Victoria Recreation Transportation Corridor
& Haliburton County Rail Trail
These two trails make a good long trail and they pass through some very pleasant countryside. But while they are very good for mountain bikes, the surface is too crude for road bikes and barely passable for hybrids.
The Victoria Recreation Transportation Corridor begins in Lindsay and runs north to the Haliburton boundary where it becomes the Haliburton County Rail Trail and continues to Haliburton Village. The combined length is about 90 km, long enough to challenge anyone. Be aware that 90 km may be a reasonable one day ride for a lot of road cyclists, but 90 km on a gravel trail is a lot tougher. But if you are a seasoned cyclist and can get someone to pick you up at the other end, you may be able to ride the whole trail in a day.
The trail surface has had little done to it since the tracks were removed. While most trails described as "original ballast" are either too soft or too rocky (sometimes both), this surface is reasonable. I rode it on a borrowed mountain bike that was of lesser quality than my regular bike, which is essentially a hybrid. (It is actually a road bike with the widest 1¼ tires I can get.) Next time I go back I will try it on my regular bike, but I expect it to be marginal. I did not encounter any soft sections but there are stones and occasional gravel sections.
Victoria County has constructed gates on the southern section to keep people from driving 4X4s and ATVs on the trail, and there are bridges where required. There is no water, outhouses, parking or any other amenities available specifically for trail users. It does, however, pass through villages where you can purchase goods.
To date I have mostly cycled from Lindsay to a few kilometres north of Fenlon Falls. The countryside was typical of central Ontario, pleasant but not spectacular. It mostly passes farms, but there are also woodlots and one marsh just north of Lindsay. A Great Blue Heron was the only large animal I saw, but I am told that there are a lot of deer in the area. The trail follows the shore of Cameron Lake to the north of Fenlon Falls, and the countryside will get more wild as you go further north and into Haliburton.
In 2008 I cycled a section about 15 km south of Haliburton village. The trail surface was soft and there were places where ATVs made ruts. I soon switched to riding on County Road 1, which was adjacent. My speed was 50% faster, so I stayed on the road. You need to have a mountain bike and revel in working hard to enjoy this trail. I have also cycled a section near Kinmount and it was quite rough.
I would like to thank Barry MacKinnon who has seen my web site and offered information:
"My favourite Ontario railtrail is the 89 km former Victoria Railway (ex-CNR Haliburton subdivision) running from Lindsay to Haliburton. I've ridden the entire length although this requires a car pick-up in Haliburton village. The surface of the trail is not improved although a new bridge has been erected over the west end of a marsh on Sturgeon Lake at Ken Reid Park. The trail is definitely rideable by mountain bike although I admit doing the entire length is definitely "over the top" for most cyclists (doing shorter sections and backtracking is certainly feasible). The most scenic sections are of Sturgeon Lake near Cameron. The trail continues to the pretty town of Fenelon Falls where a diversion must be made on to town streets due to the permanently open railway swing bridge over the Trent Canal. The section just north of Fenelon Falls runs along the shores of Cameron Lake and is outstanding in terms of scenic beauty. I love the Kawartha Lakes! The trail passes here in front of numerous summer homes. The trail pushes inland to Burnt River and the Burnt River railway bridge is of special interest. The stretch from Burnt River to Kinmount is in through fairly isolated woodland but the beautifully preserved railway station and Sawmill Park in Kinmount are worth the ride. There are two railway trestles in good condition with handrails which have been preserved by the local snowmobile association. 4 km north of Kinmount is Howland Junction; the roundtable and small station of the former Irondale, Bancroft and Ottawa Railway are still visible. The IBO railbed is generally not passable by bike. Immediately north of Howland is the high trestle over Kendrick Creek which has not been significantly improved, care is required. North of this point and you are into real Haliburton Highland (t)railroading as you gradually rise up in elevation and pass through isolated woodland and past large marshes. The trail parallels the road from Gelert to Donald and has gravelly sections. A curiosity in Donald is the ruins of the former Standard Chemical company which are now substantially overgrown. The trail ends in Haliburton village at it's preserved railway station".
Barry, like me, is a rail enthusiast as well as a cyclist.
As stated above, there are no outhouses, sources of water, or parking. There are no mileage markers, benches or camping facilities. This means that you must come prepared with plenty of water and enough food to get you to the next village, which could be a fair distance. Cyclists should always carry supplies anyway, for you never know when you might be delayed by mechanical troubles, or the next "village" might turn out to be too small for even a general store.
Accessibility for Wheelchairs and Suitability for Children
This trail is too rough for wheelchairs or young children. It is fine for older children. Road crossings are few, except in the towns, and tend to be lightly traveled. Still, always be prepared for the speeding motorist.
This line began as the Victoria Railway which was constructed between 1874 and 1878. The entire Victoria Railway was our present day trail between Lindsay and Haliburton, but it was not long before it was acquired into the Midland Railway in 1880. The Midland was a more viable railway with approximately 725 kilometres of line, the principal one being from Port Hope to Midland via Lindsay, Beaverton, and Orillia. However it too was acquired by the grand Trunk Railway in 1883, which became part of Canadian national Railways when it was incorporated in 1923.
The CNR operated our line as the Haliburton Subdivision until it was abandoned in 1981. For more information about this and other rail lines in Ontario, see Railway Bob's Links Page.
How to Find
In Lindsay the trail can be reached from Victoria Street. If you are driving up from the south (Hwy 35), you will enter Lindsay on County Road 15. When you get to Kent Street, which is the main street, turn left (west). After you have passed most of the downtown you will come to Victoria Street, where you should turn right (north). The railroad tracks used to go up this street, so it is quite wide. After about 1 kilometre you will see where the tracks curved to the right and left Victoria Street. This is the start of the trail.
There is a church across Victoria Street, and I parked in its parking lot after asking the groundskeeper if it would be ok. If you follow local streets for a couple more blocks in a northeasterly direction then you can join the trail on the outskirts of Lindsay and save a few road crossings. Park wherever it is not prohibited.
Lindsay, Fenlon Falls and Haliburton Village are pleasant towns. North and east of Lindsay is the Kawartha Lakes region, and Haliburton is renowned for its hills and lakes. Both regions attract cottagers and boaters, and there are no tacky attractions that are found in some tourist destinations.