but a bit boring.
    As in it needs more bears?



    Or less?
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  27. #27
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    I'll take my rail trail bears large, but at a distance! (sure wish I had packed the zoom lens that day)

    Minnesing mountain bike trail (Algonquin park) report [large images included]-dsc_0301e.jpg
    ..now just tinker with our bikes and feed the cats. - oldbear52

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