Dodgeville

Random Wanderings and Wonderings

Posts tagged: rail trail

Lindsay to Bethany rail trail

By , September 18, 2013
A wetland view from the Lindsay to Bethany rail trail.

A wetland view from the Lindsay to Bethany rail trail.

Continuing my exploration of the many rail trails in the Greater East Dodgeville Area, I rode the Lindsay-Bethany trail last month. The trail runs southeast from Lindsay to Bethany and is the southernmost section of the Victoria Rail Trail, which runs all the way up to Haliburton. Like most trails in the area, the surface is highly variable, sometimes changing between loose gravel, sand, mud, grass, and crushed gravel all in the course of a few hundred metres. At the very southern end past Bethany, a portion of the trail has perfectly spaced and sized depressions; it feels like riding a mini pump track and is way more fun than you’d expect riding on a straight rail trail would be. Most of the trail is hard-packed double track that’s easy enough to ride on, but you do have to be ready for the occasional potholes and surface changes that come with a trail that isn’t quite up to Trans Canada Trail standards like the Omemee and Hastings trails are. I seem to say this of a lot of trails, but I wouldn’t recommend it for hybrids or road bikes. It’s quite acceptable on a decent mountain bike, with or without front suspension. Of all the trails I’ve been on recently, it’s also the most heavily used by ATVs: I encountered close to a dozen of them in the first few kilometres riding out of Lindsay on a sunny Sunday afternoon, though there were none on the last half of the trail to Bethany.

You always know where you are on the Lindsay-Bethany trail

You always know where you are on the Lindsay-Bethany trail

One thing does set the Bethany trail apart from all of the other trails I’ve been on recently: it feels very isolated. While most other trails pass behind backyards and farm fields, the Bethany trail spends a lot of time skirting large wetlands and valley forests while the Pigeon River and Fleetwood Creek meander back and forth with no farm fields or houses anywhere in sight. Even road crossings become rare on the southern half of the trail, making the whole experience feel more wild and natural than other trails, even knowing that the farms and quarries are still there, just a little out of sight.

Another rare sight is clearly visible at every intersection where the trail crosses a road: signs! No, not the stop signs, but honest-to-goodness street signs. It’s the first trail I’ve been on where every intersection is marked so that you don’t have to guess which road you’re crossing. It’s a wonder that more trails don’t have this simple nod to the fact that people may want to know where they are.

Read on for the ride gallery.

Continue reading 'Lindsay to Bethany rail trail'»

Peterborough to Hastings rail trail II: New and improved

By , July 28, 2013
The Lang-Hastings Rail Trail before and after its makeover.

The Lang-Hastings Rail Trail before and after its makeover.

What a difference a year makes! I first cycled the Peterborough to Hastings rail trail last August, saying at the time that the trail was “challenging” because of the relative lack of summer maintenance. Back then, the trail was rough, somewhat overgrown, and best suited to a mountain bike with at least front suspension. At that time, a plan was afoot to improve the trail and elevate it from a “proposed” route for the Trans Canada Trail to being an official part of the cross-country walking and cycling path. Well, the trail got its promised upgrades last autumn and spring, was officially named the Lang-Hastings Trans Canada Trail, and is now an absolute pleasure to ride on.

peterborough-hastings-rail-trail-2013-3946

A beaver pond along the Lang-Hastings trail.

The trail starts at the southeastern edge of Peterborough and meanders east toward Hastings on the Trent River. Like most rail trails, it’s quite flat, with long gentle grades rather than hill climbs. It passes behind farm fields, beside quiet country roads, next to wetlands,  and between hills.

The new crushed limestone surface brings the Lang-Hastings trail up to the same quality as the Omemee trail to the west and is a vast improvement over the rutted and loose gravel double track I rode last summer. With a better trail comes more traffic: instead of cycling for 90 minutes without seeing another soul as I did last year, I encountered at least two dozen people riding the trail on a sunny Sunday afternoon in May.  There were even a couple of spandex-clad roadies enjoying the smooth ride.

peterborough-hastings-rail-trail-2013-4054

The trail ends at an open swing bridge over the Trent River

The trail head is a little awkward to access from the Peterborough end, where it doesn’t quite match up yet with the rest of the Trans Canada Trail to the northwest. Don’t make the mistake of trying to join the trail from Technology Drive in Peterborough; the trail there is wholly unimproved and still has rails and ties for about the first kilometre. Your best bet is to join the trail at Keene Road, a short distance outside Peterborough. There’s some roadside parking available there, or you can make the relatively quick ride from downtown with only a short section along a busy Highway 7 / Lansdowne Avenue.

