July 23, 2023

Kitchener to Hamilton – Part 1 (Waterloo Region)

This summer, I had been meaning to use one my summer Fridays off at work to bike from Kitchener to Hamilton using the Cambridge to Paris and Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trails. Unfortunately, the past two attempts in June had to be called off either due to rain or poor air quality. Last Friday, I finally got to bring my bike on the 9:34 GO Train to Kitchener and bike 115 kilometres – including a 5 km stretch in Brantford which Strava missed – to Hamilton’s West Harbour station. Making it the longest one-day ride I have done yet!

Getting to Kitchener

Unfortunately, GO Transit only runs trains to Mount Pleasant station on weekends, which would have been fine if you wanted to ride the Caledon Trailway. Ontario NDP MPP Catherine Fife (Waterloo) has been pushing for weekend GO service to Kitchener – which would help cycle tourism, students at Waterloo, Laurier, and Conestoga, and others – and has a printable petition available since Queen’s Park doesn’t accept e-petitions. It should be noted there is only one track from Georgetown to Kitchener stations; something which Metrolinx is working on at several strategic locations.

Here is a photo I took of Georgetown station on the way over.

Biking in Waterloo Region

Overall, my impressions of riding within the central part of Kitchener and Waterloo were very good. Multi-use Paths were put in on Weber Street on both sides to cross the rail tracks and lead to the Spurline Trail.

At the trail entrance, I noticed a piece of industrial machinery along with some Neuron e-scooter rentals.

The Spurline Trail runs right next to a rail line and clearly shows which cross street you reached.

I used Allen Street which is a quiet street to get between the Spurline and Iron Horse Trails. It’s also where saw the ION light rail line for the first time. 

There was one block on Allen which required me to cross the light rail track.

Caroline Street has a nice multi-use path leading you straight to the start of the Iron Horse Trail! 😊

More industrial machinery could be found along the Iron Horse Trail and I later found the Region of Waterloo also has Neuron e-bike rentals. Docking stations would have been preferred for bikes & scooters.

One thing I have to hand to Kitchener and Waterloo is the great wayfinding signage showing how long it takes to walk or bike. Including to get to GO Transit or certain LRT stations. Being part of the Trans Canada Trail system also helps with the wayfinding, though their signage could use some work in some places.

The Iron Horse Trail also does a good job showing the key cross streets along the trail.

At the end of the iron Horse Trail on Ottawa Street, I noticed a short painted bi-directional bike lane to connect with the contraflow bike lane on Nyberg Street. From there, you can take Sydney Street and Bedford Road to get to Courtland Avenue.

While Courtland Avenue has a multi-use path on the south side, I wished there was a traffic signal at Courtland and Bedford to make it safer to access the trail.

The Courtland Avenue trail goes under Highways 7 and 8, but can be narrow in places.

If there is one big disappointment with this Kitchener to Hamilton Ride, it is on Courtland between Hayward Avenue and Manitou Drive where no multi-use path exists. If they can put in a light rail line, why not add the path at the same time?

Manitou Drive has painted bike lanes and a “The Great Trail” sign can be found to guide cyclists underneath the busy street to continue the trail. The trail itself could have been better maintained.

A gravel trail section exists from Homer Watson Park parking lot to Old Mill Road. The trail is narrow in parts and has a steep uphill followed by a steep downhill. Some caution is needed here.

And here is a section of the gravel trail next to the Grand River.

There was an annoying “trail closed sign” near the end, but just take the dirt path left to Old Mill Road.

Doon Valley Drive has a nice multi-use path next to Conestoga College.

The path itself takes you to a bridge to cross Highway 401.

Unfortunately, the Record Heritage Trailpoint was in a dilapidated state with some signboards missing. However, there was a sign showing I used a small part of the Walter Bean Grand River Trail. That trail goes north along the Grand River to Kiwanis Park. Something which will have to wait another time.

This Trailpoint – almost 20 kilometres into my ride – was where I pulled over to have sushi for lunch! 😊

Grand Trunk Trail

The Trans Canada Trail continued next to the Grand River and is known as the “Grand Trunk Trail” for the 10.5 kilometres until the start of the Cambridge to Paris Rail Trail.

The first portion runs adjacent to Blair Road and has bollards along part of it.

A switchback can be found at “Cambridge Hearth” between the Record Heritage Trailpoint and Downtown Cambridge. Again with more views of the Grand River.

Downtown Cambridge is a pleasant roll passing by a fountain and has some painted bike lanes before crossing the Grand River to get to the Cambridge to Paris Trail.

Given the detail focused on Waterloo Region alone, I will create two more posts about this ride. Part 2 focuses on the Cambridge to Paris, S.C. Johnson, and Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trails while Part 3 will focus on Hamilton. Stay tuned …

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