By this time of year, we’re all looking forward to filling up on much needed vitamin D and to getting more active outdoors. A great way to fill those prescriptions is to spend a day or two biking along the Hambur Trail or some of the city’s other great cycling circuits. Get your heart pumping, stream some fresh air into your lungs, and enjoy vistas that will appeal to your sense of wellbeing.
While the Hambur Trail’s name might seem obvious, what you might not know are the many points of interest along this 50km recreational route. Everything’s rolled into a cyclist’s dream: an easy (on the eyes) trail featuring stunning lookouts, waterfront views, restaurants for repast, and hotels for rest. The trail passes through three parks: Spencer Smith Park, Beachway Park and Dieppe Veterans Memorial Park. The trail also winds along Burlington and Hamilton’s waterfronts, through Royal Botanical Gardens and a portion of downtown Hamilton. The route also happens to closely follow the Hamilton Marathon route, which is the oldest marathon in North America.
The path is suitable for all riders, including families who have bikes equipped with wider touring or hybrid tires. The route is mostly off road, touring existing pathways and rail corridors, with approximately 8kms of gravel to traverse. If you plan on doing the ride with kids, or aren’t keen on doing the whole loop in one fell swoop, set a distance goal ahead of time and head back once you’ve reached your destination. Another option is to break the route up into sections; then you can spread your adventure over several weekends, exploring a different area – or your favourite part – each time. Tired travellers can extend their trip over a weekend since there are hotels (and even a B&B) along the route. With that said, if you’re ambitious, you could certainly complete it in a day.
There are many other trails in the area to try by bike or by foot. The Hamilton Cycling Committee recommends the following routes.
The Dofasco Trail Loop is 40kms, unpaved and extends from the Devil’s Punch Bowl in Stoney Creek to the border of the Niagara Region. It’s mostly rural and includes lush forested landscapes.
The Beach Strip is one of two connecting routes that take you around Hamilton Harbour and is 21kms long.
The Barton Street Trail also leads you around Hamilton Harbour. This route is unique because it’s a very urban trek. While not scenic in terms of nature, it offers a great look at the city’s revitalization – and there are lots of opportunities to stop, shop and grab a bite to eat or a beverage.
If it’s rail trails you’re after, there are several to choose from. Rail trails are abandoned railway tracks that have been converted into a multi-use path open to those who want to walk, cycle, rollerblade – and some even for horseback riding. The Escarpment Rail Trail is 9.5kms long and runs from downtown Hamilton to Albion Falls, and is located at the southern edge of Red Hill Valley. The Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail is one of the most scenic. At 32kms, it’s part of the Trans-Canada Trail and runs through Dundas Valley Conservation Area. The Chedoke Rail Trail connects lower Hamilton (near the downtown) to Ancaster and the Dundas Valley Conservation Area.
However you choose to plan your excursion and get your wheels in motion, remember that half of the fun is making frequent stops to appreciate the view, exploring your surroundings and enjoying a well deserved drink or meal along the way.
Ontario by Bike
Written by Becky Dumais