Simcoe-Balsam Lake Loop (105km)
Updated: Oct 5
Location: Beaverton, Regional Municipality of Durham, Ontario
Distance: 104.7km (65.1 miles)
Suggested Tire Width: 35mm (though the route can undoubtedly be ridden on less, the recommended tire width accounts for the possibility of encountering a freshly graded road or two)
Amenities: Beaverton, the route’s official starting point, includes several pubs, restaurants, convenience stores, a grocery store and an ice cream shop. The village of Cannington also hosts several restaurants, a supermarket, a convenience store and a lovely cafe/bakery.
Estimated Gravel Time: 50%
Parking: Those starting from Beaverton are advised to park at the Beaverton-Thorah Community Centre Arena. Alternatively, those starting from Cannington can park at the Rick MacLeish Memorial Community Centre.
While containing a relatively low percentage of gravel overall, this mixed surface loop between Lake Simcoe and Balsam Lake offers an idyllic mix of farmland, forest, and wetlands just one hour north of Toronto. Be aware of the potential for a decent westerly headwind as riders make their way back to Beaverton. This more than makes up for the route’s lack of overall elevation.
Starting from the community centre in Beaverton, exit town via Main Street East as the loop remains on quiet pavement for just over 6km, before eventually transitioning to dirt after crossing Thorah Sideroad. After 3km or so, head left on Simcoe St., following this brief section of asphalt to Palestine Rd.
Make a right here and follow this lovely section of treelined dirt before heading north via Farm Rd., a kilometre-long stretch of easy to navigate unmaintained. Upon reaching Eldon Station Rd. head east and continue on scenic farmland gravel for the next 15km to Fenel Rd.
After a quick left-right, the loop continues on broken asphalt to Elm Tree Rd. Make a right here and remain on smooth tarmac before returning briefly to gravel via Kodiak Rd. Shortly thereafter the route transitions back to asphalt and heads north, descending to the shores of Balsam Lake and a lovely public rest area.
Remain on pavement for just over 6km to the Fresh Taste Bakery (open Fridays and Saturdays). Turn right here as the loop transitions back to gravel soon after crossing Killarney Bay Rd., staying primarily on firm country dirt for the next 18km to White Rock Rd.
Make a left here as the route effectively remains on quiet country pavement for the next 35km back to the start in Beaverton. While this marks the end of the gravel portion of the loop, the smooth asphalt may come as a welcome relief as riders push back against the inevitable headwind towards Lake Simcoe. On your way back, be sure to stop by the village of Cannington and the Holy Grounds Cafe and Bakery!