Between Peterborough and Hastings, the rail trail has the expected mix of farm fields, wetlands, and very gentle climbs and descents. There are a few surprises along the way, including a pond created by an impressively long beaver dam that abuts the trail. After riding thirty-some kilometres east to Hastings, the trail ends rather abruptly at an open swing bridge over the Trent River, requiring a rather lengthy detour to pick up the TC Trail again on the other side of town. You’re best off bailing from the trail at 7th Line and riding into town along River Road and Park Lane. (Hint: take Park Lane, even though it looks kind of silly to do so on a map.)

Although I wish the connections at either end were more direct, I’m happy to have the Lang-Hastings trail brought up to standard. With more users will come greater pressure for connectivity and improvements for other trails, and that can only be good. Peterborough is at the centre of a network of trails that stretches from Uxbridge and Lindsay in the east, to Haliburton and Bancroft in the north, Prince Edward County in the south, and Renfrew in the east. As the gaps in existing trails are filled in and more of them are improved to be suitable for casual cyclists, you could be looking at the backbone of Ontario’s own Route Verte-alike cycling network.

Continue reading below the fold for a short gallery from along the trail, and compare it to last year’s ride along the same route.

Continue reading 'Peterborough to Hastings rail trail II: New and improved'»

Upper Canada Heritage Trail

By , December 4, 2012
Upper Canada Heritage Trail in Niagara-on-the-Lake

The first leg of the Upper Canada Heritage Trail looks like many other rail trails.

Upper Canada Heritage Trail in Niagara-on-the-Lake

The majority of the trail runs beside Concession 1 and passes numerous orchards and vineyards.

Risa attended a meeting in Niagara-on-the-Lake last weekend and I tagged along for the drive down the QEW so that I could take a walk down an old railway, now the Upper Canada Heritage Trail. It travels about 11 km from the Bruce Trail west of Queenston down to the Waterfront Trail on Lake Ontario. Combined with the first few kilometres of the Bruce Trail from Queenston Heights and the General Brock Trail along the Niagara River, it constitutes a day-long hiking loop over mostly easy terrain. The UCHT would definitely be the quieter side of the loop, especially at this time of year.

Risa tossed me out of the car at the trailhead at York Road and Consession 2 and told me I had three and a half hours to get to Fort George or I’d be walking all the way home. The terrain was about what you’d expect in a rail trail: mostly flat, mostly straight, and mostly running behind farms. A portion of the trail just north of York Road was completely washed out: about 20 metres of the raised railbed had collapsed into a jumbled mess of trees, dirt, and rocks below. The resulting hole is navigable on foot with sturdy boots and a bit of care, but don’t expect to pass with your bike or horse. Several large potholes and a subsiding trail leading up to the washout hint that much more of the old railbed here is probably going to collapse in the near future.

The long middle stretch of the trail runs dead straight and flat beside Concession 1 and is a pleasant walk alongside a quiet country road lined by numerous vineyards and orchards. Autumn is usually my favourite time to go hiking but this portion of the trail would probably be much nicer in the late summer with the sights and smells of all the fruit coming into season.

Upper Canada Heritage Trail in Niagara-on-the-Lake

The third section of the trail curves up through suburban Niagara-on-the-Lake heading toward downtown. It feels like more of an urban rail trail, with numerous well-kept backyards opening right up onto the trail. Just imagine having a section of the Bruce Trail literally outside your back door. This section is also home to the most interesting sight on the trail, a long stone wall. It looks long abandoned and neglected at first, but it does still separate private homes from the trail. Numerous sections have fallen down and been replaced by ugly wooden or chain-link fences,  while another portion would have fallen over if it weren’t propped up by three large metal beams.

The trail ends at the Waterfront Trail, a short walk away from downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort George. All in all, it’s a nice walk, if not a challenging hike.

Abandoned rail line

By , October 3, 2012

Abandoned rail line in Toronto

This abandoned rail line is slowly being reclaimed by nature. Surprisingly, it’s not part of one of the rail trails that I rode this summer, nor is it in the middle of nowhere: it’s barely a ten-minute bike ride from downtown Toronto. It’s owned by Metrolinx and it would be a very long shot to have a trail (with or without passenger rail) along here someday.

Peterborough to Hastings rail trail

By , August 20, 2012

 

The Peterborough to Hastings rail trial curves away from the Trent River after kissing the shore.

