Where to Safely Take Kids Cycling?

My nephew Anthony recently asked me for advice on where he could take his son cycling. Having gone through many years of biking with my son Trevor in tow, I know that kids can get bored easily and parents can get concerned about road safety. I gave it some thought, then sent him a shortlist of suggestions.

Then the wheels in my head kept turning (MTB wheels, lol) and I realized that other parents have the same dilemma every weekend: Where can I take my kids outside to get away from their screens, video games, and electronics? 

I feel your concerns. So let me come to the rescue with some excellent kid-friendly bike rides around Ontario that the whole family can enjoy. 

Are you a parent who needs to feel your children are able to exercise in a safe environment? You have come to the right place: this website features only off-road, car-free bike trails. Most of these routes are entirely on trails and paths, with at most 15% requiring you to veer off occasionally onto a side-road bypass. You can’t get better than that.

For your sanity and everyone’s better health, read on! You can scroll down to jump straight to the trail recommendations, but I advise you to read this whole post, since it’s got some great info.

father with bike trailer
boy learns to ride

Basically, kid-friendly bike routes have all of these four things:

  • They’re safe – Look for off-road, car-free routes with minimal hazards and street crossings with lights
  • They’re easy to cycle – You want paved, level, wide paths and small, gentle hills
  • They have amenities – Playgrounds, washrooms, picnic areas, food/drink close by
  • They are interesting – Winding, varied paths, bridges, boardwalks, tunnels and water features


There are a few stages you will go through as a parent with children and a fondness for cycling. 

The first thing is: don’t let the arrival of a newborn end your cycling days. Sure, it’s going to be a lot of work at first and a big change. Just adapt to the circumstances and keep cranking. 

Once your son or daughter is ready to be introduced to your world of cyclingprobably not before their first birthdayyou have a few ways to start.

Long before your child is able to propel themself, you can transporting them in a child seat on the bike or in a trailer you tow. Chain Reaction Cycles has baby seats.

No matter which option you choose, always make them wear a helmet (like you do) and strap them in!

You can balance better without another little person on board, so I went with the trailer and bought one with a ski attachment so I could take Junior cross-country skiing in winter. Double trailers can seat two little ones.  MEC sells a few versions of bike trailers.

When they get to be three to four years old, they get restless and heavy to tow. Now it’s time for you proud parents to buy them their first bike with training wheels. (Those training wheels won’t stay on for long.) 

Another step up for toddlers are push bikes that help the little ones work on their balance. These can eliminate the need for training wheels when they grow into a bigger bike. MEC sells push bikes.

Keep raising their seats and handlebars and replacing their bikes with larger models as the years pass. Chain Reaction Cycles has kids bikes for all ages.

As I pulled together this list, I kept in mind (and you should, too) a few things specific to riding with kids. Kids have short legs and short attention spans. They are little monkeys and need to burn energy.

Every year you can ride farther and faster—but at their pace, not yours. You need to be a patient parent to deal with all the delays, drama, and spills. Depending on your children’s energy level and desire to cycle (or not), you may only get in a few kilometres for the first few years.

bike trailer
family bike ride

Keep the ride short. (Well, at least shorter than what you may wish for until they are teens, then you may suddenly have trouble keeping up, lol.)

Always turn back sooner than you want to. Don’t wait till they complain and bonk out. 

Stop often. Especially if your child is not actually engaged in pedalling and is just looking out from the trailer.

Make it fun for them. Some kids will need to check out every set of monkey bars they see. Give them opportunities to run about. Bring a ball or frisbee. 

Make sure there is ever-changing scenery. I’ve found this is the most important way to keep kids on their bikes. Trails with lots of twists and turns in the path, and/or bridges, boardwalks, and tunnels are winners. Rivers, creeks, and ponds add interest, and the possibility of wildlife sightings, to keep kids moving. 

Bring snacks. Juice boxes, water sippy cups, granola bars, dried fruit, nuts. Bring nothing messy like melting chocolate.

With all these points in mind here is what I recommend. Since most of these trails run flat along creeks and rivers, none of the locations I list has any large hills to climb, nor fast descents that can stress out your kids (or you, when you’re watching them!). There will still be a few short climbs, trail intersections, and street crossings you need to supervise.


