Having A Blast on the Burl Oak Backroad Blast Loop

A beautiful Saturday on Thanksgiving weekend in October was all the encouragement we needed to head out on our bikes to cycle the Great Lakes to Greenbelt cycling loop the “Burl Oak Backroad Blast”  –  113km of fall cycling fun!

Before leaving home, we downloaded the Ride with GPS route to our fully charged cellphones. The routes can be easily downloaded at the Waterfront Trail website https://waterfronttrail.org/trip-ideas/great-lakes-to-greenbelt/burl-oak-backroad-blast/

Looped routes are awesome since you can start at the point which is most convenient for you.   We chose Oakville simply because it’s closest to home but there is plenty of free parking at La Salle Park in Burlington if you need to leave a car. Another alternative would be to park at the GO Train station – this loop can be easily accessed from both Bronte Go and Appleby GO –  signage to the Waterfront Trail from the GO station is an added bonus.

Our day began with a flat ride along the Lake Ontario waterfront in Oakville and we took a quick break in Bronte in Oakville’s west end to check out the beautiful harbour and beach. Great coffee can be found at the independently owned Taste of Columbia Coffee Shop, which conveniently had bike racks right outside as well as patio seating.

A few easy kilometres west and we arrived in Burlington alongside Brant Street Pier and Spencer Smith Park. Cycling isn’t currently allowed through the park owing to Covid restrictions – but would be great for families once restrictions are lifted. It was too early in the day for us for a refreshment break but Burlington has an abundance of independent options if hunger strikes.

We headed out of Burlington and up the rolling hills of North Shore Boulevard towards Burlington’s La Salle Park – the homes along this stretch are impressive,  and the occasional view over the bay toward Hamilton’s smokestacks, reminders of an industrial waterfront that is now undergoing major transformation, is fascinating.  This was just the start of the climb as we headed away from Lake Ontario and made our way towards the Greenbelt Route. La Salle Park was a great place to stop, catch our breath and take in the view before we began our climb towards the village of Waterdown.

After crossing the bridge over QEW we started to climb! Eventually reaching Snake Road – a popular climb with local cyclists. The fall colours on this section were spectacular as we made our way uphill to the beautiful village of Waterdown and our destination – the Copper Kettle Café.

The warm apple fritters at the Copper Kettle Cafe are legendary amongst locals and they did not disappoint! Fuelled by sugar and a complimentary water bottle top up we were ready to hop on our bikes and follow the signage to the Greenbelt Route.

From this point, the riding was idyllic. Gently rolling with farmer’s fields and low traffic, we rode through the village of Carlisle (worth a short detour for lunch at the cyclist-friendly Cascata Bistro) and onto the village of Kilbride with its handy General Store.

Before we knew it, we had reached Moffat and the infamous Dar’s Delights bakery – don’t forget to bring cash if you want to try one of Dar’s delicious butter tarts.

The halfway point of our ride came as we rode along the rolling hills of 15th Sideroad. We were very happy to turn south on 6th Line and head downhill on our way back to Oakville.

NOTE: The bridge crossing Highway W401 on 6th Line is closed for construction until July 2021. We recommend heading South on 5th Line from 15th sideroad to cross the 401.

Turning onto Lower Baseline from 6th Line we were greeted with a beauty of a downhill with the most amazing fall foliage – a treat indeed.  This led us almost immediately to the Glenorchy Conservation Area Ravine on 4th Line. The route follows an off-road paved trail which is extremely steep – cyclists must walk their bikes. The Conservation Area was very busy as it was Thanksgiving weekend and there were many families on the trail – with 80km of riding in our legs, this was a tough (but short) walk both down and up especially in road bike shoes – certainly somewhere to take extra care.

We entered the Town of Oakville via smooth wide bike lanes on Neyagawa Boulevard and turned west onto the multi-use trail running alongside Dundas Street West. We rode past the entrance to Lion’s Valley Park (it’s a beautiful spot to be explored by foot or mountain bike on another day!) and followed the signs directing us to the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail. As we turned south onto Fourth Line we were pleasantly surprised by bike lanes which led us safely all the way back down to the Waterfront Trail including a safe crossing over the QEW.

Pulling into our Oakville driveway we reflected on our great day of riding from Lake Ontario to the Greenbelt and back. Such a variety of scenery from the bustling communities along the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail to the quiet villages of the Greenbelt Route combined with a nice mix of unique independent places to stop for refreshments along the way. The signage was great and really complemented our Ride with GPS download. This route is a perfect end of season shake out for experienced road cyclists who are not afraid of a few hills and like to sample a few tasty treats along the way!