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Spring Dreaming: Three Hastings County Gravel Routes to Ride This Season

After a winter of indoor rides, fat bike treks or maybe–for the lucky ones–a cycling trip abroad, spring cycling season in Ontario is underway. We’ve curated three spring cycling routes in Hastings County that we hope will whet your appetite and warm up your legs for a great season of gravel riding in Ontario. With Ontario’s Spring Cycling Classic (Paris to Ancaster race) on the horizon at the end of April, these routes include options perfect for those looking to get out of town and put on a few rugged training kilometres before the big race or to chart their course away from the crowds and competition.

Gravel is abundant in Hastings County, and you’re far more likely to encounter tractors on the roads than commuter traffic. The mosquitoes and deer flies synonymous with the north during the summer haven’t hit their stride yet, and the typical daily temperature is almost too good to be true for those aiming to work up a sweat outdoors. Plus: maple syrup, Hastings County’s first harvest of the season, is freshly bottled for your annual restock. Here, find three itineraries to build on for your spring gravel cycling adventure in Hastings County.

Trip 1: Stirling & Springbrook

Distance: 2.5h from Ottawa, 2h from Toronto

The Route: Cow Country

The spring melt comes with ideal temperatures for a long and winding adventure. Expect consistent climbs and descents on this route, passing through plenty of wide open fields and pastures where you’ll be able to feel the warmth of the sun. Come prepared with hydration and snacks, or stock up in Stirling before you start the ride: this route is primarily rural with few opportunities to refill your water supply. Your close companions will be the livestock you pass by: plan time to circle back to The Buff Stuff Store after your ride ends to cap off your trip with water buffalo gelato or another farm-fresh bite.

The Food: Farm Girl Cafe

Start your ride off on the right foot with coffee and breakfast at Farm Girl Cafe, where you’ll find loaves, squares, muffins, pies, sandwiches and more to fuel your climbs.

More to Do: The Buff Stuff Store

Who would have thought: Cow Country is also perfect for water buffalo! Make a mental note to time your ride so that you can catch open hours at The Buff Stuff Store, Stirling’s local source of all things water buffalo, like fresh mozzarella di bufala and jerky.

Where to Stay: Stirling or Centre Hastings

A quick search for Stirling-Rawdon on VRBO shows a wealth of beautiful accommodations within a few minutes drive of the ride’s starting point in downtown Stirling. Whether you’re riding in a small group or bringing a crowd, you’ll find a perfect place to stay and store your bikes safely.

Trip 2: Bancroft & L’Amable

Distance: 2.5h from Ottawa, 2.5h from Toronto

The Route: Dependable Detlor

A local favourite, this loop is not for the faint of heart. Be prepared for significant elevation gain, but your relief comes from the fact that 90% of this route is paved. The loop passes over both L’Amable Lake and Bay Lake, providing ample waterfront photo opportunities. Rest assured that the big climb at the end comes with an equally significant descent back to your starting point.

The Food: For the Halibut Fish & Chips

You’ll be hankering for a big plate of comfort food after completing this loop! For the Halibut, located in Bancroft, is known for the light, crispy batter on their fish (and on their fried cheese curds, too).

More to Do: Wander Egan Chutes

The perfect place to plan your wind-down activity before heading home, Egan Chutes is a non-operating Provincial Park classified as a nature reserve and located along the route. Come back after your ride and wander along an unmaintained road to the park’s picturesque waterfalls.

Where to Stay: Baptiste Lake Lodge

Located just outside of town, Baptiste Lake Lodge is ideal for cyclists, with multiple units available for rent, a safe environment for bikes, and ample area to prep and organize for a ride.

Trip 3: Tweed & Hungerford

Distance: 2h from Ottawa, 2.25h from Toronto

The Route: Boonie Boon

Get ready for gravel! This route is over 90% unpaved. You’ll start in the village of Tweed where you can pick up any last-minute needs, but once you’re out of town, consider yourself in it for the long-haul. Prepare for a day on the road with extra snacks and water, a packed lunch, and battery backups for your devices. A quiet and remote route, this loop heads out of Tweed and skirts around Madoc, with 80% of your ride taking place on dirt roads. It’s a challenging gravel route with the Canadian Shield on full display.

The Food: Gateway Family Restaurant

Kick off your time in cottage country with a classic: diner favourites make up the menu at Gateway Family Restaurant, located in Tweed. Don’t forget to ask about the daily special, which ranges from fish and chips or wings to all-you-can-eat brunch!

More to Do: Potter Settlement Winery

It’s worth a quick detour up the driveway as you pass by Potter Settlement Winery around kilometre twelve of your ride: the views are impeccable, even if wine time isn’t on the agenda quite yet. Be sure to stop back into the winery for a tasting and experience before you head home.

Where to Stay: Park Place Motel

Wake up to views of sunrise over Stoco Lake at Park Place Motel, conveniently located in the centre of Tweed. Cyclist-friendly spacious rooms are the standard.

Want to Ride?

You can find more Hastings County gravel route inspiration on Ride With GPS, where local riders share their favourite routes with turn-by-turn navigation and points of interest. Join our Ride With GPS Club to get notified when new routes are added to the collection and get pro features when you Explore Hastings County gravel routes.

Looking for more Wildly Authentic adventures and experiences in Hastings County? Visit the website hastings.ca/adventures to learn more and explore.

Plan Your Fall Cycling Stay in Hastings County

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Sponsored Content Partner: Hastings County

Article written by Laura Voskamp. All photos by @bayofquinte.bike

Published On: April 1, 2024Categories: News

About the Author: Guest