Here are my Top Kid-friendly Cycling Paths:

Park Trails

Rouge Valley – Park Trail  – twisty, ever changing, loads of bridges and boardwalks, greese

Oshawa Creek – Park Trail  – winding, tons of bridges and tunnels, beach & playset at lake

Highland Creek – Park Trail  – bridges, winding creek

Toronto Islands – Park Trail ferry ride, scenic, plenty of playgrounds and beaches

Ajax Waterfront – Park Trail scenic, bridges, beaches

Nokiidaa – Park Trailchanging scenery, playgrounds, ponds, old Newmarket

Rouge Waterfront – Park Trail water, beaches, large bridges

Humber River – Park Trail playsets, bridges, flower garden

Island Lake – Park Trail – long bridges and boardwalks

Taylor Creek + Warden – Park Trail – ponds, 3 water creek crossings 

Beaches Boardwalk – Park Trail – beachcomb the peninsula, sailboats, swimming

Upper Etobicoke – Park Trail – playsets, bridges

Rideau Canal – Park Trail – boats, locks, falls, gardens

Upper Ottawa R. – Park Trail – views of the river, play areas, beach

Grand River – Park Trail – playgrounds, old bridges, falls

Welland Canal – Park Trail – kids love big boats, and locks

Thames Valley – Park Trail – London has lots of playgrounds + Storybook Gardens


Rail Trails

Riding a Rail Trail with kids is a little more challenging. While these former railway beds offer an easy, largely flat ride, most are not interesting enough for younger kids, nor are there many or any amenities or playgrounds to stop at. Still, here are a few that could work out nicely with older kids.

Thornton Cookstown – Rail Trailbridges, a creek, and nearby ice cream, in Simcoe County

Tay Shore – Rail Trail – paved, lakeside location on Georgian Bay 

Brock – Rail / Park Trail – walk through a train tunnel

Greenway – Park / Rail Trail – bridges, dams and falls


(I will post a list of kid-friendly Mountain Bike locations in another article soon.)

kid bike splash

My last thoughts:

Kids get hungry and thirsty, and they need bathrooms often. I wish I could say that Ontario city parks have an abundance of toilets and snack bars; they do not. So use ’em when you see ’em and pack your own extra nibbles or it will be hell. 

Planning a picnic stop halfway is also a chance to break up the outing and get a bit more riding out of your child later. Give them a riding goal. Promise and ice cream once they get to a certain point. And bring napkins when it gets messy, as it usually does.

The last issue: Keep an eye on them. Once you give them wheels, you’ve given them freedom, and they may dash off. Stay in range and have other adults along to help watch over larger groups. Assign a lead bike and a spotter at the back. And while you are at it, work in some basic riding skills and safety and biking etiquette, and now everyone’s having a good time.

With that sensation of freedom on two wheels, you will have hooked them for life on cycling. Awesome job, Mom & Dad!

fully loaded bike trip
July 9, 2021No comments, ,
Winter Fatbike Riding in Ontario

winter 2020 update

When winter comes around in Ontario most of us fair weather riders put our bikes away.

But Fatbikes (or is it Fat Bikes?) are a new design of mountain bike that enables riders keen on riding year round to get out of the spin classes and do real riding.

This new trend evolves our bike sport to new possibilities and one day I see it in the winter Olympics.

These new bicycles are a hybrid of the MTB concept.

The obvious difference you can see is the fat tires that help you “float” over loose, soft terrain, be it snow, sand or soggy soil. A base on regular MTB tires to have an easier and more enjoyable ride.

What also has changed is one crank gear up front, fewer speeds to change and a lower gear ratio. These bikes are not made for speed as there is plenty of friction at work as the fat tires plow through the snow.

Fat bikes come with wide handlebars, disc brakes on a wide fork frame, but few have shocks. You just don’t need them on the soft stuff. Tires may have studs for ice and tire pressure is a low 10 psi or less.

With the fat soft tires and wide handlebar stance, riders have firm control and keep moving beyond what a typical MTB could handle.

There is a limit naturally, traveling through half a metre of powder is going to be tough. Ice is more manageable but still treat with caution as any rubber bike tire can slip from under you in a blink.

Metal studded tires come to the rescue giving a rider a firm tread on maneuvering precarious icy patches.

In a way riding on snow would give you a soft landing when a fall comes. Still wear a helmet over a thin toque cause those trees are not moving.

