The decision to ride the G2G Rail Trail alone was an easy one. When a few of my favourite people were not available to ride with me, I decided to go it alone which I must say was very valuable and beneficial. It was something I had wanted to do this year and the idea of spending 8 to 10 hours alone on my bike over the course of 10 days became more and more appealing. It would provide time for much reflection and sorting through some thoughts and feelings in the fresh air and sunshine.
I checked out the amazing map on g2grailtrail.com and planned this new adventure. Just cutting up the trail into five sections of 20 km to 30 km each while accounting for damaged bridges and detours was easy. In 10 minutes I had a plan, and, oh how I do love a plan! Weather forecast was looking great for the next week to 10 days in September 2020.
The G2G is the bike rail trail running on the previous CPR Railway Line between Goderich on Lake Huron in Huron County, through Perth County, Waterloo Region and Wellington County and Guelph Train Station in beautiful downtown Guelph.
For each section, my lovely chauffeur and I would leave my vehicle at the destination of the day to get home later. We would then deliver my bike and I - a sexy cream coloured mountain "Townie" with 'old lady basket' and red ringer bell - to my starting point. Unsure of what to expect on the journey, I at least took the self assurance that I was in charge and would enjoy my time alone. This journey took me back to a time travelling through England alone (some 30+ years ago) when I'd arrive at a new town (by rail, bus or boat) where after settling into a B&B/Pub/Inn for a couple of days, my discovery walk might last for hours taking in new sights, people, history and knowledge of the new place on my journey.
The 1st section of this adventure begins at Goderich Cove Beach, up and out through Saltford (sweetest little village) to Maitland River Bridge. Today is sunny and warm, perfect for a bike ride surrounded by beautiful nature, peace and quiet. The magnificently planned and developed G2G is well maintained with the added joy of maneuvering around the occasional 4-wheeler joy rider ruts in the gravel - not allowed. The trail takes you into the serene countryside of Huron County to end at Maitland River with G2G signposts every km so you know where you are in your journey the whole time.
At Maitland River (without a) Bridge my car sits in wait after approximately 16 km, my shortest section. As a 'not professional cyclist' with 'not sleek clothing or helmet’ to go with my not sleek body, I took my time and stopped to take loads of photos. I cannot say enough that this was a beautiful experience and encourage all to go for it. To see that path in front of you for 127 km is incredibly therapeutic - even when it disappears later on. For certain I will be out there again in the years to come. Walking or cycling, this trail has been well developed and maintained by great communities and their people.
A couple of days later, on another sunny beautiful September afternoon, my 2nd section was from the east side of Maitland River (without a) Bridge. With or without a bridge it appears to be a favourite for horse riders where they would enjoy the river as a cooling spot. Trails on both sides of the river were quite steep and of course with any rain the results are horse marks with deep grooves. Proud to say my bike carried me both up and down these rugged areas. Small goals attained one at a time.
Where the path crosses over highway 4 at Blyth is a familiar sight, to find the riverside location of the brilliant Blyth Witches Walk - held on this trail at Hallowe'en amongst the wooded area and river for many years. As my bike took me closer to today’s destination the landscape became familiar at Walton. As it was a weekday the traffic on the path was quiet and stopping at each crossing was a breeze.
My 3rd section has me setting off from Walton, Huron County (with parking available), when the path takes riders and walkers through farms and fields on more beautiful trail. Huron County does farming very well and it shows in the beauty of our farmers properties. Along this path to Monkton slipping across Highway 23 to escape back to the countryside. Huron and Perth counties have almost 10% of Ontario farms and we are lucky to see them from the trail.
Benches are provided along the way and some property owners leave a display (shown below) or snacks along the way for riders to purchase. As the path is sometimes close to homes you see the odd cat running out, racoons, bunnies and the occasional deer. This trip ended at Line 148 with another gorgeous sunset, this time in Perth County. On my journey there was always another car or three parked with mine for other trail lovers.
The 4th section of this journey was very different from the first two. Setting off from Line 148 in Perth County, later on a summery September afternoon, the countryside is delightful again passing through farm country. Of course Perth Harvest is happening so the trail doesn't take you all the way and detours abound.
Once in Milverton I missed G2G km marker signs but thankful for GPS on my cellphone I managed to find my way on the detour through the town with local commuter traffic on the G2G. Luckily, I was overtaken by a local lady speeding past on her scooter bike as the path gets quite rugged and I asked if “this was still the bike trial?” I followed her for some time but the main road came up next - with another detour - as she flew up the road. The GPS on the cellphone and a pair of cyclists got me back on the trial. After a couple of km detour to avoid closed trails I found my way back to the G2G. Fellow riders are keen to help when you aren't sure of direction, thankfully.
Beauty again on the trial. This part brings the cyclist quite close to farms and homes in Perth County. The cut grass on either side of trail in this area made up for the rough and tumble of trails in the Milverton area. Following along through beautiful Perth amongst more beautiful farm properties the detour is before Milbank. The trail ends again and its back on gravel roads for a time to find the way to Wallenstein. Road traffic is quiet so riding on the road feels safe. Crossing the road at Wallenstein Feed the trail is to the east of the busy depot fenced off with a black chain link fence. This trail takes me back to my vehicle after 36 km with another fine sunset.
My 5th and final section was from Wallenstein through Woolwich and to Guelph. Dropped off to complete this end of the trail in the late afternoon - all set for the last 30 some km of this journey. Signs for Kissing Bridge Railway start here and continue until the trail ends at Marden Tract (about 10 km from Guelph). The final section turned out to be the longest with the detours by road rather than trail but by far the most beautiful for fall colours. Stopping to take many photos, flying past the apple orchards, scent of apples along the trail.
The trail is good until West Montrose when another ‘bridge that isn’t happens before your eyes. Another fine gent directs me to the next detour to find the sweetest covered bridge, along the river road to a gorgeous hamlet of homes at West Montrose. The fall colours are stunning and trees are still holding onto their leaves. The trail takes you past Martins Apple Orchard and there is that sweet scent again. Several bridges crossing the little river along the way. And the odd set of stairs to drag the bike down.
The Arliss Valley Golf and Country Club area is beautiful and we are lucky to have this opportunity to see if from the G2G! The manicured grass down the side of the trail shows the pride of the local people and communities. When the Kissing Bridge Trail ends I cross the road to find the Marden Tract. It doesn't look like a bike trail , rather a walking trail (which the map confirms) Again, I find a fellow to ask. He has never ridden it himself and my phone and GPS are dead so I take his direction, he's sure its the "bike trail".
I giggle to myself as I ride around and around a private property where they have created walking trails for personal use. I just know I will be riding on that highway again! I come back out of the walking trail and head down the highway the 10 km to Guelph. I did not connect again with the trail - Downtown Trail in Guelph but after riding the circumference of Guelph without GPS I follow my nose to the Guelph Train Station by road and my journey is complete!
Being my first big ride I have to say that starting the journey of the day seemed such a distance, but in truth each time reached my destination I was sorry it had come to an end as it was all so enjoyable. Get out there and enjoy what's been created for all!
Things I did that I would recommend;
* ensure your device is fully charged for GPS
* wear your helmet in case you fall off your bike - it happens
* take water, take photos
* be kind and talk to the other riders - they have great stories to tell