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Top Mountain Biking Trails in Kawarthas Northumberland

Top Mountain Biking Trails in Kawarthas Northumberland

Quiet backroads and well-maintained bike paths are a major part of the Kawarthas Northumberland region’s charm. For some riders, though, nothing beats the woodland immersion and physical challenge of a good mountain biking trail. We’re happy to report that Kawarthas Northumberland also excels in the mountain bike department, offering dozens of easily accessible single and double-track trails for a variety of skill levels. Here are a few of our top picks for off-road enthusiasts.

Harold Town Conservation Area (2611 Old Norwood Road)

Located just outside Peterborough, Harold Town Conservation Area makes an impression even from a distance. The former ski hill is now a mountain bikers’ dream and affords a commanding view of the surrounding countryside from the peak. Its 10km of trails begin at the base of the hill, wend upward through dense cedars, and end with exhilarating downhill runs. All trails are extremely well-signed, so you know the length and difficulty before you set out. Some are suitable for beginning to intermediate riders, while others provide tough, technical switchback climbs. They also have fun names, like the Kessel Run, Screaming Trees, and Laundry Chute (as you might’ve guessed, the last two include some fast downhill stretches).

The hardworking volunteers of the Peterborough Trail Association have added their own flourishes with boardwalks, rock piles, and ramps. Their work adheres to the trail-building standards of the International Mountain Bicycling Association, meaning they’ve been designed with an eye towards safety and sustainability.

If you’re looking for more local options, the Millbrook Valley Trails are another outstanding choice for mountain bikers in Peterborough County. Beginning in postcard-pretty Millbrook, these trails wind their way along the banks of Baxter Creek before passing through farmland and forest – ride long enough and you’ll find yourself in Ganaraska Forest, another excellent mountain bike destination.

Mountain biking in the CIty of Kawartha

Photo Credit: Kawarthas Northumberland

Northumberland County Forest (Multiple Access Points)

In a region known for its rolling hills, Northumberland County Forest stands out. The 2226-hectares managed forest is so large it offers three access points: the Beagle Club Trails, Woodland Trails, and Single-Track Trails. Loops range from a manageable 1km to a 14km tour through the scenic Oak Ridges Moraine. What’s more, the trail map makes it easy to sling together sections of different routes and create a bespoke daytrip.

Many trails are wide enough for beginning to intermediate riders to learn the ropes without pushing too hard, provided they’re game to tackle a few uphill climbs. Almost all routes pass through stands of hardwood that provide a canopy of cool greenery in summer and a riot of colour in fall. For riders looking for a more technical challenge, the Dragonfly, Stonewall and Elderberry trails are single-track and offer narrower, twistier alternatives.

Ganaraska Forest isn’t far away if you’re looking for more trails to explore. From single-track to logging roads, there’s enough trail here to keep you pedaling for days. Note, Ganaraska Forest charges a day-use fee to access its trails.

Northumberland County Forest

Photo Credit: Kawarthas Northumberland

Ken Reid (277 Kenrei Rd)

One of Kawartha Lakes’ most popular outdoor destinations, Ken Reid Conservation Area has a lot to offer mountain bikers. The lookouts over Sturgeon Lake are a treat any time of day, and since the park’s elevation is gentler than the options above, Ken Reid is ideal for cyclists who prefer to avoid steep climbs. Boardwalks offer a unique vantage on provincially significant wetlands where you might catch a glimpse of a snapping turtle, or if you’re lucky, an osprey hunting for fish. Ken Reid offers fifteen trails of varying length in total, many offering shoreline views and passing through white cedar forests.

If you’re looking to extend your ride, it’s easy to pick up the Victoria Rail Trail from Ken Reid. The former rail bed stretches 55km from Lindsay to Kinmount (and then runs a further 35km north as the Haliburton County Rail Trail). Speaking of Kinmount, just west this small Kawartha Lakes community lies Somerville Tract. The 3420-hectare park offers three mixed-use loops that total 8.5km. If you had an early start and the energy for an epic day on the trails, you could actually ride two of Kawartha Lakes’ premier mountain bike destinations on the same day.

Winter at Ken Reid Conservation area

Photo Credit: Kawarthas Northumberland

With numerous mountain biking destinations in the region, these suggestions are only a starting point. Inquire with local cycling clubs for more routes, be aware of COVID-19 safety protocols and the fact that some trails are closed seasonally, and be sure to bring a bike that can handle rough terrain. Happy mountain biking!

Kawarthas Northumberland

Contact Kawarthas Northumberland by email at or call the tourism hotline at 1-866-401-3278

Mountain biking in the Ganaraska Forest region south of Peterborough Ontario

Photo Credit: Kawarthas Northumberland

Published On: March 29, 2021Categories: Destinations, News

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