There's a surprising lot of interesting stuff going on around here, and this space is devoted to discovering and sharing it. We'll post regular updates on merchants, activities and events. Look in often and soon you'll see why Meaford calls itself "The other Big Apple".


posted July 12th, 2015
Meaford mountain biking, part 5

Here it is, the final instalment in our mountain biking discovery tour.

Sawmill Trails, Hepworth (45-minute drive)

These mountain bike trails are maintained and used a lot by members of the Owen Sound Cycling Club. A 9 kilometre network of single- and double-track trails with lots of ups and downs, some nice flowing sections, and tight and twisty corners makes for a well-rounded short ride. The area is largely pine forest, and it’s quite sandy – which means it can get tough in spots when it’s dry, but is great all-weather riding all season long. Access from the parking lot on the NE side of Highway 6, less than 2 kilometres north of Shallow Lake.

Blue Mountain (20-minute drive)

From the Village at Blue, you can choose a couple of mountain-biking options. With a cross-country trail pass, you get a one-time gondola ride to the top, at which point you can access the trail network at the top of the mountain and eventually work your way down. Or if you’d rather avoid all that criss-crossing of rugged terrain at the top and downhill sounds better, opt for a downhill pass, and go up and down as much as you like, tackling the numerous challenging downhill runs. Sound easy? Guess again.


posted July 8th, 2015
Meaford mountain biking, part 4

West Rocks (30-minute drive)

The 222-acre West Rocks Management Area in Owen Sound offers some great trail riding with sections for all levels of rider. You’ll discover an upland hardwood forest blanketed in a variety of fern species. Every so often, the escarpment emerges from the forest affording great views of the surrounding area. And as the riders who created the video below point out on their tour of the trails, “one very interesting (and quite scary feature) is the huge cracks in the rock base of the escarpment. These cracks range from just a few inches to almost two feet wide and can appear bottomless.”

There’s access at points off 7th Avenue West near 8th Street, near the end of 9th Street W, and at the parking lot north of the 5th Concession Georgian Bluffs north of Grey Road 5.

Harrison Park/Inglis (30 minutes)

While you’re in Owen Sound, check out the trails at Harrison Park and Inglis Falls. Areas of the trail system are open to cyclists, but please watch for hikers. Beginning at Harrison Park, ride up along the Sydenham River until you reach scenic Inglis Falls – a perfect spot for a mid-ride snack or picnic. Then it’s time to enjoy the mainly downhill ride back to the Park.


posted June 26th, 2015
Meaford mountain biking guide 3

We’ve tried some challenging rides. Let’s take it down just a little.

Loree Forest (20-minute drive)

If Three Stage is a little extreme for your taste, then here’s a trail that will reward you with a fast, fairly easy trail, and some marvellous views of Georgian Bay. South from Thornbury on County Road 2, turn left at Victoria Corners and head east about 4 km where there’s a small parking area on the right. The trail begins at a double-track road allowance across the road. Follow this north until you find the blue blazes of a Bruce Trail side trail. The trail circles the top of the escarpment, emerging at one point at the top of Georgian Peaks Ski Club and a beautiful view north to Georgian Bay.

Massie Hills (20-minute drive)

We’ve talked about the amazing skiing and snowshoeing at Massie Hills Management area, but the rolling hills and mixed forest make for great mountain biking, too. With 8-9 kilometres of rideable non-technical trail, it’s a great place for the novice mountain biker or for those days you just want to get out without going too far. Access the trails from the west side of Concession Road 6 South (the Massie Road) south Grey 18, about half a kilometre south of Sideroad 6.


posted June 14th, 2015
More Meaford mountain biking opportunities

At Meaford Haven, you’re very close to one of Ontario’s legendary mountain biking trails.

Three Stage (30-minute drive)

Not far beyond Kolapore (heading from Meaford), you’ll find one of Ontario’s premier mountain biking destinations – an intricate network of more than 40 kilometres on, down (up), and below the Niagara Escarpment in Pretty River Valley Provincial Park, with occasional views out to Georgian Bay. With lots of rocky and rooty sections, these trails are best ridden dry and for the most part aren’t for beginners (though the section at the top by Sideroad 6 and the 2nd line offers a short loop that’s a great introduction).

