September 14, 2020

Georgian Trail from Collingwood to Meaford

For those who want to enjoy some cycling outside of Toronto, a lot of rail trails can be found across Ontario. Some of them can be accessed by GO Transit such as Oro Medonte, but many require getting to them by car for a day trip. During the Labour Day long weekend, Helen and I rented a car to bike the Georgian Trail from Collingwood to Meaford and the rail trails from Brantford to Port Dover.

The Georgian Trail is 34 kilometres long each way. Except for a short paved section within Collingwood, the trail is packed gravel along the entire route which is well maintained and doubles as a cross-country ski trail during the winter months. Even with the gravel, my road bike was able to handle it no problem. We used Highway 26 to get onto the trail, which offers a wide sidewalk until High Street before being forced onto the road to the Georgian Meadows Trail which connects to the Georgian Trail.

Along the route, you can catch some views of the Blue Mountains and Georgian Bay with some beaches nearby. Two bike repair stands – one at the old Craigleith train station and one in Thornbury – could be found while bike maps were also available near the station. Several bike counters were placed along the trail which counted more than 4000 cyclists by Craigleith in July 2019 per the trail association’s latest e-newsletter. There were also a lot of people biking when we were there.

Wayfinding along the trail is very good with frequent reminders of how far you are away from Meaford. The street names are etched into the stop sign poles along with reminders to share the trail and no motorized vehicles allowed.

If there is one safety issue that needs to be called out, it’s the crossing at Highway 26 about halfway between Collingwood and Meaford. Despite high motor vehicle traffic, there is not a signalized crossing in place which meant having to wait a few minutes to cross the highway. Either putting in traffic signals or an above (or below) grade crossing will be needed to remove this hazard altogether.

Once in Meaford, we noticed the bridge at the end of the trail was closed, so we backtracked on the trail to Boucher Street and Highway 26 to get to downtown. Downtown Meaford has a sushi place (2go Sushi) across from the public library which has some of the best sushi we had. One roll costs $9 plus tax and is very good sized. Meaford has some shops worth visiting including an antique shop called “This N That”.

Heading back, we stopped in Thornbury for ice cream at Pom Pom. A small (but good sized) cup costs $3 plus tax, though waffle cones are extra. Just head north on Bruce Street and find the big ice cream cone.

We returned to Collingwood using the paved trail instead of Highway 26. This allows you to enjoy the Harbourview Park with its oil tank, labyrinth, and some nice views of Georgian Bay. At the trail’s terminus, you can see the Collingwood Terminals Limited building towards the bay and a small outdoor amphitheatre on the other side.

While it is possible to park at Loblaws (which we did), I would suggest parking behind the sewage treatment plant on Bruce Street where the trail begins. As far as gravel trails go, this is one of the better ones we have been on with nice views of the Blue Mountains and charming small towns such as Thornbury and Meaford. Aside from extending GO Transit service to Collingwood, the only improvement that’s needed is to fix the crossing at Highway 26 halfway along the trail.

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