A recent trip to Caledon showed off the Greenbelt at its best: by bike.
Just one hour by car from Toronto, Caledon offers the frustrated urban cyclist almost everything they could possibly want. Steep, switchback-filled descents? Check. Thigh cramping climbs? Check. Pastoral landscape views at every turn? Check. An abandoned railpath? Check. Opportunities for a cooling dip in the river? Check. And to cap it all off, how about some crisp local cider to wash down a post-ride meal? Check.
One hot weekend in July, I set off with a friend and our vintage chic road bikes (both still in good working order, despite a combined age of at least 50) to try out the Credit River Ride: one of the new Greenbelt Route's regional loops.
Our first destination was Belfountain, a historic hamlet known in the past for its kilns and quarries. Parking, we unloaded our bikes, applied sunscreen, and set off along Forks of the Credit Road, “a tree-lined roller coaster of a road” and, according to the Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s great drives.
The steep hills and sharp corners – for which we have the limestone ridge of the Niagara Escarpment to thank – led us down to the village of Inglewood. There, we picked up lunch in the well-stocked general store and enquired about local swimming spots. We were directed to the village baseball diamond (“where the local youths go to drink. Follow the trail of beer bottles and you can’t go wrong”), which backs on to the Credit River. A dip here offers a refreshing break for the perspiring cyclist, but a word of warning: look out for the leeches.
Newly installed Greenbelt Route sign on Caledon Trailway and a view of the Oak Ridges Moraine.
Back on our bikes, we joined the Caledon Trailway. Formerly part of the Canadian National Railway, it was purchased by the Town in 1989 and became the first official portion of the Trans Canada Trail. Running for 35 km through Caledon the trailway crosses some beautiful scenery, including the Credit and Humber river valleys, the Niagara Escarpment, and the Oak Ridges Moraine.
Grateful for the shade and lack of hills, we followed the Trailway for 4 km before rejoining the road for our next stop: Spirit Tree Estate Cidery. Although known primarily for its delicious cider (it comes in all sorts: I recommend the dry hopped variety), Spirit Tree also has an in-house bakery and pizza oven, which serves up fresh pizza on Fridays and Saturdays. Reluctantly we remounted our bikes for the last climb in the late-afternoon heat back to Belfountain, with a quick detour to see the Mars-like Cheltenham Badlands.
We passed through one day too early for Cheltenham Day. Next year…
At 30 km and with some long climbs and fast descents, the Credit River Loop could be done in a couple of hours but is well worth taking the time to sample its many delights. The six other day loops range in length from 23 km to 59 km, and each showcases some of the best each region along the Greenbelt Route has to offer. I encourage you to print off a map and go and explore for yourself.
For more Greenbelt cycling suggestions check out Shawn Micallef's recent Toronto Star piece on his picks for "5 summer road trips in the GTA" (all in the Greenbelt!).
Love buying local? Stayed tuned for the upcoming re-launch of greenbeltfresh.ca - a quick and easy way to find fresh local food for you and your family grown in Ontario's protected Greenbelt.