Sutton Zephyr – Rail Trail

1 Catering Rd., Sutton
Posted on August 22, 2020
Sutton Zephyr – Rail Trail
Listing Types : Rail Trail
Location : Central Ontario
Note : NEW Review
Total Trail Km : 11+
Double track % : 60
Park Path % : 40
Rate Skill Levels : Easy
Terrain : sandy spots, smooth soil, crushed gravel, flat sections, drains well
Faclities : parking, food close by, trails maintained
Trail Fee : Free

Length –  11+ km (one way)

98% rail trail path
2% road crossings, detours

Elevation – flat as she goes

Terrain – crushed stone, small gravel, sandy base, puddles

Skill – easy

Maps – none

Traffic – bicycles, hikers, horses, ATV, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, X-country skiers

Facilities – parking in school lot, on street, services in Sutton but not on trail

Highlights – bridges, shaded woodlots, quite 

Trail Fee – free

Phone – none

Website – none

Similar Trails – Oro – Medonte, Victoria SouthN. Simcoe + Tiny – Rail Trail

Local Clubs – Toronto Bicycling Network – TBN

Access – From Toronto drive to the end of the hwy 404. Continue north on hwy 8 which turns east as hwy 8A. Drive to the end of this road into Sutton and turn south on Dalton Rd. past the high school and finding parking across from the start of the Rail trail on 1 Catering Rd. 

History – Originally the Lake Simcoe Junction Railway was a spur line out of Stouffville from the Toronto & Nipissing Railway. This line ran north and reached Sutton in 1877 ending at Jackson’s Point on Lake Simcoe. Freight from boats and passenger service to summer resorts keep things busy initially in the summer. And ice blocks shipped south in the winter for ice boxes (before the advent of refrigeration).

By 1893 is was part of the Grand Trunk Railway and then passed on to the CNR in 1923. In 1907 another competing line ran to Jackson’s Point with a more direct route to Toronto. By 1928 only a little freight service existed between Sutton and Zephyr. The track and bridges were removed in 1981.

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Close to Toronto, and an easy drive to the Sutton – Zephyr Rail trail, was a perfect quick getaway from the city last weekend. I had seen this 11 km little sliver of a rail trail just south of Lake Simcoe years ago and always wondered if it was worth doing.

I invited some family members from Keswick to join us and we were all pleasantly surprised. Though obscure and not connecting to other trail systems, I would recommend it.

This is a Rail trail with no frills, but the trail base is in fine order. It starts at the bottom of the town of Sutton as a  crushed fine stone wide path. Eventually, about half way down, it turns into a double track but still maintains a firm gravel/sandy base to cruise along. 

Easy enough to negotiate with a MTB or a gravel/ hybrid bike with medium tires. I saw some maintenance has been done to keep the bushes from growing in.

Within a few minutes,we encountered many puddles from the rain the night before. Some so large skirting around them took effort. The odd thing was, ten minutes later the puddles were gone, either it had not rained there or the soil drains better.

This little know Rail trail has none of the usual signage designating who can use it so I can not be sure what traffic you may meet on route. I saw large boulders blocking ATV’s but they make there way around anyway and I saw enough snowmobile marks on the bridges to know they travel here in the winter. But because this short line does not connect well with much else there is likely little traffic. On our Sunday ride, I heard no one.

There are three points on this trail that cross the Black River, the first two bridges are there the last is not. Snowmobiles likely cross here on the winter ice but a quick survey of the water gap tells me it would be likely too deep to wade across with your bike. And the waters of the Black R. are blackish as the name implies so the bottom can not be seen.

The other two bridges are not the original structures and I sure hope a bridge is added one day soon. As on the other side is the Zephyr Forest Tract with a few more kilometres of trails. 

How far this rail line goes beyond here, I am not sure, but likely not much more. It has been divide up, sold off and redeveloped in parts. There is a tiny section that runs through in the Eldred King Woodlands further south as this line once did reach Stouffville.

A good time to turn around for many could be when you reach Hwy 48, which is a busy road to cross at the 9 km mark.  I was curious to see if the bridge was out and did the extra 2 km further along. It was and the terrain was similar and easy though the route felt a bit wilder.

Along the way, the scenery keeps changing through shaded wooded areas onto farms, fields then by country homes and back to woodlots. All very pleasant and a serene journey for all on the Zephyr RT (what a cool name).

Afterwards check out Sutton, Keswick or the Lake Simcoe shoreline for places to eat and some more riding along scenic country roads.

Sutton - Zephyr rail trail map

Sutton - Zephyr rail trail map

Total Score 3 REVIEWS
Fun Factor: Scenic: Trail Design: Technical: Workout:
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Fun Factor: Scenic: Trail Design: Technical: Workout: