First Impressions: Geoff Gulevich Rides Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Sep 15, 2022
by Tory Powers  

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: SAULT STE. MARIE
Words: Tory Powers // Video: Geoff Gulevich // Photo: Tory Powers
Riders: Geoff Gulevich, Jan Roubal, Joel Wenham, Lucas Watson, Kyle Slater, Thomas Leindecker

With overwhelmingly popular riding destinations on the west coast of Canada, it certainly does leave you wondering about the rest of this massive country. When the opportunity came about of traveling to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, for mountain biking with Geoff Gulevich, I was definitely intrigued. “We aren’t going to the west coast?” I thought. However, I’ve spent my fair share of time in the midwest of the states and I can tell you that there are definitely some gems for cycling. A lot of people assume that you need massive elevation for unbeatable days on the bike, however, I’d say they just haven’t been to the right places.

Sault Ste. Marie (pronounced like Sue, not Salt) is a small town that’s nestled right between Lake Huron and Lake Superior, a must-see for the area. An old mill town, Sault Ste. Marie is quickly establishing itself as a destination for cyclists, especially mountain bikers.

The boys checking out the view from Farmer Lake at Hiawatha.

Our short trip consisted of checking out two riding zones, Hiawatha Highlands/Kinsmen Park, Bellevue Valley, the local shuttle spot, plus one cold plunge at Bathtub Island in Lake Superior, and more than one world famous apple fritter from The Voyageur’s Lodge.

C'mon, look at the smile on this man's face.


First, we went to Hiawatha to get the proper warmup needed for Bellevue. Hiawatha is a 22 mile (35km) network with 40 different trails.


Perfect for a short travel bike or even e-bike, Hiawatha is whatever you want to make it. They’ve done an amazing job at building a diverse trail system, with everything from flow trails to technical descents, and everything in between.

Jan following Geoff through some flowy fast berms.

You can definitely find the elevation here between the short, punchy ascents and traversing nature of the terrain. I could absolutely see riding here every day and finding some new loop to check out. Some of my favorite trails were definitely Farmer Lake, which is due for expansion soon, Happy Hour, which was a fast flow trail with some decent sized jumps, and Berm Baby Berm, a nice chill flow trail with-you guessed it, berms.

Jan navigating the technical terrain in a natural canyon.

Jan's face says it all.



Views of Lake Huron await your arrival to the top point of Hiawatha, right before dropping into the Altar, a rooty, quick and technical descent that leads right into Happy Hour for a few pre-built trail-side hits like the one above.

Something that’s an added bonus of this area is that during the winter a lot of it is groomed for fat biking and skiing, so you can enjoy year-round shredding!

Up next, we had a few local builders show us their spot that has been getting a lot of attention as of late- Bellevue Valley. After our first day, we really had no idea what to expect. Hiawatha is full of relatively approachable trails for most riders that are heavily machine built, but this is where we really saw the more advanced riding come into play. The crew here has been hard at work hand building for over five years in this zone, one of the biggest descents in all of Ontario, upwards of 750ft (228m) that is fully shuttleable.

The shuttle vehicles are a bit cooler up in Ontario.

I’m not kidding when I saw Geoff look like a kid in a candy store checking out these trails. While being a small area, they had some really unique riding. We checked out Bee Sting and Hammerstone primarily, with a bit of time on Ron Burgundy and Jump Line. Bee Sting and Hammerstone were the most approachable trails by far, being a more cruising, mildly technical type of riding.

Geoff catching the perfect light on Bee Sting.

Lucas cruising through a fast section on Bee Sting.

Hammerstone was probably my favorite section- it’s a trail utilizing the surprising massive rock slab on top of this hill. Purely natural, this zone was a lot of fun.


Kyle Slater dropping in to one of the more technical features on Hammerstone.
Geoff finding natural doubles in the terrain.

Up next we checked out Ron Burgundy as well, home of “House Rock,” an amazing house-sized boulder sitting all by itself. It would be rude not to build an on-off here, right?

Kyle, Geoff, and Lucas spacing out the perfect train on House Rock.

Lastly, in Geoff’s POV video you can see them checking out Jump Line, a North Shore inspired trail with genuinely large doubles and terrifying skinnies. Definitely know what you’re getting into and check this one out before you ride it.

We had the pleasure of working alongside tourism director, Travis Anderson, who supplied some additional information on the area and its upcoming growth:

bigquotes“Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is investing in the expansion of the mountain bike trail network. The current system has approximately 35 km of single track, but with the expansion we are hoping to increase the network to ~60km of new modern flow trails, including a new enduro section and a new backcountry trail that will connect to three backcountry lakes; Farmer, Crystal and Mabel.

In 2021, phase one of the expansion was constructed with a new 7 km out and back to Farmer Lake, the development of two new enduro trails and approximately 5 km of new flow/jump trails. Phase two of the expansion will continue in 2023, with the continuation of the Farmer Lake trail to Crystal Lake. Phase two of Farmer Lake will see the out and back trail increases from 7 to 20 km. In addition to Farmer Lake, a three to four kilometer extension will be added to the new flow trails and two more enduro trails will be added.”
Travis Anderson

I honestly could not believe this level of mountain biking could be found in Ontario. Like a lot of us, my vacations tend to revolve around cycling and I can tell you Ontario was never even considered. With the introduction of Sault Ste. Marie, I love to be proven wrong on my take on where cycling “should” be good. I’ve been learning that so long as there is a strong community that’s invested in improving the cycling in the area, combined with today’s trail knowledge and technology, you can make some truly world class cycling in places like Sault Ste. Marie. It’s definitely worth a trip.






