GVT Day 19: The Power of the River

Map 6 Brantford to Map 5 Onondaga  (30.5 km mostly by bicycle)

From Hardy Rd, in Brantford, the Grand Valley Trail follows the S.C. Johnson Rail Trail (also part of the Trans Canada Trail) along the high banks of the Grand River into the city.  The S. C. Johnson Trail ends at the Wilkes Dam, where we paused for a few minutes to watch a group of fishermen below the dam and several cormorants fishing above the dam.  After the dam, the Trans Canada Trail continues on a City of Brantford trail.  Meanwhile, the Grand Valley Trail meanders along a narrow pathway through a forested area beside the TCT, eventually rejoining it along a flood protection dike that runs through downtown Brantford.

The Grand Valley Trail and a branch of the Trans Canada Trail are supposed to cross the Grand River on an old railway bridge that has been converted to a pedestrian bridge.  Although the river today runs placidly between its banks, an ice jam formed as the river was melting last spring, creating a raging torrent that flooded low-lying areas and washed out the bridge and the network of trails on the Gilkison Flats on the other side of the river.  Looking at the bridge today, high above the river, it is hard to believe that the flood reached the level of the bridge deck.

Pedestrian Bridge

Fortunately there is a second, intact pedestrian bridge, a little below the old railway bridge, so we were able to avoid crossing the river on a busy road bridge.  We detoured the washed out trails of Gilkison Flats on a pleasant multi-use trail along Gilkison Rd, before returning to the official trail which follows Tutela Heights to the Bell Homestead (now a museum).  This is where Alexander Graham Bell lived with his parents and invented the telephone.

After the museum, the trail shifts to a narrow up-and-down path through a forested area beside very steep banks which overlook the Grand River.  Thereafter there is a short section which crosses the river on the Brant County Highway 18 bridge.  The bridge has no pedestrian or cycling facility and the road is very busy, with no hard shoulder.  It was a relief to get onto Salt Springs Church Road, which is a very quiet paved road.  There is an historic church and cemetery beside the river.  At the end of the road, the trail takes a closed road allowance between McLellan Rd and Van Sickle Rd.  Unfortunately, at the end of a farmer’s access track, the trail ended in dense overgrown bush which was impenetrable.  We had to retrace our steps to McLellan Rd and head up to Highway 54.  Again, we were riding on a very busy road without a hard shoulder, until we reached the little village of Onondaga and headed to our car parked on Painter Rd.

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