Keeping warm is an issue and requires a change in tactics. How to keep your feet, fingers and drinking water from freezing is a concern. You may opt for flat pedals and winter boots, or covers for riding shoes and your bar handles. Lots of accessories are coming out to fill this niche.

If you cross country ski you know all about the balance between staying warm but not sweating too much, as this moisture will chill you out eventually.

One has to dress in layers and peel before overheating. Remember that the days are short and be certain not to get lost. That’s definitely more of a problem than in the summer.

So with that short intro where can you ride your Fat Bike in Ontario? The simple answer is everywhere you could with your summer bike. Well almost… there are exceptions to this new sport.

Many summer ride locations on this site’s map pages are Nordic ski locations in the winter. Be sure you are welcome and give lots of space to skiers as you have better braking and turning then they do. And never ride over the ski tracks set in the snow, that’s just bad etiquette.

Most MTB, forest parks and rail trails on this site have easy routes to try. Also up north snowmobile trails are a possibility with hundreds of kilometres to ride if you find a quiet side loop. Use caution as these snow machines need as much respect as cars.

Below is a list of links to get you on your way. Rent first then buy into it later.

Check the Weather and Snow Depth, before you Go

Where to Ride a Fatbike in the Winter:

First try my Fatbike Tag on this site for ideas…


My close to Toronto favourites – free, few hills, no crowds:

Whitchurch – flat, easy, just north of Toronto

Bendor  – easy rolling hills

Long Sault – hilly, small fee north of Bowmanville

Eldred King – gentle grades, sandy too

Palgrave – north of Albion Hills and similar

Durham Forest – free, groomed loops!

Glen Major – beside Durham for more action


Farther away from Toronto

Northumberland – free, hills, large area north of Cobourg

Dufferin Forest – south of Collingwood, some grooming

Hydrocut – Waterloo

Guelph Lake – Guelph,

The Pines – Woodstock, some grooming

Turkey Point – on Lake Erie, snow depth could be low

Ottawa – river park trail

Larose Forest – south of Ottawa

Kivi Park – Sudbury

Torrance Barrens – Bala

Algonquin Park – Minnesing,  Rail Trail

BRMC – Bracebridge

Shuniah Mines – Thunderbay

+ Groomed with Trail Fees $

Why would you pay when you can ride for free? Well, few times the snow base is ideal for Fatbike riding. There may be too much snow and you are getting nowhere fast burning up energy. Or it could be icy and lumpy, no fun either.

A groomed path sets up the snow base to roll easier with better traction. Climbing and zipping down winding tracks become manageable and fun too. Plus even your regular MTB  with not so fat tires can take on these trails.


Albion Hills –  Black Trail only

Horseshoe – 9 km on snowshoe trail and beyond into Copland forest

Hardwood – Barrie lots to ride

Highlands Nordic – Collingwood – New trail

Georgian – Parry Sound

Walden – Sudbury

Hiawatha – Sault Ste. Marie

Gatineau – Ottawa area

LivOutside – Bracebridge, bike park


Rail Trails – And then there are many Rail Trails in Ontario that one could Fatbike on. Granted they flat and straight, but if you want to put in some mileage they go on forever.

Most Rail Trails allow snowmobiles on parts of or the full length of the route. Some are popular snowmobile highways and likely not a good experience (or safe). Lesser traveled routes may be found and other Rail Trails, where sleds are banned, you will have no one but only the odd Nordic skier or hiker in sight.

Where to Rent a Fat Bike:

Approximate full day bike rental rates below, some shops do half day and hourly rentals. Also, the price gets better if you rent for additional days. Call ahead to be sure they have them as some locations have very few.

Horseshoe – $38 for 2 hours

Hardwood  – $ 50

Albion Hills – $56 (8 bikes, different sizes) no reservations

Algonquin Outfitters – Huntsville $45

Parry Sound Bikes – $50

Try Sports – Parry Sound  $48

Liv Outside – in Bracebridge ~$42

Oxygen Bike Co. – Toronto $ 75

Kamikaze Bikes – Collingwood $50

Friday Harbour  – Lake Simcoe  $25 for 2 hours

Adventure 360 – Sudbury $65

velorution – Sault Ste. Maire  $50


Here are a few websites for more info:

Wikipedia – Fatbike

Bike Cottage Country

Explorer’s Edge

Northern Ontario Travel



Now get out there and have some fun you crazy kids!

