Jefferson Forest on Stouffville Rd. is like an old friend you keep visiting; they keep changing, and so do the times. For me and many others in Toronto, this has long been the closest little bit of heaven to let loose on our trusty steeds.
Situated just off Hwy 404, north of Richmond Hill, it feels the pressures of urban sprawl. What was once an unknown patchwork of woodlots and fields on a dead-end road many years ago has morphed many times over the 20 years I have been there.
First came the Bayview bridge, then a new subdivision that wiped out our favourite entrance. Recently a gravel path was cut through the middle of the forest and now yet another neighbourhood is being built.
Gone are the motocross bikes that would tear up our track; here come the dog walkers and strollers.
Some of this change is progress. An area that used to be wild, with an uncertain future, has now been taken on by the TRCA and the York Mountain Biking Association (YMBA), a MTB club.
As of 2020, it has finally been given the blessing: it’s officially legal to MTB ride here. Although the forest’s status is likely to continue to change, let’s assume there will still be good riding for years to come.
As for the current riding experience in there: it’s a mixed bag. There are some fine, long XC trail lines to bomb down and a few gnarly, twisty sections here and there. Most of the expert hilly track is in the SW corner of the property. Some paths are just old hiking routes or dirt roads from years ago when there was a homestead here.
Trails go pretty far back, reaching between farmers’ fields and homes. Where the area levels off in the middle, it makes for an easier twisty fast ride with a few quick dips.
Local riders always seem to be cutting new trail and building illegal wooden structures, only to have these removed by the “authorities” over and over again. This should settle down now that there is a plan and troops to deploy.
There’s talk of trail signs and maps in the works, as well as…
Read more in my newly published MTB Trail Guide, with detailed maps as an eBook or Paperback.