The Great Waterfront Trail Adventure (GWTA) is an annual cycle tour and awareness ride that the Waterfront Regeneration Trust hosts in partnership with waterfront communities and First Nations.  The ride attracts 150 to 200 cyclists from all over Canada and the US. Many are new to cycle tourism; many become enthusiastic champions for the initiative. Participants are in a unique position to offer insights into the quality of experience that that Trail provides. Survey participants rate the experience, evaluate the Trail and describe their interest in cycling tourism.

2023 GWTA Participant Survey Results-Quinte West to Quebec

The 2023 Great Waterfront Trail Adventure celebrates 15 years of building connections.

520 km (80 – 120km of riding per day). Celebrating 15 years of successful GWTAs along one of the most popular sections. The itinerary features several regional trails that are connected to the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, including the Lower Trent River Trail, the Millennium Trail in Quinte West and in Prince Edward County, the K&P Trail in Kingston and Frontenac County, City of Cornwall’s Urban Loop, and the Cheese’n Crankers cycling loop in South Glengarry.

5 Overnight Host Communities: Quinte West, Kingston (2 nights), Brockville, Cornwall and South Glengarry (2 nights)

12 Community Rest Stops: Municipality of Brighton with the Brighton Downtown BIA, Prince Edward County hosted by Picton BIA, Kingston Tourism, Synenham and Frontenac County, Town of Gananoque, Brockville Tourism, Prescott, Edwardsburgh Cardinal, Upper Canada Village, South Stormont, City of Cornwall, Cooper Marsh Conservation Area, SDG Tourism.

Participating businesses and attractions: Brighton Downtown BIA, Grind and Vine, Pedego Electric Bikes, Picton BIA, Bergeron Estate Winery, Loyalist Trading Company, Lodge Coffee, MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Company, the Beachside BBQ, Welborne Commons, Mike’s Pizza and More, Fryway 33, Lakeside Studio Gallery, the Anderwood Studio, Janassen Lifestyle, the Bath Museum, Kingston Penitentiary, Cornwall’s Pub, Fiore Café, Docksyde Ice Cream, Humble Beginnings Brewery, Ingleside Bakery, La Bella Pizzeria, Lost Villages Museum, Glengarry’s Fine Cheese, Historic SDG Jail, MacCullogh Dancers, Akwesasne performer and Hoop Dancer Feryn King, and many more along the daily routes.

140 participants from 3 provinces and 8 US states.

30 elected representatives and community leaders met GWTA Honorary Tour Directors and participants at rest stops and, in some cases, cycling with the group.


Highlights from the 2023 GWTA and Survey

  • 22% first time on the GWTA
  • 67% visited communities for the first time on the route.
  • 97% rate the GWTA highly as a summer holiday experience.
  • 97% will recommend the event to friends and family.
  • 80% believe this section of the route is well-marked.
  • 86% felt safe on this section of the Trail
  • 75% used Ride with GPS
  • 98% used printed maps
  • 73% will revisit a community or area we cycled during the GWTA.
  • $215K * Total estimated economic benefits for communities
  • $1,489 average spending by participants
  • 32% spent 1 or more nights in a hotel pre or post-event for a total 42 hotel nights.
  • 67% stayed in hotels; 33% camped*
  • 69 responses; conducted August 2023
  • Connecting Trails—Trent River, Lower Trent Trail, K&P Rail Trail, PEC Millennium, the Brock Trail, and Cheese’n Crankers—were rated very highly.

*Based on WRT data and survey; **Based on data provided through registration and not the survey

From our partners

“Events like the GWTA encourage many to hop on their bikes to explore Ontario’s Great Lakes communities in an enjoyable and safe way. Our Members continue to embrace cycling and our work with the Waterfront Regeneration Trust is one of the many ways CAA is supporting travelling by two wheels across the province.” Michael Stewart, community relations consultant, CAA South Central Ontario

“Congratulations to the team at Waterfront Regeneration Trust on 15 years of success as the GWTA celebrates its anniversary. This event allows cyclists to experience the Greenbelt and larger Great Lakes Waterfront Trail each summer, getting a firsthand look at how WRT is working to protect and restore the natural heritage of the Great Lakes region and discovering the wonderful communities along the way.” Ed McDonnell, CEO of the Greenbelt Foundation.

