My wife and I are heading by car from Chicago to her hometown of Mount Forest, Ontario in a few days. To make it interesting, I'm going to have her drop me off somewhere on HWY 21 after we cross into Ontario so that I can take a few days to get a tour in. Here is my plan:
Day 1: Get dropped off around the intersection of HWY 21 and HWY 83, bike up HWY 21 to Iverhuron Provincial Park. Camp.
Day 2: Bike to Bruce Peninsula National Park, just south of Tobermory. Camp.
Day 3. Bike to Owen Sound. Camp.
Day 4. Bike to in-laws' house in Mount Forest.
Does anybody have experience along parts of this route to share? I'm especially wondering how HWY 21 is for cycling.
I haven't cycled on Hwy. 21, but have driven on it a few times and I wouldn't recommed it; as mentioned above, no shoulders and traffic reaching warp speeds. I'd recommend taking the backroads that run parallel to #21. Take a look at (or buy) a MapArt Ontario Road Atlas (available at any gas station or Can.Tire). Excellent for researching routes. Once you get to Southampton (beautiful beach), continue north on County Road #13, past Sauble Beach. This road continues near the edge of Lake Huron. The road will veer right and take you to Wiarton. From there, go north 2 kms. (on Hwy. 6) and turn right onto CR #9. MUCH nicer than the highway. (I took this way in June when I toured around Georgian Bay.) It'll basically veer left and then head north. At Lion's Head, continue north onto CR #29/Isthmus Bay Rd. Where this road then switches its name to Forty Hills Rd. (it also involves a left and a quick right), it turns to gravel, but only for about 5 kms. Then back to pavement. The road changes its name again to East Road. A warning though. Some road work is being done a few kms south of Dyer's Bay Rd. (~5kms more gravel). But I made it through just fine, walking my bike a little. Turn left at Dyer's Bay Rd. You'll then come to Hwy 6. Unfortunately, at that point, it's the only road to take to Bruce Penn. N.P., but that will only be about 13 kms.
Heading down to Owen Sound, south of Wiarton, I'd recommend not taking Hwy 6, but CR #1. (or if you have more time and energy, Cr #26 along the coast of Georgian Bay (another 10 - 15 kms).
From Owen Sound south to Mount Forest (near where I live actually), I would say to still avoid Hwy 6. Busy, no shoulders. Hilly too, if I remember correctly.
If you pass through the town of Durham, keep an eye out for the bike shop, I think on the main street.
I hope that helps ya! Have a great time!
Just want to say that CR 13 meets Hwy 6 just north of Wiarton. You'll have to go down (and back up) a big hill if you need stock up there. Also, try to make it to Spirit Rock Conservation Area before turning at CR #9. About half km road in to an abandoned mansion, a short trail from there to the Niagara Escarpment and a neat spiral stair case down to the shore line. Okay, that's it!
I'll second what thecrunge said. I haven't cycled Hwy 21, so I can't speak to that, but I did cycle the same route as thecrunge up the Bruce Peninsula, and it was fabulous. And I highly recommend CR 1 between Wiarton and Owen Sound. Be sure to stop in Big Bay for ice cream.