RR Guelph Hiking Trail - Very Long
Yes, as the name suggests bikes aren't really welcome. But then again if it
weren't for the bikes, there wouldn't be a trail because not many people
hike the whole thing.
Took off work a little early Friday and thought I'd check out a different
direction. There's a section of Bruce Trail on Crown land near here and I've
never checked out where it goes to the east. It's about 8km to the trail up
some gravel road from my house. The trail starts here on a 4wd road (lifted
trucks only thanks). There's a quick climb up a rocky edge of the Niagara
escarpment. The trucks have done a number here, so sticking to the ridge in
the center is a must. I'm waiting for one of them to pull over my favourite
pear tree winching themselves up this hill.
Thank god for the drier weather. Just after you crest the escarpment there's
a bog. Earlier this spring it was a 200' lake about a foot deep. It's down
to a 6 inch depth for 50 feet. So much better. Even though it's jeeproad it
takes a bit of skill to run through this with chucks of limestone sticking
up everywhere. The road runs on for about a klick and then turns to
singletrack. (Now I'm not sure if your allowed to use the singletrack
designation for a trail widened by quads - not the leg kind of quads
either). A quick left and you start to descend the escarpment. A nice blend
of smooth trail broken up by limestone ridges and logs across the trail. In
about 5 minutes I'm on to some trail I haven't ridden before. It's not too
promissing, with a bit of 'garbage' miles as you skirt the edge of a
farmer's field. But once you cross the next road I found some great new
singletrack up to Limehouse. I'm enjoying the trail and the scenery and I
reached for my waterbottle only to realize I left it on the steps. I did a
quick inventory and decided a PowerBar, Clif Shot and my Camelback would do
me for a few hours. This seemed like a good idea at the time.)
I got a bit sidetracked in Limehouse checking out some cool stone ruins.
Haven't a clue what they were except for the mill. The mill is worth
mentioning because the arch over the raceway is still there. No wall left on
it, so it's a picturesque arch over the river. Unfortunately no camera. I
spun around a bit here checking out some side trails and then figured I'd
head back until I saw the balzes for the Guelph Hiking Trail.
The trail runs from Guelph to Limehouse in Southern Ontario Canada following
an abondoned 1930's? electric railway. I'd hiked it with a buddy a few years
back and had always thought it would be a good ride. At this end very few
people use it as it has a few large road sections where they couldn't
negotiate a more interesting route. I spun down the road eating my PowerBar
(I'd skipped lunch after all) and looking for dark red blazes. I think most
of you know that dark red doesn't stand out that well in shadows. Add this
to the fact that the guy blazing the trail was a bit lazy and I was spending
a lot of time thinking I was on the wrong route.
After a frustrating 5 or 6 km the trail finally turns off the road. It
begins following the rail bed paralleling a current CN line. I've always had
a fascination with old rail lines beacuse of the enormity of the manual
labour that went into these things. Sort of our Canadian version of the
great wall. I spent a few minutes cutting back some trees that had overgrown
the trail. Like I said, if it weren't for bikes...
The trail then rolls down the embankment and up into a maple forest. This
was where things first got ugly. The forest had been recently logged and at
a guess I would say that the loggers made it their personal mission to
eradicate any trace of the trail. I hthink they went out of their way to
drop trees directly on the trail and left the branches and tree tops where
they lay. MV should see this. Two days with a logger = 5000 years of MTB's.
At first I thought it wouldn't be too bad so I stopped and cleared a bit of
the trial. I usually carry a folding pruning saw for quick trail fixups.
Somehow I ended spending an hour on this and drinking a good portion of my
water. In this hour I progressed about 150 feet. It finally dawned on me
that I'd better come back with some friends and a chainsaw. I took a gulp of
water, finished off the ClifShot and picked up the bike and rode. For 50 ft.
The next km was a straight hike-a-bike. Not quite hell, but I spent a fair
amount of time circling around when I lost the trail in piles of brush. Then
once I found the trial again, I had the pleasure of dragging the bike
through the brush pile or the forest. Between the mosquitos, the branches
and just getting whacked by the bike I should have smartened up and called
it a day. I'd had more than enough and was starting to have second thoughts
about my hobby, when the logging ended and the trail re-appeared. I was off
again and the lure of a new trail got the better of me.
After another few km of road the trail ducks back into the woods. The area
around here is flat but there's rock just below the surface everywhere and
quite a bit above the surface here and there. This tends to make for a few
walking sections. They might only be between 10 to 50 ft each but they add
up. I've been enjoying my Nike shoes for this kind of riding just because
they're so flexy. But with all the trail work and tree moving I was getting
a couple of blisters on my big toes. I really should have headed home at
this point but...
I was starting to have fun again. I passed a bunch of jumps. They looked
like they were made for dirt bikes - a lot too big for me and my bike.
However at the far end was a sign in memory of a local mountain biker who'd
died in an auto accident two years ago. Pretty cool. He was a good kid.
The trail wound on for another couple of km. I was starting to have trouble
getting out of the pedals and was misjudging log hops. After a few falls I
started to take it a bit easier. It was around here I ran out of water, so
when I hit pavement again, I did a quick compass check and turned for home -
about 20km to go with two fun off road sections to go.
My mouth was getting pretty dry by the time I hit the first trail. I
probably should have begged some water from one of the houses I'd passed,
but I figured I'd be fine. The first part of the trail passed uneventfully
till just near the end. I came across a hiker during one of the 10 ft
hike-a-bikes. He jinxed me with "Pretty tough trail for riding isn't it?" I
replied with a comment about it being mostly fun except for a few short
sections, and 30 seconds later while rolling though a strip of meadow I took
my hand off the bar to wipe my face. The wheel caught a stick at the side of
the trail and before I could react I was down and on top of the bike. My
personal damage was minor but when I picked up the bike I saw I'd taco'd the
front wheel. I cursed a bit and then looked to see how bad. The wheel still
spun but barely. With canti's or V's I'd have probably had to remove them to
I'd had enough; I pulled out my cell (I know, but I was on call) and went to
call my wife for an evac. No cell service. Ok, I'd ride the rest on the way
home bleeding and thirsty. It was _only_ about 17km but I'm not sure I was
having fun at this point. I was spending all my time in the saddle
inventorying the fridge in my mind. Each item in the fridge was placed on my
mental menu until I had planned on eating every single thing in it. This
daydreaming was done under the superior stares of overweight golfers as the
final dash for home skirts several golf courses. I'm sure they don't know
what to make of mountain bikers, especially when they appear muddy and
bloody out of the wild woods. Not a usual sight for their manicured greens.
So, elapsed time 5.5 hours, riding time 3.5 hours and distance 59.5km.
Calories consumed at finish? Countless.
One taco'd Bontrager ASym rim, one broken rear spoke. All in all a good
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