I just got back from a week long trip in the Ear Falls area of Ontario, Canada. This is aboot 6 hours north of International Falls (the border). This was supposed to be a fishing trip, and we were traveling in the car, but just recently I bought an XR650L, so I made a last minute change to the truck with the bike in the back.
I never actually found any organized "atv" or "off road" trails. I did, however, do much exporing of the area and found many logging trails and other fun areas.
Often a major road turns off into a narrower road, then I would spot a trail with no rock bed, and next thing I knew I was ducking fallen trees and walking beside the bike to help it through really rough stuff. Saw many moose tracks, but never saw a moose.
A few of the trails were really great, perfectly smooth with a carpet of pine needles. The air was, of course, pine fresh (even better than the tree shaped air fresheners from Auto Zone!).
Many of the more major gravel roads were pretty loose. They have gravel pits seemingly every 3 miles there, so of course they don't skimp on gravel on the roads. The XR handled this just fine, even at speeds of 80+mph, but it still made me a bit nervous.
Asking around (talking with the locals) and looking around, I got the impression that as long as you act responsibly, "trespassing" isn't nearly as much of an issue there. A few times I saw signs indicating "private drive" and I turned around, otherwise most of the logging roads and fire trails are apparently fair game.
I brought the XR because it's legal, I now realize I would have been just fine with the CR (with a 1 tooth bigger front sprocket) except for the fact that I don't have a spark arrestor for it. I ran the stock setup with the baffle in on the XR, which really kept the peace with the folks at the fishing camp. I did a lot of coming and going due to everyone wanting rides (I have 3 nephews that were there).
There was a large sand pit right across the road from camp. The big hills that would have been childs play on my CR250 were impossible on the heavy XR with street oriented tires. As a compromise, I went down some really big, steep hills, which was white knuckle but uneventful. Lots of rocks to watch out for.
The soil was very rocky and sandy. If it rains at night, you are good to go the next day dirt-wise other than a few puddles.
Wildlife? The ant hills are really large compared to Iowa...try 6' diameter and several feet tall. These were made by rather ordinary looking black ants.
Fishing was great, Walleye and Northern Pike, so good that it was hard to find someone in the boat to help with the net...many times they were busy catching their own fish! My nephew caught a 34" Northern 1/2 hour after we started fishing, that was pretty big by my standards. This was on a really light rig without a steel leader!
Eagles, bears, ducks, beavers, ravens, loons, and weird looking bugs we don't have here.
Got a lot of comments on the bike from others in camp, "my brother has a harley but I want to get one of these instead", "I ride a CR125...isn't that thing heavy?", "do they also make an 800?"
Would I do it again? Yes, but the down side of the trip was that I couldn't really do any aggressive riding because I was alone.
1. someone to ride with
2. a gps... it's big up there!
3. a forest friendly but better breathing exhaust
4. bring along my CR to tear it up at the sand pits
5. pull off and unload on the way up and on the way home at a few interesting looking places...I spotted several "riding areas" from the road on the way home with jumps and hills!