Ontario, home to Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, and it’s bustling metropolis of Toronto — with it’s famous landmark of the CN Tower — but also home to farm country, forests, national parks — Ontario is as diverse a province as you could hope to find. And what better way to experience one of Canada’s most diverse province than on two wheels?
Here are a few of of the best bike trails in Ontario:
1. The Waterfront Trail and the Greenbelt Route
The best way to explore Ontario on bike would be to cycle the Waterfront trail and the Greenbelt Route. While the Waterfront trail (1200 km and counting) hugs the coastal regions of Ontario covering the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay (including cycling routes in Manitoulin Island), Greenbelt Route rides you through the 480 km of rural back roads of Ontario taking you through unforgettable tastes and stunning beauty . The Waterfront Trail is also a part of Canada’s own multi-trail national network known as the Great Trail (Trans Canada Trail) — which seeks to connect Canadians across the country from coast to coast, to be completely opened by this year end (expected).
2. Goderich to Guelph (G2G) Rail Trail
The Goderich to Guelph trails stems from Goderich on the shores of Lake Huron to Guelph, less than two hours west of Toronto. The trail was built from an old railway, the trail meanders through small townships in western Ontario, with diverse scenery and trail conditions — complete with wooden bridges doubling as lookout points. The trail is well-maintained, and comprised mostly of loose gravel.
3. Elora Cataract Trailway
The Elora Cataract Trailway runs for forty-seven kilometers from Elora, to Grimstone. The trail was born from an old railway, which joined two major watersheds: the Grand River and the Credit River. The trails winds through a variety of environments, from glacial formations to forestry and farmland. Some of the trail’s highlights are the Shand Dam and the Belwood Lake Conservation Area — both providing great spots to stop, rest and take in the scenery. The route is mostly gravel, so better suited for mountain bicycles, or sturdy-tired road bikes.
4. Pelham Route, Niagara Wine Region (Road)
There are three words that most people use to describe the Pelham Route: Rolling Hills and Wine. This 34km stretch meanders through Niagara’s wine country, taking you past luscious vineyards and sprawling fields of wheat and canola. There are some majestic stoppages to be made along the way — one of which, Lookout Point Country Club — will provide you with a fantastic view of Niagara Falls to the east and Toronto’s skyline to the west. There will be lots of climbing, so be sure to bring water, and you’ll be on a roadway for much of the journey, so ride safely.
5. Osgoode Link Pathway
The Osgoode Link Pathway is another of Ontario’s reclaimed railway tracks, repurposed for cycling. The trail is mostly flat, stone-dust surfaced and runs for 47km, cutting across the Ottawa’s countryside — sometimes alongside the Rideau River, sometimes through sprawling fields.
6. Prescott & Russell Recreational Trail
The Prescott and Russell recreational trail is a tour in and of itself of the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, and several municipalities, as it crosses through at least five (of the eight) municipalities in the Ottawa region. Short jaunts at different points will take you to new and interesting places. Such as the golf course off kilometer 17, or the luscious farmland *when headed east* greeting you at kilometer 14. As this is a long-trail, it might be worth taking a long day of riding to complete it, or just doing it in smaller sections. It’s relatively flat, so it’s an easier ride, if a long one.
7. Saugeen Rail Trail
8. Kanata Loop Trail, Ottawa
The Kanata Loop mixes city cycling with the seaside, as you ride through various neighbourhoods around Kanata, as you’ll be mixing with traffic, you should make sure that’s something you’re comfortable with and be very aware of your surroundings. As well as the riding through neighbourhoods, there’s the South March Highlands Conservation Forest, and their unpaved, gravel mountain bike trials — and Sheila McKee Park, as well as the Historic Site at Pinhey Point. Overall, this 35km ride should take you a few hours, assuming you stop to enjoy the view (and you should!)
9. Kingston’s Waterfront Pathway
Part of the Waterfront Trail, Kingston’s Waterfront Pathway provides you with several hours of flat, easy breezy riding with myriad attractions to keep you busy, whether on or off-bike — for example: The Rideau Trail — it’s the longest trail in Eastern Ontario, stretching for 300 kilometers from Kingston to Ottawa — if you’re just passing through, this would be a great trail to take. Off-the-bicycle, you can explore Kingston’s popular Springer Market Square, or the Pump House Steam Museum, or the National Historic Site of Bellevue House, once home to Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald. There are myriad other things to take in as you ride along the shore of Lake Ontario.
