Top Cycling Routes Exploring Ontario’s National Parks & Historical Sites
We are fortunate in Ontario to have both National and Provincial park systems, providing residents and visitors with access to treasured and protected outdoor recreational spaces, many with historical significance. In Ontario there are 6 national parks and 39 historic sites under the stewardship of Parks Canada. One of the best ways to explore some of these parks and sites is on two wheels.
Whether you are riding just a few kilometers or on an extended tour, you are guaranteed to see and enjoy more. To get you rolling, here are some of our top picks, day rides or multi-day, for exploring Parks Canada sites in Ontario, by bike.
If you are keen to make a plan to visit soon be sure to read the latest info updates regarding health and safety for all locations as well as specific sites, click here.
1000 Islands National Park
With islands scattered from Kingston to Brockville, seeing even the 19 that are designated as a national park, out of the 1000 plus, is easier done by bike and on dry land, with access to convenient mainland stops and facilities.
Day Ride: A great way to experience the islands is a ride along the 1000 Islands Parkway Recreational Trail. The 37km off-road paved section from just east of Gananoque towards Brockville is a must for however many kilometers your time allows. Plan to stop, or park and go from a number of scenic points along the way.
Multi-Day Ride: Anchor your ride with a stop at forts at either end; Fort Henry in Kingston and Fort Wellington just east of Prescott, both National Historic Sites open to the public. Follow the well-signed and mapped Great Lakes Waterfront Trail for a one-way distance Fort to Fort of 100km, stopping overnight at either end.
Point Pelee National Park
A south western Ontario treasure, Point Pelee National Park is a 15km long peninsula that juts out into Lake Erie and is a touch down for Monarch butterfly migration in the fall and home to a variety of bird life which can be viewed from extended marshland boardwalks, endless beaches year round.
Day Ride: From the park entrance to the Visitor Centre, near peninsula end (and the southern most point of mainland Canada), is a pleasant tree covered 7km each way along quiet park roads. Make time for a walk out to the point and some added trail or beach excursions.
Multi-Day Ride: Hit the road and designated bike route between Point Pelee Park and the historic hold out, Fort Malden in Amherstburg, a mere 65km stretch. Break the ride up with a stop and lunch at one of a number of winery patio’s. Continue onward to Windsor and Lake St. Clair using portions of the Windsor Kingsville Essex looped tour and following the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail.
Rideau Canal National Historic Site
From Ottawa to Kingston, the Rideau Canal is over 200km long, with 47 historic locks connecting the Ottawa River and our capital city, to Lake Ontario.
Day Ride: Explore the canal as it cuts through the urban centre of Ottawa with a western and eastern pathway, both that hug the shores of the canal for over 16km of off-road paved multi-use pathway.
Multi-Day Ride: You could spend a week cycling in and around Ottawa and quite possibly not have covered all 980km of bike paths and routes around the city and countryside. Another ride option is to try the 170km classic route, most popular on the annual Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour, Ottawa to Kingston.
Trent Severn Waterway National Historic Site
Credit: Parks Canada
A popular boating route connecting Georgian Bay/Lake Huron to Lake Ontario, at the Bay of Quinte, the Trent Severn is 386km long and has 44 historic locks, including a marine railway at its Big Chute terminus.
Day Ride: The best view of multiple lock stations and an easy ride is along the Rotary Greenway Trail, from downtown Peterborough to the charming small town of Lakefield, for a total of 16km each way.
Multi-Day Ride: Routes long and short are a plenty in the Kawarthas Northumberland area, many of which take in the water and canal at some point along the way, and are easy to plan using the local area cycling maps and routes. Stay in one place and fan out daily, or plan a tour and tote the gear you need from inn to inn, B&B or camping.
Georgian Bay Islands National Park
Credit: Muskoka Tourism
From nearby Honey Harbour, hop on the Parks Canada Day Tripper boat to access beautiful Beausoleil Island and the Georgian Bay Islands National Park.
Day Ride: As the boat name suggests, a day trip is made easy, plus with bike rentals from the Cedar Spring campsite and visitor centre, exploring the 15km of natural trails accessible by bike, is a great way to discover the many scenic rocky points up island.
Multi-Day Ride: There are a number of road routes that circle the many famed lakes of the Muskoka’s. While the 65km Georgian Bay Cycling Route #2 will take you out to Honey Harbour, where you can add on the above day trip, ramp it up on the 94km lake circuit from Huntsville, used in the Ironman race, for training and local cycling events.
Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site
Credit: St. Joseph Island Museum
Accessible by a short bridge from the mainland, the quiet island life on St Joseph Island is all the more tranquil when enjoyed by bike.
Day Ride: Located on the south tip of the island, the ruins of this once most western protecting fort of Upper Canada, now Fort St. Joseph Natioanl Historical Site, make for an added excuse to enjoy some island time. Park onsite and ride the nearby roads, or loop up to Hilton Beach for some refreshments and North Channel views.
Multi-Day Ride: From the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site, where Lake Superior meets Lake Huron, connect to St Joe’s Island and onward using the Lake Huron North Channel Cycling Route and five day ride itinerary along this 460km quintessential northern Ontario ride all the way to Sudbury.
- Read our related blog: Top Cycling Trails in Ontario Provincial Parks (May 2020)
- Visit Parks Canada website and make use of it’s Parks Locator map and webpages that list all National Parks and Historical Sites, click here.
- Be sure to reference the following page before you go for the latest park news and updates to services and access during COVID-19 visit here.