September 03, 2023

Lake to Lake Route in York Region

The Lake to Lake Cycling Route is a 121 kilometre bike route from Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe and was part of York Region’s pedestrian and cycling master plan approved in 2008. Having done the Toronto stretch already, I was curious to check out the route in York Region. On Friday, I brought my bike to Bradford GO station and ride south to Toronto.

Map of Lake to Lake Cycling Route (Via York Region)

North of Holland Landing

At this time, the Lake to Lake Route has a gap from the Nokiidaa Trail Parking Lot in Holland Landing (East Gwillimbury) to Ravenshoe Road and Lake Drive in Georgina, while Georgina’s stretch mostly uses Lake Drive.

At Bradford GO, I noticed the station is locked, so you can’t use the bathroom there if you need to go. The train station also appeared to be in rough shape and is now a work zone.

The first kilometre involved taking the unpleasant Bridge Street stroad. As soon as I crossed the West Holland River, I turned onto Toll Road for a safer route which could use a signal.

Toll Road had a rough gravel patch at the start, but was mostly paved.

Holland Landing Road had a paved shoulder which was helpful, while I then took Bradford and Olive Streets to start the Lake to Lake Route.

East Gwillimbury

The trail head is marked with a canoe and some animals inside.

The trail within East Gwillimbury is mainly gravel but still road bike rideable. The trail has done a good job placing the trail underneath busy roads such as at Second Concession Road.

Boardwalks were used for the parts of the trail that went through marshlands, along with plentiful seating.


My favourite part of the Lake to Lake Route is the Newmarket stretch which is fully paved and lit. I also noticed a fair number of parks and other public spaces, along with at least one bike repair stand.

The old Newmarket train station is now used for their chamber of commerce and has a shipping container for Newmarket Cycles.

Several wood sculptures were used as trail markers, though they could have also shown a kilometre number.

There was one part where I got a bit lost at Timothy Street where the Tom Taylor Trail was briefly interrupted. I noticed some bollard protected bike lanes on that street, while you needed to go the other way and cross the railway tracks to continue.

Across the tracks is the Newmarket Community Centre with lots of tree-side seating.

A turtle mural can be seen across the river.


The trail becomes gravel again in Aurora which is known as the Tim Jones Trail.

St. John Sideroad has a multi-use path, but I am not a fan of the P gates by the railway crossing.

While Newmarket’s wayfinding was mostly nonexistent, Aurora made an honest effort with theirs.

I stopped by a picnic shelter at Lambert Wilson Park for some chicken roti from Absolute Bakery and pears.

A beautiful totem pole can be seen shortly past that picnic shelter.

There was a short stretch north of Vandorf Sideroad which had mulch instead of gravel. Not a pleasant place to bike on, while I made a wrong turn not far after the mulch section.

Richmond Hill

While Bayview Avenue has a multi-use trail starting at Vandorf Sideroad, it disappears once you enter Richmond Hill. Given the sidewalk from Bloomington to Snively Street, why not convert that to a multi-use path?

UPDATE 2023/09/17: I was informed by the City of Richmond Hill they plan to start construction of a multi-use path on Bayview from Bloomington to Bethesda Side Road in Spring/Summer 2024.

Once past Snively, paved shoulders can be found which is better than nothing. The route then follows Bayview to Lake Wilcox Park at Bethesda Side Road which needs a traffic signal.

Here is a quick view of Lake Wilcox.

The bike symbol barely fits into the bike lane on Bethesda Side Road, though you can choose to use some side streets to get to the Oak Ridges Corridor.

The Oak Ridges Corridor is not ideal for a road bike and there is a point where the trail switches back to go west where I had to walk the bike. Road cyclists would probably be better off staying on Bayview Avenue.

Oak Ridges Corridor map (Via TRCA) - Note #27 was where the troublesome switchback was

Strava's map (left) offered better detail of this area than Google Maps (right) which can cause some confusion.

The Stouffville and Bayview intersection is poorly designed with only a painted uni-directional bike lane from the Oak Ridges Corridor to the Bayview multi-use trail. One place where you have to be a bike salmon.

