Location: Tamworth, Lennox and Addington County, Ontario
Estimated Gravel Time: 50%
Full Route Map:
Full Distance: 104.4km (64.9 miles)
Alternate Route (71.4km): While the original version of this route tends to favour quiet country pavement in an effort to follow the banks of the Salmon River as much as possible, this shorter loop increases the gravel quotient significantly, Most importantly, it still provides access to Daley Rd. and its 11km of easy to navigate unmaintained and single lane gravel. This might be one of the rare times that the shorter version of the loop is even better than the original! Download GPX File
Suggested Tire Width: 35mm
Amenities: Tamworth, the route’s official starting point, includes a large general store and a bakery. In addition, a general store is also located in the hamlet of Roblin, as well as Erinsville, home to a public beach on Beaver Lake.
Parking: Parking can be found at the Tamworth baseball diamond. Parking options are also located at the boat launch just outside the hamlet of Roblin; the Kingsford Conservation Area outside of Lonsdale; the Andy Brown Memorial Centre in Marlbank; and the Lions Beaver Lake Park in Erinsville.
Full Route Description:
From its headwaters in Northern Frontenac, the Salmon River watershed extends for 921 square kilometres before draining into the Bay of Quinte near Shannonville. Unlike most gravel loops, this mixed surface ride bypasses several dirt roads in favour of quiet country pavement, in an effort to parallel the Salmon River as much as possible while crossing several forgotten bridges. As such, the route has a relatively low percentage of gravel overall. However, the picturesque river valley and quaint villages, featuring several abandoned flour and grist mills, more than make up for the lack of dirt.
Starting from the baseball diamond parking lot in Tamworth, head south and exit the village along Concession Street South before crossing the Salmon River for the first time via the Adair Rd. bridge. After another brief section of pavement, the route shifts to gravel as riders follow Shibagua Rd. south to Sheffield Bridge Rd.
Ignore the signs indicating that the bridge is out and continue west on Sheffield Bridge Rd., hopping over the concrete barriers and crossing the river as the route heads west towards Miller Rd. Here, make a left and follow the quiet section of country pavement for just under 4km to the hamlet of Croydon.
After another brief stretch of tarmac, the loop returns to gravel, continuing south on Teskey Rd. before crossing the Salmon River once again to County Road 27. Here, the route continues on several stretches of relatively car-free tarmac south and west for approximately 11km to County Road 41. Make a right here and head north, staying on the gravel shoulder to the hamlet of Roblin.
Depart Roblin via Roblin Rd., remaining on a series of quiet paved roads for another 6.8km, taking in a view of an old grist mill off of County Road 12, before finally returning to gravel upon reaching Buttermilk Falls Rd. After just under 5km of dirt, the loop reverts back to quiet pavement, hugging the shores of the Salmon River and past the Kingsford Conservation Area to the historic village of Lonsdale.
While the village itself has no amenities, it is well worth a stop with its former grist mill, the remnants of a woolen mill, and two rustic bridges over the Salmon River providing for some fantastic photo opportunities.
Exit Lonsdale and head north on another 7km of quiet country pavement before finally returning of gravel upon reaching Daley Rd. Anyone longing for a bit of extended a dirt will be in for a treat as the route continues north on this delightful stretch of easy to navigate unmaintained and single lane gravel for 11km to Lime Lake Rd. After a brief section of pavement, the loop returns to gravel via Hogs Back Rd., remaining on dirt for another 4km before a series of paved roads takes riders to the hamlet of Marlbank.
Following another short stretch of pavement, make a left and return to gravel along Sheffield Boundary Rd. (as an alternative, riders can head directly north from Marlbank along Queen St., which follows a series of gravel doubletrack to Sheffield Boundary Rd.) Remain on dirt for another 9.4km, returning once again to asphalt prior to Erinsville (location of a general store and a public beach) before continuing on County Road 4 towards Tamworth.
Here, riders have the option of simply returning to the start of the loop via County Road 4. Otherwise remain on the loop and make a left on Cedarstone Rd., continuing on pavement for approximately 4km before the route returns to dirt upon reaching Thompson Hill Rd. After crossing the Salmon River, head south on Gilmore Rd. before a brief section of unmaintained doubletrack takes riders back to pavement as the route crosses the river one final time before returning to the start in Tamworth.