Horseback riding in Simcoe County

We often get the question “Where can I ride my horse in Simcoe County?” So, we asked Carole McIsaac, member of the Ontario Equestrian Federation and of the board of directors of Simcoe County Trails.

She told us that, in fact, there are lots of opportunities. Here are some suggestions:

–   County Forest tracks near OrrLake, Lafontaine, etc. A lot of the larger County Forest tracts have some super trails and are easy footing for riding.

–   Some of the lower County Forest Tracts have good hill work (especially the ones on Airport Road near the Dufferin County Forest).

–   Copeland Forest during the summer months (we are working on a winter route!). Park in the parking lot on Ingram Road, just to the east of the 4th Line of Oro Medonte.

Horseback riders may encounter other users, but most are polite and share the trails positively. Carole also commented: “I haven’t had a bad riding experience in any of the Simcoe County Forest Tracts whether motorized trail users were allowed in the forest tract, or not.  Most of the motorized users are very respectful of other users.”

Note, there currently is no official trail map of the Copeland Forest. As for the County Forests, you can find aerial photos and topo maps of the Simcoe County Forest tracts on Turn on the “Forestry and Recreation“ Theme. In the Topo view, you can see green dotted lines, which are the forest tracts.

Note: you would be well advised to take a GPS with you, as there are no wayfinding signs in the forests.

Mountain bike permit required on SCMBC trails

SCMBC Trail Access – Identity Sign

In response to requests from the mountain bike community, the Simcoe County Mountain Bike Club would like to explain the reasoning behind making the difficult decision to move from voluntary permits and explore the concept of Permit Required.

Our club is blessed to work with a progressive landowner who is a leader in Ontario in allowing recreational activities on their land. Our primary landowner, the County of Simcoe, owns 135 tracts of land totaling over 32 000 acres throughout a County area of approximately 10 000 km2. This is an enormous area upon which we have the opportunity to build MTB single-track. The County of Simcoe has established land use agreements with other user groups and currently has 17 agreements in place. In many of those user agreements there must be mandatory membership in place in order to use the forest properties and/or designated trails. SCMBC feels mountain bikers should not be exempt from this requirement.
Prior to making and protecting designated trails, the first and main stipulation from the County of Simcoe was that we provide them with Third Party Liability Insurance covering our signed land use agreement areas and designated trails. If the County did not have this stipulation, there would be no need for the existence of our club and land use agreements in general.
SCMBC believes in the user pay concept, as do the local tourism and recreational managers. Paying a $40 SCMBC permit is not viewed as an unfair request of users when most riders are on bikes worth thousands of dollars.
Insurance, as well as trail building and maintenance tools are expensive. These costs should be borne by the people who use these trails. The Club believes it is unfair to ask non-trail users (for example, the tax payer in the case of public money like grants) to pay for our passion.
With the permits and land use agreements come the benefit of trail protection as the system is designated for mountain bike use. Other users groups such as hikers, snowshoers, cross country skiers and birdwatchers may use the trails with the condition that they do not cause damage.
All cyclists may continue to use the forest fire roads in all of the County tracts as currently permitted in the County’s recreational policy. However, if they choose to use the signed, maintained and designated mountain bike trails our intent is that they must have a permit. It is the only way for us to ensure the protection of the landowner.
In return for your permit, “our give” is a well-maintained trail network and new single-track construction. Is there a mountain biker that does not want more of that?
It should be noted that the first LEGAL mountain bike trail build in the County of Simcoe occurred this year with a 5 km loop on the Mountain. This immediately followed the establishment of a land use agreement with the County. We are currently cutting another 5 km of legal single-track in a forest tract that has no other users and we are flagging a further 10 km loop in another new tract.  In addition to working with the County of Simcoe, we are negotiating land use agreements with private property landowners to gain access to their land. These agreements will provide the much needed linkages between County Forest tracts. Indeed, we recently signed an agreement with a local gravel quarry for a strip of land along the edge of their pit to reconnect the single-track in 8th line trails. Prior to the establishment of the club and the ability to provide third party liability insurance certificates to landowners this agreement would have been impossible to obtain.
SCMBC Day Pass
We have had many positive responses from the mountain bike community and from our membership in relation to the concept of permit required. We have been asked a few times to provide a day pass option. In short, we do not have a means to do this. All of the day pass options we have investigated involve a significant administrative burden which we will never have the volunteers, or the ability to cover the cost to administer properly. We have looked at several options and the end result in every case is that they cost more to administer than they collect thus taking money away from the most important thing, single-track trails. It should also be noted that no other user group within the County of Simcoe has mastered a cost effective method of providing a day pass option.
SCMBC single-tracks will be spread over one of the largest County’s in southern Ontario. There will be over 25 and counting trailheads/parking lots so the maintenance of money drop boxes, day pass purchase locations and administration of the whole program is very difficult.  We have had communication with other clubs that offer electronic day pass options and been told that they have not worked as expected.
The simplest, most cost effective way for you to support the trails is to purchase a $40 club membership online with your credit card.
We have had many complaints that we are being exclusive for not offering a cheaper way for visitors or one-day use people to ride our work.  If we could, we would.  It really is as simple as that.
We have also received a lot of criticism from people who just want to see the trail system before deciding if there is value in membership for them. So, for the once only crowd we say, “Take a Mulligan”.
Definition: A mulligan, most simply put, is a “do-over.” Hit a bad shot? Take a mulligan and replay that stroke.  Or in this case enjoy a ride on SCMBC. So as you’ve probably guessed, a mulligan is never “legal” under the Rules of Golf. Mulligans are most often employed during friendly rounds by golf buddies; or during charity or play day tournaments where mulligans are sometimes sold.
This mulligan option will not and can not apply to the private property land use agreements as there is no cost effective way to provide third party liability insurance to the landowners to protect them from litigation by unregistered riders. As a result that land must be marked “No Trespassing unless you are a member of the SCMBC”.  This is the only way we can protect the people who have opened up their land for our use.  Trespassers cannot be tolerated on these lands as they will jeopardize the agreements.
Please enjoy our work and if you like it enough to want to enjoy it more then please purchase a SCMBC membership.  It is good for 365 days and cheaper than one day of golf, one ski pass, one race, one case of your favourite micro-brew…….
Thank you for taking the time to read this and we hope it has provided the information needed to clarify the current situation we face in Simcoe County to the Mountain Bike Community.
Happy biking!!!
Simcoe County Mountain Bike Club (SCMBC)

