Blue Mountain High (71km)
Updated: Jul 5
Location: Thornbury, Grey County, Ontario
Distance: 71.4km (44.7 miles)
Suggested Tire Width: 35mm or wider
Amenities: The starting point in the town of Thornbury is home to various amenities, including the Thornbury Cidery, a good spot to rehydrate after a long day of climbing. Just after the halfway point and slightly off-route, the Ravenna Country Bakery offers a selection of baked goods, including the region’s ubiquitous butter tart. Finally, the Blue Mountain Resort caters to the area’s golfers and mountain bikers with a variety of restaurant options.
Estimated gravel time: 80%
Parking: The town of Thornbury has ample on-street parking available. There is also a public parking lot available at the Thornbury Ball Diamonds
This 71km route samples a portion of the third day of the BT700 bikepacking route developed by Matthew Kadey. Be sure to pack your climbing legs, as this route forever put to rest the notion that central Ontario is flat.
Exiting the town of Thornbury via 33rd Sideroad, riders head west and immediately begin an extended climb on quiet country pavement. After approximately 6.5km, the route heads south on 3 Line Rd, leaving the asphalt behind, but not the climbing.
Eventually, the climb plateaus on Old Mail Rd. before finally descending for approximately 5km via 3rd Line D Rd. all the way to Sideroad 19. It should be noted that during this descent, 3rd Line D Rd. breaks into two section as riders traverse a short section of the Bruce Trail. Those looking to avoid this section of doubletrack may wish to stay on Old Mail Rd all the way to Grey Rd. 13. From here, head south before re-joining the loop at the Blue Mountains-Euphrasia Townline.
Those continuing on route will head east on Sideroad 19 before briefly transitioning back to pavement via Grey Rd 13. Eventually the route makes a right onto the Blue Mountains-Euphrasia Townline, which eventually shifts back to gravel after crossing Grey Rd 119. Here, the route’s second extended climb begins, lasting for just over 11km, continuing past the halfway point on 12th Sideroad near the hamlet of Ravenna, before finally plateauing as riders head north via 6th Line Rd.
Heading north, the loop briefly returns to pavement via Grey Rd 19, before once again continuing on dirt by way of 5th Line Rd. Upon reaching the intersection with 18th Sideroad, riders have the option of turning left and tackling a bit of rough unmaintained via 6th Line Rd., before looping back to 18th Sideroad. Those wishing to avoid this section of unmaintained are advised to make a right on 18th Sideroad instead.
The route ultimately returns to Grey Rd. 19 (and pavement) via 4th Line Rd, heading east to Blue Mountain Resort. At almost 15km, this is the loop’s longest stretch of asphalt. In addition, it includes the route’s steepest descent as riders burn off all the day’s climbing in one shot. Needless to say, extreme caution ought to be exercised descending on Scenic Caves Road to the resort below.
Upon reaching the resort, continue north towards the shores of Georgian Bay. Eventually, the route leaves the pavement behind and joins the Georgian Rail Trail, continuing west for fourteen flat and easy kilometres all the way back to the starting point in Thornbury