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.
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
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
2019 Survey Result Highlights
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
2018 Survey Result Highlights
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.”