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A Question About Cycling the Trans-Canada Highway

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A Question About Cycling the Trans-Canada Highway

Old 09-11-15, 11:34 AM
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A Question About Cycling the Trans-Canada Highway

I'm contemplating cycling around the Great Lakes and I'm worried about using Highway 17 from Thunder Bay to North Bay. I've read many reports of heavy truck traffic and a lack of adequate shoulder width. In looking at the map I see Highway 11 is an alternative and, according to Google Maps, is about the same distance. These seem to be my only two options. Google Maps also indicates Highway 11 may have a broader shoulder. I've read that cycling is allowed on any Canadian road unless it's deemed to be "an expressway or freeway highway." What I cannot find is whether Highway 11 fits this criteria. Can anyone clue me in on where I can and cannot cycle? Thanks very much!

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Old 09-11-15, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by axel8
I'm contemplating cycling around the Great Lakes and I'm worried about using Highway 17 from Thunder Bay to North Bay. I've read many reports of heavy truck traffic and a lack of adequate shoulder width. In looking at the map I see Highway 11 is an alternative and, according to Google Maps, is about the same distance. These seem to be my only two options. Google Maps also indicates Highway 11 may have a broader shoulder. I've read that cycling is allowed on any Canadian road unless it's deemed to be "an expressway or freeway highway." What I cannot find is whether Highway 11 fits this criteria. Can anyone clue me in on where I can and cannot cycle? Thanks very much!
I'm a long haul trucker, and I spent years travelling the Trans Canada. Yeah, 17 can be scary some times. Big hills, places with not much room to get out of the way, but it is a very popular cycling route, and drivers are, for the most part, on the lookout for cyclists.
Cyclists are very rarely seen on Highway 11. It is flatter, but there are long stretches between towns, like 200 km from Longlac to Hearst.
If I were to choose, it would be 17.
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Old 09-15-15, 10:50 AM
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Thanks Dan. I don't think I'm too concerned about Highway 11. From Google Maps there appear to be plenty of small towns along the route, with the exception of Longlac-Hearst. My only concern there is whether that's bear country and the risks of camping overnight between the two towns. I figure if I'm smart about it I shouldn't have a problem. The remoteness of 11 sort of intrigues me. Because it's not the normal route it appeals to me more (kind of like 'the road less traveled'). I have more than enough time to weigh my options but appreciate the input.
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Old 09-15-15, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by axel8
Thanks Dan. I don't think I'm too concerned about Highway 11. From Google Maps there appear to be plenty of small towns along the route, with the exception of Longlac-Hearst. My only concern there is whether that's bear country and the risks of camping overnight between the two towns. I figure if I'm smart about it I shouldn't have a problem. The remoteness of 11 sort of intrigues me. Because it's not the normal route it appeals to me more (kind of like 'the road less traveled'). I have more than enough time to weigh my options but appreciate the input.
Well, I can't stress enough that cyclists, at least touring cyclists, are almost never seen on 11. There are bears, but there are bears on 17 as well, and black bears are rarely a concern for cyclists.
At least on 17, drivers encounter cyclists enough to register that you are there.
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Old 09-15-15, 02:18 PM
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Thanks Dan. I'll need to balance my adventurous side with my logical/practical side. Appreciate your input. You've given me something to think about.
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Old 09-17-15, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by axel8
Thanks Dan. I'll need to balance my adventurous side with my logical/practical side. Appreciate your input. You've given me something to think about.
In any case, if you do the trip, I hope you will tell us about it or give us a link to your blog or something.
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Old 09-19-15, 02:32 PM
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If you decide on taking Hwy 17, consider the back roads just to the north of (552/556) and especially east of Sault St Marie (638, Cloudslee, Ansonia, etc). Not all are "paved", but it'll much more pleasant than #17 .

BTW, 95% of Ontario is bear country!
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Old 09-19-15, 09:15 PM
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Another suggestion, unless you are committed to completely circumnavigating the entire lake system would be to turn south at Espanola and cross Manitoulin island. From South Baymouth, take the ferry to Tobermory.
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Old 12-03-15, 08:49 AM
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Cycling is most certainly allowed on Hwy 11 and 17 (ironically, with the exception of Hwy 11/17 inside the city of Thunder Bay, but there are other routes there). Hwy 17 is busier, but is a much more interesting ride in terms of terrain and scenery. Hwy 11 is mostly straight and flat, except for a few hundred kms outside of North Bay and Nipigon. Otherwise, expect hour upon hour of riding in a straight line through a corridor of trees and swamps. There are bears, but they are black bears and not aggressive or dangerous if you keep your distance, and can be scared away easily by making lots of noise in the rare occasion that you encounter one. Mosquitos and blackflies are a far greater problem than bears.
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Old 12-05-15, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Wilfred Laurier
Cycling is most certainly allowed on Hwy 11 and 17 (ironically, with the exception of Hwy 11/17 inside the city of Thunder Bay, but there are other routes there). Hwy 17 is busier, but is a much more interesting ride in terms of terrain and scenery. Hwy 11 is mostly straight and flat, except for a few hundred kms outside of North Bay and Nipigon. Otherwise, expect hour upon hour of riding in a straight line through a corridor of trees and swamps. There are bears, but they are black bears and not aggressive or dangerous if you keep your distance, and can be scared away easily by making lots of noise in the rare occasion that you encounter one. Mosquitos and blackflies are a far greater problem than bears.
11/17 is easily bypassed in Thunder Bay. They have pushed the 4 lane divided highway further east out of town in the last couple of years, but there are signs directing cyclists to Lakeshore drive, which follows the old highway.
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Old 04-18-16, 11:43 AM
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HWY 17 from Thunder Bay to Sault St. Marie is the prettiest road in Ontario as it follows the coast of Lake Superior. HWY 11 is butt ugly - do not deprive yourself of HWY 17. There are great Provincial Parks all along that route. Also the breeze off the lake will give you some relief from bugs. As others have advised cyclists use 17 not 11.
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Old 05-12-16, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Up North
HWY 17 from Thunder Bay to Sault St. Marie is the prettiest road in Ontario as it follows the coast of Lake Superior. HWY 11 is butt ugly - do not deprive yourself of HWY 17. There are great Provincial Parks all along that route. Also the breeze off the lake will give you some relief from bugs. As others have advised cyclists use 17 not 11.
Aren't some sections of Highway 11 South closed to bicyclists? looking at google Maps it looks like Hwy 11 is similar to the 400 south of North Bay all the way down to Gravenhurst. Are you STILL allowed to bicycle on that stretch?

Cheers
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Old 05-12-16, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man
Aren't some sections of Highway 11 South closed to bicyclists? looking at google Maps it looks like Hwy 11 is similar to the 400 south of North Bay all the way down to Gravenhurst. Are you STILL allowed to bicycle on that stretch?

Cheers
North of North Bay on 11 is 100% open to bikes. South of North Bay it is a divided 4 lane hwy and cycling there would be awful, if not illegal.
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Old 05-12-16, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Wilfred Laurier
North of North Bay on 11 is 100% open to bikes. South of North Bay it is a divided 4 lane hwy and cycling there would be awful, if not illegal.
All the more reason for the OP to use Hwy 17 and not Hwy 11. Google shows North Bay to Orillia as being about 293 km and about 16 hours riding via Yearly Road which is close to hwy 11.

Cheers
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Old 05-12-16, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man
All the more reason for the OP to use Hwy 17 and not Hwy 11. Google shows North Bay to Orillia as being about 293 km and about 16 hours riding via Yearly Road which is close to hwy 11.

Cheers
You only have to choose between 11 and 17 between north bay and Nipigon. Once you start on one route or the other you are on it until the far end. After North Bay there are other routes besides 11 going south, and only 17 goes East. OP was asking about riding T Bay to SSM, though, and 11 doesn't go through SSM.
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Old 07-08-16, 07:30 AM
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If you are planning to cycle around the Great Lakes using hwy 11, you will have completed a large portion of your trip without being anywhere near the lakes. That would be ironic.

17 is much more scenic than 11, and from Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie, large portions of the route can be done on parallel roads - there is a Sault to Sudbury cycling route in the works Lake Huron North Channel Waterfront Trail - Home but is not scheduled to officially open until 2017. Still, the website may give you some help with this section.

North of Sault Ste. Marie, one must very soon resign one's self to travelling hwy17. It is the only road.
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