“Cycle tourism creates a substantial impact in Lennox & Addington. We’re very fortunate to have the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail travel through the southern portion of our County, and the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure Tour in particular provides excellent exposure to our local businesses along the route. It also helps to generate awareness for our paved road cycling network, our backroad riding experiences and mountain bike trails that are found in communities throughout Lennox & Addington.” Warden Henry Hogg, Lennox & Addington


From GTWA participants:

“I love how this tour is fully supported with a well thought out route and itinerary, where we can just show up, jump on our bikes, and enjoy. I love the sense of community and the opportunity to connect with friends old and new. ”

“Absolutely loved all the routes the small communities riding by the water. Eastern Ontario is so delightful!”

“I am very familiar with the Kingston region and north about an hour on the Rideau Canal, but had done virtually no bike riding to the east or west of Kingston. It was great to see this beautiful area from a bike! I also enjoyed the K&P trail and Cataraqui Trail. Overall, I loved the combination of biking and multi-use trails, and the good quality shoulders on the regular roads. Beautiful views everywhere!”

2022 GWTA Participant Survey Results-Simcoe County

The 2022 Great Waterfront Trail Adventure celebrated the Simcoe County Expansion of the Trail along the coastline of South Georgian Bay to the shores of Lake Simcoe.

For the first time, the GWTA followed a loop route that used a combination of the Waterfront Trail and connecting Trails, in this case, developed by Simcoe County and the City of Barrie. The 460 km route links 25 beaches, 4 provincial parks, 1 national park, 10 heritage sites, a provincial wetland, 18 lakes, 1 heritage river, 25 parks, and numerous local businesses in communities along the shores of Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe. It also incorporates two additional cycling loops—Thunder Beach and Big Chute.

The expansion added 255 new signed kilometres to Great Lakes Waterfront Trail and connected it to 1023 km of great additional road cycling in Simcoe County. This includes wonderful local waterfront trails, such as  Tay Shore Trail, Tiny Trail, Penetanguishene’s Rotary Trail, Uhtoff Trail, Barrie’s Waterfront Heritage Trail, the Oro-Mendonte Rail Trail, and Orillia’s Greg Stobart Trail—all examples of how communities celebrate their waterfronts and heritage.

GWTA survey respondents loved what they experienced rating highly the Simcoe County Loop Trail, Thunder Beach and Big Chute loops. With 3 such highly rated loops Simcoe County has earned its reputation as a great cycling destination.

4 Overnight Host Communities: Blue Mountain, Midland (2 nights), Orillia, Wasaga Beach

11 Community Rest Stops: Town of Blue Mountains (Blue Mountain Village Resort, Town of Meaford, Grey County Tourism, Simcoe County Tourism, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, Penetanguishene, Midland Tourism, Township of Severn, Barrie, Springwater.


Highlights from the 2022 GWTA and Survey

  • 89 responses; conducted August 13, 2022
  • 23% first time on the GWTA
  • 87% visited communities for the first time on the route.
  • 90% rate the GWTA highly as a summer holiday experience.
  • 96% will recommend the event to friends and family.
  • 89% will recommend the Simcoe County Loop Trail to friends and family
  • 74% believe this section of the route is well-marked.
  • 85% felt safe on this section of the Trail
  • 85% state this section of the Trail provides a great cycling experience.
  • 70% used Ride with GPS
  • 86% used printed maps
  • 53% cycled the Big Chute Loop; 95% agree it is a great cycling experience
  • 56% cycled Thunder Beach Loop; 90% agree it is a great cycling experience
  • 25% went swimming during the tour
  • 66% will return to visit a community or area we cycle during the GWTA.
  • Total estimated economic benefits for communities $237K *
  • $1,108 average spending by participants
  • 271 hotel rooms booked over the 5 days by CAA for participants**
  • 38% spent 1 or more nights in a hotel pre or post-event for a total 68 additional hotel nights
  • 60% choose hotel accommodations over camping (first time for hotels to exceed camping) **

*Based on WRT data and survey

**Based on data provided through registration and not the survey

“County of Simcoe Council is committed to supporting the development of trails and programs that promote active transportation among our residents while supporting our growing cycling tourism sector. Through Cycle Simcoe, we’re proud to help fund and now connect our Simcoe County Loop Trail to our neighbouring communities through the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail”  County of Simcoe Warden George Cornell.


From GTWA participants:

For the second year in a row, I have LOVED two nights in one spot with options for personalizing one of the days.  I loved almost all of the trails with the exception of day five and the sandy gravel. I loved how organized and seamless the overall experience was. The luggage service was perfect. The dinner in Midland was lovely – the venue, the entertainment (La Fontaine’s very own Ariko), the hors d’oeuvres, the dinner, and the bus shuttle – all great.