For a taste of the rocks, check out this video at 7:04.

Another video.

While maps have existed at various points in the evolution of the trail system, most are outdated. Take a GPS or ride with someone who’s been there before.

Unless you want to begin your ride with a massive climb, start at the top – there are plenty of trails without having to descend and climb back up. From Meaford, Highway 26 West to Grey Road 2 in Thornbury. South 13 km to Grey Road 19 east. East 5.5 km to the 4th line. South 2 km to Gibralter, and then east almost 3 km to the intersection with the 2nd Line. Park in the small lot or off the side of the road.


posted May 26th, 2015
Meaford mountain biking guide, part 1

The Niagara Escarpment provides the perfect terrain for mountain bike trails for everyone from the beginner to the novice. Within half an hour of your home you have access to some of the best riding in the province. And the trails start just about right outside your door.

Tom Thomson Trail (begin in town)
From Meaford Haven, ride north on the 7th line to Sideroad 22, then ride west until the road tees at the 9th line (Range Road or Valour Road). Warmed up by that 5.5 km ride on the roads, you’re ready to begin the Tom Thomson Trail.

Map

A moderate to challenging single track trail crosses the fields and forest to the west, until you emerge where Sideroad 22 resumes shortly before the 11th line. Across the 11th, the road becomes rugged double track. Follow it for a half a kilometre and then turn right to ascend into Bayview Escarpment Park. The double track continues through the park to emerge at the old St. Vincent/Sydenham Town Line. Return the way you came, or head north to Sideroad 27, west to the 2nd Concession and north again for a little more than a kilometre and till you see Coffin Ridge Winery on your left. Where you’ve arranged for a friend to join you and drive you home, of course.

Kolapore Uplands (20-minute drive)

Much of Kolapore’s 50 kilometre network of trails is great single-track terrain for mountain biking (though some swampier areas are off-limits during the summer.) You’ll find flowing hardpack, twisty climbs and downhills, technical rocky and rooty sections, all under a beautiful mixed forest canopy. The trail network is extensive, and you can easily get lost, so it’s a good idea to carry a map. You can pick one up at the Ravenna Country Market at County Roads 2 and 19 (west). Access the trails from the parking lot on County Road 2 about 12 kilometres south of Thornbury and a kilometre past where County Road 19 heads east. (Don’t trust Google maps on this one; the mangement area is erroneously positioned one road east of its actual location.

Mountain biking Meaford

More next.


posted July 5th, 2014
Three South Georgian Bay cycle tour operators

It’s time get on your bikes and ride! Or if you don’t have a road-ready bike, you can rent and ride. Here are some options in the area to ride, rent and ride, or rent, ride and get a guide to some of the great routes in the area.

Starting right at home, Ride On Bikes offers a variety of rental bikes, including comfort bikes like the Electra Townie and Verse, as well as the Louis Garneau Elevation 29-inch wheel mountain bike. You can rent these bikes and head out on your own, or you can sign up for one of the guided tours, including the Meaford Sunrise Tour (which offers a view of the sunrise over Georgian Bay and a stop at a 100-acre farm for juice and an optional mountain bike ride) and the Georgian Hills Winery/Beaver Valley Tour, which includes a stop at one of our burgeoning local wineries. (Don’t forget to try out the tandem!)

Ride On Bikes Rentals and Tours

Georgian Bay Cycling Tours offers scheduled guided tours, custom cycling tours and B&B cycling tours. Bike rentals are available by request ahead of time, and tour leader Pete Russell also offers road cycling clinics to help newer riders bone up on their riding and minor repair skills.

