A Tour of the Trent-Severn Trail Towns
Anyone who’s cycled longer distances knows the thrill of approaching the next town. You stop and check the map, reckoning the distance in time and kilometres. Maybe you’re looking forward to fueling up at a restaurant or strolling the downtown; maybe it’s a picnic area where you’ll treat yourself to the snacks stashed in your pannier. If you’re cycling to one of Kawarthas Northumberland Trent-Severn Trail Towns it might be any of the above—all nine communities along the Trent-Severn Waterway are packed with attractions natural and cultural.
The complete list of Trail Towns includes Bobcaygeon, Buckhorn, Campbellford, Coboconk, Fenelon Falls, Hastings, Lakefield, Lindsay, and Rosedale. They’ve earned their special designation through a combination of top attractions, natural beauty, and historical significance. Given that all are surrounded by quiet backroads, and several are connected by well-groomed bike trails, the hardest part is choosing which to visit first. Here’s a little inspiration to help with that.
Lindsay to Fenelon Falls
This perennial favourite connects the largest of the Trail Towns, Lindsay, to Fenelon Falls, a town dubbed the “Jewel of the Kawarthas.” At 22km long, it works as both a lovely one-way ride or a return trip, regardless of which direction you begin from. Either way you’ll spend most of your time on the Victoria Rail Trail, which began life as a CN rail line in 1874. The former rail bed offers the best of both worlds, with mostly flat and hard-packed gravel providing a comfortable cycling experiences absent cars and surrounded by green.
Lindsay is home to some of the region’s best restaurants, a bustling downtown, and even some impressive theatres if you’re in town for the evening. Not far outside Lindsay you’ll find Ken Reid Conservation Area. If you’ve got time to stretch your legs, try Kawartha Conservation’s excellent Talking Forest app, which provides an ecological education narrated by the trees themselves. In Fenelon Falls, you’ll find galleries, breweries, museums, and waterside dining. If you’re feeling ambitious, you might grab lunch in one town and dinner in the next.
Kawartha Classics Route 1, Lakefield
Kawartha Classics Route 1 begins in Peterborough, but it’s remarkable how quickly you’ll find yourself alone on rural backroads, pedaling down shady corridors of trees and past wide-open fields. Around the halfway point you’ll reach the cozy, picturesque Trail Town of Lakefield. Whether you stop to explore the town’s rich literary history—influential Canadian authors Margaret Laurence, Catherine Parr-Traill, and Susanna Moodie all called Lakefield home—or simply enjoy an ice cream beside the Trent-Severn Waterway, you’ll probably ride away charmed.
Note that there are two versions of the Kawartha Classics Route 1. The full version extends further north, clocking in at 60km. If that sounds daunting, try Route 1A and shave off 15km for a more manageable distance.
Hastings to Campbellford
The Great Trail (formerly known as the Trans Canada) connects two lovely Trail Towns, Campbellford and Hastings, along an approximately 20km stretch. If you begin in Hastings, say hello to Pisces Pete, the monument that commemorates Hastings’ outstanding fishing. Grab a butter tart for the road before picking up the Great Trail just off Cedar Dr.
In Campbellford, you’ll end up a stone’s throw from Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge, one of the most recognizable and impressive sights in Northumberland. Then there’s the giant toonie monument, celebrating artist Brent Townsend’s currency design, to-die-for baked goods, a top-tier theatre, and more.
Note that this stretch is slightly more rugged than the above mentioned routes—it’s fully traversable, but progress may be slower and very narrow tires may struggle. Although you’ll be rewarded with some beautiful stretches of forest, you may prefer the Peterborough to Hastings section if you’re seeking something smoother.
From beautiful scenery, interesting history, and culinary delights, each of these Kawarthas Northumberland Trent-Severn Trail Towns offers something unique and appealing to all kinds of cyclists. Follow the links below for more information and to start planning your trail town adventure.
Plan Your Trail Town Adventure
- Trent-Severn Trail Towns – Plan your stay in the nine trail towns along the Trent-Severn Waterway in Kawarthas Northumberland.
- Peterborough & The Kawarthas Classics Road Cycling Routes – Explore this collection of three tried and true road cycling routes that have received the official stamp of approval from local avids.
- The Great Trail – Northumberland County – Explore The Great Trail (formerly the Trans Canada Trail) in Northumberland County
- Victoria Rail Trail – The Victoria Rail Trail (VRT) is an 85 kilometre rail trail in Kawartha Lakes with corridors linking Kinmount to Bethany, through Fenelon Falls and Lindsay. View ArcGIS online map HERE.
- Kawarthas Northumberland – www.kawarthasnorthumberland.ca
- Ontario By Bike – www.ontariobybike.ca/kawarthas-northumberland