February 5, 20207 Comments, , , Bike Rentals | City Paths | Fatbike
What is a Bicycle Park Path?

I think we can envision what cycling a Park path is like, though I am not going to be just stating the obvious here. I want to mention how I define the category and finer points of Park bike riding for the Ontario Bike Trails (OBT) site.

This will be informative for anyone new to cycling and tourists visiting Canada.

First I tend to intermix the terms trail and path when talking about Park bike routes. Here they mean the same though I see a path as wider, like the width of a car.

Now mentioning cars, they are seldom seen on these paths/trails, so one less concern (except for the odd detour). OBT reviewed routes need to be more than 85% off road, and most are 100% car free.

As the name implies, about half of the trails on the OBT site are Park type rides. These will split into two subtypes: City Park and Forest Park riding.

City Park riding is an easy beginner bicycle route in a city park. Whereas a Forest Park ride is for more experienced Park cyclists that want to go out of town, try a woodlot with rougher terrain and have few amenities.

Most trails do not loop back. So often doing a shorter ride requires returning on the same path. Sometimes you can connect with other trails and work your way back making it a longer route. Note that all paths have two-way traffic, so be aware.



What is it Like to Cycle a Park Path in Ontario?

A path through a City Park usually has gentle turns put in them to keep you interested. Sometimes paths share old roads or rail beds no longer in use. You might be able to tell.

Many park trails follow along a creek or river. This makes for a gentle incline with few hills of any length.

These rides are in typically well-manicured parklands, with cut grass, flower beds, open fields, and a few random trees here and there.

You may pass by benches, picnic tables, baseball diamonds and soccer/football/cricket fields. Kids’ playsets offer a stop for the little ones to go wild or exercise stations for you to get a total work out.

Some more popular paths now have bike repair stations. A nice touch if you have to tighten something or put in some air.

I would have to say that there are never too many washrooms on any route. So if you think you need to take a pit stop, do so. Same with water fountains and snack bars.

A few other observations. City Park trails can be busy on sunny weekends with not just other bikers but challenging obstacles called people, kids and dogs. Many of them are oblivious to cyclists coming up behind them. A small bell on your bar is good to have or call out “on your left” as you pass on the left, which can help.

The terrain of a Park path in the city will usually be all smoothly paved asphalt. Sometimes at the end, where it peters out, it turns to finely crushed stone or smooth soil. Bridges take you over waterways to keep you connected. Some bridges are rather pretty and worth a picture.

Some city rides have more naturalized and less manicured grounds with small woodlots and ravines to pass through.



The other type is a Forest Park path that will take you to even more of a natural wooded setting.

The terrain will be mainly smooth soil or stone dust with sections of sand and gravel. There may also be leaves, woodchips, and the odd rock, patch of mud, puddle or animal burrow holes to negotiate.

Some locations have hills. Not steep ones as in mountain biking, but fair-sized inclines. None of these hills will last longer than a minute to climb, as Ontario is not a mountainous province.

This kind of Park trail riding may be at a MTB location as well. There is a bit of an overlap here between more advanced Park riding and the beginnings of MTB riding disciplines.

You may eventually take to it and ride the easier MTB side trails. These are what they call single track trails that loop in and out from the main wide access paths you are riding.

If you ride beyond these Park trails, I would recommend using a mountain bike to navigate the twisty loops safely. You will enjoy the experience as well as be on a more solid bike with a front shock, better brakes and lower gears for climbing.




Who is Suited for a Park Trail Ride?

Well everyone is the quick answer…let’s divide the masses into two camps:

#1 City Park
• Bike owners who are fair weather riders and cycle a few times a year
• Beginners of all ages, learning skills and not wanting to encounter road vehicles
• Commuters going somewhere, work, shopping…
• Citizens and tourists exploring the city

#2 Forest Park
• Riders with Intermediate skill level as a Park cyclist
• Cyclists wishing to improve bike skills and endurance
• Naturalists seeking a peaceful environment with some adventure
• Day Trippers out of town, vacation riders


City Park cyclists have few challenges, an easy journey, with plenty of time to unwind. They enjoy the weather and see the scenery drift by far away from the office and dishes.

