2020 Summer of Adventure!
St. Lawrence River-Cornwall and the Long Sault Parkway
Celebrate 25 years of trail-building and work to protect and connect our Great Lakes and St. Lawrence waterfront with the 2020 Summer of Adventure!
What you will love–Cycle beside the mighty St. Lawrence River, a vital North American shipping channel. City of Cornwall. The Lost Villages Museum explaining how the St. Lawrence Seaway was created and the impact of this engineering feat on the 10 communities that were submerged, wonderful craft breweries, stunning river views, fascinating local history, great beaches in the campsites managed by the St. Lawrence Parks Commission.
Terrain—Easy terrain, flat paved path–gentle downhill slope when you are heading east.
How to Get There
- By Car–5-hour drive from downtown Toronto using the 401.
- By Train–VIA passenger daily between Toronto and Cornwall with stops in Oshawa, Cobourg, Belleville, Kingston, Brockville. (Please note VIA has suspended baggage service, so you won’t be able to bring your bike on the Train. Bike rentals (hybrids perfect the trips we are suggesting) are available in Cornwall at the Marina. Marina 200, 200 Water St. East.
The Plan and Maps
Based in Cornwall, two days of great cycling with an option to spend a morning at a beach. Day one a looped trip starting at the Cornwall waterfront. Day two is an in and out trip west from Cornwall to the popular Long Sault Parkway.
- Day One: Cornwall’s Urban Loop–27 km. https://ridewithgps.com/routes/31549482 Check other great loop rides in Cornwall and the Counties of SDG.
- Day Two: Cornwall waterfront to the Long Sault Parkway and Ingleside and back (70 km). Maps 7-4 and 7-5 in the package give you the detailed route from Cornwall to Long Sault Parkway.
- Cornwall’s Waterfront Trail is completely off-road and a beautiful 5 km walk to Saunders Hydro Dam (one way) Maps 7-5 and 7-6
- Power Dam Road to the Lost Villages Museum (5 km one way) Maps 7-4 and 7-5
- Cornwall Historical Tour
- Please note the Bird Sanctuary and Trails are closed until further notice.
East of Cornwall in South Glengarry
- Charlottenburg Park. To prevent overcrowding the Raisin River Conservation Authority will close the beach once it is full. On weekends, this happens by 10 am. Check their Facebook page for status.
West of Cornwall- on the Long Sault Parkway
- Mille Roches Beach and Picnic Area-Reduced hours of operation–Wednesday to Sunday 10 to 8 pm. Due to COVID numbers of beach visitors will be limited; usually fills by Noon. Fee $7.50
- Woodlands Beach and Picnic Area-Saturday to Sunday 10 to 8 pm. Due to COVID numbers of beach visitors will be limited; the beach usually fills by Noon. Fee $7.50
- Crysler Beach -Saturday to Sunday 10 to 8 pm. Due to COVID numbers of beach visitors will be limited; the beach fills quickly. Fee $7.50
Day one: Cornwall’s Urban Loop–27 km
Begin your ride or walk at the Cornwall Civic Centre in Cornwall’s stunning Lamoureux Park. You will also find Cornwall’s Tourism Information Centre–just in case you are looking for more ideas on what to do while in town.
Gorgeous, unobstructed views of the St. Lawrence River. The City of Cornwall updated its Waterfront Plan in 2019. It contains 77 recommendations to be considered over the next 25 years. One of our favourites–opportunities to get closer to the water such as decks, steps down to water, and boardwalks.
6.4 km As you pass by the City of Cornwall sign at the boundary, stay on the path to the right, leaving the Waterfront Trail. This route will take you under County Road 2 to Gray Conservation Area and Marina.
7 km The path through the Conservation Area exits at Boundary Road. The next few kilometres will take you through quiet industrial lands using bike lanes.
Tricky Navigational point! Because junctions are not signed, you need to keep an eye out for trailheads. Industrial Park Drive turns into Tenth Street East. Once you cross the railway tracks, you are on Virginia Drive. Watch for the entrance to the recreational on your left. If you’ve past St. Lawrence Structures, you have gone too far. The Trail turns north and will take you all the way to Brookdale Avenue and 14th Street West. Here is a link to the City’s interactive map for recreational paths.
Cross Brookdale Avenue at 14 Street West. Cross Vincent Massey Drive where the Trail continues adjacent to the street. In about a kilometre, once you cross the railway tracks, stay on the trail veers left. Take this trail to Power Dam Road. Cross Power Dam Road to pick up the Waterfront Trail that will take you to the Canal Lands at the waterfront. (See the map below)
The landscape along the 11k km Canal bears the signs of its former life as a busy shipping channel. Construction on the second canal, an enlargement of the first, was finished in 1904 and needed to avoid the Long Sault rapids. But as ships and the loads they carried increased, the canal became inadequate. Eventually, the plan to create the St. Lawrence Seaway was hatched–an engineering feat. Check out photos from those early days.