After our thoroughly enjoyable trip on the Peterborough to Omemee rail trail a few weeks ago, I decided to take a trip down a second Peterborough-area rail trail this weekend, heading east out of town this time. Risa was unable to join me for the ride, so I packed up my day-trip kit and did this one solo.

The Peterborough to Hastings rail trail is not yet part of the Trans Canada Trail, but is listed as a proposed addition and there is some work afoot to make it official (PDF) and make improvements where necessary. As it stands now, the trail is formally maintained only in winter as a snowmobile trail, leaving summer maintenance to volunteers acting on an ad hoc basis with no coordinating body.

Compared to the Peterborough to Omemee trail, the lack of coordination shows: the route to Hastings is a little more wild and a bit more of a challenging ride. Unlike the smooth wide bed of gravel dust on the Omemee trail, the ride to Hastings is mostly on dirt double-track with some large gravel, loose sand, and other trail hazards along the way. Some of the bridges seemed to be in rough shape, with some surface planks rotting away and exposing holes big enough to see through to the rivers below. The trail is probably smooth as butter when it’s covered with a couple of feet of hard packed snow but it can be a little jarring on a bike in the summer. It’s certainly in good enough condition and offers enough variation for an average cyclist to have an enjoyable trip, but you won’t find any beach cruisers on it. Front suspension on my mountain bike was most welcome by the halfway mark.

The trail was exceptionally quiet considering that it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon for cycling or hiking. The first 90 minutes of my two hour putter along the trail were blissfully solo, without another soul in sight at any time, even when crossing intersections. The last half hour was almost as quiet and I only encountered four people on the trail before I turned onto the streets of Hastings. I imagine that it’s not quite as tranquil when the snowmobiles hit the trail, but it’s a very relaxing summer day trip.

The trail ends somewhat unceremoniously in the middle of the Trent River in Hastings (see the gallery below for more information about that), but you can make connections from there to other trails that continue to Campbellford, Tweed, and Sharbot Lake. Traversing gaps to yet more trails that can get you as far as Bancroft or within hailing distance of Bon Echo Provincial Park.

The Peterborough to Hastings rail trail starts approximately 7 km southeast of downtown Peterborough at Keene Road and runs about 29 km to Hastings. Like most rail trails, it’s fairly flat and grades are slight enough that they won’t trouble even the most casual of cyclists. The scenery ranges from wide-open farmers’ fields to thick forest growth and includes views of numerous rivers, creeks, marshes, swamps, cows, and even a couple of trailer parks heading into Hastings. Intersections are mostly quiet dirt roads. There are no obvious supply facilities or rest stops along the way other than farmhouses that back onto the trail; the village of Keene is about 2 km south of the trail at the 9 km mark, but that’s about it. Be sure to pack a repair kit and adequate food and water.

Check out the gallery after the jump for the usual ride pictures and commentary.

Continue reading 'Peterborough to Hastings rail trail'»

Peterborough to Omemee rail trail

By , August 1, 2012

This is why I don’t understand why people pay to ride stationary bikes in windowless gym basements.

Risa and I rode the 22 km from downtown Peterborough to Omemee this weekend via an old railway that’s now part of the Trans Canada Trail. Starting from its origin in Peterborough, this rail trail runs between backyards and along a small stream before quickly leaving the city, pavement, and crowds behind on the way to Omemee and beyond.  It has everything you’d expect along the way: scenic vistas, a well-maintained gravel bed, planked-in bridges and trestles like the one shown above, and an utter lack of traffic and hills. The trail continues past Omemee to Lindsay, where you can connect to other trails that will take you to Uxbridge, Fenelon Falls, or all the way up to Haliburton.
Peterborough to Omemee rail trailThe trail is an easy and relaxing ride for the entire length. It passes a few rural intersections and driveways at grade, while busy Highway 7 and some other driveways are carried over the trail on bridges. The urban intersections in Peterborough are similar to the ones on Toronto’s Beltline, but have curb cuts to actually let cyclists cross at the trail. The trail itself is well-maintained and can be ridden by the most casual of cyclists. Along the way you are treated to views of farms, valleys, and the rolling hills that you are not constantly climbing up and down. That’s the real joy of rail trails: you may be climbing, but the grade is so slight that it doesn’t hurt when you’re going up and it’s like having a slight tailbreeze when you’re going down.

Check out the short gallery with some of the sights along the way after the jump.

Continue reading 'Peterborough to Omemee rail trail'»

Hosting provided by Finite Digital Inc.