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.)
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 time 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.
Check out these images of the trial:
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