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Going Back to Cali (72/56km)

Updated: Feb 9, 2022

Location: Clayton, Lanark and Renfrew Counties, Ontario

Estimated Gravel Time: 75%

Full Route Map:

Full Distance: 72.2km (44.8 miles)

Alternate Route (56km): The overall length of the main route can be shortened by approximately 16km by taking Tatlock Rd., rather than looping around Clayton and Taylor Lakes. However, be aware that Tatlock Rd. does not have a paved shoulder and has a speed limit of 80km. That said, traffic along this section of pavement is generally quite light. Download GPX File

Suggested Tire Width: 35mm or wider

Amenities: The starting point in the hamlet of Clayton includes access to a General Store. Otherwise there are no other amenities on route.

Parking: Public off-street parking in Clayton can be found at Clayton Taylor Park or at the Clayton Community Centre

Full Route Description:

This 72.2km loop (with a 55km option) offers riders one of the easiest ways to access the legendary California Rd., one of the Ottawa area’s premier sections of unmaintained.

Bowland Rd.

Starting clockwise from Clayton, the route exits the hamlet south-east via Tatlock Rd. However, those looking to shorten the route by approximately 20km or so are encouraged to head west on Tatlock Rd. to Darling Rd. While the optional route from Clayton to Darling Rd is fully paved and can see some high-speed traffic, it is typically not all that busy.

Rosetta Rd.

Those continuing on the 72.2km version of the route will follow Tatlock Rd south, eventually making a right onto Bowland Rd. and a brief stretch of gravel. Shortly thereafter, the route returns to pavement as it makes a right onto Wolfe Grove Rd., staying on the wide paved shoulder for just over 3.5km, before eventually returning to gravel via Rosetta Rd.

Section of optional unmaintained heading north to Darling Rd.

Riders continue on gravel to 8th Concession B., where riders will have a choice. Make a right here and continue on maintained gravel to Wolf Grove Rd. which rejoins the main route at Darling Rd. Or continue on Rosetta Rd. to a saucy bit of unmaintained that features several more advanced technical sections as it heads north to Darling Rd.

Darling Rd.

More than just a way to access California Rd., Darling Rd. is a special section of the route in its own right, as it includes a wonderful mix of twisty tree-lined dirt and exposed farmland. But be sure to pack your climbing legs, as this portion of the loop includes a mix of extended ascents and steep, punchy hills.

California Rd.

Continuing on Darling Rd. for approximately 16km, riders eventually reach the route’s namesake, California Rd. By choosing to ride the route clockwise, riders will be treated to a rollercoaster descent for the next seven kilometres, definitely the best way to ride this renowned stretch of unmaintained dirt. In the meantime, pay attention to the various ATV trails and hydro line cuts that dot this section of the route, as they provide access to several potential campsites.

One of several hydrocuts that branch off of California Rd to a lovely rest stop

Eventually the fun must end as riders return to pavement via Snye Rd., followed by a right onto Peneshula Rd., as the route continues north-east on hilly asphalt for approximately 3km. Eventually, riders make a right on Bellamy Rd., returning to gravel for an extended period.

Bellamy Rd.

The road then transitions back to car-free pavement, before returning to dirt upon reaching Concession 6 and Sugar Bush Rd. Shortly thereafter, the route makes a right onto Bellamy Mills Rd., following this tree-lined gem for just over 7km all the way back to the starting point in Clayton.

Bellamy Mills Rd.

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May 28, 2021

This website is a fantastic resource! Thanks for all your hard work.

Two of us did this ride yesterday - the shorter version.

- not much traffic on Tatlock Rd.

- one (1) mosquito sighted on California Rd

- tons of dragonflies

-36 mm tires were fine, but a little care was needed on California Rd

I agree with [edit] the report from wellysattic. [edit]. I imagine some of those exposed stretches would be hot as heck in midsummer - but we had a beautiful sunny 12 degrees C.

One thing to note:

The description on this page says to bring your climbing legs, Good advice.

However, the ridewithgps page for this ride claims a maximum incline of 4.4%.


May 30, 2021
Replying to

Thanks for the tip. Didn't know that about ridewithgps.


Jun 20, 2020

First - thank you for all the work you're doing to make these posts. It's amazing to have a resource to look up adventures in and around Ontario.

Second - I solo'd this route this AM and have a few things that potential riders may wish to keep in mind:

- this route is likely best experienced in the fall, or at a minimum once the deer and horse flies have died off a bit. Darling road was fine, but for most (all?) of California road, I had about 12-20 deer flies chasing me, and where I did have a climb that slowed me down, the mosquitos joined the fray. So basically all of the northern part of Darling R…

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