Pack your Bike and Head for the Hills

Riding the Rails and Trails in Headwaters.

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I am passionate about mountain biking! Thankfully, here in the Hills of Headwaters, there is an abundance of routes to choose from. There are routes for hot sunny days and for viewing the fall colours at their peak; long routes, stop-for-ice-cream routes, and race-training routes.

It’s all here: the flat Caledon Trailway, the gnarly single track of Albion Hills, and the steep and rocky slope of the Niagara Escarpment. Whether you’re a first-time mountain biker or a seasoned racer, there’s a trail for you. So many places to ride, to explore, to eat at, and to stay at.

So pack the bikes and head for the Hills. There’s no doubt you will find a trail or road to explore. Biking is always a favourite activity for kids on camping trips, and it’s a great way to explore conservation areas such as the Luther Marsh just outside the village of Grand Valley.

My favourite place to pedal with my young daughter is on the Caledon Trailway, part of the Trans-Canada Trail. We get together with other parents and kids in the charming village of Inglewood, on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment. Ice cream is an essential post-ride treat, which is usually eaten on the front porch of Caledon Hills Cycling shop.

Caledon Hills Cycling is the store to buy gear, rent a bike, or just get lots of great information. It’s the heart of the local mountain biking community, and the unofficial headquarters of the Caledon Cycling Club. It’s also my favourite place for a less strenuous activity: gossiping!

A ride with the kids always involves food, so when our outing takes us to the Elora-Cataract Trailway, we start by fuelling-up with hot sticky buns at Holtom’s Bakery in Erin. By the time we get to Hillsburgh, we’re ready to indulge in the best poutine in the region at the local Hillsburgh chip wagon.

When my friends visit the Hills of Headwaters for the first time, I love to show-off the spectacular scenery at Mono Cliffs Provincial Park. Here you’ll find a well-marked network of mostly double-track trails that snake under and around the cliffs. Yes, there are some big hills to climb, so use that low gear and take your time. The effort will be worth it when you get off your bike to enjoy the view from the lookout at the top.

If night-riding is your passion, Albion Hills Conservation Area is the place. Yes, I really did say night-riding. When the sun goes down, devoted mountain bikers attach lights to their helmets and handlebars and ride in the dark! Twice a year they converge here to race non-stop on relay teams for 24hrs!

Albion Hills is a mountain biker’s paradise. Double-track trails, technical single-track, camping, and a lake to cool-off in make it a major destination for Ontario cyclists. The great trails and facilities are a key reason that June’s 24hrs of Summer Solstice race is the largest 24hr bike race in North America. 24hrs: Hot August Nights race will light up the forest trails for a second time in 2005. For those who need more sleep, there’s a race on Tuesday evenings that anyone can enter. Kids as young as 4-years-old line up at the start with grandparents and expert racers alike!

You don’t have to race to enjoy Albion. Take your time exploring the trails. Frequent trail changes, improvements and additions ensure that your cycling experience is different year after year.

When the sun is shining, and it’s not too hot, I love a leisurely ride at Forks of the Credit Provincial Park. The rolling terrain through open fields is the perfect place to enjoy the sunshine after a long, dark winter. The trails here dry out earlier in the spring than most others. It’s a great place for inexperienced mountain bikers to gain confidence. No big rocks or logs on the trails, and a nice variety of single- and double-track routes. The Credit River gorge cuts through the park and offers fantastic views you won’t want to miss.

As the seasons change, so do the trails. You can see so far into the forest when the leaves are still in bud. Fallen trees cause detours at all times of the year. In the autumn, the leaves on the ground make it hard to see where the trail actually is, and you can expect to encounter deer and wild turkey while riding. So come and explore often. Bring your sense of adventure along with your bike and look for your new favourite trail.

What Is Mountain Biking?

Mountain bikes have hefty, well-treaded tires that provide good traction on rough or loose surfaces like gravel and dirt. Mountain bikes usually have shock-absorbing suspension at the front, and often at the rear as well. The suspension makes for a more comfortable, stable ride and the bike is easier to control when you ride over rocks, roots and potholes. The low gears on mountain bikes make it easier to climb hills.

“Double-track” trails are wide and easy to pass on.
“Single-track” trails are narrow and hard to pass on.
“Technical” trails (usually single-track) test experienced riders’ ability to handle sharp turns and to manoeuvre around and over rocks, roots and logs.

Cycling Safety:

  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Don’t ride off-road alone.
  • Carry a cell phone or whistle.
  • Pack lots of food and water.

Cycling Etiquette:

  • Bike on the right-hand side of the road.
  • Obey all posted rules.
  • Leave no garbage on roads or trails.
  • When approaching horses, go very slowly and talk.
  • Don’t bike on wet trails. Deep ruts can cause erosion.
  • Respect private property.
  • Leave nature as you found it for others to enjoy.

Caledon resident Meg Macintyre finds time for her freelance writing career between bike rides.

Cycling in Greenbelt Areas

Welcome Cyclists NetworkWhen it comes to exploring southern Ontario by bike, cycling in Greenbelt areas will take you thru some of the most scenic spots in the province. The Greenbelt is 1.8 million acres of permanently protected land in Southern Ontario, all easily accessible and close to urban areas. Whether interested in meandering recreational trails, rugged mountain biking terrain or paved road riding, there are all types of trails and routes suitable for any type of rider.

More information on cycling please visit the Welcome Cyclists Network where you'll find bike-friendly accommodations, places to eat and businesses. Enjoy your ride!

Events Calendar

Featured Events

TIME FRAME: Juried Art Show & Sale
May 28 - Jul 10, 2011
Alton Mill - Galleries & Art Studios

Caledon Farmers' Market
Jul 7, 2011
Town of Caledon

Caledon Farmers' Market - Bring Your Pet Day
Jul 14, 2011
Town of Caledon

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Pack your Bike and Head for the Hills
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