Cycling along waterways is one of my favourite things to do. Recreational pathways that take me off road and away from cars are number one on my list. I can relax, follow a trail, and I don’t have to spend much time planning a route.
I live in the National Capital Region with some of the best cycling networks in Canada. I cycle close to home all the time, on and off road. So, why do I sometimes choose the Waterfront Trail in the City of Cornwall an hour and a half away?
Cornwall has some nice stretches of Waterfront Trail that I really like:
- Gray’s Creek Consevation Area and Marina in the east to Guindon Park in the west
- Guindon Park to the Long Sault Parkway
Cornwall has a 75 kilometer network of recreational pathways that allow you to walk, bike, and rollerblade along the St. Lawrence River and throughout the city.
When Ottawa’s recreational pathways are full to capacity with tourists and residents, a change of pace and a getaway to a smaller, less crowded destination is just what I need.
Here are a few of my favourite spots along the route from Gray’s Creek Conservation Area and Marina to Guindon Park.
From Gray’s Creek to Guindon Park and back, it’s about 15 kilometres each way, 30 km round trip.
This is a pretty nice departure point! You can catch the Waterfront Trail next to the parking lot at Gray’s Creek Conservation Area and Marina. There are signs.
My favourite picnic spot at Gray’s Creek Conservation Area and Marina is just across from the parking lot.
I love amenities! There are picnic shelters, bike racks, and maps along the route of the Waterfront Trail that list the distances from city to city.
You’ll pass by a relic on display in front of Nav Canada, the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Control Operations in Cornwall. But, I stopped by to take a closer look. It’s a Canadair (Lockheed) T-33 Silver Star that served in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) from the mid-50’s to the 90’s as a military jet trainer for training pilots. The Americans flew the T-33 Silver Stars in the Korean War. Canada bought the license to build them. The RCAF had 650 of these aircraft built by Canadair. (Thanks to Nav Canada for answering my questions about the aircraft.)
The waterfront gazebo in Lamoureux Park is really sweet. I just wanted to hang out and enjoy this spot for a good long while. It inspired me to pull off my helmet, shoes, and cycling gloves and strike a yoga pose or two. It’s a great way to stretch out.
The Waterfront Trail in Cornwall also passes by other local attractions:
- The Cornwall Aquatic Centre
- Cornwall Community Museum
- Cornwall Civic Complex
- Cornwall Curling Centre
Be aware that there is a temporary detour from the Waterfront Trail at the International Bridge while a new bridge is being constructed and the old bridge is demolished. This work may not be completed until 2016. The detour takes you off the dedicated waterfront path and onto the road. The City of Cornwall has advised that they have temporarily opened the path in this location evenings and weekends for the summer.
You can’t miss the 4.7 kilometre long International Bridge that spans the St. Lawrence from Cornwall, Ontario to New York state in the U.S. The bridge is your marker for the detour. From the bridge, we followed the detour signs onto Second Street and stayed on it until we found our way back to the Waterfront Trail at the historic canal – my favourite part of the path in Cornwall.
The 4.4 kilometre stretch of path along the historic Cornwall Canal makes me wonder about days gone by when ships used to pass through a series of locks, but no more. The Cornwall canal was flooded in 1958 when the St. Lawrence Seaway was completed and only two locks remain visible today.
I like the wide-open views along the Waterfront Trail here which follows the south side of what’s left of the old canal. It’s a great place to watch the sunrise or sunset. If you just want to cycle this part, you can find parking at the western tip of Second Street.
Ontario’s Waterfront Trail stretches some 900 km from Niagara-on-the-Lake to the Quebec border. It follows the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, so you can choose the sections of path that suit you best for day cycles or multi-day bicycle touring.
The Waterfront Trail varies from city to city. Thirty percent of the Trail is off road dedicated path and 70% follows residential streets or shoulders of major roads. Some sections are not waterfront, and you may pass through some forested areas. Check the Waterfront Trail website for more information.