If the back roads are one of Hastings County’s best-kept secrets, its network of off-road trails are the reason why. Over the years, the county has made a name for itself as a go-to destination for ATV and snowmobile travel in Ontario. These days though, two-wheelers are on the rise in the woods, and springtime (before the bugs are out in full force) is the perfect time to experience Hastings County by bike.
Exploring close to home and keeping things outdoors has never been easier thanks to shareable routes and knobby tires. If you’re looking for a local’s perspective on digging your tires into spring trail biking in Hastings County, here’s the plan:
Declaration of emergency and provincewide stay-at-home order
As COVID-19covid 19 cases continue to rise at an alarming rate, a declaration of emergency and provincewide stay-at-home order are in effect as of Thursday, April 8, at 12:01 a.m.
For details regarding provincial restrictions, please visit Ontario.ca. In addition to restrictions outlined by the province, Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH, has implemented a Class 22 Order. Please follow the guidelines. This blog post is intended for locals’ inspiration only.
We chose to start this route in Stirling, at the Grand Trunk Train Station parking area. From here, it’s easy to hop on the Hastings Heritage Trail. A rail trail is ideal for a first foray into trail riding since elevation gain and loss are gradual rather than steep climbs and descents.
Note that the Hastings Heritage Trail and the Trail of Two Lakes are multi-use trails, meaning that ATVs share the trail with hikers, horseback riders and cyclists. For this reason, plan your ride during daylight hours and be sure to turn on flashing front and rear lights while you’re riding to give others warning. You can find out more about trail use through the Eastern Ontario Trails Alliance (thetrail.ca).
If you’re feeling up to the additional kilometres, loop down from Dutch Lane onto Factory Road. If not, keep heading toward Gallivan Road and back into town via Eggleton Road.
This 25.8 kilometre on-and-off-road route can be attempted in warmer seasons by anyone with at least a 40mm tire, but during the winter it should be undertaken only by fat tire bikes.
- Stay home if you reside in an area currently under a Stay Home Order, or if you are feeling unwell.
- Keep your distance. Stay at least six feet away from anyone outside your household, even in the outdoors.
- Keep to a single-file line while on the trail. Stay right while riding; pass on the left.
- Cyclists should yield to hikers and horseback riders.
- Pack out all garbage.
- Do your research. Don’t use trails that are closed, and don’t use unmarked trails.
- Be aware of the weather. Avoid using the trails after heavy rain to prevent damage.
Sidebar: What to Pack for Trail Biking
Like other outdoor activities, how you prepare is the key to trail biking success. Spring conditions can change quickly, so check the weather and layer accordingly. A spare layer is worth the space it takes up in your pack! The same goes for a spare snack and an extra water bottle.
Along with a helmet, a pair of cycling eyewear designed for low-light conditions can completely change your experience. Most trails involve lengthy sections through treed areas meaning that visibility may be lower than on the road.