The Uhthoff and Lightfoot Millennium Trails follow the same former rail line and are connected near the boundary between the City of Orillia and the neighbouring township. Together they have a length of about 28 kilometres. The Lightfoot section is within the city and is a paved trail. The Uhthoff trail is the longer section which extends into the countryside to the north and west of Orillia, to the village of Coldwater.
The trails were little too short when I first visited in 1997, but the extension to Coldwater has made for an excellent ride. A lot of tourists visit the area and many more pass over the trail as they travel along Highway 11, a major route between southern and northern Ontario. If you are in the area, be sure to allow some time for the trail.
From the Orillia waterfront head northerly for the Uhthoff Trail. This is the direction that is longest and will take you out into the countryside. There are occasional road crossings within the city but they are few in the country. About four kilometres from the waterfront you will pass under Highway 11, and after about seven more kilometres you will come to a bridge across the North River. One kilometre further the trail crosses Burnside Line, then continues to Coldwater.
You can also head south from the Orillia waterfront on the paved Lightfoot Millennium Trail, and visit the Leacock home, which is well worth visiting. This part of the trail was difficult to follow when I rode it but I am told it has been improved, lengthened, and is well signed. You can get more information at the Orillia website.
The surface of the Uhthoff trail is a crushed limestone which is quite good for most types of bicycle. There are a few soft sections and an occasional protruding stone, but road bikes will manage quite well with the possible exception of those with tubular (racing) tires.
The scenery along the trail is pleasant but not spectacular. It passes mostly through woods and past farmland. Within Orillia you will have views of Lake Couchiching.
The trail was developed by the Orillia Naturalist Club. They have provided two large signs with maps of the trail, some benches, but no water or toilet facilities. There are no stores near the trail after in leaves Orillia. Within Orillia the names of cross streets have been provided on posts.
Accessibility for Wheelchairs and Suitability for Children
Wheelchairs should be able to navigate the trail surface. Some Orillia sections may have traffic hazards for children but the sections in the countryside would be quite safe.
This trail follows a former Canadian Pacific track. Nearby and more recently abandoned is the former Midland Railway line which terminates in the Town of Midland. This would make a wonderful trail and the local politicians should be encouraged to acquire it. See my page on the Victoria Recreation Corridor for more information about the Midland Railway.
How to Find
In Orillia the best way to find the trail is to head for the waterfront and park near the Rotary Train at Couchiching Beach Park. At Jarvis Street, just north of the train, you will find the trail heading northwards.
There are no official parking lots for the trail, but the city has lots along the waterfront that may be used. They can be very busy during summer. Outside of the city the trail can be found by going along Burnside Line, 8.7 km past Highway 11. From that location it is 13 km to Coldwater and about 12 km to Orillia. In Coldwater the trail starts behind the fire hall and arena.
Orillia has plenty of restaurants, shops and motels. There is camping at Bass Lake Provincial Park, I believe the City might have camping at Tudhope Park, and there are private campgrounds in the area. There are tourist boats on Lake Couchiching, pleasant parklands along the waterfront, and Casino Rama is a few kilometres out of Orillia.