Brock – Rail / Park Trail

waterfront, Brockville
Posted on August 31, 2018
Brock – Rail / Park Trail
Listing Types : Park Trail / Rail Trail
Location : Eastern Ontario
Note : NEW Review
Total Trail Km : 7
Park Path % : 85
Road % : 15
Rate Skill Levels : Easy
Terrain : paved, gentle hills
Faclities : parking, food close by, lodging, trailhead map, trails maintained
Trail Fee : Free

Length – 7 km (one way)

85%  park trail path
15%  road crossings, detours

Elevation – flat, very little slope

Terrain – asphalt, crushed stone, gravel, (path does get narrow at the top end), road crossings, detour around hwy 401

Skill – easy

Maps – a few maps and signs, needs improving and will be soon

Traffic – bicycles, walkers, dogs

Facilities – parking, picnic tables, benches, toilets, logging, restaurants

Highlights – train tunnel experience, historic stone buildings, waterfront

Trail Fee – free

Phone – 613 342 4357

Website –  Brock Railway Tunnel

Similar Trails – Speed River, Greenway

Local Clubs – none

Access – suggested best start spot is by south tunnel entrance, parking across the street, or near Harding Park.

History – There is plenty of rail history in this town so this is just about the tunnel.

Started in 1854, it took 6 years to dig and was not the easiest or cheapest route for trains to the waterfront. But who doesn’t like a tunnel, so one was built.

Half made of brick and the centre blasted out of rock, it ran under the center of town for 525 meters. Not a full-sized opening at 14 feet; smaller locomotives were used.

It had many years of use by the B&O (Brockville & Ottawa Railway Company) running the line up to the Ottawa area. Lumber was shipped to port and supplies back to the camps.  

Eventually owned by Canadian Pacific, the tunnel served waterfront commerce and industry till it disappeared and CP closed its doors to the tunnel in 1970.

With 150 bicentennial funding the tunnel was completely restored and is now a tourist attraction.

More tunnel history    Railway town history

bike trail book ad

This one is an odd bike ride destination. The paved Park route through town has a train theme to it everywhere you look. Part Park ride, part train tunnel sound & light show.

Out on the shores of the St. Lawrence, Brockville has a long history as a hub for train travel and transport of goods.

Traveling along hwy 401, I did a stop over there and scouted out a small park trail a mere 7 km long. Though pleasant, it was a tad short to list on this site. But then we found the tunnel!

This historic train tunnel runs under the centre of town. It’s a delightful, yet bizarre bit of Canadian history to stumble upon.

If you park by the south entrance you can ride first or walk the tunnel.

This tunnel was the first built in Canada and has been totally restored and jazzed up. Free to enter, we proceeded up this half-kilometer long dark tube to the sound of rock tunes, a light show and signs posting interesting facts; well done! The air was cool and damp with water dripping down the walls in this man-made cave.

As you exit the north end, a new ramp takes you up to what will be a welcome centre one day soon. Also noted was the old underpass further ahead that is also to continue as a bike trail and loop to the trail I had just done, making a complete loop. We all like loops  :^)

If you walk your bike through the tunnel to the north exit, there is a short stretch parallel to the main line you can ride either way. CN has fenced off a trail laid with gravel behind building lots where you are assured to see train traffic.

Now back to the actual trail ride. The route to cycle is not well marked at the beginning and you are not supposed to ride the boardwalks. Though not obvious what the exact path is, I am sure you can figure it out.

So starting from the tunnel south entrance one can do the peninsula, Blockhouse Island, out and back to view the marina and USA across the river. This peninsula was made from the rubble taken excavating the tunnel.

The main route heads west along the back streets a few blocks to Hardy Park. Old century stone homes can be seen and historic plaques mark what was once a busy waterfront with warehouses, industry and train traffic.

Take the cobblestone path by the waters edge in Hardy Park, now you are on your way.

Riding the trail up the creek, there were sure signs that this path was once an old rail line at one point, with embankments, and an underpass. In the air, as we rode, one could hear train horns and locomotives chugging in the distance.

As you ride up and around one has to wonder if this was the alternate route suggested to tunneling. The path is mostly paved but varies greatly in width and terrain.  

As you skip through parkettes you can turn back when you get to the end at Brookview or hit the road for a 1.5km detour to get around the 401. The trail runs for 2 more kilometers along the CP train line that heads north out of town to Centennial Rd.

It was evident on the ride that the city was in the middle of doing much needed major improvements to the trail network and expanding it.

So at around 14 km (return) not a lot of trail riding here, more of an interesting travel destination for all the train buffs out there.

Also consider cycling around the side streets in downtown Brockville to glance at the many old stone buildings. Traffic is light and drivers are not in a rush and give you space.

rail trail map

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