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Located at the bottom of an area known as Ontario’s Highlands, the region is made up of six unique districts: Comfort Country, Haliburton Highlands, Land O’Lakes, North HastingsOttawa Valley South and the Upper Ottawa Valley. Presumably carved out of the dense rock formations and vegetation by forestry workers with imagination and foresight, the roads through the region are more than suitably crafted for the dynamics of the 2015 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special I recently piloted through the area.If I were given free reign to design the perfect motorcycle route to suit my riding style and personal travel tastes, it would include wide-open roads free from traffic and stop lights, with each unique route connecting distinctive small towns with local charm and friendly people with a total lack of pretension. Well, lo and behold, I recently discovered that such a place actually exists – less than three hours from my home in the mind-numbing colonial grid of southern Ontario that often proves to be a frustrating experience for a motorcyclist.
Whenever and wherever bikers congregate, rides are recounted and tales are told of routes where smooth, serpentine roads can be found and enjoyed. I had often heard of the legendary 507 and ridden it several times, but little did I know that it was just the tip of a massive iceberg.<span id="more-27069">
Getting out of Toronto proved to be the most stressful and challenging part of the trip. Exercising the dexterity of my left hand by giving the Road Glide’s new hydraulic clutch the ultimate test, the city gridlock meant that I didn’t even see second gear until I got to the top end of the Don Valley Parkway. Getting off Highway 404 at Highway 8, I left the traffic behind and jogged across 8A, to 48, 12N, then 48 again to 35N to Norland where I stopped for a bite at Café Diem, a unique coffee shop that is just on the edge of the Ontario’s Highlands.
Continuing north on Highway 35 toward Minden, I couldn’t resist stopping at the Carving Gallery since they had a giant motorcycle sculpture out front constructed of reclaimed materials called The Motorcycle Mama. Owner and talented craftsman Walter VanderWindt has painstakingly created a fascinating gallery of wood carvings and a mystical playground to entertain the kids if you happened to be travelling in a minivan rather than on two wheels.
The first night was spent just outside of Haliburton in a family-owned and operated resort called the Bonnie View Inn, a lakefront haven that blends traditional charm with modern amenities. The ever-exuberant and hospitable owner Andrea Hagarty started working there as a 19-year-old student and fell in love with the place, returning every summer in between semesters until finally purchasing the place herself and running it with her family. The traditional country resort on Lake Kashagawigamog offers modern lake-view rooms, great food, extremely comfortable beds, a fire pit and a licensed lakeside patio that features live music on weekends, so once the kickstands are down they’ve got everything covered that you could possibly need.</span>
Read more about Touring Ontario’s Highlands at Motorcycle.com.