This is a recreational pastime to meet up with friends or get the kids out of the house not a race.

It is also rather a safe route to cycle, with no cars and easy terrain. Yet watch out for kids and dogs zipping across your path.

One of the main causes of accidents are riders chatting to each other and not looking ahead. (This has happened to me.) Also when the leaves fall they can hide nasty holes and crevasses that will send you flying, or be slippery when wet after rain.

You may encounter stairs to get over bridges or up out of the valley but otherwise little biking skills are needed to stay the course beyond the basics.

A Forest Park ride gets you into what I rate as an Intermediate Park ride. Good for seasoned road/path cyclists, where the added skill and leg power needed is there.

Are you looking for some adventure in a peaceful setting in the woods? You might even see some wildlife. Make it part of a day trip, weekend or vacation to stretch those legs after sitting in the car so long.

As recreational cycling grows in popularity here in Ontario, you can even ride paved paths in the winter, if you dress for it and have the right bike.



What do I Need to Bring ?

Riding in the city one need not be totally self-sufficient. (Though it’s better if you are.) Usually within walking distance is a means of getting your bike repaired or taking transit/ taxi back home. In the city, you can find many places to eat with a quick search on your phone.

Getting out of the city on a Forest Park ride, one needs to pack for the occasion and have a plan. Few forest rides have anything more than a parking lot and outhouse. So bring plenty of water, snacks, a rain jacket, a bike tool kit, a pump and a spare tube.

Maps and signage on most trails are adequate but reviewing your location on your phone will help. Saving a map offline on your phone or printing out a paper map may be wise, as cell reception can be limited in the rural areas.

Up north in the bush, having a bear bell might be smart as they do not like to be surprised. Or keep talking, singing, reciting Shakespeare…



Being seen and highly visible is never a bad thing on a bike. You are a thin object moving quickly. Cars, people (hunters) cannot see you easily dressed in black on a black bike. I know BLACK is the trend but it’s not helping. Why do road workers wear safety vests?

Wear some bright colours folks! Do you own lights, have reflectors on your bike for when it gets dark?

Cycling local park paths with our parents or friends is how many of us started bike riding. Carry on and explore other trail areas in your own neighbourhood, town and province.

It’s a great way to be a local tourist. You see plenty at a leisurely pace. Not too fast like in a speeding car, or too slow walking it. No hassles with parking, gas or traffic jams; I love it!

Combining your planned route with local subway stops, GO train stations and other public transit makes it stress free.

And isn’t that the way your cycling day should be?   Stress Free !

Enjoy the ride and tell us about it back on the OBT trail pages. Leave a Trail Review !




August 11, 2018No comments, ,
What is Mountain Biking?

Each spring, there are new bike riders who consider buying a mountain bike to get into the sport. If you are curious and want to try MTB trails, here is an overview of what to expect.

For 20 years I have been riding on most of the trails in Ontario. I still love it and wear a permanent smile every time I go out on the trail.

What is Mountain Biking? & Would I Like It?

First off, you don’t need a mountain to go mountain bike riding and (sadly) there are none in Ontario. Still, here in the province we do have enough hilly, varied terrain, to make your legs feel the burn after a few hours.

What you do need, is a reliable mountain bike and to be in good health. This is a fun sport but also full exercise. It’s not about speed or distance; it’s all about challenging terrain and overcoming it. (And staying on the bike LOL)

And yes we all go over the bars at one point, but the trick is to be aware, plan your crash, and walk away.

If you are a road rider, and you have good legs that helps. From there you will need to hone your skills in balance, climbing, braking and perspective as you weave between the trees.

There are many subcategories of mountain biking that you may gravitate to:

  • Cross-Country
  • All-Mountain
  • Downhill
  • Freestyle
  • Dirt Jumping
  • Bikepacking

 but first, let’s get to the basics.

mountain biker rider turning

What is it Like to Ride a MTB Trail?

Most mountain bike trail areas are made up of a few straight wide dirt access roads (I never see vehicles on them) or often these are Nordic ski tracks in the winter. Then add random hiking trails that are more narrow and still rather straight and boring.

Finally the third blessed type are the trails cut specifically for MTB riding. Amen!