The trail had a nice distant view of the Downtown Toronto skyline.

The route is supposed to use 19th Avenue, but it was under construction at the time. So I continued to Elgin Mills which also has a multi-use trail.

UPDATE 2023/09/17: Cycling facilities on 19th Avenue are not expected to start construction until Summer 2026.

Unfortunately, there was a ghost bike placed at Bayview and Wisconsin. It was for a 44-year-old female cyclist killed in May 2019. RIP.

At Elgin Mills, there was a short block which I had to ride on the road to get to the off road trail at Eyer Homestead Park. That trail stops at Princeton Street which leads you to the Leslie Street trail.

Once on Leslie, it’s almost a straight shot to Steeles with nothing except typical suburban landscape.

Final Stretch

Crossing Highway 407 involved using a narrow sidewalk.

Once across the 407, I finally saw the first Lake to Lake wayfinding signage. IF York Region is going to promote this trail on their website, shouldn’t such signage be placed along the entire route?

A short paved multi-use path takes you through German Mills Settlers Park.

A narrow sharrowed Leslie Street then takes you to Steeles Avenue.

Unfortunately just before Steeles, I got a flat tire and noticed a tear along with a nail.

While I was able to get the tire changed, I took the subway at Sheppard & Leslie for a final ride total of 61.7 kilometres including a few kilometres from backtracking and wrong turns.

Despite the flat tire setback, I accomplished checking out the York Region part of the Lake to Lake Route. Newmarket’s stretch was well done, but Richmond Hill has a lot of work to do with theirs while the entire corridor could benefit from some Lake to Lake Route signage. Finally, Simcoe County should consider building a bike trail to connect the Lake to Lake Route to Barrie for an integrated trail experience.

Below, you can see the route I took on Strava to help with your ride planning.


  1. You are very adventurous to tackle some of the roads up there.

  2. DanielB_CANADA28/05/2024, 14:45

    Thanks for sharing this!

    As an adventurous cyclist from Aurora who often rides my fixed gear bike on local sections of the Nokiidaa/Lake-to-Lake Cycling Route and who has ridden it all the way south to Lake Ontario and separately, northwards, to Holland Landing and beyond, I must commend you for the many great observations and suggestions in your ride report here — much of which echoes things I have also observed and grumbled about. In case others find this via a web search, I'll do as you did and add my thoughts, town by town. Note: Due to post length limit, I'll have to split into multiple comments.

    BRADFORD/KING: As you were starting at the Bradford GO, I'll first comment on the cycling infrastructure gap you noted between Bradford and the LTL's current Holland Landing gravel trail terminus. Last summer, I biked with a friend to the end of Yonge Street and then headed south and west to tour the Holland Marsh farming area. We found that 'rough' Toll Road (which is actually in King Township) way too bumpy for our liking and that sketchy single track "sidewalk" on the north side of Hwy 11/Bridge Street into Bradford not something we would ever look forward to riding again. But the good news is twofold: first, there is currently a land use (re-development) study being conducted by York Region/Township of King/Bradford West Gwillimbury and Metrolinx for that very section of Hwy 11 corridor — and they are aware of the need to improve active transportation in this area; I submitted my feedback to the project over the winter detailing the cycling challenges I encountered and shared some considerations for potential solutions from a cyclist's perspective — and secondly, back in 2021, Bradford was promised provincial funding to build a $40 million trails network, in conjunction with the coming Bradford Bypass, and there was talk at the time of the need to connect to neighbouring trail systems including the Nokiidaa. So there is hope!

    EAST GWILLIMBURY: Less busy than Newmarket, it's often just me and nature so I love it. While the LTL south of the Rogers Reservoir follows the west side of the river, this past spring, I saw a notice that they were putting in a proper gravel trail on the east side, north of Green Lane (previously single track), and though I haven't ridden it yet it should provide an alternate LTL route to/from the reservoir and also link up with an existing 1.4km spur trail that continues towards the Mt. Albert Road & Leslie Street area of Sharon. I also gather that work on the LTL gap from the Holland Landing gravel terminus to Keswick should be starting either this year or next, though that's likely dependent on Bradford Bypass construction, as it will have to go underneath (or over) it. I'm really looking forward to riding all the way to Keswick via that route and hope to see York Region post an update this summer with details about its plan/progress/estimated time of completion.


