Prescott Russell – Rail Trail

Ottawa to St. Eugene
Posted on August 22, 2019 / 3740
Prescott Russell – Rail Trail
Listing Types : Rail Trail
Location : Eastern Ontario
Total Trail Km : 72
Double track % : 95
Road % : 5
Rate Skill Levels : Easy
Terrain : smooth soil, paved, crushed gravel, drains well, open field
Faclities : parking, toilet, outhouse, good signage, trails maintained
Trail Fee : Free

Length – 72 km (one way)

95% rail trail path
5% road crossings, detours

Elevation – This is a flat section of Ontario.

Terrain – Fine crushed stone, gravel, with paved asphalt in towns.

Skill – Easy

Maps – Map board at parking lots, with plenty of signage on the route.

Traffic – Very light use by bicycles, hikers, horseback riders, and snowmobiles in winter.

Facilities – Large parking lots, outhouses, picnic benches, bike racks, benches on the route.

Highlights – Some farms, bridge at Plantagenet, the train station in Bourget.

Trail Fee – Free

Phone – 1 800 361 7439

Website –  Prescott Russell County

Similar Trails – Kissing Bridge, Elora Cataract

Local Clubs – Ottawa Bicycle Club

Access – Parking lots at the Rail Trail Pavilions:

  • Ottawa – Anderson Rd. Hwy 27
  • Hammond – Hwy 21
  • Bourget – Levis St. and Etienne St.
  • Plantagenet – Hwy 9
  • Vankleek Hill – Hwy 34
  • St. Eugene – Mill St.

Other parking areas are located (from east to west) at Cassburn Road (Vankleek Hill), Caledonia Springs Road (Alfred), Station Road (Alfred), County Road 2 (Cobb Lake, Bourget) and Drouin Road (Hammond).

History – After 1872, the Montreal & City of Ottawa Junction Railway (M&OJ) would run south-east from Ottawa to Coteau, QC, just west of Montreal. 

It eventually sent trains to Vermont with grain and wood products. But first, there had to be a bridge built across the mighty St. Lawrence and that was a challenge to complete for many years.

In 1898, it became the Canada Atlantic Railway run by tycoon J.R. Booth. Within 10 years this was sold to the Grand Trunk Railroad which eventually was owned by CP Rail.

The City of Ottawa signed an agreement with VIA Rail to build this recreational trail in 2011. (VIA can claim it back at any time for rail service if needed.)

Out by the eastern end of Ontario, runs the 72 km Prescott – Russell Rail Trail from outside Ottawa to Rigaud in Quebec.

A once busy train line running through farm country, this is now a “bike highway” to connect with other road touring loops and a great way to get to Montreal or Ottawa.

This Rail Trail is relatively new and well maintained by the county. The path base is crushed limestone gravel riders are used to. Only the thinnest of tires would have a possible handling problem. Some sections in town are paved. (I don’t know why…)

Plenty of signage on the route and simple comforts like outhouses and picnic benches make the trail welcoming. Unfortunately, I hear it is underutilized and in danger of funding cuts or maybe even closure.

So it’s my job to get the word out, and your task to ride it one day…soon.

Perhaps one can attribute the low traffic to its newness, lack of stellar landmarks and location. Yes, this is a corner of Ontario by the Ottawa River few of us venture to.

What you will find different are wide open spaces and a peaceful ride. No drone of highways, airports or industry. Just pure country, with crickets and BIG views of farms, fields and sky.

The Prescott – Russell Trail does not traverse many woodlots. There is little shade, so expect to get plenty of sun on your neck. 

This part of Ontario is pretty flat, so when they laid the track the cheapest way, they naturally made it straight with few curves to it. 

The route passes by many small towns and villages, so you are never too remote, though it may feel that way. You will likely be able to find food and lodging somewhere along the way. 

You may want (need?) to stop at Beau’s Brewery for some craft beer samples in Vankleek Hill.

This area is close to Quebec and has a distinct French Canadian feel, as French signage and communities are evident. 

Starting just SE of Ottawa, you can ride till this path peters out at the bridge in Rigaud, Quebec. I think the trail could continue, as the track looks abandoned, it just needs developing…which would take it down to the Hudson ferry on the Ottawa R. and extend your adventure.

Prescott Russell rail trail map

Prescott Russell rail trail map

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