Bikepacking in Kawarthas Northumberland

 There are so many good reasons to go bikepacking!  For some endurance athletes the day comes when a desired ride is so long that it simply can’t be done in one day, which is a good reason to consider a multi day cycling adventure.  For others, the appeal of bikepacking is that a trip can be savored at a leisurely pace, while taking the time to sample a region’s hospitality and scenery.  Whether wilderness adventure or luxurious leisure appeals to you, carrying just what you need on your bike gives a sense of freedom that many of us have not experienced since childhood.

two people biking on a trail through the woods with rock on one side

We are so lucky in Kawarthas Northumberland to be surrounded by an extensive, quiet road network.  In the north, riders find everything from cottage roads to rail trails while farther south quiet gravel roads roll through farm country.  Throughout the region are passionate hosts staffing our local accommodators as well as rustic camping at locks on the Trent Severn Waterway as well as Crown Land camping.  From a weekend cruise to a week long adventure, Kawathas Northumberland is one of Ontario’s best, most accessible places for a rider to get acquainted with the simple pleasure of exploring by bike. 

Although the riding in the Kawarthas Northumberland is great all season long, we are particular fans of doing multi day trips in the fall.  The spectacular scenery and colours of the season pair up nicely with bug-free camping, quiet roads and crisp temperatures.

There are two bikepacking routes in particular that Wild Rock Outfitters has put together, one to introduce you to bikepacking and the region, “A Great Daycation or Introduction to Bikepacking” and the other lets you dip your feet even further into bikepacking and gives you an off the beaten path adventure with impressive scenery.

A Great Daycation or Introduction to Bikepacking

This is simply a great day out on the bike for riders who like the idea of going a bit farther afield. Taking in the destinations of Elmhirst’s Resort on Rice Lake, historic sites at Hope Mill and Lang Village as well as the village of Hastings, this route has all the makings of a good daycation. Along the way riders can stop to take in the many sights and stop for a nice lunch at Elmhirst’s Resort or one of the local restaurants in Hastings such as McGillicafey’s Pub and Eatery or Bridgewater Coffee & Pizza . Rather than a route to rush through, this is a route so slowly savor.

For those who like the idea of dabbling in the world of bikepacking, this is a great route to start with. Packing just the basics for a night in a hotel, riders can spend the night at Elmhirst’s, enjoy dinner at the restaurant and relax by the shores of Rice Lake before finishing the route the next day.

The Northern Way

Nestled in the heart of the Kawarthas, this route heads north of Peterborough for a loop around the Canadian Shield. Riders will follow a line in the dirt, heading north from Peterborough, over rocks and through rivers, bisecting the Kawartha Highlands down the middle before making their way back down through the fertile farmlands we all know.

This is a route that spans over 200kms and is best suited for a duration of 2-3 days. Camping on this route is split between crown land, provincial parks and conservation areas – choosing how and where to camp is up to the rider. There are plenty of food sources along the way, be it general stores, markets or chip trucks – water can be found anywhere with a water filter. This route is rugged and remote but best suited on an all surface gravel bike – 38c + tires are recommended due to the rugged terrain.

This route starts in the heart of Peterborough close to the cafe district (check out the boro.ca for more information). Secure overnight parking can be found in the King Street parkade downtown Peterborough. Keep in mind that it is only free on weekends and after 7pm on weekdays. Before setting off, be sure to stop into Wild Rock Outfitters for last minute gear needs or bike service.

Things You’ll Almost Definitely Want To Know:

Ideal seasonal ride time is July to October

Plenty of fueling options, General stores, gas stations, towns

Secure Overnight parking is available for free in King Street Parking Garage in Peterborough

Don’t underestimate the terrain – expect mild ATV trail, gravel roads

Some Handy Resources To Help With Your Research:

Ontario Crown Land Atlas

Ontario Parks

Peterborough Cafe district

Eat and Drink in Peterborough and the Kawarthas

Wild Rock hosts a trove of route, equipment and packing advice at wildrock.net  

For more information on routes visit – https://wildrock.net/blogs/the-routes

Kieran’s Must-Haves for Bikepacking: https://wildrock.net/blogs/the-journal/kierans-must-haves-for-bikepacking