Great trail with such a variety of landscapes  Mostly off-road trails!

Beautiful views, green tree tunnel trails, along cottages on quiet roads and parks so scenic but still close to everything.

2021 GWTA Participant Survey Results - Blue to Bruce

The 2021 Great Waterfront Trail Adventure (GWTA) launched the trail expansion in Grey and Bruce counties, showcasing ~500km of waterfront from The Town of the Blue Mountains to Huron-Kinloss, much of which is located in Ontario’s Greenbelt. Overnight stops were hosted in Blue Mountain Village, Owen Sound, Lion’s Head and Southampton.
Originally planned for 2020 and completely filled within 2 weeks, the Blue to Bruce edition was modified to comply with provincial restrictions related to COVID so that it could take place in 2021. Modifications included reducing participants numbers from  150 to 75, and eliminating camping. The waiting list for the ride had grown to 458 by August 2021; a measure of cycling’s growing popularity and strong desire among cyclists to participate in events.
Survey participants rate the experience, evaluate the Trail and describe their interest in cycling tourism. The report also provides a summary of the itinerary and political engagement.

2021 Survey Result Highlights

  • 55 Survey Responses. 75 Participants
  • 9% First time on the GWTA; 84% visit communities in Bruce, Grey and Simcoe for the first time.
  • 98% will recommend the GWTA to friends and family
  • 96% rate the GWTA highly as a summer holiday experience
  • 99% will recommend Blue to Bruce expansion to friends and family for a visit
  • 100% state this section of the Trail provides a great cycling experience
  • 88% believe this section of the route is well-marked
  • 92% felt safe on this section of the Trail
  • 73% will return to visit a community or area we cycled during the 2021 GWTA.
  • 73% are CAA members; 74% say the CAA sponsored support services were key to their decision to participate.
  • 53% of respondents downloaded GPS data to assist their navigation. This is the first time that more people used GPS navigation devices than not.
  • 99% of respondents rated the paper maps and itineraries very highly
  • 43% extended their stay in the region beyond the GWTA. A total of 54 additional overnights stays were generated.
  • $1059 Average spending per participant.
  • $79K Estimated direct local total economic benefits related to the GWTA 2021. Estimated $90K with indirect spending on extended stays for accommodation.
  • 5 Waterfront Trail Champions, Margot Dixon, Dave Werezak, Ross Leckie, Robin Goldstein, Ken Levine, who raised funds as part of their participation.

I have been looking forward to cycling this leg of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail through Simcoe, Grey and Bruce Counties since 2016 when I was Warden of Lambton County. Cycling the exquisite beauty and contrast of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron coastlines ‘up and then down the Bruce Peninsula’ will be an experience like no other.  Our incredible Great Lakes System and regeneration of its shorelines with multi-use trails – connecting uniquely local communities across our province is an Ontario legacy to be guarded and protected for future generations – not to mention a North American tourism asset, to be shared with the world when cycling has never been more popular. Bev MacDougall, Honorary Tour Director, Great Waterfront Trail Adventure, Sarnia-Lambton

First, I loved that the tour happened at all this unusual year. How helpful and adaptable the staff and volunteers were. The friendly and motivated people on the ride. The spectacular natural scenery (beaches and coasts, hills, nature generally) as well as the communities”. GWTA 2021 Participant

It was amazing to be closer to the ecology, land and shorelines than you can be in a car!” GWTA 2021 Participant

Keep up the good work! Keeping focus on the physical and social local communities.”  GWTA 2021 Participant

2019 GWTA Participant Survey - Lake Huron North Channel

The 2019 Great Waterfront Trail Adventure (GWTA) launched the Lake Huron North Channel expansion, showcased 450 km of Trail from Sault Ste. Marie to Sudbury and featured 11 projects. 150 participants from Canada and the US cycled the North, many for the first time. Survey participants rate the experience, evaluate the Trail and describe their interest in cycling tourism. The report also provides a summary of itinerary and political engagement.

