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This Is What A Drumlin Looks Like

7 of the Best Bike Rides in Ontario

My love affair with biking started in Ottawa with a turquoise-coloured CCM that was two sizes too big – because that’s what you did in the 60’s – you grew into your bike. Since then I have always loved the freedom a bike offers and the amount of country you can cover in a day.

Ontario in particular has loads to offer the cyclist. Here are 7 of the best bike rides in Ontario you’ll find. 

Biking the backroads near Peterborough
Biking the backroads near Peterborough

This post includes some affiliate links. If you make a qualifying purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you very much.

Biking in Ottawa – one of the best bike rides in Ontario – and a very bike-friendly city

I was lucky to grow up in Ottawa for the city was ahead of the curve when it came to bike trails and Sunday street closures. One of my favourite bike rides takes you from downtown Ottawa along the Rideau Canal all the way to Hogsback Falls. It’s ideal for a visitor as there is a bike rental shop next to the Rideau Canal.

With over 600 kilometres of trails, there’s a lot of exploring you can do in the Ottawa area. Pick a part of the city you want to discover on a bike by downloading a map here. Don’t forget you can head across the Ottawa River and include Quebec in your plans for the day.

Where to stay in Ottawa

From personal experience I recommend Hotel Andaz -with its great location in the Byward Market and well-appointed rooms. The Fairmont Chateau Laurier  is a splurge but it’s one of Canada’s grand old hotels right on the Rideau Canal, and just a few minutes walk away from the bike rental place.

Read: Biking in Ottawa: What You Can See in Just 2 hours

Biking in Ottawa beside the canal
Biking in Ottawa beside the canal

Cycling in the Peterborough area

The Peterborough area is full of delightful surprises for the cyclist but is not well-known outside of the local cycling community. Offering everything from farm country to cottage country to kick-ass hills called drumlins, this part of Ontario will keep you coming back.

Even better, there are great places to stay like Elmhirst’s Resort (speak to Greg Elmhirst to get a local’s suggestions on where to bike) so you can easily head out for a multi-day trip. Another bonus is the number of great locally owned places where you can refuel.

Don’t miss the Pastry Peddler Cafe in Millbrook or the Lantern Restaurant and Grill overlooking Stoney Lake.

Read: Cycling in Peterborough, Ontario Over 3 Days

 Biking through farm country in the Peterborough area
Biking through farm country in the Peterborough area

The backroads of Prince Edward County

All you need to explore Prince Edward County is a map and a sense of adventure. Avoid Highways 33 and 62 – but all other roads are fair game.

The biking is mostly easy with only the odd gently rolling hill. There are three towns that offer accommodation and great food – Picton, Bloomfield and Wellington. On hot summer days include a trip to Sandbanks Provincial Park for a swim.

Check out the Arts Trail with 29 galleries or studios to visit. There is also a Taste Trail – featuring 35 plus wineries and the area’s best restaurants and food stands. Allow a long weekend to do the area justice.

Where to stay in Prince Edward County

Check out the June Motel rated as superb. It’s got a cool, retro kind of vibe to it.

The Waring House in Picton offers lovely rooms and a cooking school.

The Drake Devonshire in Wellington, is rated superb. It offers free bikes, garden views and a private beach.

Read: What to do in Prince Edward County, Ontario

I love the chardonnay from this winery
Lots of wineries to discover when you bike the backroads of Prince Edward County

Biking from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Niagara Falls – one of the prettiest, easiest and best bike rides in Ontario

The standout bike ride in the Niagara region takes you from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Niagara Falls on a bike trail that parallels the Niagara River Parkway. All but the final few kilometres to the falls are on dedicated bike trails.

The ride is easy except for the climb up the escarpment – and it’s short plus who says you can’t walk your bike? There are stops you can make at wineries or orchards along the way but if you haven’t seen Niagara Falls then that’s the obvious goal.

If you have more time you could continue to Fort Erie across from Buffalo or do a bigger loop over three to four days and catch more of the wine country in the Jordan area. After Fort Erie some of the cycling is on roads but for the most part they’re quiet.

Where to stay in Niagara on the Lake

Choose from premium hotels like Queen’s Landing, the Pillar and Post Inn & Spa and the Prince of Wales Hotel or one of the many bed and breakfasts. Book well in advance as Niagara on the Lake is a very popular destination.

In the B&B category I recommend the Schoolmaster’s House Bed & Breakfast. The Finlay House Bed and Breakfast reportedly offers an exceptional experience.

If you’re more of a chain hotel person, the Best Western Colonel Butler Inn should fill the bill nicely.

