In the previous installment of Warning! Bumps Ahead, Helen and I were in Leamington experiencing a major failure on the Trans-Canada Trail. After a 5 hour drive from Toronto, and only 2 km on the bike, we found the trail was closed for the next 18 months.
I may have been annoyed, but I wasn’t worried – yet. I had spent hours planning this 3 day excursion and I had alternatives up my sleeve. There was a lot of trail still ahead. We cycled back to the car, piled everything inside again and headed out to catch the trail further along the route.
Luck was not on our side … more closure signs, more large rock gravel.
Eventually we reached the point where the trail became road and we proceeded to follow the Trans-Canada Trail signs, expecting we would soon reach another trail we could cycle.
The good news? …. the “trail” was well marked on the road and easy to follow.
The bad news? … we drove, and we drove, and we followed the signs …. for about 125 kms over 3 hours.
We finally conceded defeat and headed back to our hotel.
As we whined over a bottle of wine, the grievances we listed were many. This brings me to my second major complaint about our experience on the Trans-Canada Trail so far.
“The longest recreational trail in the world” (as quoted from TheGreatTrail.ca website) is in fact more “road” than “trail”.
Up until now, I was under the mistaken impression that the Trans-Canada was primarily trails – in its traditional definition as a rough pathway – linked together with sections of road.
The reality is that (according to Wikipedia) more than half of the trail is in fact road – which is not necessarily alarming when you consider how large Canada really is.
What does become alarming though is that sections like Essex-Chatham and Chatham-Kent appear to be almost 100% roadway … which I hadn’t expected.
The problem is that the TheGreatTrail.ca map isn’t coded to make it easy to identify whether a route is road or not.
While some trails are accurately described as gravel trail/ paved trail/ road – others are not. Nor does it provide information on how much of the trail is made up of these components.
The entire Chatham-Kent Trail was described simply as “paved trail”. At over 200 km long, this would have been a cyclist’s dream if it had been accurate. However all we found (with the exception of the 1.4 km trail noted above) was road. I found a Chatham-Kent brochure online, but none of the short trails it included in the brochure were part of the Trans-Canada.
If you are trying to promote outdoor activity for people of all ages, would you consider “road” is an appropriate “recreational trail”?
Even worse, when we compared the route we drove by following the road signs, with the map on TheGreatTrail.ca website, we couldn’t get them to match up even though we had carefully followed the signs.
So now we are seriously questioning the viability of this project.
Our experience has been that we can’t trust the accuracy of the maps, the trail descriptions, the availability of signage, or even if we’re going to find the trails open.
Nor do we feel safe riding predominately on roads.
Our “Whine and Wine” session ended with one major decision … we will not continue with our current plan. A new approach will be required.