Georgian – Rail Trail

Collingwood to Meaford
Posted on October 13, 2017 / 8690
Georgian – Rail Trail
Listing Types : Rail Trail
Location : Central Ontario
Note : Popular
Total Trail Km : 32
Double track % : 95
Road % : 5
Rate Skill Levels : Easy
Terrain : sandy spots, smooth soil, crushed gravel, wood chips, bridges, flat sections, drains well, gentle hills, open field
Faclities : parking, food close by, toilet, outhouse, drinking water, lodging, trailhead map, good signage, trails maintained, bike rentals, pro shop
Trail Fee : Free

Length –  32 km (one way)

90%  rail trail path
10%  road crossings (some are busy), detours

Elevation –  flat, straight, bridges, shaded woodlots, farm fields

Terrain – wide path, crushed stone, gravel, a little asphalt

Skill – Easy

Traffic – bicycles, hikers, horses, cross-country skiers

Facilities –  parking, outhouses, local services in Collingwood, Thornbury, Meaford

Highlights – Georgian Bay, Thornbury bridge, Craigleith train station

Trail Fee – free

Maps – signpost markings and milestones

Phone – 1 888 227 8667

Website – Georgian Trail , Cycle Simcoe, Georgian Bay Tourism

Similar Trails – Caledon, Hamilton to Bradford, Millennium

Local Clubs – Collingwood Cycling Club (road riders)

Access – Parking by trail at many locations.

History – In 1872 this rail line was constructed by the North Grey Railway between Collingwood and Meaford. Trains carried timber, quarried stone and oil to markets south. Yes Craigleith had oil in its shale beds.

Passengers and tourist were sent north to Craigleith station for ski holidays at Blue Mountain up until passenger service ended in 1963. Eventually CN freight stopped running and the tracks were removed in 1985 to become this trail route.

Alternate Loop – Just to keep it interesting north of Thornbury, I  took a loop down to the water with fancy cottages to gawk at and saw a few parks with beaches one can stop and go for a swim.

This 4 km side route follows Sunset Boulevard. It’s a small enjoyable detour except for a sizable hill that one will have to face on the way back up to the rail trail. (of course going down it is a blast :^) On the east side take Lora Bay Dr. down the hill. Or on the west side of the rail trail look for Christie Beach Rd.

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The Georgian Rail Trail going from Collingwood through Thornbury to Meaford is one of the more popular bike rides for locals and tourists. This pleasant and easy bike path follows the coast of Georgian Bay.

It offers glimpses of the water, travels through shaded woodlands, marshes and farm fields with the towering Niagara Escarpment as a backdrop.

This trail has a well maintained base of crushed gravel, with little overgrowth. There are plenty of signposts to keep you informed as to how far your destination is.

Collingwood has many bike paths, and taking one of them along the water’s edge will bring you to the back of a mall where the rail trail starts.  

Following the trail through a forested area, this leisurely bike ride is a favorite for local families and bike cruisers. The distance to Thornbury (the next town) is 19 km one way.

Near Craigleith, note the old train station that once brought vacationers in from the city. Also a good area to go for a dip in the bay on a hot summer ride.

I chose to ride what I think is a shorter, more interesting section from Thornbury to Meaford and back, a comfortable 13 km. (one way). The plan was to ride to the next town have lunch and return back to Thornbury.

Thornbury has a dam with an old railroad trestle bridge and this was our start point. As with most rail trails, the going was very straight until we reached Meaford for lunch.

As you enter town there are some enjoyable wooded trails that end at the harbor by the sailboats. The old main street is worth having a look at and a good spot to eat.

Alternatively, you could start your ride at Meaford and have lunch in Thornbury for some samples of cider at the local distillery. Yum! Or go the distance 32 km and find plenty of eateries in Collingwood.

Collingwood is the largest town in the area, which is doing well again as a retirement community and recreation area by Blue Mountain Village, which has some serious downhill MTB runs. You will find the downtown charming and full of life on the weekends.

Anyone looking for a weekend getaway should consider trying this rail trail. It’s about a two hour drive from Toronto and worth staying over night to enjoy the festivals and events in the area.

Open Street Map

Georgian bike rail trail map

Georgian bike rail trail map

Open Street Map loop

Sunset Blvd loop on Georgian trail

Sunset Blvd loop on Georgian trail

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