Pairing Culture And Cycling: 8 Cycling Trails In Stratford Ontario
Calling cyclists of all experience levels — add Stratford to your vacation bucket list this summer. There are a variety of cycling routes you’re bound to love, mixing the best of art and culture with gorgeous scenery, Stratford has so much to offer for all ages.
Does picturesque cycling routes, mouth-watering cuisine, and cultural events sound like the weekend getaway of your dreams? Great. Because we’ve put together a list of eight cycling routes that will help you explore all that Stratford has to offer.
And the best part is you don’t even need to bring your own bike. There are bicycle rentals available at Stratford’s local bike shop, Totally Spoke’d (they even have e-bikes available if you are looking to power up). You can also rent bikes, along with paddle boats, from the Avon Boat Rental kiosk just off the Avon River.
No matter if you prefer easy trails, difficult routes, mountain biking, or paved roads, we’ve got a variety of trails for everyone listed below. Pick your pace, and get ready to make your visit to Stratford one that’ll keep you coming back again and again.
The Festival Route
If you’ve visited Stratford before, you’re likely familiar with the Stratford Festival shows that run every year. While this year we may not be fortunate enough to hold their performances inside their grand spaces, the beauty of the buildings themselves are picture-worthy. The Festival Route is a great choice to set your eyes on just that—while biking, enjoy the scenery of the Avon Theatre, the Festival Theatre, Stratford’s downtown, the Avon River, and even a glimpse of Stratford’s countryside.
This 12km-long route is best started from downtown Stratford where there’s tons of parking space in the downtown area or along the river. When you arrive back from your ride, you can take a short detour to enjoy a sandwich from Sirkel Foods and a chocolatey treat from Rheo Thompson Candies! If you feel like making your ride longer, check out this 30km version of the Festival Route.
Photo Credit: Stratford Tourism
The Airport Loop
Any cyclist with a passion for airplanes will love the Airport Loop biking trail. Just a short ride outside of Stratford is a small municipal airport with new runways, a flight school, and recreational flights. Starting at the brand new, yet-to-be-opened, $100-million Tom Patterson Theatre in Stratford, the Airport Loop is a 30km route with paved roads and hills.
Get a taste of Stratford’s luscious countryside by going deeper into the farmland around the airport, and if you’re lucky you’ll catch an airplane taking off or landing while enroute. When coming back into town, the Airport Loop takes you by Gallery Stratford, which is one of Ontario’s longest operating public art galleries. Presenting changing exhibitions of contemporary visual art with a focus on regional and Canadian Art, you can explore the gallery as a way to cool down from a long ride.
The Avonton Loop
If getting a breath of fresh air from Stratford’s countryside sounds like your type of vibe when cycling, then let us introduce you to the Avonton Loop. As a mostly rural route, the Avonton Loop stretches 26km to the pretty little village of Avonton, which is nestled in the valley alongside the Avon River. The best place to start this cycling loop is from the new Tom Patterson Theatre in Stratford.
Despite the country views, this circuit takes you on completely paved roads to ensure an easy and smooth ride. On your way back into town, you’ll pass through downtown Stratford near Market Square where there are many great restaurants to stop for a bite after your ride, including Pizza Bistro, Stratford Thai, and the Red Rabbit.
The Avon River
The Avon River is one of Stratford’s natural beauties that meanders through the town from East to West. The parks and walkways along the river make for great photos to share with your friends and family back home — or on Instagram. Either way, the views are breathtaking, which is why looping around the river is a great route for cycling.
This Avon River cycling path is 12km of complete natural oasis. It’ll take you around the river, past Shakespeare Gardens (a beautiful garden you may want to make a pit stop at), toward Waterloo University’s Stratford campus, and through the beautiful residential neighbourhoods that are located along the river in downtown Stratford. Please note: This route includes steep hills and offers a challenge for cyclists (if you’re up for it!) however, it’s a much loved path for runners to enjoy.
