One of the better park rides in Ontario can be found along the St. Lawrence River out by Cornwall. This 22 + km Waterfront Trail has all the desired qualities to make it a great ride being long, never boring, scenic and well-maintained.
Unlike the 1000 Islands bike trail further up the river, this one actually does follow the waterfront closely for most of the journey. The path takes you by marinas, old shipping canals, dams, the fast flowing St. Lawrence, and along the city’s waterfront parkland.
An old riding mate showed me the trail this summer and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Mainly flat, you will encounter a few long gradual climbs and on the west end, some more narrow gravel trail, all easily manageable, never crowded.
This path had few signs and map boards that I noticed. We followed the painted centre line and that got us there.
This long path 22 + 10 + 10 km can be divided up into a few stages. Starting from the east end the route follows Montreal Rd. and hugs the shore from Gray’s Creek on the eastern limit of Cornwall. As it gets to the city centre, it opens up to the waterfront parkland.
Beyond, once you pass under the large bridge the path now takes you along what once was the old canal and locks the freighters took. What is odd, is the view of water on each side of your path at different levels.
The route will turn north and inland for a stretch of fields and woodlots on this newly paved part, making the way enjoyable as it reveals pretty views of the river. The Lost Villages Museum is on this section and is a miniature version of the historic homes collected at Upper Canada Village.
Back in the 50’s the river was raised and dammed with new canals to allow large ships to navigate. This ride shows evidence of the changes to the land and people it had made.
Eventually the path reaches the Long Sault Parkway where there is a chance to get food at a mall.
Here you make a choice to turn back the same way you came, or do a long road connection to get to 10 km more of quiet wooded trail that passes through a bird sanctuary to Upper Canada Village.
If you want more riding, I recommend skipping along the scenic 11 island chain by taking the 10 km Parkway road. It has no shoulders but little traffic. A shorter way for your return can be the straight road Hwy 2 at 7 km.
The area has many opportunities to expand your outing by visiting the Upper Canada Museum, swimming at a beach, camping overnight or planning a lunch in Cornwall.
So the choice is yours to ride it all (80 km return) or certain sections. For my cycling friend Paul (who has ridden across Canada) no problem, but for others there are many choices. Mine would be to add the old canal section as part of your trek.
This was a nice find and sure to be an enjoyable stop for anyone coming or going to Montreal or as a day trip from Ottawa.