Looking west on Doube’s Trestle, between Peterborough and Omemee
After riding the Lang-Hastings trail on Sunday July 30, I cycled from Peterborough to Uxbridge on Monday, August 1, stopping at Trent University. This is one of my favourite rides in Ontario, having done this route twice before. But this was the first time I rode west towards Uxbridge, rather than east to Peterborough.
In total, I rode 99 kilometres that day, and given the heat (and the lack of shade), I ended up ending up a little bit dehydrated — and quite tired — at the end of the trip. There are no places to rest or buy snacks or beverages between Lindsay and Uxbridge, so it’s best to plan ahead. Bring lots of water; Lindsay is an excellent place to take a break and have a light meal. At Uxbridge, I had dinner at a local pub before loading my bike on a GO Transit bus back to Toronto.
There are a number of great rail trails in Southern Ontario, but except in the Lindsay-Peterborough and Kitchener-Brantford-Hamilton regions, rail trails in Ontario, where they exist, are usually disconnected from each other and difficult to access from Toronto without a car. It makes me long for Québec s Route Verte network of trails and cyclist-friendly roadways.
After leaving Downtown Peterborough, I followed the former CN Lakefield Subdivision north along the Trent-Severn Waterway to Trent University, Ron Thom’s brutalist masterpiece on the banks of the Otonabee River. A summer weekend is really the best time to explore the campus, when the students have gone home for the summer and one can appreciate the mix of greenery and concrete.
Trent University on the Otonabee River
The rest of the ride followed the former CN Campbellford Subdivision between Peterborough and Lindsay and the former CN Uxbridge Subdivision the rest of the way, mostly following the route of the Trans-Canada trail. The last train left Lindsay in 1990 and the tracks were removed soon after.
In recent years, Lindsay has been removing nearly every trace of its rail heritage, building upon the old rail yards and corridors; wayfinding signage to connect trail users to Downtown Lindsay or to other trails was non-existent. This is a shame, as it is a deterrent to cycling tourism. Elsewhere in the City of Kawartha Lakes, the trail surface was fair, but not great (though better than during my last ride 2014). Between Peterborough and Omemee and within Durham Region, the trail was in very good condition, but not suitable for road bikes — wider, more rugged tires are advisable. Paved trails would be ideal, but many rail trails are used by snowmobilers in the winter (in fact, snowmobile clubs are often the reason why former rail corridors were left intact) and crushed stone is cheaper to lay down and maintain.
The scenic highlight is about 10 kilometres west of Peterborough, at Doube’s Trestle, where the former railway bridge rises over a verdant valley, affording great views. This might partly explain why the Peterborough-Omemee section is well used by cyclists and pedestrians.
A missing link in Uxbridge itself was completed in 2015 when the Uxbridge Trestle bridge was renovated and re-opened to pedestrians and cyclists. The trestle was built in 1872 by the Toronto and Nipissing Railway, a narrow gauge line between Toronto and Coboconk. The T&N was later absorbed by the Midland Railway and later the Grand Trunk and Canadian National, part of an ever-growing network that only started to decline in the 1950s as branch lines were cut back.
The newly-restored Uxbridge Trestle bridge, built in 1871.