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.