Iron Horse – Park / Rail Trail

Kitchener - Waterloo
Posted on August 20, 2021 / 587
Iron Horse – Park / Rail Trail
Listing Types : Park Trail / Rail Trail
Location : Western Ontario
Note : NEW Review
Total Trail Km : 8
Park Path % : 80
Road % : 20
Rate Skill Levels : Easy
Terrain : paved, flat rock
Faclities : parking, food close by, toilet, outhouse, drinking water, lodging, trailhead map, good signage, trails maintained, shelter
Trail Fee : Free

Length –  8+ km (one way)

80% rail trail path
20% road crossings, detours

Elevation – Flat with a gradual slope north

Terrain – Paved asphalt, like a Park path; cleared in the winter

Skill – Easy

Maps – Well-marked trail signage, some newly painted lines

Traffic – Cyclists, walkers, joggers, rollerbladers, dogs, kids and strollers; A busy place on weekends

Facilities – Parking, toilets, benches, fancy bike racks, playgrounds, close to food and lodging

Highlights – Modern inner city and buildings, parks, LRT trains, downtown galleries

Trail Fee – Free

Phone – 519 741 2345

Website – City of Kitchener

Similar Trails – Beltline, Speed River, Greenway

Local Clubs – Waterloo Cycling Club

Access – Find street parking. Parking lots at Victoria Park, Waterloo Park, Train Station Museum and UofW lots.


History – (I will no longer include train history in my free reviews. Only to be found in my published books.)

bike trail book ad

In the centre of Kitchener-Waterloo runs an 8+ km urban Rail Trail that is a pleasure to pedal: the Iron Horse. I highly recommend continuing further, along at least part of the Laurel Trail, to continue your ride  a little longer. It, too, seems likely to have been a rail line years ago, and the two flow into each other nicely.

There is a train theme to this route that echoes the days when older trains passed by. Now replaced by new tracks, stations and electric LRT streetcars running commuters about town.

The city of Kitchener-Waterloo is a bike-friendly town, with many routes cyclists can take. Alas none of the paths here is of any great length. (I usually look for 10 km or more of riding to post as a review.) Wishing to include something representative, I have connected these two paths for an 8 km cycle. And a popular, family-friendly ride it is. 

We started on a fine day at the south end, where it starts off of Ottawa St. in an industrial area. Not the prettiest of sights nor is the waterway we followed, Schneider Creek, all encased in concrete. 

Eventually, this becomes a more green and shady ride as you pass Victoria Park.  At this beautiful park, you can explore paths around the large pond. By the 5th km of the Iron Horse, it appears to end at Caroline St. S.

Fear not! it continues northwest along the sidewalk as a designated path for 800m (8 blocks ). One street over is King Street, a hub of activity, stores and eateries.

Upon reaching the busy intersection at Erb St. W., you can go west on the Laurel Trail for 2.6 km alongside the LRT tracks.  Also, glance to your left to spot the old train station, now a museum.

Immediately you will be struck by the modern architecture of the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery and University of Waterloo campus buildings. Along either side of this path lie the expansive sports grounds and parklands of Waterloo Park and Silver Lake: another stop to rest, explore or let the kids go wild.

An optional side Rail Trail running east from the Erb St. junction is the short Spur Line Trail, a mere 2.5 km long.

Unlike most Rail Trails, these ones are urban, with much to see and hear. These railbeds have been tamed into actual Park-style paths, and the city has paved them and added directional signs, info boards, benches, and sculptures of old machinery on the route.

Being in the city, the road crossings are many and at times busy, so keep an eye on the kids. Crossings are well marked with lights and islands to aid cyclists.

Head out here one day and ride the Iron Horse, Laurel, Spur and many others. This is a great starting point for exploring and discovering the modern metropolis of Kitchener & Waterloo.

Rail Trail Map

Iron Horse - Laurel trail map

Iron Horse - Laurel trail map

Total Score 1 REVIEW
Fun Factor: Scenic: Trail Design: Technical: Workout:
  • August 20, 2021 at 10:09 pm

    A variety of scenery on this trail has made it a favourite for locals. A shady tree lined sections to open parkland and modern buildings all make this a pleasant ride. Watch the street and track crossings and you will be fine. Plenty of other directions to spin-off too, including visiting downtown.

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Fun Factor: Scenic: Trail Design: Technical: Workout: