Map 16 Alton (14.6 km + 22.3 km return by bicycle) (Note that this section is now closed. The Grand Valley Trail now starts in Belwood).
15 degrees C and a mix of sun and cloud. The perfect day for a long bike ride.
We started cycling the Grand Valley Trail in Alton, following the white blazes on posts beside the road. This short section of Main St is steep with very narrow shoulders. From Highpoint Side Road it is hard-packed gravel roads, with little traffic. On our first Grand Valley Trail hike nothing was in bloom. Now trillium and trout lilies were flowering in the woods. The ditches and brooks were full of golden clumps of marsh marigolds. Imagine the burbling sound of a little stream, with the air filled with the warbling of courting birds and the trills of lovelorn frogs. There was even the mating screech of an American toad, an unassuming amphibian that sounds for all the world like a streetcar going round a tight corner.
We hauled our bikes over the moraine, following ATV tracks along a snowmobile trail. The Grand Valley Trail goes off-road between 5th and 6th Line but we continued to the Elora Cataract Trailway, (part of the Trans Canada Trail) at which point we cycled back towards Alton. We will pick up this hiking section of the Grand Valley Trail on our next outing. In contrast to the Grand Valley Trail which goes up and down the moraines with abandon, the Elora Cataract Trailway is almost flat.
There were numerous birds, including both the usual suspects (vultures, robins, goldfinches and a solitary great blue heron) and a few unusual sightings (a brilliant orange Baltimore oriole and a loggerhead shrike, notorious for impaling insects on thorns and barbed wire).
At Erin we took a little detour to Tim Hortons for a well-deserved coffee/tea break. Kudos to Erin for building a paved multi-use trail along the road, and to Tim Hortons for putting in a bike rack. From there we left the Grand River Watershed and crossed into the Credit River Watershed, as we rode to the end of the Elora-Cataract Trailway, at Forks of the Credit Provincial Park. Having gone this far, we detoured into the park to admire the cataract falls, meeting up with a Bruce Trail side trail, Canada’s iconic hiking trail. Then it was a short up and down ride along a busy road with a hard shoulder into Alton.
Apart from a little sunburn–the day was sunnier than expected–and some sore muscles we were none the worse for our gorgeous day in the country.