Blue Mountain Resort’s downhill cycling trails get all the notice, with the armoured downhillers cruising into the Village, but Blue Mountain also offers challenging (you get to ride UP the hill, too) cross country trails for mountain biking. And they also recommend the Pedal/Paddle along the Apple Pie Trail, which includes a gondola ride up the mountain to get you started, mostly flat and downhill riding, a kayak rental and paddle on the Beaver River. Bike rentals are also available.


posted June 28th, 2013
Meaford cycling shop offers comfort bikes for all ages (that means you 50-plus Boomers)

If you haven’t been on a bike in awhile, or even if you’re an avid cyclist, you might have considered looking into a “cruiser”. Rather than dropping a bundle on a high-end mountain bike or road bike, you can get comfort, style and fitness in a lower-priced package. And now, Meaford has it’s own dealer of Elektra brand cruisers, comfort bicycles and hybrids at Ride On Bikes. Not ready to buy yet? Try one out. You can rent one of these popular bikes and set off on your own, or join one of the guided tours the new store is offering.

Ride on Bikes opens in Meaford

The original cruisers were the most popular bikes in North America from the 1930s through the 1950s, then after a 30 year slump, they started making a comeback among baby boomers and retirees about 15 years ago. Elektra, launched in 1993, is one of the main companies credited with the resurgence of the cruiser.

In the early 2000s, Paul Bishop worked in the shop at Toronto’s Bikes and Boards, a spin-off of Sporting Life. “I was building Elektra Townies, among other bikes,” he says. “I liked them, and I saw they were selling 10 to 15 a week, so I knew they were a good thing.”

Cycling had always been a huge part of Paul’s life. He was a mechanic for various retailers, and he worked in Sporting Life’s shop from their opening. He also raced criteriums for Duke Cycle, started their racing team in the 1980s, and toured through Europe on bikes. “I’m a huge cyclist,” he says.

A few years back, Paul met Janet Perks, Meaford born and bred, and four years ago, the Toronto native found himself moving in with Janet to her family farm. “All of a sudden, I’m living on a 100-acre farm and driving a tractor,” he says. All he needed to do was incorporate bikes into the mix.

He started offering bike repairs at the farm on the 7th line, but he kept thinking about opening a shop. When he saw the opportunity for a space on Trowbridge Street, just east of Sykes, he and Janet jumped at it. Ride on Bikes held its grand opening two weeks ago.

Paul says his market is anyone who wants to ride and is still able to. “These bikes are perfect for people who maybe haven’t been on a bike for awhile or who aren’t comfortable on ordinary bikes, who maybe get sore backs or shoulders from riding,” he says. “These things are amazing. You can ride them forever.” Elektra’s “Flat Foot Technology” (or “crank-forward” design) means you can rest your feet on the ground while sitting in the saddle, but still get full leg extension and power when you pedal.

“I have three-speed and seven-speed cruisers and 21-speed road hybrid bikes, which are great for the Georgian Trail, and can easily take you on a 30 K ride,” says Paul. “The internal three speeds are awesome. They’re a blast to ride, and they use coaster brakes, which are great.”

Ride on Bikes rents the comfort bikes for $25 for a half day and $40 for a full day, and that includes a helmet, lock and bike trail map. And if you’ve ever wanted to try a “bicycle built for two”, you can rent the tandem for $15 an hour.

Janet Perks and Paul Bishop Ride on Bikes

Janet Perks and Paul Bishop, of Meaford’s Ride on Bikes, try out the tandem.

Paul plans on guiding some tours in the fall, but staff mechanic (and avid rider), Christian Lewin, is ready any time, says Paul. Christian is also working on a series of self-guided rides, with detailed maps and directions, called “Christian’s Picks”.

Visit the website to learn more.


posted September 2nd, 2011
A daytrip on the Georgian Trail

The Georgian Trail is a great way to take a leisurely cycling trip from Meaford to Collingwood, with stops along the way (It’s also popular for strolls, walking the dog, or cross-country skiing and snow shoeing in winter.)