42 Comments

  • 26 1
 Uh oh! The Soo just got bigger font on the map.

I lived in the Sault for 6 years and now in Squamish for 5 years.

Exposing myself to the style of riding and trail in Squamish has only increased my interest in the mountain biking potential of the Sault. This place has been a long-standing Bike town.

The XC trails are world class, and in short time it seems the flow, downhill and jumping trails will be too.

There’s 200-400 meter rounded mountains everywhere, wonderful soil with roots and rock, and a low-key high quality ski resort that would be smart to start adapting MTB into their program.

The mixed-deciduous hardwood forests of the Algoma highland hills are calling.
  • 2 0
 We have different definitions of the soo . Haha . At first I was like wtf the soo valley in whistler?
  • 6 0
 I've spent an incredible amount of my time between goulais and Haviland bay throughout my life, and always thought those hills had crazy potential. 8 years ago I moved to Kamloops and still feel the same whenever I visit. Pretty wild to see Bellevue and Hiawatha on the front page though!

Shame that the season is so short though - some years the snow isn't out of the bush until a good way through May :I
  • 2 0
 It would be cool if Searchmont could eventually be brought on board. I think historically there were trails there, I seem to recall some mention of a bus feature.
  • 1 0
 @j-t-g: Searchmont had lots of trails back in the late 90’s and briefly had some lift access. We used to ride it a bunch.
  • 2 0
 @j-t-g: one word - fatbike... you get 365 days of riding Big Grin
  • 14 1
 Looks really similar to Copper Habor, I might have to make a trip up there instead next summer. Surprised I've never heard about this. Thought I knew all the midwest MTB locations.
  • 10 1
 Everywhere is a MTB location. That's why we ride MTBs
  • 2 0
 The Soo has had great riding for years but only had real development dollars spent in the last couple years which is why you’re just hearing about it. If you link the Soo with Copper Harbour and Marquette you’d have a week of biking well spent.
  • 4 0
 Same here, man! Hopefully I can sort out a Duluth--Copper Harbor--Marquette--Sault trip next summer.
  • 12 0
 “Smart as trees in Sault St Marie” - The Tragically Hip
  • 7 0
 Just got back from riding in Marquette, Michigan, and I'm thinking of checking out these trails the next time I head north of the Mackinaw Bridge, as this riding area is about 2 hours closer for me (metro detroit). Looks like there is even a few campgrounds in the general area of Hiawatha - thanks for showcasing this trail system I knew nothing about prior.
  • 7 0
 Clicked on the see more Jeep……….disappointed.
  • 2 0
 me too. is he sitting on the gas tank?
  • 2 0
 That’s Jan’s jeep. He owns the best bike shop in town and it’s frequently there.
  • 7 0
 That House Rock feature is dope!
  • 7 0
 I can see his Willies!
  • 2 0
 I had the pleasure of meeting Jan at their shop last weekend just outside the trailhead. Awesome guy and he's got a great crew over there. We didn't hit the trails as my friend and I were passing through while in the middle of a big road-bike trip, but I'm stoked to get back there to ride dirt someday!
  • 2 0
 Was up there this summer for Crank the Shield and have rode there last summer too. It is a great place to ride and a really fun town. Can't believe you didn't mention the awesome LBS Velorution and the local micro brew - Outspoken. Both worth a stop!
  • 2 0
 He talks about Velorution from 1:41-1:55
  • 1 0
 Sault Ste Marie is such a great place. When you travel across the country, seeing Sault Ste Marie is such a cool feeling, because finally a city after numerous km of woods and just before doing another bunch a km in the forest
  • 1 0
 Growing up in nearby Sudbury always made me think mountain biking should have been called dirt biking, but I guess that was already taken. Having been out west for almost a decade, those northern Ontario rocks still teach me humility every time I visit home.
  • 3 2
 Lived in the Sault for 33 years, Mountain biking, Motocross, and Skiing are all the best in Ontario. The crack head population is also the best in Ontario and one of the reasons I moved. If they can take care of the drug problem I would happily move back there for sure!
  • 3 1
 Miss that Ontario soil and the diverse forests, just not the lack of elevation. Been in the dust-bowl Okanagan for 21 years now though...
  • 1 0
 Going to have to show this to my city councilors, MTB can be a real boost to local business and tourism in general, and the Soo gets it, clearly.
  • 3 0
 Bellevue wooooo!! The Team
  • 1 0
 Wooooo!
  • 2 0
 Soosaintmareeee sweeeeet!
  • 2 0
 Gully certainly throws some awesome shapes on a bike.
  • 1 0
 Wow this is sweet I was just there at Searchmont/Bellevue riding the trails.
  • 1 0
 The salt lol, I’m from or was from Elliot lake so
It’s pretty close it was. I’m intrigued
  • 1 0
 What knee pads is he wearing? RF what?
  • 1 0
 Legends always get my clicks.
  • 3 2
 dude in the tie-dye needs to be at the Back of the train...
  • 2 0
 That on-off is sweet!
  • 2 0
 Go greyhounds!
  • 1 0
 Seachmont O cup was legit AF.
  • 5 7
 Ugh, was the ebike reference really necessary?

There's not enough vertical in Ontario for an ebike unless you're a 65 yo grandma with COPD.

Nice riding otherwise.
  • 1 0
 Geez ugh
  • 1 3
 Salt





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