Hopetown Hoedown (Buckaroo Edition) (56km)
Updated: Jun 17
Location: Hopetown, Lanark County, Ontario
Distance: 56km (34.8 mile)
Elevation: 362m (1,188 ft)
Suggested Tire Width: 38mm or wider
Amenities: The starting point in the hamlet of Hopetown has a convenience store and gas station that serves a light breakfast and lunch. Approximately midway through the route, there is a rest area, as well as a restaurant on the shores of Dalhousie Lake.
Estimated gravel time: 80%
Parking: Next to the Hopetown cemetery, across the street from the convenience store/gas station.
Starting in Hopetown, this loop is designed to take advantage as much unmaintained as possible over a relatively short distance, including Concession Rd 2b; Bathurst Line (a solid 5-6km of double track/ATV trail); Umphersons Mill Rd. South; Lodore Rd. and Steward Gibson Rd.
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 ease themselves into the world of unmaintained roads, you'll be hard pressed to do better.
Starting from the Hopetown Cemetery, ride clockwise (south) on provincial highway 511 for just over a kilometer, before turning right onto Dobbie Rd and the loop's 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 via Storie Rd. and 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 unmaintained.
After 5 kilometers or so, riders turn right and leave Bathurst Line via Concession Rd. 9A, eventually descending to the village of McDonalds Corners (no amenities). After crossing McDonalds Corners Rd, the route continues north-west via an extended section of pavement (Watsons Creek Rd). Halfway along this road, riders can take advantage of a rest stop complete with picnic tables (and quite possibly the cleanest porta potty ever), before continuing to 8th Concession, and a steady steep climb.
After the climb, continue north and east for approximately another 14 kilometers on a mix of gravel and easy to navigate single lane unmaintained, including Umphersons Mill Rd. South and Lodore Rd., before turning right onto the last section of unmaintained, Stewart Gibson Rd,, which will take riders all the way back to Hopetown.