Fall colours on the Georgian Trail

Fall colours on the Georgian Trail (from www.meaford.com)

Starting in Meaford at the bridge by the harbour, ride the trail through Meaford, past homes and the Knights of Meaford hardwood factory. Then it’s an easy grade (trains couldn’t handle too steep a hill), out of town between stands of trees. At the first road crossing as you leave town, you could venture off the trail for a quick look at the beautiful 1860s home known as Swarthmore Farm, built by Cyrus Richmond Sing, who was Reeve of St. Vincent Council at the time the rail line was built, and served as a Director of the North Grey Railway Company. Down an adjacent tree-shaded road lies Meaford’s scenic Lakeview Cemetery.

Back on the trail, you’ll parallel the highway, with opportunities to detour for refreshments at Grandma Lambe’s or Almond’s Fruit Stand. As you enter a small section of County Forest, you’ll pass over the steep banks of Workman’s Creek, named for Captain Workman, a pioneer who settled with his family at its mouth in the 1800s, followed soon thereafter by a gate which leads to the site of an old brick factory high atop Meaford’s clay banks (private property today).

Some seven kilometres into your ride, you’ll cross Christie Beach Road. If you’d like a dip in the waters of Georgian Bay at this sandy beach, cruise down the hill and jump in. Remember, you need to climb back up the hill when you’re done!

A couple more kilometres brings you to a sharp left in the trail. This detour was created during the construction of Lora Bay, an exceptional golf club and residential community with dramatic views of Georgian Bay. A stop at the Clubhouse might be in order to wet your whistle. But if you don’t stop here, Thornbury is a mere four kilometres down the trail, with numerous restaurants (and at least two ice cream vendors right near the trail.) On the way, you’ll pass the impressive 15th tee on your left, a par three to a green sitting 200 feet below, with a beautiful view of the sweep of Georgian Bay cradled in the trees.

After winding through Thornbury, you’ll emerge at a highway crossing. Cross carefully and continue on, or ride along the highway for a short bit to visit Peasemarsh, a secluded public beach. The trail continues past Georgian Peaks and past Craigleith Provincial Park, a small camping park on the shore, and Northwinds Beach, reputed to be one of the birthplaces of windsurfing.

Soon after, you’ll cross Blue Mountain Road. If you like, venture up into the resort area to see the sights and visit the Village. Or simply stay on the trail and continue on to Collingwood. The trail enters a fragrant lilac grove at the old train station at Blue Mountain Road, where you can stop to visit the Craigleith Heritage Depot’s exhibit. Beyond the lilacs, the trail cuts away from the highway through woodlands; past streams where beavers work to create their own little ponds; through stands of cedars; and past Cranberry Resort Golf Course before reaching the trailhead near Harbourview Park.

Rest awhile here, and head back the same way, take a different route along backcountry roads, or call up that friend who’s coming to pick you up to take you home.

The Georgian Trail

Trail map from www.georgiantrail.ca

Check out these images of the trial:
www.meaford.com/town/georgiantrail.htm
Click “next” on the page to see more photos.

www.georgiantrail.ca/photogallery.html


posted August 30th, 2011
Ghost trains of Meaford

At about 7 p.m. on November 14, 1872, the first locomotive rolled into Meaford along the newly-laid rail line between Collingwood and Meaford – built by the North Grey Railway Company. Until then, the village had shipped and received goods via ships and along the primitive roads of the time, and while various interests petitioned for a railway, it looked unlikely. According to Charles Cooper’s Railway Pages, it was Gooderham & Worts, the Toronto distillery, which may have finally spurred the development of the line.

The Northern Railway, which operated in Simcoe County, wasn’t convinced of the value in extending a line along the southern shore of Georgian Bay. But Gooderham & Worts had recently underwritten the construction of the Toronto Grey and Bruce Railway – arrowing northwest to Owen Sound to bring back the distillery’s primary supplies: firewood and wheat. To compete, the Northern gave authority to North Grey Railway, formed by politicians and business interests from Meaford, Collingwood and nearby communities, to build the line – with the ultimate goal of extending it to Owen Sound.

