A tour around Lake of Bays has always been a delightful exploration of ‘Muskoka’s wilder side.’
Before there were roads surrounding it, steamships plied the blue waters of Lake of Bays delivering tourists and passengers to such exotic destinations as Bigwin Island and Brittannia Hotel, as well as the South Portage dock, where people rode the Portage Flyer steam train into Huntsville.
Steamship routes have since been replaced with 80 km of winding and scenic roads that circle this spectacular water body. Officially known as the Lake of Bays Scenic Drive, the route has become famous for its expansive views and granite rock cuts, as well as the myriad of activities and attractions along the way.
Spring surrounds travellers with brilliant greenery, summer provides deep shades of blue sky and water, autumn brings the vibrant, fiery display of fall colours and winter shrouds the route in a soft blanket of white. Regardless of the time of year, the drive is guaranteed to inspire you to return year after year.
Much To See & Do
The Lake of Bays Scenic Drive will take you through the villages of Dwight, Dorset and Baysville, each with their own unique sites and attractions. While in Dwight, stop at Henrietta’s Pine Bakery or Erika’s Bakery and enjoy butter tarts, pastries and other sweet treats. Head to the water for a picnic and a swim at the nearby Dwight Beach, one of Muskoka’s most beautiful public swim and picnic areas. The Dwight Farmers’ Market takes place Tuesdays from June 26 to August 28. While visiting, take time to explore the Oxtongue Craft Cabin and Gallery or Loops Art & Craft Gallery to find that one-of-a-kind piece of art for your mantle.
Next, follow the twists and undulations that have made this route a motorcycle favourite to the village of Dorset. Voted “Canada’s best general store,” Robinson’s General Store boasts over 14,000 square feet of shopping delight, with everything from gifts and souvenirs (their moccasins are a local speciality) to housewares, clothing and groceries. Cruise aboard the fully restored steamship the SS Bigwin, the last remaining ship from the original fleet that was on the lake. The boat offers regularly scheduled public cruises from the dock in Dorset, as well as private cruises and special events. Enjoy ice cream at the dock, or eat at one of the waterfront patios before continuing on your tour.
Enjoy big lake vistas as you follow the southern shore to the village of Baysville. If you are a fan of craft beer, be sure to take a tour of the Lake of Bays Brewing Company and sample their selection of year-round and speciality brews. Feeling hungry after those samples? Grab a bite to eat at Cast Iron Restuarant. Baysville also hosts its Farmers’ Market Fridays from June 29 to August 31. For delicious baked goods and homemade pizza, be sure to visit the Humble Pie Butter Tart Factory and Pizzeria. And folks with a taste for delicious things should also visit the Yummies In A Jar store (where the John Murden Gallery is also on site).
The Lake of Bays Scenic Route showcases several spots outdoor adventurers should check out, no matter what your level of fitness.
Located just outside of Dwight, the Limberlost Forest and Wilderness Reserve contains 20 private lakes and over 70 km of trails for hiking, biking, skiing and snowshoeing that are open to the public. The Reserve hosts the annual Limberlost Challenge trail running race July 7, with 14, 28 and 56 km distances.
Hike up the Dorset Lookout Tower for the most spectacular view of Lake of Bays. A three-season jewel, during the fall the reds, yellows and oranges of the leaves will take your breath away.
Circle Lake of Bays from the saddle of your bike this May 26th in the annual Spin the Lakes cycle tour. With routes ranging from 20 km to 165 km, Spin the Lakes is perhaps the most gruelling but rewarding way to experience the Lake of Bays Scenic Route.
If golf is your passion, be sure to book a round at Bigwin Island. You will be shuttled by ferry to the site of the historic Bigwin Inn to play the championship 18-hole course that drapes over the island’s rugged landscape.
SPECIAL EVENTS AROUND LAKE OF BAYS
SS Bigwin Canada 150 Community Barbeque – June 9
SS Father’s Day Beer Tasting Cruise – June 16
Baysville Walkabout Festival – July 28
Baysville Arts and Crafts Festival – August 11-12
Artists of the Limberlost Open Studio Weekend – August 18-19
Lake of Bays Antique and Classic Boat & Car Show – August 19
The Lake of Bays Scenic Drive has stunning views, quaint villages with shops and eateries, and a multitude of events and attractions. Whichever season you travel Around Lake of Bays, you will be delighted and amazed by the unique offerings in this part of Muskoka.