Anne Hathaway Loop
If you’re looking for a shorter loop to introduce you to the Stratford area, check out the 9km Anne Hathaway Loop. Stratford is full of popular areas, such as the river and the theatres, but what most people don’t know about are all of the hidden gems that are in the city too. The Anne Hathaway Loop introduces you to some of those special places.
Sharing incredible views of Stratford, this loop will take you to see the abandoned Goderich Exeter railway company, where you’ll tour around the front and the back of the large industrial building. You’ll also get to cycle through residential neighbourhoods that feature many of Stratford’s beautiful historical homes.
The end of the loop takes you to Market Square in Downtown Stratford, which is the perfect way to end your ride so you can enjoy delicious food from a variety of restaurants to choose from. When you turn on to Albert Street, there is a parking lot where you can lock up your bike and grab a bite to eat from Bentley’s Bar, Inn and Restaurant or Fellini’s Italian Cucina. There are also several shops to browse from — two famous options are Small-Mart and Bradshaws.
Photo Credit: Stratford Tourism
Wildwood Conservation Area’s Lake Trail
While there are tons of urban routes with epic views right in Stratford, you can also find trails in natural forest settings just a short drive outside of the city: one option is at Wildwood Conservation Area. For those that prefer mountain biking, Wildwood’s 25km lake loop has all of the uphills, downhills, and dirt paths you need for a bumpier, yet fun, ride.
If you’re interested in Wildwood’s forest cycling trail, take note to follow the signed and mapped multi-use trail from the parking lot that is well equipped for riders. There’s even a handy bike tool stand and bike wash area for after your ride.
On-site mountain and fat bike rentals are available.
Photo Credit: Stratford Tourism
St. Marys Grand Trunk Trail
Just a 15-minute drive outside of Stratford is a quaint small town, called St. Marys. Similar to Stratford, St. Marys is known for its historical buildings and picturesque views, especially with the Thames River that flows through the town and falls over limestone ledges, which is part of the scenery you’ll get on St. Marys’ Grand Trunk Trail. We suggest spending the day at Lions Park at 80 Water St N; located at the north end of Milt Dunnell Field; a newly structured wooden shelter with picnic tables and hydro. This is a great location to have family picnics and enjoy the view of the Grand Trunk Trail. Access to the trail is only steps away from this park.
While the trail may be shorter than the standard biking route at 2.6km, it’s worth the stunning views you get on top of the abandoned CN rail line that overlooks the north edge of the town, which was turned into a beautiful walking and cycling path in 1998 from the efforts of many St. Marys locals.
Joining two halves of the trail is the Sarnia Bridge. The bridge has sturdy railings with warm-glowing lights during the evening, and it shows breathtaking views of St. Marys and the surrounding farmland. Once you’ve biked along the trail, you can head off the trail from James Street toward Queen Street to see the famous limestone falls from the Queen Street bridge.
The Sebringville Loop
Sebringville is another village that’s just a five minute drive outside of Stratford. As part of the Sebringville Loop, you’ll explore the best of Stratford’s countryside. Soak up the sunlight as you cycle on flat lands, through Sebringville, and back out into the country.
If you’ve been to Stratford before, you know we put passion into our food. So, since you’ll be ending your route in downtown Stratford, we recommend you hit up Mercer Kitchen for an amazing meal to remember.
Photo Credit: Stratford Tourism
Explore Stratford’s best sites from the comfort of your bike
There is no shortage of sites to explore in Stratford and its surrounding areas. In addition to all of the natural, cultural, and historical scenes, Stratford is a city full of entertainment and dining to die for.
Visit for the cycling routes and stay for the experience — you’ll enjoy one-of-a-kind shopping, excellent food, live music and art from Stratford’s local artists, and so much more. While your Stratford experience may be a little different this year due to COVID-19, there are still plenty of exciting activities planned for the summer. From arts, to culture and heritage, you’ll be thriving from the Stratford experience.
- Destination Stratford – visitstratford.ca & visitstratford.ca/cycling
- Cycle Stratford – cyclestratford.com
- Perth County Cycling Tour – September 12. More event details will be posted in the future months. Please visit cyclestratford.com/events