Last Thursday I biked to a friend’s cottage on Sharbot Lake just south of the Blue Skies music festival, and then rode up to the festival site the following morning to set up our tent. Here’s how it went.
To get out of Ottawa I followed the Ottawa River Pathway and Watts Creek Pathway as far as Moodie Drive. A description of those paths can be found on this post. Rather than follow Watts Creek Pathway which continues on the other side of Moodie, I rode along Corkstown Road to where it meets the Greenbelt Pathway before it goes under the Queensway.
This section of the Greenbelt Pathway is a very pleasant meander through fields and woods.
I followed this path as far as Robertson Road to where it joins the rail-to-trail path that takes you all the way to Carleton Place, as described in this post. This time I rode through the rain, which made the crushed gravel a little slower going.
Carleton Place has a number of fine heritage buildings to ponder on your way through, such as the Town Hall on the edge of the Mississippi River.
I crossed the Mississippi at Bridge Street, and then headed South West on High Street – a safe road to bike down, with big old houses on either side as you head out of town.
I then followed the Trans-Canada Highway for a 4km stretch. The Trans-Canada is a terrible two lane road to ride on. Folks drive along it as fast as they can to get from point a to b. That includes big transport trucks. Fortunately the section heading out of Carleton Place has a small paved shoulder and packed gravel that’s ride-able. I regret not having a small mirror attached to my helmet or handle bars to anticipate trucks roaring up behind me. It would have helped brace myself for the backdraft that shakes you on your bike as they pass.
I turned onto Tatlock Road, a two laner that wasn’t too busy.
Before this trip I hadn’t realised how generous Google Maps is in their interpretation of what constitutes a road, that is until I reached the turn off to Forest Road.
That’s OK, says I. Carla had a copy of my route and my phone still had batteries, so off I went down Forest Road. It was a little bumpy, but quite bikeable.
After crossing Old Perth Road, Forest Road became much more navigable, like so.
Concession Road 1 Ramsay and Boyds Road which became Ferguson Falls Road were very similar – packed gravel through farmland. Very nice to bike along.
This Methodist graveyard along Ferguson Falls Road is located just before Pine Grove Road, or Route 12. I was struck by the landscape’s layers of rich contrasting colours.
I quickly discovered cars like to travel fast along route 12. Not as fast as on the Trans Canada, but still pretty fast.
There were also a number of dump trucks travelling in the opposite direction, that I soon discovered were heading away from a huge quarry just off Route 12.
I rode into Lanark Village and paused long enough to buy liquids at their general store. I sensed this was a very special place, full of resilience and rich heritage. This building for example, that someone is conserving and re-pointing. I’ve since found this walking tour of Lanark Village that describes some of the towns origins. Can’t wait to re-visit.
Route 12 heading South of Lanark felt a lot safer with fewer cars and a nice wide shoulder in places.
Lot’s of cedar post fences like these.
They are also right in the middle of paving the road further south in a way that suggests a wider shoulder will be in the offing. While I was humming along on this fresh asphalt I almost missed a little sign indicating Hunter Side Road, which was supposed to be my next turn. Where was the road? Just there, over the edge where the white arrow is pointing.
And voila – Hunter Side Road!
I turned onto Bennett Lake Road, which is the perfect country road to bike along – very little traffic, and the few vehicules that did overtake me slowed right down and gave me lots of room.
After crossing Elphin-Maberley Road, Bennett Lake Road became 11th Line Road, surfaced in a light coloured packed gravel excellent for biking.
11th Line joins Zealand Road which is paved and just as great as Bennett Lake Road.
Turned onto Bell Line Road, which is a brown gravel surface, that alternates between packed and loose, still very good for biking.
Next turn will be onto the K&P Trail which crosses Bell Line Road. There isn’t a sign indicating where the trail crosses Bell Line Road. Here’s what the intersection looks like.
The trail is mostly packed dirt and gravel, like so.
However there are a couple of short stretches where they’ve put down some stones for draining which may require dismounting and walking your bike.
There’s a beaver house just off the trail along one of these stretches.
The trail crosses Clarendon Road, which you will know you’ve reached by the abandoned station house on the opposite side of the road.
Follow Clarendon Road for a short bit to get to the entrance of the festival site. It’s hilly and narrow so watch out for cars heading to the festival.
Et voila! Time for Blue Skies.