The 2019 update to the Waterfront Plan recommends transforming the Canal Lands into a paddle sport centre, and ice rink in the winter. The canal will take back to the Civic Centre and the completion of the loop.
Celebrate the finish of a good day’s ride at Rurban Brewing, which we found on our way our hotel.
Loads of hotel and motel options in Cornwall. Anything on Brookdale or Vincent Massey is close to the Trail and great eating options. Check out the Cycle and Stay packages on offer.
Day 2: 70km Cornwall to Long Sault Parkway and Ingleside (35 km each way).
This is one of the best sections on the Waterfront Trail and you will feel immersed in nature. You’ll ride under the shade of woodland canopy, along a road that connects a series of islands, and if you still have some steam continue to ride through a beautiful bird sanctuary filled with wetlands. And since off-bike is just as important as the ride, consider you these activities–Lost Villages Museum (must do), Ingleside’s, new craft brewery, swimming at Milles Roches, the region’s longest beach. Start your ride at the RCAF Association under Wing 347. A few years ago, there were concerns that the Wing and RCAF club would be demolished to make way for new development–the community outcry was emphatic.
The 2019 Waterfront Plan recommends improvements to the building that allow it to better serve as a destination for larger events and possibly include restaurant services.
Ride along the picturesque canal again headed toward the Saunders Hydro Dam.
Though the Saunders Hydro Dam Visitor Centre is closed due to the pandemic, take a moment to read the excellent interpretative signage, describing the history of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project as well as the communities and people. And put the visitor centre on your list for your return to Cornwall because we know you’ll want to come back. From the dam you head north through Guidon Park.
The Lost Villages Museum is a must-do. It tells the extraordinary story of the human cost for the inundation to construct the St. Lawrence Seaway. Twelve heritage towns submerged, thousands of people relocated, homes lifted and transported to new sites. The story unfolds in exhibits housed in 10 restored buildings and arranged in a village setting.
The Cornwall Historic Walking Tours use art, in this case beautiful paintings created by local artists and landmarks from the city’s past to share the region’s heritage. In 2019 the program was expanded to the Lost Villages. Click here for more information and a map to the Cornwall Historic Walk Tour.
The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail to the Long Sault Parkway is scenic and serene.
The 11 islands of the Long Sault parkway are the former hilltops of the Lost Villages, connected by a series of causeways and bridges. The villages were flooded to make way for the Seaway and Power Dam project in 1958. Each of the islands has its own treasures but the ride on the parkway is one of the best for scenery.
Milles Roches Island is at the east gate. If you want to add a swim to your day, arrive early to enjoy the largest sand beach on the St. Lawrence corridor. There is a modest day-use fee and during the pandemic numbers are limited so plan to arrive early.
McLaren Island is located at the Western Gate of the Long Sault Parkway. Tent camping is available at McLaren, Woodland and Farran Parks run by the St. Lawrence Commission–but you must reserve ahead.
Ready for some refreshments continue on the Trail for 0.5 km where you will find a path off the Waterfront Trail to take you into the South Stormont village of Ingleside… and to Humble Beginnings Brewing Co.
If you still have more cycling in you–you are just 8 km from Upper Canada Village. Unfortunately, the Upper Canada Bird Sanctuary Trails are closed. The ride is spectacular but means your end to end ride will be 80 km.
Upper Canada Village takes you back in time to 1866. Founded in 1961, Upper Canada Village is one of the largest living-history sites in Canada. Visit over forty historical buildings, many moved here prior to flooding of the “Lost Villages” during the St. Lawrence Seaway development project.
The bike ride back to Cornwall is a practically a coast downhill.
On your next visit, or if you choose to stay another day, ride 40 km (80 km return) to the Quebec border through Ontario’s celtic heartland, South Glengarry and stay in Canada’s Nav Centre–a world-class hotel and conference centre as well as leading provider of air navigation training. On the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, there is always a reason to keep going!
Custom Google Map
Use our custom interactive Google map to check distances. And points of interest. https://waterfronttrail.org/map/interactive-map-2/
What to bring:
Don’t forget your sanitizer, snacks and water as facilities are not fully open. Please respect physical distancing protocols and call accommodations and facilities in advance to confirm hours.
Under the covers-Cornwall as a variety of hotels, many offering cycle and stay packages in 2020.
Camping-Woodlawn and Farran Campgrounds is open for tent camping. Need to book a reservation in advance with the St. Lawrence Parks Commission.
About the Communities
St. Lawrence Parks Commission–Things To Do including kayaking, hiking, cycling, fishing and more.
Upper Canada Bird Sanctuary–incredible nature trail to ride or hike. Camping is available.
Want a longer ride? Here are two suggestions:
Check out the Ajax to South Glengarry, a 6-day, self-guided tour based on the popular Great Waterfront Trail Adventure 2018 Itinerary.
Cycle the many other great loop courses created by the Counties of Stormont Dundas Glengarry (SDG)