July 25, 2023

Kitchener to Hamilton - Part 2 (Rail Trails)

While I was writing about Friday’s 115 kilometre ride from Kitchener to Hamilton, I realized going over the ride details would mean splitting it over three posts. Part 1 discussed the logistics of getting to Kitchener GO station and riding towards Downtown Cambridge. Part 2 will start from when I crossed the Grand River in Downtown Cambridge to get to Highway 24 and the Cambridge to Paris Rail Trail.

Cambridge to Paris Rail Trail

After crossing the Grand River on Cedar Street – Waterloo Regional Road 97 – I took the first right onto Highway 24 which offers painted bike lanes to get to the Cambridge to Paris Rail Trail. At Ainslie Street, you have the option of taking the multi-use path on the east side.

Unfortunately, a downed tree blocked the trail at Footbridge Road which meant taking the adjacent Highway 24 for 2.5 kilometres to the Esso gas station. MTO could have done a better job putting in paved shoulders on this highway, which was not that pleasant to ride on.

This rail trail provides some distance markings which do not only focus on the Cambridge to Paris trail. The 70 kilometre marker is how far it is to Hamilton including the S.C. Johnson and Hamilton to Brantford Trails.

This trail offers some porta-potties and benches along the way.

A trail board showed a map of the rail trails connecting Hamilton, Brantford, and Cambridge. You can see the full map at this link.

As with other rail trails including the Brantford to Port Dover one, the trail was mostly gravel with some parts only showing two narrow tracks. A few parts had rougher gravel, but my road bike handled it fine.

There is one thing I need to call out Google Maps about which is the ridiculous elevation change for a 5.1 kilometre stretch between Glen Morris and Paris. They claimed the uphill and downhill for that stretch are both more than 1500 metres, but the trail was practically flat.

The Murray Overlook – 3 km before Paris – is a worthwhile stop. It’s the site of a former bridge and offers arguably my favourite view of the Grand River. A bench is also available at the lookout while you can park your bike at the rack. Someone said he admired my road bike while walking back down.

S.C. Johnson Trail and Brantford

Just outside of Paris, the Cambridge to Paris Rail Trail becomes the S.C. Johnson Trail which connects the former with the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail. A bike repair stand and a little free library could be found at the trail fork in which turning right leads you to Downtown Paris. I kept straight to go to Brantford.

The Brantford city limit was a short distance away from the Paris trail fork, but it was another ten kilometres to Brant’s Crossing.

While the S.C. Johnson Trail was a mix of paved and gravel sections, it abruptly ended at an industrial area at Kraemer’s Way. Google Maps did show a wayfinding marker at Oak Park Road, but its visibility could have been better.

Two trails could be seen next to this pond with the one closest to it being paved.

The trail then leads you to the Oakhill Trail Bridge which would allow you to continue to the rail trails leading to Port Dover. To continue to Brant’s Crossing, turn left.

I approached Wilkes Dam and saw some people fishing there. At that point, I forgot to turn Strava back on and lost 5 km before restarting the recording at Brant’s Crossing. That’s why it only showed 109 km.

Brant’s Crossing had a rail bridge converted into a pedestrian/bike bridge.

It also had a structure which you could climb up for more views of the area. I stopped here to have some cherries.

After passing Brant’s Crossing, the S.C. Johnson Trail eventually took you to River Road which has a narrow trail.

However, there wasn’t any clear signage where you were supposed to turn left to continue to Hamilton. Fortunately, the trail was visible.

Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail

Some “Brock’s Route” signage could be found for this trail which also includes the rail trail to Port Dover.

Compared to the Cambridge to Paris trail, I found the Hamilton to Brantford Rail to be relatively uneventful. However, there were a few things of interest such as the remains of a canal converted into a hydro dam.

There was a tunnel which went under Colborne Street – 30 km from Hamilton – and didn’t have lighting.

The 142 metre descent of the Niagara Escarpment began near Mineral Springs and lasted for the remaining ten kilometres to Hamilton. While the descent may not have appeared obvious, it explained why it’s possible to achieve some short bursts exceeding 30 km/h along with decent trail terrain.

The trail briefly follows the Greenbelt Route near Mineral Springs.

Some Waterfront Trail wayfinding signage could also be found, but it was disappointing there wasn’t any when the Hamilton to Brantford trail ended.

About halfway along the Niagara Escarpment descent lies the Dundas Valley Trail Centre, which is at the site of the old Sulphur Springs train station with a couple of vintage Canadian Pacific train cars. A worthwhile stop for sure.

Here’s me at the trail centre after about 100 kilometres into the ride.

The mileage markers along this trail were simple but cheerful.

The Hamilton portion of the trail was paved with some SoBi bike share stations found along the way.

Just before the trail ended, I came across a rail yard.

The trail ends in a residential area. While a map is provided, I wished there was some wayfinding to point people to destinations such as the Waterfront Trail, Downtown Hamilton, and West Harbour GO station.

I will save my Hamilton observations for a short third – and final – part of this series.

For a different perspective, Jun N wrote about his own experiences along the Paris to Cambridge and Hamilton to Brantford trails a few years back.


  1. Nice report of an epic ride. Nice to see that the Brant crossing bridge is open. Also I like the comment about the inaccuracy in Google Maps along the Cambridge-Paris rail trail. I remember you asking me if it was hilly.

  2. Google Maps will also sometimes say “Mostly flat” and then you encounter rollers over many kms. I guess it averages? 😂