The Land of Sand: The Turkey Point, Ontario MTB Trails

Photo: Rob Luke

If you drive through Norfolk County in Ontario, you’ll notice two things: its very flat and there is sand everywhere. The trails of the Turkey Point area reflect this fact.

The longest downhill run is only about a 20-meter descent, and the trails are always dry. The area is mostly known for farm land, growing tobacco and ginseng, but riders from all over Southern Ontario flock to Turkey Point early in the spring and in the late fall to take advantage of the well-draining soil when most other trails in the province are wet and sloppy.

With nearly 90km (56-miles) of trails, the route possibilities are endless. The terrain is mostly flat, with some short punchy climbs on the more intermediate- to advanced-level trails, which take advantage of the small bits of rolling terrain hidden away in the forest. While most trails here are relatively tame in a technical sense, with easy log-overs and only a couple of hand-made rock gardens, there are a few to challenge the advanced rider.

Trails like Jimmy’s Joker and Howie Down will get the adrenaline pumping, even if only for a short distance, but what you can expect for the most part are twisty cross-country flow trails passing through pine plantations and Carolinian forest.

Many have described these as some of the best flow-trails in the province. The trails are nearly always dry because of the sand-based soil that is so prevalent in the county. The rain usually makes traction better here and keeps the dust down. The only exception to this is some areas of the west side, which have more clay content in the soil and need a few hours or days to dry after a rain, depending on the season.

With five separate parking areas, you can start your loop from nearly anywhere in the trail system. The main trailhead is located at Long Point Eco Adventures on Front Road. It has a bike wash station, an outhouse, and a communal fire pit and seating area. Just look for the old tobacco farm water tower with the club insignia on it.

For an easier ride, head into the trails on the Provincial Park property and enjoy Saudwinder, The Burn, Dizzy Lizzy, and Spinal Tap. If you are after more of a challenge you can start from the Old Dump parking lot and head into the trails on the Norfolk County property as well as the Anderson Tract, riding trails such as High Mile, Summit, Methane, Motörhead, and Fox-On-The-Run.

Photo: Rob Luke

The route possibilities are endless and I highly recommend getting in touch with the local club or booking a guide if it’s your first time here. Trail signage is good, but it’s a large area and can be easy to get lost. Elevation Camp and Coaching offers guided tours as well as rentals in the area.

The network of trails here is built and maintained through the efforts of the Turkey Point Mountain Bike Club (TPMBC). Established in 2011 with 52 members, it has since grown to over 575 members. TPMBC was the first mountain bike club in Ontario to establish a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a Provincial Park in respect to use and maintenance of trails on Provincial Park land.

The club currently has MOUs with eight different property owners in the area, contributing to the vast network of trails. Trail building and maintenance is handled by an active group of dedicated members, hosting various build and maintenance days throughout the year. Over the last decade, the club has spent a considerable amount of money on specialized trail maintenance equipment, as well as a grooming machine to make winter fat-biking possible.

The system is open year-round, with only a few trails having seasonal exceptions due to hunting or group camps. These closures are listed on the club website. The club also hosts two group rides per week for members on Tuesday evenings and Sunday mornings, as well as a ladies-only mountain bike group called Ladies On Single Track (L.O.S.T.) The LOST girls even built their own trail in 2011, named Hot Flash.

In 2019, the club started a children’s mountain bike team called the Turkey Point Little Rippers. The club also hosts two events each year, the Spring Kicker demo event, and the Fall Ripper mountain bike festival which features local food and live music as well as group rides throughout the day for all skill levels. More information about the Turkey Point Mountain Bike Club can be found on their website.

If you’ve never been to Turkey Point, I highly recommend making the trip. The flowing singletrack that continues for miles and sandy soil never disappoints. It is truly the perfect place to escape for a ride of any length, followed by lunch and a swim at the beach. For adventurous types, the local camping options that are directly on the trails would make for an epic weekend experience.

Photo: Eric Ratch

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