Beyond Buttertarts – Cycling in Kawarthas Northumberland
There are few regions in Ontario that can boast a more complete cycling offering than Kawarthas Northumberland. From a rail trail network that spans over 200km and connects urban centres with quaint villages to over 1,000km of signed routes that touch every corner of the region from Lake Ontario, north through to the heart of Ontario’s cottage country, the region has something for everyone.
Wouldn’t be caught dead in lycra? A real bike is defined by whether it has suspension or not? Lucky for you the mountain biking in Kawarthas Northumberland is fantastic with Ontario’s only IMBA-designated EPIC trail. Planning a weekend away with riding buddies is a real possibility with trail networks within striking distance from both urban hubs or campgrounds.
Located only 90 minutes east of Toronto, 2 ½ hours west of Kingston or 3 ½ hours west from Ottawa, the region is close enough for day trips, but when you layer all of these cycling experiences with award winning culinary experiences, craft breweries, cultural sites, scenic waterways, and a landscape as diverse as the types of Buttertarts the region offers, you’ll want to stay overnight.
Credit: Kawarthas Northumberland
Enjoy a hub and spoke cycling holiday or take on an overnight touring experience across the region. The options are seemingly endless. If you prefer sticking to the roads you could try out this 3-day 200km route along portions of the Greenbelt Route or this 100km 2-day weekender that is nearly 100% on trails!
Museums and galleries, agri-tourism and farm experiences, breweries, cafes and restaurants, as well as accommodations big and small are all welcoming cyclists and ensuring that cyclists have a spectacular experience on and off the saddle. The region now has over 100 certified bicycle friendly businesses.
The three destinations that make up Kawarthas Northumberland are Northumberland County, Kawartha Lakes and Peterborough & the Kawarthas and it’s worth taking a closer look at what each has to offer visitors who are looking to ride in the area.
The five signed road routes of Northumberland County offer a riding experience for everyone. Ranging from 30km to 74km, these routes span the entire county and most can be connected to extend your riding experience. Planning a trip is made simple with each of the routes having a variety of print and digital resources available. Check out our recent blog post and ride expereince along their 63km Trent River Truckin’ route. Not long enough for you? Try their Century Ride with downloadable PDF map that details average grades along the entire route. You’ve been warned however, as the further north you ride from Lake Ontario the more elevation changes you’ll encounter. They don’t call the local bicycle club Northumberland Hills for nothing.
Northumberland also features portions of three provincial / national signed trails or cycling routes including The Great Trail between Hastings and east of Campbellford; nearly a quarter of the 475km provincial cycling route, the Greenbelt Route; and approximately 60km of the 3,000km Great Lakes Waterfront Trail that traverses the southern portion of the county.
2018 saw some amazing events take place in Northumberland and we’re excited to see what 2019 holds. The inaugural Harvest Ride was hosted by Switchback Cyclery in Toronto and included a farm-to-table culinary experience at Headwaters Community Farm and Education Centre.
Northumberland Tourism has made it easy to plan a trip with their cycling adventures map! Download the Map or click here to Order the Northumberland Tourism Cycling Adventures Map!
Truly at a cross roads of rail trails, recreational cyclists can ride 50km north and west and over 100km east into, or out of, Lindsay on wonderful rail trails connecting this fantastic destination with Kinmount, Fenelon Falls, Uxbridge and Peterborough (and beyond) all on trails! The newly resurfaced (stone dust) Victoria Rail Trail from Lindsay to Kinmount (53km) will be a highlight in 2019. With many spectacular sections of this trail skirting the waterways and lakes that make this region world renowned for boating and paddling, this will be a real treat for those looking for scenic and well-maintained rail trails in Ontario. The Kawartha Trans Canada Trail crosses the entire region and is signed and very well maintained. It also offers plenty of scenic riding, including spectacular views from atop of Doubes Trestle Bridge just east of Omemee.
Not bringing your bike? Stop in at Down to Earth in downtown Lindsay for bike rentals and very knowledgable staff.
Credit: Justin Soule
The eight signed road routes also criss-cross the region and connect the many smaller communities that often bridge lakes and feature locks along the Trent-Severn Waterway. Ranging from 36km to 71km, many of these routes can be connected offering longer riding options. If you’re passing through Fenelon Falls or Bobcaygeon, either by boat, car or bike, be sure to check out what might be Ontario’s smallest communities with bike share programs!
The ever-popular Kawartha Lakes Classic Cycling Tour, hosted by the Kawartha Cycling Club, has been a staple cycling event in Kawartha Lakes for 16 years and draws in cyclists from near and far. August 24th should be circled in your calendars. This is a fantastic event with stunning routes (from 25km to 160km) featuring local trails and beautiful riding along the southern shore of Sturgeon Lake.
Explore Kawarthas Lakes has made it easy to plan a trip with their cycling map! Download the Map or click here to Order the Kawartha Lakes Cycling Map!
Peterborough & the Kawarthas
The third cycling destination within Kawarthas Northumberland is Peterborough & the Kawarthas, which incorporates both Peterborough County and City. This is a bike town through and through and you’ll love riding in the area. In fact, Peterborough & the Kawarthas may be one of the best destinations in Ontario for a true hub and spoke overnight cycling holiday. Known as ‘The Peterborough & the Kawarthas Classics’, each of the 3 signed and looped routes has a long and short option that range from 45 to 100km. They also all start and end in downtown Peterborough at the picturesque Millennium Park overlooking Little Lake, where cyclists will find bike racks, a large kiosk with cycling information, a bike fix-it station and a bike friendly cafe with great food and ice cream.
Like Lindsay, Peterborough has plenty of trails accessible from downtown, including a 16km ride north along the paved/stone dust Rotary Trailway to Lakefield, a 66km stone dust rail trail east to Hastings along the Lang Hastings Trans Canada Trail or the 35km ride west to Lindsay along another section of The Great Trail.
Credit: Peterborough & the Kawarthas Tourism
Cycling events in and around Peterborough are kind of a big deal where major events complement smaller community events and give a range of cyclists’ opportunities to get out and ride. There are signature cycling events like the Fretori Gran Fondo 2018 also saw Peterborough host the Shimano Canadian Cycle Cross Championships, which will be returning to the city November 2-3 in 2019. For mountain bikers, the return of the “Dirty Enduro” event, previously named “Paul’s Dirty Enduro”, was welcome and has relocated to the fantastic mountain bike trails located at Harold Town Conservation Area. For those looking for some gravel adventures, check out The Noble Pursuit. You’ll need to buddy up with a member of the Peterborough Cycling Club if you want to try this one out.
Visiting the city and don’t have a bike? Don’t worry. Bike rentals are available at Wild Rock Outfitters and Pedal ‘n’ Paddle, or grab a PTBO Bike Share, all right downtown. More of a pack animal? Get the crew together and take the new 15-passenger party bike, PedalBoro, for spin around town hitting up all the food and drink hot spots.
The City of Peterborough has been steadily improving the cycling in and around the core and holds a silver-level designation through Share the Road’s Bicycle Friendly Community program. Downtown Peterborough received a Bicycle Friendly Business Area designation in 2018 by Ontario By Bike. Just grab your bike and start exploring.
Peterborough & the Kawarthas Tourism has made it easy to plan a trip with their cycling map! Download the Map or click here to Order the Peterborough County & City Cycling & Trails Maps!
Additional Visitor Information
- Kawarthas Northumberland – www.KawawrthasNorthumberland.com
- Great Places to Cycle: Kawarthas Northumberland – www.OntarioByBike.ca/KawarthasNorthumberland
- Certified Bicycle Friendly Businesses in Kawarthas Northumberland – www.OntarioByBike.ca/KawarthasNorthumberland_Businesses
Cover Image Credit: Northumberland Tourism