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Old 03-10-03, 12:42 PM   #1
stokell
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Hamilton - Niagara cyclist, I need info

As soon as the snow melts (about May), I'm biking from Toronto into Hamilton and the Niagara Peninsula just to get my rusting legs working again. I've got a few questions which require local knowledge to answer.

I understand the lift bridge on Burlington Road is closed for repair. How do I get around that?

I have a map which shows a railtrail from Hamilton to Caledonia. Does it exist? Is it complete?

The same map also shows a railtrail from York to Dunnville? Does that exist and is it complete?

Any other info on off-road trails in the area is greatly appreciated.
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Old 03-10-03, 02:52 PM   #2
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I wish I could join you on a ride to this region it has been many years since I have been to this part of Canada! Good choice for a starter ride and VIA has a train that will return you and your bike back to Toronto when you are all tired, stiff and sore! Here is what I know and hopefully a local person will provide the details you are looking for. Also there are many nice quite country roads to cycle down, so going off road is not necessary. The area is historic, for Canada that is, and these old roads have a lot to offer.
I had a look at some of my old maps and other info on this area. The Complete Guide to Bicycling in Canada, by Elliot Katz has a chapter on this region so you could have a look at that. The Map Art’s Ontario Recreation Map is not worth looking at so save your money. Topographical maps for this area would be very helpful and Travel Ontario will have information on the Wine trail if you are into vineyards and wineries. The Bruce Trail Guide has a lot of information on interesting land formations along the mind-bending Niagara Escarpment. I hiked the 800 + km. along the escarpment end-to-end many years ago and it is beautiful and highly recommended, even if you only cycle along it. The guide also has information on historic sights, monuments, parks and conservation areas and places to stay. Spring would be a wonderful time to visit, as the fruit tree will be in bloom!
Toronto into Hamilton: Lakeshore trail would work. This trail may go all the way to Niagara by now and there is a book out on this multi-use trail. From Niagara-on-the-Lake to Niagara Falls and then on to Old Fort Erie, this is called the Brock trail and it goes along the river. Also, there is a nice country road, Upper Canada Heritage Trail, from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Queenston Heights and the General Brock Memorial and the W.L. Mackenzie Museum.

Good luck, take your time and have fun!

By the way, weren’t you going to do a pub ride through the south of England?
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Old 03-10-03, 04:55 PM   #3
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Yes, I was doing Southwest England this spring, but a change in my career paths means I'll have to do something closer to home and save England for next April.
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Old 03-11-03, 04:29 AM   #4
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If i am reading the signs correct the Burlington lift bridge is now operational again.
That's one headache out of your way
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Old 03-12-03, 12:07 PM   #5
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Yes, Stokell, the lift bridge opened a week early, I've been riding over it since yesterday.
You might want to try The Plains Rd./ York Boulevard entrance to Hamilton through Burlington instead of the beach. It's a much nicer ride - You pass the Royal Botanical Gardens, Dundurn Castle, Cootes Paradise, downtown Hamilton (not the highlight of the trip) The rail trail up the escarpment is accessible from Wentworth Street.
If you are insistent on travelling via the beach, there is a nice wide new asphalt bike trail along the lakefront from Joseph Brant hospital in Burlington, extending past Confederation Park in Stoney Creek.

The rail trail does go to Caledonia, there is a gap around the Lincoln Alexander Expressway in Hamilton, but it's not too difficult to find your way back to the trail. I can give you directions if you need them. This trail is a little rough for a road bike, it's paved but just tar and chip.
Sorry, I don't have any info on the York portion of the rail trail.

For off road trails, the Dundas Valley is great check freewheel cycle for maps. Red Hill Valley in East Hamilton also has some good bike trails, with linkages to the Bruce Trail along the escarpment. Check the City of Hamilton website here and click on "Parks and green spaces" for a city map including bike trails.

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Old 03-21-03, 12:42 PM   #6
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Thank you everyone for your help.
Right now this is my plan.
I'm leaving Toronto on day one and bike to Hamilton via the Waterfront Trail. I'm going to have a few beers at the Winking Judge and spent the night. In the morning I'm taking the rail trail to Caledonia and then from York to Dunville on a yet un-named rail trail, ending up around Smithville for day two.
On day three I'll be heading back to TO on the Waterfront Trail via Burlington Beach.
Do you think this will work?

Allan
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Old 03-26-03, 09:15 PM   #7
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Your trip sounds good, if you have the time take the road along Lake Erie to Fort Erie and take the trail to Niagara-on-the-Lake than follow the Waterfront trail back to TO. I would also recommend taking the Waterfront Trail east towards Presqu’ile Provincial Park and the Isle of Quinte this spring if you have the time. I am envious, I always wanted to cycle in this part of Ontario, but I moved away because of the smog. Let us know how it all works out and bon route!
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Old 03-29-03, 07:35 AM   #8
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Allan, make sure you pack some warm clothing for travel near Lake Ontario. Yesterday at Hamilton airport was sunny and +20 C, temp was +4 C on the Lakeshore in Burlington (Northeast wind) I thought I'd be wearing shorts and a tee shirt on the commute home, ended up wearing pants, jacket and winter gloves!

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Old 04-10-03, 11:54 AM   #9
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So here is the story. It looks like I can take a couple of days next week to make my ride. BUT...what conditions are the trails in?
In Toronto the city does not clear the trails and since we had that ice storm last week they are a real mess.
I'm wondering if anyone knows if the Waterfront Trail from Toronto to Hamilton, the rail trail from Hamilton to Caledonia and York to Dunnville are open. Also what are the surfaces of these trails? Do I chance being up to my eyeballs in mud?
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