Called single track, they twist and turn going nowhere in a hurry. Add some mean hills, roots, rocks, logs, mud…ya it gets to be a technical slow grind sometimes, but that’s the draw. Then minutes later the payoff of a fast winding descent, now hold on to your bars, it’s more thrilling than a roller coaster. 

Some trails are smooth and easy with packed soil, others have a mix of glacial stones and rocks. Up in cottage country you have giant boulders and solid flat rocks to ride over, OH what fun!

A few locations have man-made structures to entertain and dare you. Ramps, skinnies, bridges, jumps..for now, AVOID until you have experience.

The key to MTB riding is to challenge yourself, grow your skills and not have a bad crash that takes you out. There is no shame in passing on a tricky structure or walking a steep hill so you can ride another day.

At times, it’s how fast can you go without putting your foot down, how tight can you take a turn before the bike slides out or how skilled are you at clearing a log or rock garden.

You are one with the machine, taking on the challenges, winning every metre as you go.

Your focus is the terrain 3 meters in front, no time for daydreaming here. This sport demands your attention and if not, you go down.  :^(

Looking at a typical MTB ride it can take 2 – 3 hours and only cover 15 – 20 kilometres, but you earn them. Most trails run both directions so heads up on blind corners, call it out. Besides the odd cyclist about, you may see hikers for a walk, their dogs and kids but not often.

Be polite, slow down, announce yourself, especially if passing horses.  You now represent mountain bikers and we want to stay friends with everyone who is a trail user. As for noisy ATV traffic, there is next to none on the loops I have reviewed on this website.

Half of the MTB trail loops in Ontario have few signs or directions, so a GPS app on your phone (if you get coverage) or a paper map & compass can keep you on track.

Being out in nature, car free, in a never crowded, peaceful forest environment is a welcome change from the city life. If you like hiking it is sort of similar, though you cannot sightsee much as your focus is on that trail.

Most loops are shaded from the burning sun, block the wind and light rain. Expect bugs in the spring and all summer when close to wetlands. Keep moving to keep them off, yet the moment you stop for a snack or get a flat, you can be a target and a tasty snack! And check for ticks, a new problem in tall grasses.

Almost all MTB areas are out of the city, so look at putting in an hour + of driving to get there.


Who is Suited for Mountain Biking?

If you are a bicycle road rider and you love going long distances really fast, this isn’t going to work for you.

Mountain biking is all about technique, riding slow and taking on the ever-changing challenges of the terrain.

Beyond the hills (and some of them are very steep) the terrain can be anything from loose sand and gravel to mud, wet grass, rocks, roots, boulders, sticks, logs…..

Fatbikes are a new offshoot, that keeps MTB riders doing it all year round over snow, ice, frozen lakes, even in blizzards!

Though 75% of the riders I see on the trail are guys, women enjoy it as much and why not? Riders ages go from kids with their Dads to old veterans. I noted the average age of MTB visitors to this site is in their 40’s, yet you can keep at perhaps well into your 60’s.

Some young riders who have done BMX and Skateboarding take on MTB trails as a similar added activity.


What Kind of Bicycle Do I Need?

You just cannot take a road bike on a MTB trail, that is going to trash you and the bike..and get you a flat for sure.

My first mountain bike had no shocks and that was a rough ride. These days front shocks are a must for more control and less hammering to the body. Add a rear shock as well, and your ride gets more smooth and you can go faster.

The next thing your bike needs to be is quick to stop with disc brakes and have fat knobby tires for traction.

You also need some really low gears (big rear rings) to get you up those steep inclines without cursing or walking.

There is plenty to say for later, so here is a bit more advice on buying a bike to get you started.

Want to rent a bike to try? A few shops in your town may rent and Hardwood does.

bike riding flat rock


What Do I Need to Bring on the Ride?

I’m not going to mention everything one needs, but quickly you would bring lots and lots of water and granola power bar type food to keep you going. Running out of energy in the middle with 2 hours to go is not smart.

You must carry a repair tool kit that has a pump, spare tube and also the option of a patch for a flat tire. Include tools for tightening loose bolts and fixing your chain if it snaps on a hill, or else having to walk out 10km, with the bugs biting will teach you a few lessons. lol

This kit can go under your seat in a pouch, or better yet in a small backpack that has a water bladder and room for a jacket, your phone, (GPS unit) ID, car keys, camera, a paper map and bug repellant…and wear a helmet!