Georgian Bay Snowriders OFSC trail now open!!

Wow!   Great News!!   The Trails are OPEN!!!
The  Georgian Bay  Snowriders have been working hard, over 160 hours of grooming time spent in the last week preparing trails.  And now they are ready for you to  enjoy.
But please ride with caution and be safe throughout the Christmas holiday.
Please respect our landowners by staying on the marked trail.

Volunteers are required!!

We have two great events coming up in early February.
Midland Winterfest – Puddlejumps on February 1st. 
Call Pat Murray  (705) 529-3307 to volunteer and to register.

Snowmobile Ride for Dad on February 8th.
Go to to register and call Mike Lauder (705) 220-0422 to volunteer
Please mark your calendars, these events you don’t want to miss.

The GBSR Volunteers Group make a great community!

For up to date status of other OFSC snowmobile trails, check the interactive OFSC website

Time to get the snowshoes and skis out!

Heavy snow in Midland

It’s been snowing non-stop since Tuesday night, and snowsqualls are expected to continue until Friday… But don’t let that stop you from going outdoors. Follow the example of the above Midland Ganaraska Hiking Club hikers, who were out today and enjoyed a brisk snowshoe walk.

So get your skis and snowshoes out and get out there!!

Note: OFSC snowmobile trails are not open as yet. Check the interactive OFSC website for trail status.

What’s up with the Fat Bikes?

The newest and greatest fad for trail use? I have heard avid cyclists say that it’s a “must have”, so they can continue cycling all through our winters.

Check this out benefits of riding a Fat Bike in the winter:

Even Horseshoe Resort is providing an opportunity to check out fat bikes as they celebrate Global Fat Bike Day this Saturday December 7th by offering no charge trail passes and Fat Bike demo rides to all those who want to experience winter cycling! Joining them will be Norco Bicycles, Muskoka Outfitters and Total Sport Midland; purveyors of all things Fat Bike. Also on hand will be the Ride Guides and Horseshoe Guides to answer any questions about riding in the winter. Come experience a groomed test track right on the base of the hill and a selection of trails to test your skills.

