Oro - Medonte Rail Trail &
Barrie North Shore Trail
I combine these two trails because they follow the same abandoned rail line and (almost) connect. The North Shore Trail is only 3 km long but it is very pleasant and starts in downtown Barrie. The surface is an excellent crushed stone. It ends at the city boundary at Penetanguishene Road, and unfortunately the next kilometre of rail corridor has been lost from public access. However a 1.4 km detour on public roads will allow you to pick up the Oro-Medonte Rail Trail. Follow Penetanguishene Road north until it meets Shanty Bay Road. Follow Shanty Bay Road east into Oro-Medonte Township to Ridge Road. Turn right onto Line 1 South, where the Lake Country Oro-Medonte Rail Trail begins.
The Oro-Medonte Rail Trail is 28 km long and goes to the outskirts of Orillia. The trail surface is crushed stone, is mostly excellent and can be ridden by most types of bikes. When I cycled it in 2003 there was one short soft section under a bridge and a few places where trail bikes had made ruts. Once you are on the trail it is continuous, but you do need to cross roads every two kilometres. They are not generally busy but watch for vehicles.
The scenery is pleasant but not spectacular. It is flanked by farm fields and does not vary much. It passes a couple of small swamps. I saw very little wildlife. I cycled as far as Hawkstone where I took the Line 11 the short distance (750 m) to the lakefront, where there is a marina.
There are signs at the crossroads and one historical marker near Shanty Bay. There is no water or distance markers. There is a washroom in Shanty Bay, one at Johnson Beach (Barrie section) that is open in summer, and another in Heritage Park in Barrie that is open May to October.
Accessibility for Wheelchairs and Suitability for Children
Excellent for both, except the road section. Children should be supervised at the road crossings.
The corridor is a former CN rail line which was built in 1870/71 and abandoned in 1996.
How to Find
In Barrie go to the downtown waterfront. The trail starts just east of Heritage Park, behind Hooters. There is plenty of parking but you will have to pay. In Oro-Medonte the trail is always between Highway 11 and the shore of Lake Simcoe, usually closer to the lake. You will intersect it by following any of the roads south, where you can park for free by the side of the road. Shanty Bay, at the bottom of Line 2, would be a good place to park. At the Orillia end you can access it from Woodland Drive. You may need a map to find it, but it is south off Memorial Avenue, not far from Highway 11.
Barrie is a city of 130,000 people and has many motels, restaurants and bike shops. You will also find services in Orillia and some stores or restaurants in Shanty Bay and Oro station, possibly in Hawkstone, depending on the season.