By Jacqui Snyder
Since my last article offering information about an interesting bike trip seemed to be received with lots of interest, I decided that for the next few issues I would write about some great places to cycle that are relatively close to home. These can be perfect for just a weekend getaway, or if you are feeling the effects of the economic downturn, can provide a great week long vacation alternative without the cost of a long distance flight.
Last year I purchased a large chalet at the base of Blue Mountain for rental purposes, and have managed to spend some time up there hiking, cycling and skiing, amongst other things.
The whole area is stunning! When you get to the top of the escarpment, the view of Georgian Bay is spectacular. The waters look tropical! No matter what time of year you are there, they contrast with the surrounding environment. On cool days, an eerie mist rises off the water. In the fall, the stunning blue is complimented by the vibrant fire colours of the deciduous leaves getting ready to hibernate.
There are all sorts of cycling options. Downhill cyclists can take their bikes on the chair lifts at Blue Mountain. These have been altered in the summer for easy bicycle access. Perfect for those who like to put on all the armour and bomb down the hill at breakneck speeds.
For those who don’t like to cycle on roads, or sometimes just like a short sightseeing ride in the country, there are many off-road trails of varying lengths that all link together. You can roll over little boardwalks or bridges and through parkland as well as between small residential areas. There are over 60kms of well-marked trails that get you around the local area surprisingly quickly.
For a longer trail ride, take the Georgian Trail that runs from the centre of Collingwood and runs 35km to Meaford, close to the waters edge on one side, with views of the mountains and ski hills on the other side. The surface is largely fine granular, so works with thick or thin tires. The trail crosses the Beaver River on an old trestle/girder bridge. Stop to see the view and to watch people fishing. Past Thornbury the trails climbs steadily and the shoreline moves quite far to the north. It passes through a couple of apple orchards, then descends into Meaford and ends near the harbour, offering a variety of scenery. In Meaford, the trail is further from the highways, so it’s a little more relaxing. The trail is well marked and points out all the amenities you might require. There are plenty of areas you can stop for a picnic lunch, or towns you can go to a restaurant.
For people who like road riding, the options are endless! One of my favourite rides is from Collingwood to the town of Creemore. It provides a reasonable distance of about 75km through rolling farmland and small country villages. There are some challenging hills, which then offer beautiful vistas. The roads are relatively well maintained with not too much traffic. Creemore is a lovely little town, made famous by it’s Creemore Springs Brewery, which in my opinion, is one of the best craft breweries in Ontario and Canada (if not further afield). There is a great bakery here that makes spectacular gourmet sandwiches on home-made breads. Take this down to the little park at the end of town and eat it at the picnic table under the big apple tree at the edge of the Mad River. After lunch sample the beer and take in a tour. Also, visit the Mad River Art Gallery.
If you need information on places to stay in the area, feel free to contact me.
ADVENTOURUS Active Vacations
Jacqui Snyder is an avid sports-person, trained Chef (George Brown College graduate; trained in Switzerland and England), foodie, people-person and traveler. She is a certified CAN-BIKE instructor and has cycled for as long as she can remember. Jacqui runs ADVENTOURUS Active Vacations, organizing skiing, cycling, and hiking vacations.