Even with an estimated quarter of a million lakes in Ontario, there are likely only a very small percentage that make for a compelling round the lake ride and achievable challenge limited to a day or two max. One to certainly add to the 100km+ bucket list is around Rice Lake. Straddling Northumberland and Peterborough Counties, this 32km long and relatively shallow lake is a part of the Trent-Severn Waterway.
Perfect for a group or club ride, tacking this 102km looped circuit in a day, is best achieved with a start from Bewdley, on the west end of the lake, with ample parking at Optimist Park. (An alternate start from Hastings in the east is also an option). To help minimize time on busier roads, there are several small gravel stretches recommended even by the most ardent road cyclists. So if you have a fleet, select your wheels accordingly. To optimize the number of hill climbs, a counter-clockwise loop is the preferred direction. With lots to see and do on the route, plan to take some extra time to stop along the way or best yet add a day.
Photo Credit: Northumberland Tourism
From Bewdley, the south side of the lake is rich in green and affords one many sweeping water views. In Gore’s Landing pick up the Rice Lake Ramble, a well-signed cycling route that will see you through to Alderville. Indeed you can connect to this round the lake ride from the Ramble route, and directly from Cobourg, potentially making use of VIA Rail’s bike transportation options, so no vehicle is required. Midway along the south side, Harwood is a decent pit stop for cyclists with a well-known natural spring to fill up water bottles and a general store for other needs.
From the First Nations community of Alderville, 42km from start, after a small jaunt to Roseneath, hop back on quiet paved countryside roads that bisect peaceful farmlands heading east and then north to the lake’s east end terminus, Hastings. Chill out on a patio or with an energy-boosting sweet treat, overlooking the lock, #18 of 44 that make navigating the 386km long Trent-Severn waterway possible.
Photo Credit: Michael Hurcomb / Peterborough & the Kawarthas Tourism
On to the north side of the lake, experienced cyclists in a group and road purists have one option, riding on County Road 2. To avoid what can often be a busy route with no paved shoulders, a quieter and far more scenic option for 20km is the Trans Canada Trail. Exiting the trail at Keene, and reward yourself at the renowned Muddy’s Pit BBQ.
Around the 85km mark, the route starts to head south getting back closer again to Rice Lake. Just north of Halls Landing, a small detour west on Second Line Road will take you to Zimart, a large outdoor sculpture park and collection of Zimbabwean stone sculptures. Other worthy detours in this vicinity, and close to the ride end include Rolling Grape Vineyard and DooDoo’s Bakery for award-winning buttertarts, in Bailieboro. Closer to Bewdley, a run of gravel on Scriven Road is worth it for the easy downhill and some of the best lake views yet.
Photo Credit: Oshawa Cycling Club
Round out the day’s ride and roll into the Rhino for some chilled post-ride refreshments, a popular patio known to cyclists, with long views across the lake you’ve just ridden all around. Worth a celebration!
Gravel & Trail Options
While the main suggested route for this Round Rice Lake itinerary does include a necessary 1.5km of gravel (using Scriven Road to avoid busy Highway 28), there is an alternate route that includes the Trans Canada Trail and other gravel routes on the north side of the lake, reducing time on higher volume paved roads like Highway 2. Adding just a few more kilometres to the overall ride, while the unpaved option may take longer to ride, it may be better suited to some.
Multiday Ride Itineraries & Maps
Take your time and ride around the lake at a more leisurely pace, clocking 50km a day. Park and stay at the Golden Beach Resort on the south side and Elmhirst Resort on the north side. Both certified bicycle-friendly accommodations welcome cyclists and provide overnight parking to guests, making for an easy start/finish location.
With Rice Lake being the intersection of two counties, there are many more great rides in the area, both north and south, to check-out on an extended stay. Find five road routes in Northumberland County on the Cycling Adventures Map. Ride the Hills, Views and Pastries Route south of Peterborough or explore more using the Peterborough Cycling and Trails Map or new Peterborough Short Routes Map.