What you don’t need on the trail is money (where are you going to spend it?) or a kickstand, bike lock, saddlebags or sunglasses. Though I would suggest clear safety glasses for those pointy branches.

Some of the trails on this site are remote and seldom travelled. Give yourself enough daylight. Be prepared! And tell someone where you are going.

mtb riding ramp


Where to Learn How to Mountain Bike Ride?

Getting into MTB riding is a gradual progression, testing and honing your skills.

Ideally, you should ride with others to learn from them and as support if something breaks or you get hurt.

Joining a local MTB club online or a ride group at a local bike shop is a good idea. Be sure other seasoned riders don’t mind a slow learner and are willing to teach and wait for you. (Some advanced ride groups are hyper and never stop or wait for anyone.)

A few locations rent bikes and have lessons. This can help you decide if it’s your thing cause watching YouTube videos vs. actually MTB riding will be harder than you thought.

So mountain bike riding techniques are all about balance and knowing what speed and gear to be in to get over the terrain/obstacles in the next 5 metersPick your “line” to ride through then you reassess the next 5 meters and make adjustments, and on and on… Once you get into the flow of it, you will love it.

Want to Learn More?

Here are a few good books from Amazon to guide you to greatness:


Mastering Mountain Bike Skills – The old master Brian Lopes shows you how to do it. Well written and illustrated. This pro MTB rider will give you plenty of tips to work on over the next few years to practice. So get crank’n!

The book comes highly recommended by seasoned riders.




Mountain Bike Like a ChampionNed Overend another great veteran MTB rider. Learn plenty of tips on how you can improve your riding techniques on the trail. Not just for beginners, it is full of great content for all levels.

Ya, it’s a little dated but the core info is timeless.  A new edition would be welcomed…



The Mountain Biker’s Training Bible – Joel Friel writes the bible on designing your own training program to improve performance both mentally and physically. More of a cycle training guide and little on actual MTB techniques. If you want to get serious and fit for MTB endure and racing this book will point the way.


As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

And now for a few Laughs…

Suggested Easy MTB Trails in Ontario for Beginners:

Note: most of the trails at these locations are rated for beginners but not all,  some trails may be too difficult for you.

Please review maps and ride within your skill level to not get injured. Mountain biking is a thrill, and sometimes a spill, it has its dangers which you need to be aware of and avoid. Ride at your own risk.

North of Toronto –

Centennial  – all MTB track,  hilly, some not for beginners

Eldred King – forest park ride with some hidden single track

Jefferson – close but hilly, some simple runs

Albion Hills  – hilly, ride the X -ski trails easy, other MTB loops not for newbies


Christie Lake – north of Hamilton, perfect for beginners, almost all MTB trail and easy

Midhurst – Barrie – half of the trails are easy

Coulson’s Hill – Brandford – hilly, many trails, twisty but not too tough

Guelph Lake – Guelph, most trails are easy, a few roots

Torrance Barrens – Bala – flat rock, little climbing

Hardwood  – Barrie –  bike rentals, lessons, enough easy track, most advanced

Northumberland – Port Hope, most trails are easy 

Wildwood – near St. Mary, long, varied cross country park ride

Sauble Falls – Southhampton – some easy track in here

3 mtb riders in the woods


ALSO: Some intermediate Park Paths on this site aren’t quite up to mountain biking specs but are trails in the woods that can suit beginners in getting used to terrain that is not paved.

Bendor – N of Toronto, mellow not single track

Whitchurch – N of Toronto, easy, close, flat, little MTB trail

Heber Down – Whitby, a few hills, variety

Awenda – Midland, long and easy

Bracebridge RMC  – one hill, forest park ride


Beyond this quick run through, there is much more I could say, but for now, this is enough to help you consider mountain biking as your new outdoor pastime…and you should.


and if you do, say hello when you see me on the trail  – Dan

May 31, 20184 Comments,
10 Reasons to Buy an Expensive Bike

I was flipping thru a Canadian Tire flyer today and came across an ad for a $99 bicycle. Sounds like a great deal doesn’t it? Full 18-speed, knobby tires and a nice colour. It has two wheels, a handlebar, seat and pedals, what else could I want?