See you on the trails!

ATVers: please take note of where to ride legally

A local snowmobile club is experiencing problems in the Stroud area, due to unauthorized ATV use on private land.


ATVers should be aware of where to ride legally. A good place to find out is the Ontario Federation of All Terrain Vehicles organization, or the local Central Ontario ATV Club at or the Baxter/Severn ATV Trail Riders

Hunting season is upon us!!

Hunting is one of the many activities enjoyed in the forest and is considered a very safe recreational activity in Ontario. Both hunters and non-hunters need to do their part to respect the privileges of other users and keep the outdoors enjoyable for everyone.

Most fall hunting takes place between early September and mid December.  You can find detailed information on the Ministry of Natural Resources website:

To find out specific dates, you need to know that Simcoe County is for the most part in Wildlife Management Areas 76A to 76E,  WMU 77A to 77C as well as WMU 81B.

In Simcoe County, the controlled deer hunt season, which seems to attract the most hunters, is November 4 to 8, and December 2 to 6, 2013.

Be Safe Be Seen is a safety campaign to create awareness amongst trail users. For more information, go to

Particularly in the fall, trail users may want to be seen and be safe.


At a minimum, wear bright colours!

  • wear bright orange (hat, vest, scarf, bandana, helmet cover) instead of beige, brown, white orblack clothing.
  • During turkey season (late spring) avoid wearing red, white, blue or black.
  • Cover your backpack with orange.
  • Put brightly coloured markers on horses, dogs & other pets. (Make or buy an orange rump sheet for your horse. Put an orange bandana on your pet).

Do your part to share the woods safely and respect each other and the land we share.

Trail accessibility assessment at Schooner Town Loop Trail

Trail Crew with HETAP cart

Today, the Simcoe County Trails “trail crew” did a trails assessment on the Schooner Town Loop Trail in Wasaga Beach. The assessment consists of taking precise measurements of a trail, with respect to distance, trail width, surface type, grade, cross slope, obstructions, and GPS coordinates. They use a HETAP instrumentation cart to do so.

HETAP stands for High Efficiency Trail Assessment Process and is the automated “successor” to the UTAP (Universal Trails Assessment Process).

Measuring the trail width

In the process, the trail crew will also record and photograph features along the way, such as interpretive signs, obstructions, trail furniture, etc.

Recording of a trail feature… the Harold Culham Memorial

The Simcoe County Trails crew members are enjoying their jobs, as they get to explore new trails, and be outdoors.  Here is a view they were excited to “Instagram” about: the 3000 year old sand dunes along the Nottawasaga River. These dunes are constantly in motion due to wind activity and are getting higher every year. Bank swallows nest in the sand banks. It was a rather hard push to get the HETAP cart through the soft sand.

Sand dunes along the Nottawasaga River

For more information on the HETAP process, and how we can assess your trail for accessibility, contact us at

Copeland Forest… in the fall

We are just amateurs, but recently discoverd mountain biking… What a great way to see and enjoy our local landscapes. One great place to visit is the Copeland Forest.

Stopping to take a picture of the gorgeous fall colours

The Copeland forest, located in Central Ontario close to Barrie and Horseshoe Valley Resort, is one of the loveliest forests in southern Ontario and is comprised of 4,400 acres. It is full of lush undergrowth, towering old pines, unusual wildflowers and ferns, and hectares of maples, oaks, beeches, birches and evergreens.  Depending on the time of year, you may glimpse interesting wildlife like wild turkey, kingfisher, wood ducks and red-winged blackbirds.  The forest is home to more than a dozen species of sedges and numerous wildflowers.  There are natural views of a duck pond, beaver lodge and the Coldwater River.

Wetland along the 3rd line

The forest offers a variety of trails, some are very easy and others are way too technical for the beginner mountainbiker. None of the trails are marked, so you will need a very good sense of orientation, or a good GPS.

Single track trail in the Copeland Forest

Hikers can follow the white blazes of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail, which winds through the Copeland Forest on the Ganaraska Trail’s 600 km route from Port Hope on Lake Ontario to Glen Huron, near Georgian Bay.

For more information on the Copeland Forest, check

Fore more information on the Ganaraska Hiking Trail, check

For more mountain biking information, check the website of  the Simcoe County Mountain Bike Club at