Download: Guide to Biking the Niagara Area

Visiting a Niagara Winery
Visiting a Niagara Winery

Biking the Waterfront Trail 

Ontario’s Waterfront Trail stretches from Niagara to Quebec and travels through 84 communities, 3 UNESCO biospheres, 15 National Historic Sites, three national parks, 19 provincial parks, 58 conservation areas, three wine regions, 90 beaches and down 25 historical main streets.

There’s a tremendous amount of variety depending on what section(s) you do. Bike on a combination of dedicated bike trails, quiet backroads and neighbourhood streets.

I loved the peaceful 45 kilometre section of trail running between Gananoque and Brockville. It parallels both the 1000 Islands Parkway and the St. Lawrence River. The section through 1000 Islands National Park is especially scenic – and a great place to stop for a picnic.

Gananoque is a lovely town with some excellent B&B’s. Check out the exceptional Stonewater Manor B&B or the Sleepy Hollow B&B

For help with detailed planning visit the Waterfront Trail website.

A bench with a view in 1000 Islands National Park
A bench with a view in 1000 Islands National Park – one of the scenic bike rides in Ontario

Rideau Heritage Route bike ride – one of the best bike rides in Ontario

You have a choice. You can bike the Rideau Heritage Route between Ottawa and Kingston or you can kayak it. Its 202 kilometres long so it will likely take you between two to four days to complete.

There are loads of options for the cyclist so to figure out what’s best for you check out the detailed information on the Rideau Heritage Route website. Don’t miss a stop in favourite town on the route – picturesque Merrickville.

B&B’s are popular here too. Check out the exceptionally rated 1840 Guest House B&B Merrickville.

The trail along the Rideau Canal is well used by commuters and Carleton University students
The trail along the Rideau Canal is well used by commuters and Carleton University students

Cycle through Grey and Simcoe Counties

Just 90 minutes north of Toronto you’ll find a tremendous diversity of cycling in Grey and Simcoe Counties.

Some of the old railways have been turned into bike trails. In particular you can cycle 77 kilometres on the Grey County CP Rail Trail and enjoy views of the Georgian Bay. Or try the 32 kilometre Georgian Trail that takes you from Meaford to Collingwood along the original Northern Railway beside Georgian Bay. This trail offers access to beaches, takes you through apple orchards and crosses several trestle bridges.

The Blue Mountain Loop starts with a gondola ride to the top of the escarpment. Then it’s a downhill cruise through farm and apple orchard country.

Energetic cyclists will love the 96 kilometre route that starts in Durham and follows the Saugeen River through former mill towns.

For loads of suggestions that will keep you busy on every summer weekend check out other ideas on the BruceGreySimcoe website.

7 of the Best Bike Rides in Ontario
Photo credit: BruceGreySimcoe

July 2018 update – Biking in Oxford County – some of the best bike rides in Ontario close to Toronto

Oxford County is an easy drive from Toronto but truly a world away. Criss-crossed with quiet country roads through rolling farm country, there are cycling loops for literally every ability. The kind folks at Oxford Tourism will even help you plan an itinerary if you email them at tourism@oxfordcounty.ca.

I highly recommend a big loop using Otterville as a base. While there were minor hills on a 30 kilometre loop, it was primarily flat.

Dirt roads are easily avoidable. Enjoy pastoral scenes like fields of peonies in season, a tunnel of trees and the fresh green of new growth in a farmer’s fields. Drivers are respectful and most roads are quiet.

To choose a pre-made itinerary check out this page.

7 of the Best Bike Rides in Ontario
Cycle through a tunnel of trees near near Otterville
7 of the Best Bike Rides in Ontario
Don’t miss a stop to see the waterfalls in Otterville on one of the best bike rides in Ontario

Northumberland County for biking 

I’d also highly recommend cycling in Northumberland County. Read about my biking experience here.

We stayed in Port Hope and used The Waddell overlooking the Ganaraska River as our base.

Biking in Northumberland County
Biking in Northumberland County

Further reading on biking in Canada

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

7 of the best bike rides in Ontario

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Cataraqui Trail from Sydenham to Chafey’s Lock is the nicest place I’ve ridden in Ontario. The Niagara Parkway is beautiful as well. That trail along the St. Lawrence is actually pretty disappointing. You’re not really along the water all that much and the trail is on the wrong side of the road for much of the time, and below the road, if that makes sense. It’s really not comparable to Niagara at all.
    The Guelph to Goderich rail trail has some interesting spots, although it has some strange detours as well since it’s not 100 % complete. Love the area near Elmira with all the Mennonites.

  2. Hi. I’m just wondering which of these trails are doable in a recumbent trike? I’m in the Guelph area and would love to try more trails however I’ve had bad luck with my trike. Ive been advised that the Guelph to Goderich trail is not adaptable, the Kissing Bridge trail has bike gates that are too narrow to get my trike through and the Cambridge to Paris rail trail is the same. Any suggestions?

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