Collingwood, ON - Into Ali's Backyard
Collingwood Escarpment - Gravel Ride
✧ Starting point: Collingwood or Blue Mountain Resort
✧ Distance: 37-60 km (depending on the chosen route)
✧ Elevation: 400-500 m
✧ Intermediate to advanced level
✧ Duration: 2-3 hours depending on treat stops!
Collingwood has quickly become known for its variety of biking adventures. First timers, adventure seekers, social riders, segment chasers, hill climbers, rail-trail riders, and vintage cruisers are just some of the riders you can expect to see experiencing the Collingwood area. The best part is all of us two wheel pushing enthusiasts are equally excited to see each other while enjoying whatever adventure has been chosen. Waterfront trails, winter maintenance only roads, epic views, or “let’s go try those doughnuts” and many more stops along the way are all factors in your decision-making before you set out. There are long routes, short routes and lots of in-betweens.
One of my favourite routes combines several of the items above for the perfect amount of variety, and a choose-your-own-adventure finish. If you are pressed for time and want bang for your buck, it delivers on that. If you have a little extra time and want to make it longer and stop for breakfast or lunch, it delivers that. It has a wicked climb, beautiful views, quiet usually carless dirt roads and one “I think we can ride this, should we just try it?” section that is sure to leave you smiling at the bottom!
The 12th side road climb is grueling but beautiful (especially when you get to the top). You will definitely pass walkers and runners who are putting themselves through the same lactic acid burn you are but will nevertheless cheer you on as you pass each other. Make sure you stop at the top to catch your breath and lower your heart rate, likely leaning on your handle bars while checking out the view over Collingwood including the iconic grain elevators over Georgian Bay. Once you are at the top, you can thank your legs for getting you there because the heart pumping experience is worth the beautiful canopy covered gravel roads that take you past picturesque country properties where you can ride side by side with your chatty biking companions.
As you approach the 18th side road, “rocky descent” be prepared for a bumpy ride filled with lots of “yahoos” but also short enough to accommodate walking your bike down if you’re feeling a little unsure.
Once you get to Grey Road 40, you can turn right and jump on the Georgian Trail for a shorter route (be sure to stop at Surf Café in Craigleith for a little java jolt before the last leg home) or you can turn left and head towards Thornbury (the preferred route!).
Thornbury is a beautiful, historic town on Georgian Bay with an abundance of choices aimed to satisfy your taste buds. Some favourite stops according to critics within the two-wheeling community:
- The Thornbury Bakery - amazing treats and lunch
- Good Grief Coffee Roasters - amazing coffee and doughnuts
- Bread and Butter café (conveniently located under Smitty’s Bike Shop)
- Pom Poms – amazing ice cream
After fuelling, it is a smooth sailing home from Thornbury along the waterfront Georgian Trail. The best part of this ride is that you can alter the route to accommodate what you’re feeling that day. Make sure you take a friend or two to share in the “wow, isn’t this beautiful” or “we got this” or “yes, let’s get a treat” dialogue that will definitely happen along the way!
Ali Hunter, ambassador of the PEPPERMINT Collective ♡