California Dreamin' (103km)
Updated: Jun 18
Location: Almonte, Lanark County, Ontario
Distance: 102.9km (63.9 miles)
Suggested Tire Width: 38-40mm or greater
Amenities: The starting point in the town of Almonte has every amenity a rider could want. Convenience stores, coffee shops, grocery stores, pubs and a brewery. However, there are no further amenities on route
Estimated Gravel Time: 85%
Parking: Across the street from the Metcalfe Geoheritage Park
Starting from the parking lot across the street from the Metcalfe Geoheritage Park, and riding clockwise, the southern end of the loop replicates the Almonte Roubaix along Old Perth Road, a classic section of treelined dirt. Upon hitting Tatlock Rd, riders have the option to continue on Old Perth Rd, or veering left on Tatlock for a few meters and then turning right onto a small section of unmaintained, before turning right onto Concession Rd 1, and its rolling hills.
The loop then turn left onto Miller Rd, which eventually traverses some exposed farmland, before turning left onto Concession Rd 10B, which includes a series of punchy ups and downs.
Riders then descend on some pavement (Upper Perth Rd) before turning right back onto gravel for a short distance via Giles Rd., followed by several kilometers of pavement (Pine Grove Rd), Continue north and east on a series of concession gravel and paved roads, eventually hitting an extended section of hilly gravel on Darling Rd,, before transitioning to the legendary California Rd.
California Rd is a classic bit of local dirt, and has a well-earned reputation as one of the most rideable (and fun!) sections of unmaintained in the Ottawa Valley. Upon exiting California Rd, the route reverts briefly back to pavement via Snye and Peneshula Roads, before turning right and reverting back to gravel on Bellamy Rd.
Riding south-east on Bellamy Rd, the route eventually provides riders with a choice. Either continue south-east on Bellamy Rd., followed by a left on Cedar Hill Side Rd, before rejoining the route on the 7th Concession South. Otherwise, riders can turn left off Bellamy Rd. and follow the route via a series of hydro cuts and unmaintained doubletrack, before eventually transitioning to 9th Concession South. Fair warning. If riders choose option #2, be ready for a mix of sand, rocks and knee-deep water. In short, all the hallmarks of a great adventure ride, that shouldn't be attempted on anything less than 38mm tires (or wider if possible).
Turning right onto Cedar Hill Sideroad, the route follows a brief section of pavement before reverting back to gravel via the 7th Concession, as the loop ends via a series of flat dirt farm roads all the way back to Almonte.