    1. NEWMARKET: The town's all-paved trails are nice, though I do also enjoy riding the gravel to the north and south. I also agree with you about the lack of LTL waymarking — you do kind of have to know where you're going otherwise it can get confusing. This is particularly true in the mid-town Timothy Street and Water Street area, as you'd noticed. I’ve voiced my complaints about this specific section more than once and have implored the town to add on-trail signage, on-road markings and curb cuts to aid trail/roadway transitions. Elsewhere in town, there are green-painted cycle lanes and crossrides (ridable pedestrian crossings) yet their very busy section of the Nokiidaa/LTL route has none. Another annoyance is the always-wet section of trail immediately south of the Mulock Drive underpass caused by a neighbouring cement factory's truck washing bays. Rather than forcing the company (or helping them) to fix the leaks, the town just posts caution signs and places construction bollards and/or traffic cones on the trail when it's particularly bad!

      AURORA: My home town! The Nokiidaa/LTL is the primary 'cycling highway' between Aurora & Newmarket so I use this stretch often. Some local riders grumble about Aurora's trails being mostly gravel/natural while Newmarket's are all paved, but I have to say I like riding the variety of surfaces. I have a few more detailed comments to share about the Aurora section of the LTL so I'll number them.


    2. DanielB_CANADA28/05/2024, 16:50

      1) You didn't mention the McKenzie Wetlands boardwalk that's encountered not long after you enter town, north of St. John's Sideroad — but I will and I will rant about it, in annoyance. Despite it being part of the LTL Cycling Route & Walking Trail, the Town of Aurora has apparently decided that cyclists should not ever ride this section: signs at both ends of the boardwalk instruct cyclists to dismount (not just when busy but always) and they have placed physical obstacles across the trail at both ends to discourage riding onto the boardwalk.

      Yet when a person walks their bike, they become more than twice as wide as if they had just stayed on it — and therefore become more of an obstacle & inconvenience to anyone encountered (particularly if it's another on-foot cyclist). And, up until this year, a somewhat-challenging double P-gate zig zag (over gravel base, yep) guarded the north end but they have now been replaced by two 3ft-wide knee-height rectangular blocks of rock, placed slightly offset and in close proximity across the full width of the trail — while at the south end, the massive divot in the gravel at the very edge of the boardwalk that existed all of last year marked by a traffic cone (conveniently narrowing the trail between it and a P-gate) has now been fixed but in exchange, they've added a 2ft-wide rock block across half of the trail close to a P-gate that blocks the other half of the trail. This is at the very bottom of a not insignificant loose gravel incline — so for downhill northbound riders, that's a serious accident just waiting to happen, and for northbound riders (who were on foot crossing the boardwalk), it's tough to get going up the climb to St. John's. In other words, they don't want cyclists to walk the slope, too.

      So on my most recent ride to Newmarket, I decided to completely bypass the Wetlands by riding through the Hadley Grange/Wetlands parking lot to its west, then 425m north along the shoulder of Yonge St to a Nokiidaa entranceway that's just inside the Newmarket border (and opposite the exit of another great paved Newmarket trail heading NW to Mulock). My detour was ok but not something I'd advise when heading southbound because... "bike salmon". Now, if they replaced the sidewalk W of the parking lot with a proper 2-way MUP and wrapped it around the east side of Yonge Street to that Newmarket trailhead and directed on-bike cyclists to use it as a purpose-built boardwalk bypass, I would not only be ok with it I would actually appreciate it!

    3. DanielB_CANADA28/05/2024, 19:53

      2) The St. John's railway crossing P-gates you mentioned are a particular annoyance of mine but not so much for the gates themselves but rather the side-by-side concrete slabs below them and the gap between them that a bike tire can easily fall into or 'tramline'. I enquired about this once and was told it's likely the P-gates were a retrofit and that the intention is for cyclists to dismount — though I would argue walking across the tracks with a bike (esp. in cleats) is slower and more dangerous than riding across them. I was also told the P-gates at the track crossing was a Metrolinx requirement, though strangely you can cross the same line on Mulock Drive in Newmarket 2km to the north and there are no P-gates. In any case, the track will be widened (doubled) soon so I have hope that this will be rectified.

