Have wheels, will travel

Today’s post comes from Ryan Hawkins, owner of Canuck Powersports

My wife and I are avid campers and have always loved the outdoors. When we first started staying in provincial parks we were tent camping out of the back of our car. As we got older, we opted to progress to a pop-up camper trailer and now enjoy the full comfort of “glamping.”

As a motorcycle enthusiast, I began looking into how I could combine my love for two wheels with my passion for camping.

Packing light

Of course there are restrictions when camping with a motorcycle compared to with a trailer, the most obvious being the amount of gear that you’re able to bring.

motorcycle parked near lake

My first motorcycle camping experience happened in the fall of 2018 at Arrowhead Provincial Park in Huntsville, Ontario.

The colours of the leaves were starting to change, the days were getting shorter and started to cool off, especially at night. I packed lightly for an overnight trip that would turn out to be a memorable experience, to say the least.

motorcycle with park tabloid

Unlikely arrival

I arrived at Arrowhead early in the afternoon after riding in the rain for the last  hour of my trip.

I was welcomed with a smile from the park’s friendly staff as they looked outside to see I had arrived by motorcycle on what was described as a “less than ideal” day. I was quickly checked in and shown where my campsite was located.

Getting a fire going was a priority to warm up and get rid of the chill.

motorcycle with bag of wood

With firewood purchased, a couple of campers offered to deliver my wood to my site to save me loading it on the back of my bike. You’ve got to love the camaraderie of the camping community — just another reason why our Ontario Parks are such a great place to visit.

Setting up

Arriving at my site, I placed my ticket into the site post, and proceeded to build a fire that would hopefully continue to burn despite Mother Nature’s rainy agenda.

With only a medium-sized tail bag, I had enough room for a change of clothes and my Hennessy Hammock, my lodging for the night. Luckily, my sleeping bag was strapped to the top of my tail bag and managed to stay dry.

hammock on campsite

Also packed was a lighter, a small pocket utility knife, and a quick meal that I could warm up over the fire.

The rain stopped about an hour before sunset, which gave me just the right amount of time to set up camp.  Two trees that were the perfect distance from the firepit proved to be an excellent spot to set up my hammock.

motorcycle and hammock on campsite

I used tree straps to minimize environmental impact. In no time, the hammock was up, and the rain fly secured. With more inclement weather in the forecast, it seemed only fitting to sit by the fire and enjoy the beauty of my campsite while I could.

Shelter from the storm

As the rain started to move in, I placed the last few pieces of wood on the fire and crawled into the hammock.

Lying in complete silence and watching the glow of the fire burn down was a great way to end the day. Around 3:00 a.m., I was awakened by a thunderstorm. The light show lasted for about an hour. Seeing the silhouettes of the trees lit up was quite the experience.

Sunny skies

Morning came with a spectacular sunrise and a feeling of accomplishment after surviving the night despite the weather.

A few vehicles drove past my site that morning with a look of astonishment that I was camping via motorcycle and made it through the storms. With the warmth of the sun and clear skies it was time to stretch the legs with a hike to Stubb’s Falls.

man crouching near falls

The water flowed fast for the time of year, making for some great pictures.  Ontario Parks has so many points of interest (POI’s) to visit. Whether it be hiking trails, beautiful rock cuts, or exploring by the water, there is plenty to keep anyone entertained for days, if not weeks.

Goodbye for now

Arriving back at the campsite, it was time to pack up and enjoy some of the park’s sights before leaving. The beaches were quiet this time of year, but the colours brought many people out to enjoy the fall season.

motorcycle helmet resting on bridge

Other essentials that make Ontario Parks great for motorcycle camping are the facilities. Modern comfort stations, roofed accommodation if needed, and a park store for anything that may have been left behind.

motorcycle outside of comfort station

When camping in the early and late seasons, it is essential to have the proper gear. I brought my winter sleeping bag, a toque, and warm underlayers. They were easy enough to pack on the motorcycle, and without them I could’ve been in trouble.

As I pulled out of the campground, I can honestly say I had a great time. Camping by motorcycle is something that I have never previously done, but glad that I experienced it. For the entire ride home I thought about which park I was going to visit next season. Multiple day trips at multiple parks?

I think I found a reason to pack up the bike.