Back in 1871 during the glory days of Canadian railway building, a bunch of businessmen decided it was time to lay down some tracks starting from Kingston to gain access to lumber and mineral resources in the north. The plan was to go as far as Pembroke, thus the Kingston and Pembroke (K&P) Railway was born. Built between 1872 and 1883, it got as far as Renfrew for a total of 103 miles.
As the country’s reliance on railways fell into decline so did the K&P, eventually succumbing to stages of disuse and dismantlement between 1962 and 1986. Since then there have been a number of efforts to convert sections of the old railway bed into recreational trails. A popular multi-use path heads 15km north from Kingston. Another maintained section of the old railway extends south from Barryvale on Calabogie Lake, a portion of which I biked along over the Labour Day weekend. Here’s how it went.
Barryvale was a flag stop named after the Barry family who lived here. It is now home to the Calabogie Highlands Golf Resort. There’s a sign on the edge of the trail that reads, ‘Fiddler’s Green. Off Roaders Welcomed‘. Fiddler’s Green is the resort’s restaurant. The Off Roaders being welcomed no doubt include cyclists, but, based on the majority trail users I encountered, it’s primarily targeted towards All Terrain Vehicule (ATV) enthusiasts and, in the winter, snowmobilers.
The trail also doubles as an access road to cottages, particularly along the section between Barryvale and Tatty Hill Road along Calabogie Lake.
The trail narrows slightly south of Tatty Hill Road and becomes a bit rougher, but nothing my regular hybrid bike couldn’t handle.
The trail meandered past hills and lakes without any noticeable inclines, as dictated by the needs of the original trains. Signs along the route mentioned logging trucks as another user of the trail, although I didn’t happen upon any over the course of my ride.
There was plenty of space on the trail to share with the ATV’s I occasionally encountered, however I would stop on the edge of the path and let them pass to allow the dust to settle before I carried on. I was always greeted with a friendly wave as they passed by.
I did happen upon a few other cyclists. The roughest sections of the trail were those that passed through swampy areas. I’m guessing, the stones have to be larger for draining purposes. All were bike-able except the last section before Flower Station where the fist sized rocks required that I dismount and push my bike a hundred meters or so. Mountain bikes could handle it. This was also, conveniently, the point where I had to turn around and head back.
Google Maps suggests the maintained path continues as far south as Wilbur.
So, overall I would say it was a fine ride. Excellent in terms of scenery. I have ridden another section of the K&P trail north of the 401 to Clarendon Station but it was in much rougher shape than the one described in this post.
For those interested in a bike route from Ottawa to Calabogie check out this post.