2019 Survey Result Highlights

•150 participants aged 23 to 81. 102 responded to the survey.
•91% live in Ontario. 4% Reside in the United States (Florida, Massasschutes, Minnesota, New Jersey, Arizona). 4% reside in other Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, New Brunswick).
•54 elected representatives met participants at rest stops and in some cases cycled with the group.
$143,000 estimated local total economic benefits related to the GWTA 2019 (based on survey).
•25% first time on the GWTA; 76% first time cycling in Northern Ontario.
98% will recommend the GWTA to friends and family
92% rate the GWTA as an excellent (60%) or very good (32%) summer holiday.
•79% will recommend the Lake Huron North Channel to friends and family for a visit (absolutely 40%; yes 39%)
•84% believe this section of the route is well-marked (33% strongly; 51% agree) 
78% felt safe on this section of the Trail (33% strongly agree; 45% agree)
•86% state this section of the Trail provides a great cycling experience (45% strongly agree; 41% agree)
•83% felt comfortable cycling on Hwy 17 (51% strongly; 32% agree). Noise and truck traffic on HWY 17 were listed as concerns by respondents.
•94% view the Trail as an important part of regenerating the Great Lakes (63% strongly agree; 31% agree)
•52% will return to visit a community or area we cycle during the 2019 GWTA. 
$985 Average spending per participant.
•Pave/compress gravel is recommended as a priority improvement

Where do we start! The incredibly beautiful raw and untouched scenery, the excellent shoulder improvement on Highway 17, the opportunity to see what lays behind the highway, the welcoming, friendly and enthused local people… 2019 GWTA participant

2018 GWTA Participant Survey - Ajax to Cornwall

The 2018 Great Waterfront Trail Adventure (GWTA) showcased 540 km and six new trail projects from Ajax to South Glengarry. Survey participants rate the experience, evaluate the Trail and describe their interest in cycling tourism.

2018 Survey Result Highlights

•167 participants aged 13 to 80
•85% live in Ontario. 12% Reside in the United States (11 states). 3% reside in other Canadian provinces (Nova Scotia, Quebec, Alberta).
•26 elected representatives met participants at rest stops and in some cases cycled with the group.
$203,805 estimated local total economic benefits related to the GWTA 2018.
•39% first time on the GWTA
97% will recommend the GWTA to friends and family
90% rate the GWTA as an excellent (52%) or very good (38%) summer holiday.
99% will recommend the area to friends and family for a visit (absolutely 72%; yes 28%)
43% believe this section of the route is well-marked (10% strongly; 33% agree) 
79% felt safe on this section of the Trail (33% strongly agree; 46% agree)
98% state this section of the Trail provides a great cycling experience (66% strongly agree; 32% agree)
99% view the Trail as an important part of regenerating the Great Lakes (75% strongly agree; 24% agree)
75% will return to visit a community or area we cycle during the 2018 GWTA. 
$833 Average spending per participant.
•42% will take 2-4 pleasure trips where cycling is a significant part of the trip.

2015 GWTA - The Greenbelt Route Edition

  • For the first time in 2015, the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure (GWTA) moved away from the water and into Ontario’s protected countryside.  The GWTA is a six-day ride (August 16-21) along the 475 km Greenbelt Route, spanning seven regions from Northumberland to Niagara.
  • The Greenbelt Route is the successful result of a three-year initiative funded by the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and led by the Waterfront Regeneration Trust in collaboration with the 27 communities through which the route runs.

Participant Survey highlights:

  • 84% think the Greenbelt Route provides a great cycling experience (40% strongly agree and 44% agree)
  • 67% view the Greenbelt Route as well-marked (31% strongly agree; 36% agree)
  • 75% feel safe on the Greenbelt Route (23% strongly agree; 52% agree)
  • 64% will return to the Greenbelt Route in the next 24 months
  • 40% first time on the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure (GWTA)
  • 73% will/have participated in one or more other cycling holidays in Ontario in 2015
  • 36% will/have participated in one or more other cycling holiday outside Ontario in 2015
  • 100% enjoyed the Special edition GWTA-Greenbelt Launch (67% strongly agree and 33% agree)
  • On average participants spent $849 during the six days ($142 daily) of the GWTA on transportation, food, accommodation, shopping, merchandise and other recreational activities)
  • Economic benefits associated with the ride was $176K

See Survey Results: GWTA 2015 Survey Results for GB Partner Meeting

“So hilly, but a welcome challenge and never boring! And the hard work of up hills is so often rewarded with spectacular views!”

“How I wish I was close enough to go there on a whim to enjoy again! It is BEAUTIFUL!”

“Have already been back!”

“We will definitely take our bikes when we drive up to the Greenbelt in the future.”