Find Silent Lake Provincial Park on your way to Bancroft this summer. While we were camping there, I headed out one morning with my son, Trevor, to take on the XC track / summer bike trail that circles the lake.
We started at the post marked with an A on the day-use beach area at Silent Lake. The bike trail, which runs north behind the campgrounds, provides an enjoyable, fast XC mountain bike ride along a winding route.
Watch for tall grasses that can hide branches, roots, rocks, and mud that you need to take on. The successive hills in the first 50 m climb lead to the highest point on the loop.
I have Nordic skied these routes a few times in my life, but had never been here in the summer. I must admit that I didn’t remember the climbs being that enduring when I was on my skis.
At Post D, the trail widens out to a full doubletrack ski path. Once you cross Bonnie’s Pond hiking loop twice, this 17 km loop forks. This makes for an 11 km smaller loop or a shortcut back. (have a look at the map)
Trevor and I managed to do the yellow loop as far as the ski hut at Post F before the hills, high humidity, heat (32C), and deer flies had him. (One has to listen to other riders for when to bail. It is not always your turn to call it quits.)
Oh well, I was not sure we could make it around the back side of the lake—another 12 km of riding—anyway. It had rained hard two days before and rangers at the office did mention something about mystery swampy sections.
Certainly, the full loop is a route less travelled. It looked more overgrown but doable. I would rate this cross-country style MTB ride as an Intermediate to Advanced trek. It is a wild, forested area that challenges those looking to cover some terrain and test their endurance. Just be sure you can commit to finishing the loop before you head in too far.
Most of the ride is in the shaded woods with a few glimpses of marshes and ponds. Be sure you tell someone when you leave and pack everything you need. Cell signals are weak in here; GPS will be fine. You’re not likely to get lost, as the route has enough signposts and “you are here” maps to sort it out.
As mentioned, on our mid-July ride, the deer flies were out to greet us. Pack some Deet spray and keep moving. By August, when it cools down, there will be fewer of them.
Also, I highly recommend camping here. It is terrific! With large sites, good showers, and a quiet lake, it takes you away from the city madness. You can also rent cabins and yurts with your ridin’ buddies and make it a memorable weekend.
This new ride review is not yet published in my book. But 55 other great MTB destinations are with better topo maps and tons of riding tips. Available as an eBook or paperback.