Lavant Mills Meander (119 km)
Location: Hopetown, Lanark County, Ontario
Distance: 118.7km (73.8 miles)
Suggested Tire Width: 38mm or wider
Amenities: The starting point in Hopetown includes access to a general store. Otherwise, while the route includes no other re-supply options, there are a couple of small public swimming areas on route, including the eastern shores of Robertson Lake, as well as south-western shores of the Mississippi River off Elphin Maberly Rd. In addition, a small restaurant and soda vending machine can be found at the Sylvania Campground, approximately 20km from the end of the route.
Estimated gravel time: 75%
Parking: Paved shoulder next to the cemetery across the street from the Hopetown General Store. Overnight parking is also possible here.
This route combines the Ranger Camp Ramble and Tour de Dalhousie, linking together some of the best gravel in the Lanark Highlands, including Lavant Mills Rd., into an epic extended exploration of local dirt.
Riding south-west on Stewart-Gibson Rd., the gravel portion of the route begins immediately after leaving the start in Hopetown, before eventually transitioning to a delightful section of unmaintained. Upon exiting Stewart Gibson Rd., turn right onto Concession Rd. 2 and ride counter-clockwise, remaining on gravel for an extended period before eventually reaching Waddle Creek Rd., a beautiful stretch of tree-lined dirt.
After reaching the end of Waddle Creek Rd., turn left onto French Line Rd., followed by another left onto Lavant Darling Rd. Combined, this quiet stretch of pavement lasts approximately 10km, passing an access point to Green Lake, perhaps the most beautiful Crown Land campsite in the area. After Campbells Rd, the route transitions back to gravel and descents all the way to Joe’s Lake, site of another smaller Crown Land campsite and (if unoccupied), an ideal spot for a break before the route’s most significant climb up Black Creek Rd.
The climb up Black Creek Rd. lasts approximately 5km, but rewards riders with an extended descent to South Lavant Rd. This 6km section of asphalt, while not particularly busy, can see its share of high-speed traffic before reaching the hamlet of Lavant and the route’s namesake, Lavant Mill Rd. The route then proceeds to hug the eastern shores of Robertson Lake as Lavant Mill Rd. transitions from quiet pavement, to rough chip seal, to easy to navigate unmaintained past Airport Rd., descending for a combined 11km of mostly blissful single-lane forested gravel to Gemmills Rd.
From here, follow Gemmills Rd. west on a series of steep climbs and fast descents to Adams Rd. South. Having ridden this route counter-clockwise, riders will now have the benefit of descending on this rugged stretch of unmaintained (which would otherwise require a bit of hike-a-bike) to Elphin Maberly Rd.
Upon reaching the bottom of the descent, follow the pavement south to the shores of the Mississippi River and a small public swimming area. From here, the route continues south-west on Gully Rd., a quiet stretch of scenic pavement for just under 4km, before eventually making a left onto the K&P Trail, which parallels Township Road 49. This section of the rail trail climbs steadily and sees a mix of nicely maintained doubletrack combined with short sections loose rock, potholes and flooded quagmire, before eventually exiting on Clarendon Rd.
The next 17km of gravel, including Clarendon Rd. and Kingston Line, includes a series of punchy ups and downs, before transitioning from gravel to quiet pavement via Highland Line, as the route snakes its way east towards McDonald’s Corners. After McDonald’s Corners, the route follows Watsons Corners Rd. for 3km and while this road can see a bit more traffic, riders will have the benefit of a quick descent to the 8th Concession.
From here, the route ascends steeply past the Purdon Conservation Area to Umphersons Mill Rd., before making a right onto Lodore Rd. and continuing on a mix of quiet two lane gravel and easy to navigate unmaintained before eventually rejoining Concession Rd. 2 as the loop continues north-west to Stewart Gibson Rd, and then back to the starting point in Hopetown.