Alton Section (14.6 km + 22.3 km return by bicycle)
Click here for map of our progress to date.
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.
To see the route, click here.
The day dawned sunny and warm–the perfect day for a bike ride. 14 cycling and craft beer enthusiasts met at Block 3 Brewery in St. Jacobs at opening time. After tasting the latest offerings, everyone hopped on their bikes. Unfortunately the trail along the Conestogo River, one of the main tributaries of the Grand, was closed for maintenance, so the group detoured along quiet back streets in St. Jacobs, heading to the St. Jacobs Farmers Market.
Where to start? Fresh fruit and vegetables? Handmade crafts? Apple fritters? Maple syrup, fresh from the tree? Everyone headed off in different directions to satisfy their personal yearning.
Regrouping, they faced the only treacherous part of the ride–crossing the Highway 85 bridge with busy traffic. Someday perhaps the Ontario Ministry of Transportation will consider cyclists as well as motorists when designing highway crossings.
After another quick beer tasting at Innocente Brewery (Pils-Sinner anyone?), the group were glad to take Waterloo’s multi-use trails and bike lanes to the WaterLoop. Evidence of the previous day’s storm was evident with a downed tree blocking the trail, but undaunted the group pressed on to Uptown Waterloo and their final destination, Abe Erb. There they revived their spirits with lots of iced water, more craft beer and a late lunch.
A great way to celebrate Jane Jacobs and the late arrival of spring.
To raise awareness of Grand Trails, Anne Crowe has pledged to hike or bike the length of the Grand Valley Trail, through the Grand River Watershed, in 2018. She will be following the raindrops downstream from Alton to Lake Erie over. Her full blog can be found on her website: www.grandwillowriver.ca.
The great April ice storm delayed the start of the adventure–the Pinnacle may not be very high but climbing it in freezing rain would still qualify as suicidal. So yesterday, on a cold grey day we drove to Alton and climbed the short steep trail to the official endpoint of the GVTA. From the top of the Pinnacle we were rewarded with a view between the trees over the surrounding countryside.
Our new Garmin GPS cooperated and we were able to map our route and post it to Google Maps. This will enable us to map the entire trail, designating on-road sections, multi-use trails and hiking trails as we go.
At the next opportunity we will return with our bikes to bike the next section, along mainly quiet country roads, making a round trip on the Elora Cataract Trail, finishing where the ECT connects with the Bruce Trail system in Forks of the Credit Provincial Park. In a few short months we hope to be fitter and hopefully more knowledgeable of our own backyard.
Join us on Saturday, May 5, for a Craft Beer Cycle Tour from St. Jacobs to Waterloo. This tour is one of a number of Jane’s Walks in Waterloo Region for 2018.
The tour will start at 11 am at Block Three Brewing Company in St. Jacobs. There will be stops at the St Jacobs Market and Innocente Brewing Company. The tour will finish at Abe Erb in Waterloo Town Square. On the way we will observe cycling infrastructure and challenges and discuss potential local cycling tourism opportunities.
For more information leave a message on the contact page.
January 17, 2018
The Grand Watershed Trails Network is seeking donations to a GoFundMe Campaign to start the process of mapping trails; identifying gaps in the network; and working with local municipalities to fill gaps. We will be working on a campaign to market the existing trails as a recreational and tourism resource. Help us bring people back to the Grand River to experience our natural, historical and indigenous heritage.
To donate, please go to the GRAND WATERSHED TRAILS GoFundMe Campaign.
January 17, 2018
The Grand Trails adventure experience takes the next step.
The Grand Trails Project has taken a major step forward with the incorporation of the Grand Watershed Trails Network Inc. as a not-for-profit corporation.
Joy O’Donnell, President of the GWTN, announced details of the incorporation on Wednesday, January 10, to a large group of people from various local municipalities and stakeholder organizations located within the Grand River watershed.
The Honourable Kathryn McGarry, MPP (Cambridge), Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry spoke at the meeting, highlighting the significance of the Grand Watershed Trails Network Inc. as a community-based project that will improve economic opportunities and promote appreciation of local heritage within the watershed.
Guest speaker Patrick Connor, CEO of the Ontario Trails Council, described other trail projects of provincial significance that his organization has supported. Mr. Connor laid out the process that will enable the GWTN to develop a trail network from the headwaters of the Grand River near Dundalk to the mouth of the Grand River in Port Maitland.
The Grand Watershed Trail Network Inc. has received approval in principle from ten municipalities from Haldimand County to Wellesley; as well as the Region of Waterloo and Six Nations of the Grand. Now that it is formally incorporated, the new board will continue to gather support through remaining areas of the watershed and will develop a master plan for trail development and connectivity.
In order to achieve this vision, our volunteer board is seeking donations to enable us to map existing trails; to start to fill gaps in the network; and to initiate a marketing campaign. This unique trail system will bring people back to the river, to truly appreciate the natural, historical and indigenous heritage of the area. Please consider supporting our GoFundMe Campaign.
December 5, 2017
Joy O’Donnell, chair of the Grand Watershed Trails Network announced today that the Grand Watershed Trails Network has formally incorporated as a Not-For-Profit Corporation.
The founding meeting of the corporation will be held at the Grand River Conservation Authority’s headquarters, 400 Clyde Road, Cambridge at 4:30 pm on January 10, 2018. Patrick O’Connor from the Ontario Trails Council will be the guest speaker. At this meeting the bylaws for the corporation will be adopted and the new board elected.
Everyone is welcome to attend. Please RSVP to email@example.com.