One-Tank Trip for Aug. 26/17
(c) By Jim Fox
Happy trails to you!
It started in 1995 as a trail spanning 275 kilometres along Lake Ontario between Hamilton and Trenton.
Today, the multi-use Great Lakes Waterfront Trail stretches 2,100 kilometres and continues to grow to the delight of bikers and hikers.
What’s more, it has just been recognized as a “Trail of Distinction” by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
|Enjoying a trail ride are writer Jim Fox, Jenna Hunter and Natasha Ilic. (Barbara Fox photo)|
An expansion last year connected Lambton County and Kettle and Stony Point First Nation to the trail.
This year it added 380 kilometres along the Lake Huron North Channel between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury, so the trail now meets Lake Superior.
Next year, another 650 kilometres will be added by expanding into Manitoulin Island, Huron,
Bruce and Grey counties.
This will close the gap between the North Channel and Southern Ontario and result in a continuous signed route from Sault Ste. Marie to the Quebec Border.
The waterfront trail and others of distinction are “legacy routes that celebrate Ontario’s iconic landscapes and passion for the outdoors,” said Marlaine Koehler, executive director of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust.
The long-term vision shared by the trust and its community partners is to “create a trail that embraces all of Canada’s Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River,” she added.
The trail idea was originally launched by former Toronto mayor and cabinet minister David Crombie.
Calling it one of the province’s “most distinct trails,” Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, said it has “unique wetlands, forests and beaches that connect to vibrant communities.
|Out for a spin along a quiet section of the Great Lakes trail.|
“It’s an incredible route of discovery through Ontario’s rich natural heritage,” she added, noting it is an Ontario 150th birthday legacy initiative.
Others to have received this honour include the Greenbelt Route, Trans Canada Trail Ontario, Bruce Trail and the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs Trans Ontario Provincial Trails.
The waterfront trail is a combination of paths, neighbourhood streets, rural roads and highways.
Major branches include the Niagara River Recreational Trail and the St. Lawrence Bikeway.
It is largely paved and welcomes all types of non-motorized recreation users, with portions designated as the Trans Canada Trail.
Attractions to behold
The trail connects Ontario residents and visitors to natural areas, parks, cultural sites, main streets and attractions including three Great Lakes, four bi-national rivers, three UNESCO biospheres, 23 provincial parks and three national parks.
|The Waterfront trail includes numerous secondary and provincial highways.|
There are 21 national historic sites, 415 municipal parks, 65 conservation areas, 125 beaches, three major wine regions, 44 historical village main streets and 12 international border crossings.
As well, there are 15 “bicycle-friendly communities,” 16 Ontario by Bike (formerly Welcome Cyclists) Network Regions, 427 businesses designated bike-friendly and more than 45 major connecting trails.
Each summer, the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure holds a five-to-eight day recreational cycling event to showcase major sections.
The province’s Metrolinx has joined with the trust to develop 11 active transportation links between GO stations and the waterfront trail, making it more viable to get there without a vehicle.
|Two riders travel through some lush greenery on the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail.|
Pelee is the first island to be signed as part of the trail while the Bluewater ferry connects with U.S. Bike Route 20 in Michigan.
In Windsor, the new Herb Gray Parkway Trail covers 20 kilometres with greenspace created as part of a major highway expansion.
Details, itineraries, tourist information and maps can be found at waterfronttrail.org; (416) 943-8080.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca