The beginning of autumn in Southern Ontario is signaled by crisp, cool weather and spectacular colours, the perfect conditions for a scenic ride.
There is no better place to enjoy the beauty of autumn than in Haldimand County, located a short drive from Hamilton and other major urban centres in Southern Ontario. The peaceful beauty of this rural area makes it the perfect get-away for a day ride or weekend adventure.
Haldimand County’s 71km Haldimand Tour, which is fully signed as the “Green Route, follows a few rolling hills along the edge of the Grand River and flattens out for the remainder of the ride. The route showcases some of the most scenic back roads in the county and passes through the charming communities of Caledonia, Cayuga and Selkirk. Enjoy a leisurely trip along the entirely paved, low traffic roads as you take in the scenic rural landscapes. The Green Route also offers an option to access the Rotary Riverside Trail, located just west of Caledonia, to take you off the road and onto a maintained trail (a combination of gravel and packed earth) that connects to the village of York. Access to this trail is located on the north side of the Grand River.
Your adventure begins at the Haldimand County Caledonia Centre (HCCC), 100 Haddington Street, Caledonia. Washrooms are available during business hours and if you plan to leave your car overnight or for several days you will require a free County dashboard permit (call 1-800-863-9607 to arrange in advance of your trip).
Before heading off on your journey, take a moment to fuel up at one of the many dining options located in Caledonia’s south side. For a go-to local hot spot, stop into the Tartan Diner and enjoy a traditional Scottish breakfast in honour of Caledonia’s Scottish heritage. They even have haggis on the menu, but also offer Canadian favourites too.
The first leg of your trip takes east on Haddington Street for 600 metres before you veer to the right and continue onto River Road to head out of Caledonia. This portion of the route has you cycling along the scenic banks of the Grand River and features easy, rolling roads and picturesque fields. Early morning riders can often spot a rafter of wild turkeys or a blue heron along the river’s edge.
Having trouble with your bike? A bike repair station can be accessed by crossing the bridge at York and turning right into York Park.
As you travel toward York, take a left onto County Road 9 (watch for heavier traffic and faster vehicles here). From County Road 9, take the next right and continue on River Road towards Cayuga. Plan for a quick deviation where River Road crosses Highway 3 and turn left to travel across the bridge into Cayuga’s historic downtown. Visit Wildwood Art Gallery & Studio, a perfect spot to see diverse artwork from a number of local artists. Gallery owner and artist Kerry Walford specializes in oil paintings of rural Ontario landscapes with bold strokes of bright colours. Purchases can be shipped to you.
A must-see while in Cayuga’s downtown, explore the Cayuga Grand Vista trail, a 3.2 km rail trail that spans the Grand River and lives up to it’s name with gorgeous river views, find the trailhead at the historic Cayuga Courthouse.
Photo Credit: Seferian Design Group
With Cayuga behind you, cross back over the bridge and turn left off the main highway to continue south on River Road. Take a right onto Irish Line and follow a scenic rural stretch away from the river before turning south again onto Fisherville Road/Haldimand Road 12. Continue south to travel through the quaint village of Fisherville and stop for lunch on the main corner at the Fisherville Hotel & Tavern (accommodation options also available here). Originally built as a hotel for travelling salesmen in 1853, at The Tav, as it is fondly called by the locals, try local Lake Erie perch or their popular ribs or hot sandwiches and a variety of craft beer on tap.
After a quick rest for lunch, continue on Fisherville Road (Haldimand Road 12) and follow the Green Route signs to turn right onto Rainham Road/County Road 3.
Take a short detour from the Green Route and continue south to reach the Lake Erie shoreline. Turn right onto Lake Shore Road and enjoy a stretch along this quiet cottage road, featuring beautiful summer homes and a spectacular view of the Lake Erie waterfront. Head north on County Road 53 (signs for Selkirk) and reconnect with the Green Route. Selkirk is a picturesque village and the perfect spot to take a break and snap a few selfies in front of Selkirk’s street murals or use the bike repair station located in Selkirk Community Park. For an afternoon energy boost, be sure to check out the Sunflower Café and ask for a slice of their famous carrot cake which was written about in the National Post as something you should “eat before you die”! Take a short detour by travelling west along Rainham Road to where it intersects with Cheapside Road and visit Wilson MacDonald Memorial School Museum and learn the history of one-room school houses in the area and our most famous poet Wilson Pugsley MacDonald.
After a quick educational visit, hop back on your bike and head north on Cheapside Road. From here you can elect to extend your trip by turning left onto Concession 3 Walpole and follow signs for the Pink Route into Jarvis. Reward yourself for the extra effort with a stop into Concession Road Brewing. As Haldimand’s original craft brewery, Concession Road, located in an old fire station, offers unique brews like Clumsy Famer Citrus Pale Ale, Fire House Blonde Ale and Lumber Jacket Brown Ale. Sample a flight or select a couple cans to go (patio open seasonally.) Wander a few doors down the street to Michaud Toys and check out their amazing line-up of unique, hand-made wooden board games; the perfect gift or souvenir (travel sized games available!) Alternatively, Nice Old Stuff is the perfect place to discover a fascinating antique or unique home décor item.
To connect back with the Green Route from Jarvis, follow the Pink Route west on Concession 7 Walpole which turns into Townline Road and then turn right onto Townsend Pkwy/County Road 74. Turn right onto Concession 9 Walpole and head east until you reach Cheapside Rd. The Green Route continues north from here, taking a couple jogs on County Road 27 (Army Camp Road), County Road 20 and County Road 9 before turning left onto McKenzie Road. Enjoy the scenic rural views along McKenzie Road as it takes you back into Caledonia’s south side.
After your long journey, plan on spending some time to unwind by exploring more of Caledonia, as it has a number of restaurants and unique shops to discover. Consider these options when visiting:
- Re-fuel with a hearty meal at The Argyle St. Grill, which was featured on You Gotta Eat Here, they showcase fresh, locally inspired cuisine in an upscale atmosphere. Check out the Haldimand Culinary Adventure Guide for more restaurants serving local fare.
- Feel like something a little more casual? Cross the famous Caledonia bridge to the north side of the river and head to Wiggies. A sports bar located in what was once a historic hotel, their pizza and wings cannot be missed!
- Jones Bakery, also located on the north side of the river, was established in 1904 and continues to bake its goods in the Century Old Brick Oven, creating sweet treats from original family recipes. Local favourites include their butter tarts and double-decker Belgium cookies.
- Bella & Coop is a charming boutique famous for its unique collection of carefully curated decor items, beauty products and fashions. Their constantly changing selection ensures there is always something different to see or be inspired by!
- Second Chance Records is a music lovers haven! Offering new and used vinyl, CD’s, DVD’s and more, Second Chance Records is sure to have the perfect gift no matter the preferred music genre.
Need somewhere to rest your head after your long ride? Stay overnight in Caledonia at The Grand Corbel B&B. Offering pampered relaxation, amazing cuisine, luxurious sleep and (of course) a friendly host, The Grand Corbel even offers a pillow menu to ensure a great sleep.
As the beautiful fall colours offer their final show, be sure to take advantage of this quiet time of year. Grab your bike, get outdoors and explore something new!