Right from the heart of downtown Guelph runs a park path/rail trail all the way out to Guelph Lake. This is one of the Royal Recreation Trail routes which follows the Speed River to the dam at the lake.
It is a mix of old rail line right of ways, parkland, forest with about 5 road/bridge crossings. Following the river makes this an easy, flat, yet long ride if you do the full length and back. (16km)
The scenery is certainly varied and enjoyable. Starting from Wyndham St. S. and Wellington St. E. the Downtown Trail works its way up the river bank.
The path passes by old stone buildings (some in ruins), through parklands with glimpses of the slow flowing river on the right. One can see old homes and a few industries as you travel on behind the city core.
I define it as an urban rail trail, as some of the route runs parallel to train tracks that I believe are still in use. It then splits west from the river main trail, on to about 2 km of side trail on the CNR Spurline Trail.
If you stick to the main path, it continues up for 5km on the Speed River Trail to the dam. The path goes from a paved open parkland setting, to more of a natural wooded gravel/dirt path.
Stick to the left at the fork to get over Victoria Rd. N., for the main trail to the dam.
If you make it to the dam, up on the east side are some fun mountain bike trails. Most are for an easy to moderate skill level, if you have a MTB bike or a good hybrid.
If you visit Guelph check out this pleasant ride and the lively downtown while you are there.
There is also more Royal bike paths south of here on the Eramosa River. (that’s for a future review)