Puslinch Conservation Area is an excellent all-around MTB experience. Just east of Cambridge by Highway 401, it serves up 20+ km of surprisingly varied and challenging trails to discover.
Riding here, you’ll see why they say this once was an aggregate gravel pit to supply fill for constructing the highway. The hills are short and the terrain has a lot of gravel. I would think much of this is first to dry after it rains.
From the parking lot, the biking in either direction around the two ponds starts off as too easy. But just hold on, it gets much better once you’re past them. Doing this area clockwise seems to be the better option.
Heading down the north side, you’ll find stands of planted pine trees with the trail weaving in and out of them. Berms help you keep your speed on this otherwise level ground. This is a good intro trail for beginners; they will love it. Once out back, the hills appear and the trail forks out in all directions.
On some of the climbs, you’ll need plenty of steam going up and skill going down. The round stones and gravel act like a bag of marbles.
There are few signs in this moderate-sized woodlot, so take any path and explore until it ends at a sideroad. A map would be helpful, or just wing it—you will find your way back…eventually.
There is a lot packed in here and much of it is flowy and twisty, making the most of what little precious real estate there is.
Once you head back on the southern loops, you’re totally into the hardwood forest and the soil base gets smoother. But that bliss won’t last long, as there is still a bounty of random rocks and boulders to keep you busy. It’s a little harder on the steep gnarly climbs, which might lead some to rate this as Advanced trail.
A straight hiking trail cuts through this area with excellent loops on either side. With little signage, you need to pay attention to where the fun trails start. One of my favourite rides in Ontario is here: the Parabola, an oval loop, technical yet fast, too much fun and all for free!
Another highlight is what I call a sidewinder; I believe it is on the Fox trail. This is where riders bank the valley back and forth repeatedly with little effort. With the right momentum and proper design, these gravity switchbacks are a joy to zoom through and are popping up everywhere.
Popular with local riders, Puslinch also has its share of hikers and their dogs, so near the entrance, note the poop surprises you may need to dodge. As a conservation area, it has no services and is still undeveloped. A short drive west, where you likely came in from the highway, you’ll find all the amenities you could need in Cambridge.
Some complain about the drone of the highway behind the trees. I never seem to notice—too busy focusing on the trail and enjoying it with my chums.
Author Note: Another sample of the new reviews and maps for my soon to be published MTB trail guide.