Winding it’s way up towards Barrie, the Thornton – Cookstown Train Trail is another section of rail line repurposed for some fine leisure cycling. This 19 km segment of the line was once part of a much longer route from Hamilton to Collingwood and beyond.
My friend and I started the ride at a parking lot on the edge of Cookstown. I was uncertain how far south the path could go so we rode north to Thornton first. The trail seemed already well known and used by many hikers, joggers and cyclists, this was my first time.
I could see why, it was well maintained, scenic and an easy route to follow. The trail base is your typical fine crushed stone all the way. There are a few road crossing, some quite others need attention to oncoming traffic. A gravel or hybrid road bike can manage this terrain nicely, though watch for the loose grit at times.
We crossed the Cookstown Creek many times, I think I counted eight trestle bridges, all in good shape. (Two are being rebuilt next year.) All nice spots to stop and perhaps take a picture. The landscape changes frequently from treed sections to open fields. Most of the route is not shaded, so the lack of trees gives way to expansive views of crop fields, pastureland and marshy areas.
As we headed back south past our start point at 15th Line we continued for four more kilometres then it suddenly ends at a green gate, as if they ran out of money. lol
So here the path does a sharp left taking you onto a country road at the end of a farmer’s field. We had just done 30 km, it was hot and time for lunch so we didn’t venture onto this detour to take us 10 km to Beeton.
Inbetween Beeton and Tottenham track still exist to carry tourists on vintage train rides at the South Simcoe Railway. Further along, this old rail line turns back into another cycling route, the very popular Caledon Rail Trail.
On the north end, the rail trail goes 3 km beyond Thorton curving east to end at the highway where the casino is.
While doing my primary research on this bike path I could see that this trail might one day go further on in both directions. From aerial photos, could it one day go right into Barrie? Maybe to the waterfront, that would be great! I am unsure about the current status, but read there are plans to extend the trail to 26 km in time. I’m guessing the other direction towards Beeton.
Those who like to stop on route for a coffee and a muffin will appreciate that both towns on the way have opportunities to indulge.
This bike ride is about 60 km north of Toronto and can be reached quickly being just west of Hwy 400. Afterwards, there are plenty of places to find lunch on a patio and play the tourist travelling around to the local towns.