Driving Tours you must experience this Fall!

Posted On Monday September 21, 2020

Sun dappled pavement, a warm breeze in the air, the smell of the open road is calling.  Will you answer?

I don’t know about you, but I have always found that when I need a clear head or some inspiration I hit the road, whether on 2 wheels or 4, there is something incredibly therapeutic about driving for me.  The ability to move yourself from point a to point b, the sights, the sounds, the unknown and yet familiar routes that excite your heart or bring peace to your mind.

Gravenhurst offers a few really great driving routes that can show you new places, connect with the heritage of the area move you to different communities and if the timing is right in the fall dazzle you with natural beauty through stunning fall colours.

As someone who drives a car and rides a motorcycle, these are great routes for different reasons.. and for safety sake some of these routes include “back roads” that you may not want to venture out on the bike without checking conditions first.  Twisties are fun until they aren’t and in Gravenhurst we make sure the roads are safe in the winter by sanding them.  This means spring drives could be dangerous for our bikers if they hit loose sand, so be safe… no one goes for a drive wanting to have an accident and in this case, checking first could help avoid tragedy.

My favourite driving route for a quick “boot” is Muskoka Beach Road.  This road winds and curves through largely residential neighbourhoods, but also offers breath taking lake views, especially at sunset or sunrise, truly stunning canopies of old growth trees that in the fall are a blaze of yellow, like the sun was captured in the leaves, and interesting off shoot roads to private homes and cottages.  By following Muskoka Beach  Road or Muskoka Road #17, it will take you along the old colonization road between Gravenhurst and Bracebridge.   On Muskoka Beach Road, you will also find Muskoka Beach Park – a family friendly place to soak up the sun or splash in the waves - Taboo Resort and Golf and their picturesque hiking trails and Muskoka Brewery for an ice cold pint at the end of the drive.

For the nature lovers, I recommend following Southwood Road through the rural portions of Gravenhurst.  This road takes you on a journey from our pioneering past to today’s much loved Dark Sky Reserve: the Torrance Barrens.  You can access Southwood Road from a variety of locations, but I suggest you start at Manson Line, just off Highway 11.  This route will take you past the Severn Bridge Fairgrounds – home to Gravenhurst’s only Agricultural Fair well over a century old, past some of the oldest cemeteries in the area (for the genealogy crowd) and Our Lady of Southwood Pioneer Church.  Onward to Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve, an amazing place to see the stars or encounter flora and fauna that doesn’t exist anywhere else in Ontario and ultimately ends you in Torrance a tiny village with warm hospitality.  Stop in at Pie Wood Fired Pizza or Clear Lake Brewery for yummy treats and cold beverages.

Last but not least, I recommend checking out Ryde area.  This community takes us back to the farming days in Gravenhurst.  Imagine getting your free land grant and turning up to find tall pine, granite outcroppings and bugs that can carry you away in a cloud.  That didn’t stop our early settlers though.  Follow Bethune Drive or Highway 11 to Doe Lake Road (know as Muskoka Road 6).  This rural route will showcase pristine lakes, sun soaked fields, horses, cows and rural life in a modern setting and is also home to the Ryde Barn Quilt Trail.  Following Doe Lake Road will also take you past the Tree Museum – an outdoor art installation meets hiking trail with truly cool exhibits.  Carry on to Barkway Road and you will find churches marking the thriving pioneer life of days gone past, the Ryde Community Co-op a testament to how communities can grow, diversify and change.  The Summerland General Store – in the “middle of nowhere” this gem has amazing homemade pizza, butter tarts and milkshakes!  Keep on going and you will arrive in Cooper’s Falls.  This village is actually home to some amazing waterfalls – but that’s a whole other blog.  Check out the longest living snowman in Spring and end up in beautiful Washago.  Feed your face with world class fare at R Cottage, grab a latte at Hoopers or an amazing Eclair at Canoe and find out why small town life is the new trend.

 

  Route # 1 – Muskoka Beach Road Loop

  • Begin at Muskoka Beach Road (Muskoka Road 17) and Winewood Ave E.
  • Follow Muskoka Beach Road all the way to the end (Muskoka Road 118)
  • Turn Right on Muskoka Road 118
  • Follow to Gravenhurst Parkway
  • Turn right on Gravenhurst Parkway
  • Follow to Bethune Drive
  • Turn right and follow back to Gravenhurst

 

 Route # 2 Southwood Road Loop

  • Start at Manson Line
  • Start at Manson Lane (just off Hwy 11 South of Gravenhurst)
  • Follow Manson Line to Southwood Road
  • Turn right on Southwood Road and follow all the way to Muskoka Road 169 (at Torrance)
  • Turn right on to Muskoka Road 169 and follow back to Gravenhurst

 

 Route # 3 – Ryde Loop

  • Follow Bethune Drive North
  • Once over Hwy 11 the road become Doe Lake Road (Muskoka Road 6)
  • Follow this to Barkway Road
  • Turn right on Barkway Road and follow Housey’s Rapids Road
  • Follow Housey’s Rapids Road to Cooper’s Falls Road
  • Continue on Cooper’s Falls Road to Muskoka Road in Washago
  • Turn left on to Muskoka Road and follow to Hwy 11 North
  • Follow Hwy 11 North back to Gravenhurst