GREAT WATERFRONT TRAIL ADVENTURE
On Aug. 7, 150 cyclists from five provinces and five states will take off on this year’s Great Waterfront Trail Adventure (GWTA), which will include the County of Simcoe for the first time.
“With its awesome landscape, historic towns and proximity to sparkling waters, the county is an exciting addition to the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail,” says Marlaine Koehler, executive director, Waterfront Regeneration Trust.
The GWTA is the Waterfront Regeneration Trust’s annual, fully supported, multi-day bicycling tour which showcases the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, the communities that support it, and the Waterfront Regeneration Trust’s mission — the regeneration of our Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. The event also traditionally celebrates and inaugurates trail milestones and expansions.
“This year’s ride sold out in just two weeks, demonstrating the growing popularity of cycling, the allure of Ontario’s Great Lakes waterfront and growing reputation of the County of Simcoe as a premier cycling destination. Cyclists just can’t get enough,” said Koehler.
The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail was one of 83 groundbreaking recommendations made by the Royal Commission on the Future of the Toronto Waterfront headed by the Honourable David Crombie. After 30 years that recommendation has been a catalyst for the establishment of over 3,600 km of trail and a partnership of 155 communities.
The County of Simcoe is the latest addition to the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail. This expansion adds 255 km and connects the trail to 1,023 km of additional road cycling in Simcoe County. It connects a number of local waterfront trails, including Tay Shore Trail, Tiny Trail, Penetanguishene’s Rotary Trail, Uhthoff Trail, Barrie’s Waterfront Heritage Trail, the Oro-Medonte Rail Trail and the Greg Stobart Trail — all examples of how communities celebrate their waterfronts and heritage.
“County of Simcoe council is committed to supporting the development of trails and programs that promote active transportation among our residents, while supporting our growing cycling tourism sector. Through Cycle Simcoe, we’re proud to help fund and now connect our Simcoe County Loop Trail to our neighbouring communities through the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail,” said County of Simcoe Warden George Cornell.
The cyclists on the 2022 GWTA, who range in age from 31 to 83, will ride over six days starting at Blue Mountain and stopping in Midland, Orillia, and Wasaga Beach, travelling between 30 to 90 km daily at their own pace.
The 2022 GWTA route features long sections of off-road paved or limestone trail, and quiet rural roads. Riders will bike by 25 beaches, four provincial parks, one national park, 10 heritage sites, a provincial wetland, 18 lakes, one heritage river, 25 parks, and numerous local businesses in communities along the shores of Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe. It also incorporates two additional cycling loops — Thunder Beach and Big Chute.
In addition to a scenic ride, participants will have great off-bike and social opportunities as well. The GWTA showcases local tour operators including Free Spirit Tours, the Big Canoe Adventure, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, the Martyrs’ Shrine, and Landmark Cruises of Penetanguishene to offer on-water tours, heritage walking tours and culinary experiences.
“The GWTA is an exciting event on the summer calendar. The multi-day cycling adventure is an excellent way to explore the beauty of the trails at your own pace while taking in the local landscapes and food. The Greenbelt Foundation works to increase tourism and recreation opportunities in natural settings along the Greenbelt, and we are proud to support the trust’s adventure on the trails,” said Edward McDonnell, Greenbelt Foundation CEO.
CAA South Central Ontario is a long-time supporter of the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure. For the 500-km ride, CAA provides participants with CAA Bike Assist, roadside assistance for bicycles. CAA Bike Assist is a CAA member benefit included in the annual cost of membership.
“We are committed to keeping our members safe whether they are travelling on four wheels or two,” said Michael Stewart, community relations consultant, CAA South Central Ontario. “The growth of cycling over the past few years has introduced many to the joys of travelling by bike, and events like the GWTA encourage the local exploration of Ontario’s Great Lakes communities in an enjoyable and safe way.”
Participation in the 2022 GWTA has been filled for some time, but cyclists can plan their own adventure on the Waterfront Regeneration Trust website.
The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail offers incredible cycling experiences for people of all ages and skill levels. Visit www.waterfronttrail.org to plan your experience, or register for the Great Lakes to Greenbelt Farm Fresh Tours on Sept. 17 and 18.