Restored Goderich to Guelph rail trail offers way to cycle the countryside

An old rail line that meanders through the southern Ontario countryside has been turned into a trail for cyclists of all ages.

The trail has been restored by volunteers and runs through 13 communities

The Goderich to Guelph Rail Trail is a route that stretches for more than 120 km. (Supplied by G2G Rail Trail)

An old rail line that meanders through the southern Ontario countryside has been turned into a trail for cyclists of all ages. 

The Goderich to Guelph Rail Trail (or Guelph to Goderich, depending on which way you're headed) runs through 13 communities over more than 120 km of maintained stone dust trail. 

"It's getting people out of their homes, out of their urban areas, and really encouraging them to embrace our agricultural heritage and landscape," said Doug Cerson, the executive director of the G2G Rail Trail. 

"Anyone from three to 93 can ride these trails. It's on stone dust, there's no car traffic, and there is just a three per cent grade, so it's very easy cycling."

The trail spans 142 km if cyclists take the suggested detours around sections that have yet to be complete. The detours are very short and include places where major bridges are out. 

Signs along the trail now sync with Google Maps, an important safety aspect as well as one that allows cyclists to plan their trips in advance," Cerson said. 

The majority of the money for the project was raised from individual donors, some of whom have "adopted" kilometres of the trail. 

The G2G Rail Trail is marked along the route with markers that correspond to Google pins, making trip planning and wayfinding easier. (Supplied by Google Maps)

"The majority of our funding comes from people who are private funders, people who are placing a memorial bench or tree, or another way to get recognition, a plaque for the adopt-a-kilometre," he said. "A tremendous amount of donations come after people see the rehab happen, they see that more attention is paid to their communities, and they're showing appreciation." 

The trail leads people on parts of the countryside they wouldn't normally be able to access with their cars. The trail is built on an old CPR line. 

The trail is very flat, making it suitable for cyclists of all abilities. (Supplied by G2G Rail Trail)

"Throughout the pandemic we've been working while making sure that we're keeping people distanced and educated," Cerson said. "It's a natural asset, and there is a need for people to get out of their house, to get outside, to stretch." 

Cerson said the trail helps connect urban dwellers with the surrounding agricultural sector. 

"Every time I am in Huron or Perth County, I am reminded that I can just go to the supermarket whenever I want to to get the food I want, and that good food comes from hard work," he said. 

The trail embraces the communities that it passes through, allowing cyclists to take their time and explore new corners of southwestern Ontario.