Meaford train station

The train station at Meaford harbour

The first station stood on the west side of Sykes Street, near the top of “Station Hill”. (A small parkette now fronts the road here, with the rail yard long gone and a subdivision taking its place.) By the turn of the century, a new spur line to the harbour and a new station allowed more efficient access to industry and shipping. For years the railway served Meaford’s economy, brought in holiday visitors, and carried soldiers from the Meaford base overseas to the war in Europe, welcoming those that returned. But regular passenger service ended in 1960, and by then freight service had dropped to a train a day. The old station fell to the wrecker’s ball in 1965.

For two decades the line was essentially abandoned, but in a time when a growing “rail to trail” movement was converting abandoned rail lines across Ontario and North America, local residents showed considerable interest in turning the 32-kilometre line into something that could continue to benefit the towns along the way. The Georgian Trail would offer hiking, jogging, cycling, cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing to residents and visitors alike, whether they were touring a local leg or venturing the length of the trail. But the Georgian Cycle and Ski Trail Association had its work cut out for it. The rail line passed through two counties, two townships and three municipalities, and creating the trail would require considerable fund raising and volunteer time. But the group persevered, and within a mere three years the Georgian Trail officially opened. (As with the original North Grey Railway line, the section down to Meaford harbour took a little longer to complete – when your faithful blogger arrived in town back in 1992, you needed to venture up St. Vincent Street to access the trail across from Knights of Meaford.)

Next up, a tour of the trail.


posted July 19th, 2011
A scenic Meaford cycling route

If the Centurion Canada video got you interested in joining in, it’s time to start training. This 80-kilometre route starts and ends in Meaford, and offers a lot of great scenery and a lot of climbing (and downhills, too!) Portions of this route are featured in the 50 and 100 mile events in Centurion Canada.

Starting in downtown Meaford, head east to Grey Road 7 (the lights at the east end of town), and turn right. And the hills begin. In the 30-kilometre stretch from Meaford to Eugenia along Grey Roads 7 and 13, you first climb the one kilometre hill out of town, drop and ascend more shorter, steeper climbs (as well as some false flats), and then after descending into the Beaver Valley and through Kimberley, you begin the long multi-stage climb up the other side again. By the time you hit Kimberley, you’ve earned your refreshment at the Beaver River Grill or the Flying Chestnut Kitchen.

(Now, there’s an idea – leave a car in Kimberley first time ’round, and you can end your ride here. Nothing wrong with easing into it!)

Up for the return route? After recharging, you can return to Meaford via the same stretch, or once you’ve gone through Kimberley on your return, continue on Grey Road 13 as it winds and dips along the Beaver Valley toward Thornbury. You’ll pass through the hamlet of Heathcote on the way, where the bakery will entice you with the smell of delicious treats, and soon thereafter you’ll arrive in Clarksburg, with its gallery-lined main street – then on past the old heritage homes into Thornbury. From here, it’s a mere 13 kilometres back to Meaford along the Georgian Trail, or if you haven’t filled your climbing quota, work your way west to Sideroad 33, and ascend one more good-sized hill before turning north on Meaford’s Third Line and following it back to the Highway and into town. Don’t miss the terrific view as the Third Line crests above Meaford.

Cycling route from Meaford

Click on the map to get the route. If it doesn't work at first, try a second time, or paste http://bit.ly/nK1Mte into your browser.

Of course, you don’t have to be a “centurion” to enjoy the riding around Meaford. If you’re into an easier pace, the rolling hills around Meaford offer an endless variety of less strenuous rides. (Let the sights take your breath away instead!) And if you prefer something that’s definitely more leisurely than laborious, try out the Georgian Trail. The mostly flat rail-to-trail begins at Meaford Harbour and follows the old Northern Rail line along the curve of Georgian Bay to Collingwood, offering stops at Christie Beach, Lora Bay, Thornbury and Blue Mountain.

(If mountain biking’s your thing, you’ve definitely come to the right place. More on that soon.)

To begin exploring cycling routes in Meaford start at Jolley’s Alternative Wheels and checking out the database of rides.

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