If you are looking for a MTB XC wilderness adventure in southern Ontario, Kolapore Uplands southwest of Collingwood will give you that experience. Enjoy hours of touring through forests on the rocky back of the Niagara Escarpment in peaceful, natural surroundings.
Numerous forested loops take you around wetlands and through clearings, over many bridges, and up and down valleys—some with steep grades. Much of this is on hiking trails or winter cross-country ski paths crossing over a number of side roads.
Although you’ll see a lot of trees, the area does offer a few lookouts such as the Duncan Escarpment and Mount Dhaulagiri. You’ll have to work the granny gears before you can appreciate these views.
Kolapore offers a hilly ride on a smooth base with frequent rocky limestone encounters. Although it’s not super-technical here, you’d better be agile enough on your pony to like the stony parts.
Much of the terrain may be covered with leaf debris. Take note that there could be rock crevasses under this floor covering that could suddenly tip you over.
This area is suitable for any seasoned Intermediate MTB rider capable of finding their way. There is signage (for skiers) at intersections to help you with navigation.
You should be self-supporting and prepared for the unexpected, since you may not encounter more than one or two other riders, or the odd hiker with their dog, all day. Also, it’s a bit remote, so your cell signal may be weak in here.
The tributaries of Mill Creek create plenty of wetlands. Expect wet, boggy areas during a rainy spell or in early spring. This poor drainage makes it slippery and does promote bugs, so be ready. The Southwest Passage trail is usually a winter route and difficult to travel in the summer.
I recommend stopping at the large creek bridge for a snack break or even lunch overlooking the marshlands. That bridge and a few others have been rebuilt as they were in need.
Easier cycling loops can be found on the southeast corner of this forest if you are new to mountain biking or out with the family (and good with directions).
Kolapore is managed by a Nordic ski group whose volunteers put in many hours on trail maintenance and bridge replacement. Please consider supporting their efforts by buying their trail map (which is far more detailed than mine).
Riding in here in autumn, when the fall colours are ablaze, is spectacular. No Fatbikes on the ski loops in the winter, please; use the Bruce trail.
Two hundred years ago, this area, then called Paradise, was home to sawmills and hunting camps. Eventually the name was changed to Kolapore after a city in India, probably by an early British settler with memories from there.
Your ride in Kolapore will likely leave you with fond memories of a little slice of paradise, too.
Ed Note: This will be one of the new trails reviews I will be adding to my Ontario MTB Guide Book to be published in a few weeks.
Thanks to Paulo LaBerge for taking some of these photos.