Exploring Gravel – Cambridge Loop

Reading Time: 4 minutes

With forecasted rain to the north and east, my only option for a Sunday ride a few weeks ago was to the west.

Being newer to exploring Ontario, I hopped on Ride with GPS, did a quick search for gravel routes near Cambridge, and quickly decided on the Cambridge Loop.

The Cambridge Loop is one of five routes that RonM created on RidewithGPS as part of his Ontario Gravel Week. Ontario Gravel Week starts this June 21, with rides all across southern Ontario. I’m not sure if it’s an open or closed event, but it does appear to be public.

The route starts at Conestoga College, heads through Galt/Cambridge, follows the Cambridge to Paris Rail Trail before finishing up on countless kilometres of fresh gravel roads in Oxford County.

Route Notes

Parking – Although I parked at an empty Conestoga College, the lone security guard was mildly displeased upon my return. Alternate parking may be required.

Elevation Profile – Mostly flat with a few slight climbs.

Speed Profile – Although fresh gravel slowed things a bit, it was a fast ride.

Route Profile – Roughly 15% rail trail, 65% gravel, 20% tarmac.

Safety Profile – For the most it was quiet, except for the last 14km along the moderately trafficked Roseville road, noting that it at least had wide bike-friendly shoulders.

Stores – Plenty in Cambridge km 9-13, Plattsville just off route at km 68, Ridge Social Eatery km 85 (was closed today).

Favourite Part – Galt/Cambridge waterfront, following the Grand River on the Cambridge to Paris Rail Trail, and lots of fresh gravel.

Least Favourite Part – The 14km finish along Roseville Road.

My Stats – 95.19km, 608m, 4:53 total time, 4:17 moving time, 22.2km moving speed.

Conestoga to Glen Morris

I started at Conestoga’s College’s Fountain Street Campus.

With school out, I figured it would be safe to park in the empty campus lot. As safe as it felt, upon my return, I did get a mild scolding from the onsite security advising that the lot is not for public use.

I’m not sure what other options exist, so be aware as you plan your day.

Conestoga College Cambridge Fountain Start

A short while later, I transitioned onto the Maple Lane Trail, a 2.5km stretch of dirt walking trails.

Entering the Maple Lane Trail
Maple Lane Trail

The highlight of this trip was passing the super picturesque waterfront and historic downtown of Galt/Cambridge.

Although brief, it’s these views that I still remember four weeks later.

Grand River Rail Bridge Cambridge

Galt/Cambridge is a town I look forward to exploring further, even just to walk the bridges in the historic downtown.

Grand River Pedestrian Bridge Cambridge

Glen Morris to Roseville

Nine kilometres later, I exited the Cambridge to Paris Rail Trail via the Glen Morris bridge, stopping to take this photo of the view north.

Although you can’t see it, the Cambridge to Paris Rail Trail hugged the Grand River just off all along the right-hand side.

Looking North From the Glen Morris Bridge

If there was one thing that defined the next 33 km, it was reasonably flat roads and fresh gravel, more than I’ve ever seen anywhere before.

Fresh Gravel – West Dumfries Road and Nith Road
Paris Plains Church and Nith Road

When I wasn’t appreciating the gravel, it was the horses, including this absolutely massive beast.

Horse at Watts Pond and Brant Oxford Roads

Then a short while later, this little guy, who was one of many at what must be a miniature pony farm.

Mini Ponies on Blenheim Road

North of the 401

The final 40km took me north of the 401 for more gravel and a few rolling hills for good measure.

Although I didn’t get many photos of this part of the ride, I will say that the riding was good.

The only disappointment was the final 14km along the moderately trafficked, relatively wide-shouldered tarmac of Roseville Road, east of Trussler.

Entering Township Road 9 from Oxford Road 3
Township Road 12 east of Oxford Road 13

Thanks for reading,

Cory

Leave a Reply