Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve Photo credit: Thom Lambert
If you, like thousands of cyclists all over the world, have discovered the joys of gravel riding, you owe it to yourself to consider a trip to the Haliburton Highlands. From smooth, rolling gravel roads to full-on adventure riding in iconic Algonquin Park, you can find a gravel route here to challenge you and re-ignite your love of cycling.
Gravel riding is so popular because it gets us off the pavement, away from the cars, and helps us access the quieter nooks and crannies of an area. We have lots nooks and crannies! Maybe you like rail trail rides with tasty bakery destinations? Half-day fitness challenges with lots of vertical? Perhaps full-day adventures with a mix of smooth roads and gnarly climbs? Multi-day bikepacking? Yep, we have all of those.
Mellow Adventures on the Haliburton County Rail Trail
For first-timers, or folks looking for a mellower adventure, the Haliburton County Rail Trail starts in the village of Haliburton – full of cafes and restaurants – and winds its way 32km to the southern edge of the county. There is no better family gravel adventure than the 16km out and back Bakery-to-Bakery route, following the rail trail. Start with coffee, refuel with tarts, and end with more coffee or a tasty lunch at one of the many cafes and restaurants in the village of Haliburton.
Haliburton County Rail Trail. Photo credit: Thom Lambert
Haliburton Forest and Beyond
Looking for more distance and more challenge in an absolutely beautiful setting? Check out our Best of Haliburton Forest loop: 50km of gravel roads that roll along beautiful lakes, streams and forested hills. With multiple spots for a swim, this is a great ride for a hot day. Finish that ride with tasty BBQ and a craft beer at Truss Foodworks in the Haliburton Forest basecamp. If you like what you find, there are multiple route options in and around Haliburton Forest, including an epic 110km out and back ride to Ragged Falls on the western edge of Algonquin Park.
If longer distances are your idea of a good day, you can combine any of our mapped loops to create your own custom epic day ride. A good base is the Southern Haliburton Ramble; 85km of rolling gravel cottage roads, a little bit of single track and 4 villages for refuelling opportunities. This route can easily be expanded to 125 kilometers with smaller side loops.
Bikepacking – Haliburton Highlands and Algonquin Park
Got the bikepacking bug? You are in luck, as the Haliburton Highlands hosts a section of the epic 731 km Hasty Highlander bikepacking route that connects us to central Ontario and north into Algonquin Park. If you are looking for more of a weekend adventure, our 285km Haliburton Highlands Bikepacking route could be completed easily over 3 days. First timer? How about the unique Sherborne Lake Rd route? This 31km out-and-back route takes you past stunning trout lakes and through iconic Canadian Shield landscape. Multiple lake-side campsites are available along the route so that you can custom tailor your first bikepacking adventure.
Algonquin Highlands. Photo credit: Thom Lambert
If you prefer your experiences to be guided, you are in luck! Yours Outdoors offers guided gravel riding workshops in the Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve. Suitable for first-time gravel riders, or seasoned riders that prefer that someone else do the route finding for the day, this is a great way to discover the great riding within this 50,000 acre wilderness playground. Humdinger Bicycle Tours also offers a range of gravel riding experiences, from guided day trips to multi-day adventures. They will custom-design a gravel riding experience for you and your group so that you can concentrate on riding while they worry about the logistics.
Where to Eat, Drink and Stay
After all that great riding, you are going to need a comfy place to stay, and some great food and drink. Everything you need to create a complete experience can be found on our website at www.myhaliburtonhighlands.com. We have over 1000km of gravel and adventure routes – with marked POIs (points of interest) to help you find food, scenery and accommodations – all mapped out on Ride with GPS, and are happy to help you custom-design a day adventure, a week long gravel-grinding epic, or a challenging overnight. Find us on Ride with GPS under Haliburton Highlands Cycling Routes or contact us at 1-800-461-7677 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to seeing you on the unpaved road!
Sponsored Content Partner: My Haliburton Highlands / County of Haliburton
Article and photos by Thom Lambert