But a bike is not a bike by a parts list alone. A person new to bike riding would think the savings would put them way ahead of any benefits an expensive $1000+ bike could. Here is why that is foolish reasoning and why you should save your coin for a better set of wheels.

1 – Good Experience – Top of the list is a better all around riding experience. It will encourage you to ride again. If you don’t like getting on your bike for reasons below, it will sit in the garage and you will sit on the couch.

2 – Dependable – Nothing worse than a sudden mechanical failure in the middle of nowhere. All bikes can break, but typically more of this ($$$) equals less grief.

3 – Weight – Cheap bikes have a lot of iron. Just a few good hills will convince you that lighter is always a better buy.

4 – Longevity – Expensive bikes last longer, with the cost over the lifetime being cheaper.

5 – Safety – You can depend on a good bike to stay together and not endanger your life.

6 – Quality – Expensive bikes operate better, have smoother shifting and better braking. Good bike ergonomic design helps your posture and reduces sore backs, and limbs.

7 – Repairs – A good bike is worth fixing. Mechanics will know your brand and parts will be available.

8 – Maintenance – Bicycles are mechanical and wear out.  Cheap bikes have soft, thin metal, poor part tolerances and design. Again, a quality bike lasts longer with few problems.

9 – Ride Better – A well designed bike with quality components enables you to push yourself, knowing the bike will take you there. Gears, brakes and shocks perform better giving you confidence and enjoyment.

10 – Cool Factor – Hey, it has to be mentioned that if you think you’re on a killer bike then maybe your friends will give you some respect. (The rest you earn on the ride.)

So what should you spend for a good ride? I’ll save that question for another post …but briefly you need to ask yourself how often you plan to ride and where. These days a bicycle comes in many flavours.

Do you want to just putt around city parks on a hybrid or bomb down ski hills? Here is a very general list of minimum price points. And watch out, bikes can also be overpriced. Way over priced…got 10 grand $$.

Minimum price for a quality bike:

Kids bike $400
Hybrid bike $ 500

Mountain bike, front shock $ 700
Mountain bike, full suspension $ 1100
Downhill MTB $ 1500

happy hunting – Dan


May 1, 20174 Comments,
Fall Bike Riding Tips

So you had a good summer of riding and you’re not ready to put the bike away. And why should you? Fall bike riding can be some of the best touring ever. Sure it’s a bit cooler and wet but with proper planning who cares.

Fall riding is different on a few fronts. You have to dress differently, days get shorter and the terrain can get slippery. The best part is beautiful fall colours, no crowds and no bugs!

Sunny days will tend to have cooler clear skies.Just like with spring here in Ontario we can get more rain but those cloudy days may be more mild and it most often does not rain.

After checking your weather forecast pack a rain jacket if you think it may open up on the ride. Or tough it out and have a change of clothing in the car. I have yet to find a riding jacket that both blocks the rain and breaths. Find one with vents if you can.

As always wear layers but don’t wear too many. Start your ride a little chilled as the workout should warm you up. The trick has always been, if you need to peel a layer off, how do you carry it?

Tying a jacket around your waist is awkward and could be dangerous if it slips into your spokes. A pannier or backpack would be a better place. Consider full fingered gloves, wool socks and some kinda head/ear warmer when is a chilly morning start.

As for food, you will likely need a little less water but more power bars on the ride to help fuel you on cold days. Keep the heavy food like fruit in your car upon your return.

Terrain changes in the fall and generally gets slippery.

As long as you compensate for the wet rock, clay or leaves all should be fine. Slow down, watch your turns, test the range of your bicycle’s and tires’ ability to manage the path. It’s a time for tires with knobby tread if you wish to switch.

I also have found a lot of leaves on the ground can hide the trail, soften it and suck up a lot of your energy. Leaves can also hide things, so watch out for wheel ruts and loose rocks when bombing down a hill.

The weather is always more sunny than you think north of Toronto. In all my years of riding, I can’t tell you how often I’ve looked out my window in the morning here in Toronto, thinking maybe I should stay home.

Only to find later on my ride north of the city that the weather was awesome. (except for that hail one time – lol)

Don’t hesitate, just do it. You will likely be glad you did.


September 7, 2016No comments, , Family Ride
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Hey, this may be interesting for you: Where to Safely Take Kids Cycling?!

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Lets get together and do a ride soon.