Kitchener to Cambridge (14 km cycling)
Click here for a map of the Walter Bean Grand River Trail (42 km existing trails)
Community leader Walter Bean had a dream to create a multi-use trail the length of the Grand River through Waterloo Region. After he died, the project was renamed in his honour. Much of the trail does exist, although it is sometimes hard to find. Work by local municipalities continues. Woolwich Township is working to choose a route (likely on-road) and develop it. Waterloo and Cambridge have completed their multi-use trails and have erected signage and wayfinding. Much of the route in Kitchener is completed, but some sections require upgrading and signage and some remain missing.
On our previous post I detailed our ride from the Woolwich-Waterloo border to Woolner Trail in Kitchener. This section is complete other than an on-road connector between Woolwich St at Kiwanis Park and the Bridgeport Grand River Bridge; and a short connector along Centennial Rd.
From Woolner Trail, the route is a little murkier. However, in the process of completing the Grand River Trail, we discovered a series of multi-use trails, with short connectors on quiet roads in peaceful subdivisions, from Woolner Trail to Morgan Ave. Between here and the Freeport Bridge, there is no choice but to ride on Morgan Ave and busy River Rd E. and King St E.
From the Freeport Bridge the trail takes the east side of the river, past the Pioneer Memorial Tower. Unfortunately much of the trail has been washed out and is in poor condition, suitable only for aggressive mountain biking or walking. We persisted and made it to the tower, with its delightful weather vane of a conestoga wagon..
After the tower, the trail is greatly improved. It crosses a magnificent pedestrian bridge over the Grand River at Doon.
From Conestoga College, the trail becomes part of the Trans Canada Trail. There is another pedestrian bridge over the 401. Even on a Sunday afternoon, the traffic thundered under the bridge, taking no notice of the cyclists and pedestrians above them.
Once over the bridge, the trail enters Cambridge as the Grand Trunk Trail and runs alongside the meadows beside the Grand River, offering lots of great views of the river.
It crosses rare Charitable Research Reserve which supports conservation, research and education. One of the local residents attempted to hitch a ride on my son’s shirt. This magnificent caterpillar likely has poisonous hairs to discourage predators, and was gently encouraged onto a neighbouring bush. There was also an empty osprey nest–hopefully because the resident osprey were successful in raising their chick.
The Walter Bean Trail officially ends just past the rare Reserve, but the Trans Canada Trail continues as a multi-use trail into downtown Galt, joining up with the Cambridge to Paris Rail Trail, with only a short on-road section.