      3) That ain't a totem pole at Lambert Wilson Park, it's a *wood carving*. The information sign there explains the difference. But yeah, it's cool feature to ride by.

      4) On your ride south of Wellington St., having passed Sheppard's Bush, you found that one section of mulch... FYI it can actually be avoided by taking the parallel trail to the west (southbound, after the Deerglen Terrace out-and-in, at the next junction turn right onto the bridge then make a quick left). Again, signage advanced warning of the natural surface ahead and alternate route would be most helpful here!

    4. DanielB_CANADA28/05/2024, 20:18

      5) Waymarking signage: Expanding on the previous point, just like in Newmarket, town-wide in Aurora, there is little-to-no consideration for through-travellers and those unfamiliar with the route. Sure, you'll see signs in Aurora telling you the name of some nearby small residential street relevant only to people who came from there, and how far away (and what direction) it is... but you won't find any signs telling you which way or how far it is to the next major road — or, that if you're on the LTL, you need to turn left or right, or go straight on to continue. Or that there's washrooms and water bottle refill station inside the Aurora Family Leisure Complex near where you stopped for a picnic. We could use a bike repair stand (like the one you found in Newmarket) there, too. And you missed your turn? Last year, in those same woods north of Vandorf Sideroad, I missed my turn-off twice — and I've ridden the section many dozens of times! How embarrassing!

      RICHMOND HILL: I was excited to see your highlighted update about a new MUP to be built on Bayview south of Bloomington and am looking forward to that but I could not find any info about this project and as of now (end of May 2024) they haven't started work on it. But as an FYI: at Snively, you can cut over into the single-sided residential streets and use the paved links between them all the way south to Lake Wilcox Park, though I seem to recall at least 1 curb with no cut, which a personal pet peeve of mine. I really like riding the full Oak Ridges Corridor (from Bethesda to Bathurst Street or taking a branch northwards towards King Road as there's a network of trails in Oak Ridges that get me most the way home) but sometimes I'll shortcut the eastern trailhead by continue south on Bayview and re-entering at the Anchusa Drive playground. Then yeah, deep in the Jefferson Forest there's that steep switchback that can be rutted from rain runoff and tricky to get up, and I too walk it. And oh, yes, thank you for the comment & photo: what the heck is up with the design of that MUP at Bayview & Stouffville Road? So close to be being great, but a swing and a miss! It needs addressing. While waiting for the 19th Avenue reconstruction, like you, I found an alternative route to Leslie: Elgin to Eyer Homestead Park but then instead of taking Princeton, I head west to Frank Endean Rd and take that to Major Mack, where it's a 100m on-road (or sidewalk) ride to the paved Beaver Greenway trail (note: no curb cut to access from road!) which runs almost to Leslie & 16th Avenue. Heading down Leslie, my GPS routing messes up around Commerce Valley Drive but it's sidewalk both sides of Leslie over the 407 so no need to cross over and you just have to ride those sidewalk slab bumps. Would nice if they could pave it. I like the German Mills ride and it's too bad you got the flat tire before Steeles but other than a couple of missing links (& temp closure of the 401 crossing) it's a nice ride down to the lake beyond that. Of course, for me it's all downhill... it's the getting back home, uphill all the way that's the real challenge!


    5. DanielB_CANADA11/06/2024, 21:48

      re: construction of the Bayview MUP in Oak Ridges(Richmond Hill) - York Region Transportation updated me today with their plans for the Bayview MUP in Oak Ridges/Richmond Hill. Construction is now scheduled to begin between this summer and fall - and it will run between Bloomington Rd (Aurora border) and Bayview Park Lane, which is approx 850m south of Bethesda Sdr.

    6. Thanks for the useful commentary and updates, Daniel! Glad at least that gap in the Lake to Lake will be filled, though it would still be a drag having to go through the Oak Ridges Corridor trails.