Hopetown Hoedown (Bronco Edition) (82km)
Updated: Jun 18
Location: Hopetown, Lanark County, Ontario
Distance: 82.1km (51 miles)
Suggested Tire Width: 38-40mm or greater
Amenities: The starting point in the village of Hopetown has a general store and café. Otherwise, riders should not expect any amenities on-route.
Estimated Gravel Time: 85%
Parking: Hopetown Cemetery, across the street from B & T's Hopetown General Store
This loop starting in Hopetown is design to take advantage of some of the rowdiest unmaintained west of Ottawa. This includes approximately 30k of unmaintained roads including Concession Rd 2b; Bathurst Line (a solid 10-12k of double track/ATV trail); a portion of Gemill Rd; Adams Rd. South; Lavant Mill Rd; Ranger Camp Rd; and Steward Gibson Rd. There is also the option to camp on some Crown Land along Ranger Camp Road, opening the possibility of a weekend bikepacking trip.
Anyone attempting this route on a typical gravel bike ought to expect to be a bit underbiked on certain sections. Anticipate minor flooding, babyheads and some hike-a-bike. But for those seeking to embrace a bit of adventure, you'll be hard pressed to do better.
Starting from the Hopetown Cemetery (I have it on good authority that you can park overnight here), ride clockwise (south) on provincial highway 511 for just over a kilometer, before turning right onto Dobbie Rd and the routes first section of gravel. After crossing Watsons Corners Rd., continue south east on the first stretch of unmaintained, Concession Rd 2B for a couple of kilometers.
Turning right back onto maintained gravel, continue south-west on rolling hills before transitioning to Sheridan Rapids Rd, one of the nicest sections of pavement in the area, before turning left onto McDonalds Corners Rd. for a couple of kilometers (use caution - it can slightly busy here). Then, turn right onto Bathurst Line East, which transitions into a significant section of rowdy unmaintained.
After 10 kilometers or so, Bathurst Line veers right and north, ascending to Kingston Line Rd. After crossing Kingston Line, a fast descent lead to the village of Elphin (where riders may find a small burger and chip stand, depending on the time of year). Continuing on pavement north on Elphin-Maberly Rd, cross the bridge over Izatt Lake and keep an eye out for the next section of unmaintained (Adams Rd South) on the right.
Ascending steeply on Adams Rd South (high likelihood of some hike-a-bike), transition back to gravel on Gemmills Road, and a long extended climb to Lavant Mill Road, the next section of unmaintained (albeit smooth and flowy). Turning right onto Ranger Camp Rd, a slightly more rough section of forest access road, the route enters Crown Land with several campsites available near Woods Lake.
Continuing east for another 15 kilometers on a mix of gravel and easy to navigate single lane unmaintained, before turning right onto the last section of unmaintained, Stewart Gibson Rd,, before riding the final section of gravel all the way back to Hopetown.