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10. The Caledon Trailway
The Caledon Trailway runs for 35 kilometres through the city of Caledon, and is officially a part of the Trans Canada Trail. The surfaces change along the trail, from gravel to dirt and even boardwalk, it is suitable for all levels of experiences and ages, though mountain bikes are the recommended bike-type. The Caledon Trailway runs primarily through woodland and open-water pond areas, with multiple rest stops along the way. An easy, if long, 35 kilometer ride.
11. Circumnavigate Rice Lake
Length: 106 km
You of course can do the Rice Lake Ramble Cycling Route, that is a 74 km route that starts from Cobourg taking you through glorious Northumberland County and offering you a great introduction to the southern shores of Rice Lake, but to enjoy the best of Rice Lake region, go around it! The route will take you through the towns of Bewdley, Hastings, Roseneath, Bailieboro, Gores Landing, Keene and Harwood.
12. Crystal Creek Mountain Bike Trail, Hiawatha Highlands Conservation Area
Located in the Hiawatha Highlands Conservation Area, Crystal Creek Mountain Bike Trail provides a gruelling challenge for even most advanced riders. The Crystal Creek trail meanders through a section of the Hiawatha Highlands famous for it’s changes in elevation, so expect to climb high — but also taking in breathtaking waterfalls and glorious woodland scenery.
13. Escarpment Rail Trail, Hamilton
The Escarpment Rail Trail in the city of Hamilton was developed on the back of an old CN railway line. The Hamilton section of the trail — as it runs from Hamilton to Albion Falls — takes your through King’s Forest on a gravel path, meandering through tall oaks with up to 107m of elevation. Despite the hills, it’s an easy 9km route, getting you away from the city and into the wilderness.
14. Hastings Heritage Trail
The Hastings Heritage Trail is yet another of Ontario’s fantastic rail-trails. It’s a long, 156km slog in a figure-8 loop, along a fairly even gravel surface. Beginning in Tweed, you’ll ride west for about 20 kilometers, where you’ll ride across a bridge, head down the ramp to the trail below, then head north for thirty kilometers to the historic village of Madoc — a further thirty kilometers on Highway 62 will put you in Eldorado. Then, continue the trail West and South to come to the Marmora Mines — a provincial historic site, ⅔ filled with water, allowing you to go for a soak! That, and many more fantastic experiences await you along the Hastings Heritage Route.
15. The Rideau River, Falls & Hall Ride
Ride through the heart of Ottawa and experience the Canadian capital in all of it’s glory from the saddle of your bicycle. This route will see you ride in and out of the city, experiencing the historic Rideau River, Rideau Falls — and Rideau Hall. Beginning at Alexandria Bridge in Mayor’s Hill Park, this route winds throughout the city, down beside the Rideau River and to Rideau Falls, which makes for a beautiful rest stop and picnic spot. It continues and loops around the city, crossing over Green Island and past 24 Sussex — the official residence of the Canadian Prime Minister, before looping around Rockcliffe Park Pavilion — another excellent viewing lookout, and then back down past Rideau Hall, back through Maple and Green Island(s), then down city streets to the Notre Dame Basilica and back to Mayor’s Hill Park.
16. Trent River Truckin’ Cycling Route
Length: 63 km
Cycle across the magnificent Ranney Gorge via the suspension bridge, follow Canada’s engineering marvel Trent-Severn Waterway, as you explore the stunning Northumberland County!
17. Véloroute Voyageur Cycling Route
Length: 380 km
The best way to experience Northeastern Ontario from Ottawa on bike, would be to follow the Voyageur Cycling Route. The 380 km (partly on Highway) route that follows three Canadian Heritage River waterways from Ottawa Valley to Coniston.
A few of the above-mentioned trails do intersect with the road, and some are completely on-road rides, so be sure to keep your wits about you and ride carefully.