I noticed one reference to the Kingston & Pembroke trail on this forum but it didn't mention whether the poster had toured it. I found myself in Chenaux, Ont. this summer with Kingston as my destination, for a return to the U.S., a ride to Rome, NY and an intersection with the Erie Canalway to take me back in the direction of home in W. Mass.
I decided to follow the K&P trail for as much as I could between Renfrew and Kingston. The Renfrew area had suffered a microburst a couple of weeks before and I found the section near Calabogie only partially cleared of fallen trees. I had to abandon the last little bit before reaching Calabogie proper. I picked it up again south of there and followed it to where it emerges onto County Rd. 509 near Elphin. In fact I met a group of riders from the Almonte Bicycle Club when I emerged onto the pavement. If any of you guys read this, "I made it home and thanks for your good wishes."
South of that point the trail exists only in sections, but I followed every one that I could, some only to dead ends and consequent backtracking. When I reached Harrowsmith I was able to find a section of the Cataraqui Trail that brought me back onto the K & P and from there it's continuous into Kingston.
My question for the forum: is there anyone else out there who has done the entire length on a self-supported tour? I'd like to compare notes.
Hi, hilltowner. Glad you were able to finish your ride and get home safely.
I live in the general area, have visited the trail often, but never on a bike. I'd like to give it a try, especially in the fall or late summer when the bugs have died off. IIRC, the trail isn't exactly smooth. What kind of bike were you on, and what would you recommend?
How badly did that storm hit the K and P? It destroyed the home of a family friend, and her whole area (Norway Lake near Calabogie) was hit very hard.
Anyway, your whole tour sounds fascinating. I'd love to do it all, or any part of it.
My plan is to take the Cyclopark PPJ on the Quebec side up the Ottawa River to the whitewater rafting area, then return to Ottawa via some backroad route in Ontario. Hadn't thought of including the K and P in the trip, but I didn't even realize it extended to Renfrew. So thanks for some interesting ideas.
My touring bike is a vintage Bridgestone MB-1. I use Schwalbe Marathon tires (26 x 1.5) and vary the pressure (which can be as high as 100 psi and as low as 40) depending upon the road surface. This summer's tour grand total was 1500 km and most of it was on pavement but the K & P is definitely not a surface for narrow road tires. You are correct about it not being "exactly smooth." It seems to be used by ATVs and dirt bikes more than bicycles, from what I could tell. There are challenging sections for a loaded touring bike and I found myself pushing through some stretches (not long) of golf ball-sized gravel (probably the old RR ballast). For the most part it's fairly firm double track (ATV width). Occasionally it was smoother to ride the crown than the wheel ruts but for the most part I could roll along at an average speed of 20 kph (often faster but sometimes slower). The fastest section happens when you get within 20 km of Kingston. It's a brand new gravel surface and appears dedicated to bicycles.
The effect of the microburst near Norway Lake was devastating. I was warned in Renfrew that I could find downed trees. Beforehand I pictured a situation much like one I'd encountered with a friend on a ride around Quabbin Reservoir here in Mass. a few years ago. We had to often dismount and lift or push our bikes around downed clumps of trees. The situation on the K & P was all of that and more. Someone had begun clearing the trail (enough to get an ATV through some of the timber piles) but the clearing activity petered out right in the Norway Lake area. I thrashed my way through one last section before a road crossing that led past the lake. I continued on down the trail but retreated to the road crossing when I encountered another unopened section not too far south. I went through Calabogie on the highway and rejoined the trail (which is not continuous in that section but has to be picked up again after riding out past the Calabogie Golf Course) south of the highway. The damage steadily decreased the further south I went. The prettiest part of the whole ride was the section south of Calabogie down to where it emerges again on the pavement of County Rd. 509. The trail is essentially a gravel road through that section and it serves as an access route to the camps that line the lakes that one passes. You'll occasionally meet trucks that are traveling to and from the camps. The surface is good and you can roll right along. You pass a series of snowmobile shelters along the way. I stopped and camped near one of them on the shore of Graham Lake near Lavant Station. That campsite was the highlight of my 13 day tour: loons, beavers, osprey, herons, and solitude. It was very memorable.
South of the section mentioned above the trail is very discontinuous. I noticed No Trespassing signs across the entrance to some of the trail sections. The next long stretch can be accessed south of Mississippi Station. You go from there into the center of Sharbot Lake which is also very pretty. South of there it's mostly road riding. The couple of times I tried to pick up the trail (based on Google bike map directions) I was turned around by a "bridge out" sign and a beaver pond across the trail. You can see long stretches where the old RR bed parallels the highway heading toward Kingston but it isn't maintained as a path for any vehicular travel (not even snowmobiles from what I could tell). In Harrowsmith you can intersect with a section of the Cataraqui Trail which then intersects with the K & P. From there to Kingston it's as I mention above.