Location: Tweed, Hastings County, Ontario
Estimated Gravel Time: 80%
Full Route Distance: 103.8km (64.5 miles)
Suggested Tire Width: 40-45mm
Amenities: Tweed, the route’s official starting point, hosts a couple of general stores, a grocery store, and several restaurants. Meanwhile, Tweed Memorial Park features a chip wagon and access to a public beach. Marmora, near the route’s halfway point, includes several restaurants, an ice cream stand, and convenience store, with the highlights being the ruins of a 19th century Catholic church and cemetery, and a view of the Marmora Mine. Finally, the hamlet of Ivanhoe provides an opportunity to stop by the Ivanhoe Cheese Factory for an ice cream, or to stock up on cheese curds.
This loop traverses the width of Hastings County, and features a scenic mix of country gravel and rail trails, highlighted by a visit to the village of Marmora, where riders will be treated to the ruins of a 19th century Catholic church, as well as views of the Marmora Mine. It should be noted that while much of the route could be ridden on 32mm tires, the Hastings Heritage Trail requires something a bit beefier. High volume but treadless tires such as a pair of WTB Horizons or Renee Hearse Babyshoe Pass would be ideal. Finally, note that several low-lying sections of the Hastings Heritage Trail are susceptible to minor flooding in the spring or after a heavy rainfall.
Start from the Tweed Memorial Park and head north out of town via Victoria St. to the Moira River. The route then follows the banks of the river for the next 2km until French Settlement Rd. Make a right here and continue on firm country gravel to Rapids Rd.
Remain on Rapids Rd. and head on north on treelined dirt through a section of Mattagami Region Conservation Authority woodlands to Highway 7. Exercise caution when crossing the busy highway and continue north, ascending on a series of well maintained gravel roads to Queensborough Rd.
Here, proceed west on quiet pavement to the hamlet of Hazzards Corners, home to the Hazzards Corners Methodist Church (1857). Carry on past the church, staying on tarmac for the next 4km to Hemitite Rd., where the route transitions back to gravel and remains on winding treelined dirt for the next 5km to the Hastings Heritage Trail.
This rail trail, part of the COLT bikepacking loop, is rather notorious for being a sandy slog that shouldn’t be attempted on anything less than 2.5 inch wide tires. However, the section between Highway 62 and Marmora is comparatively firm and easy to navigate. That said, as several portions can be rutted and rugged, 40-45mm tires are recommended to provide a bit of cushioning. Those looking for a paved alternative to the rail trail are advised to continue north to Deloro Rd. and Centre Line Rd., the latter taking riders all the way to the village of Marmora.
After approximately 15km, exit the rail trail via Station Rd. and remain on tarmac for the next 3.5km to Marmora’s main street. Anyone looking to visit the ruins of the Catholic church should cross the Crowe River and make a right on Hughes Line, which takes riders to the trailhead, past a view of the Marmora dam, to the ruins themselves.
Exit Marmora via Mary St., which transitions quickly to dirt as riders approach the abandoned Marmora Mine and its vibrant turquoise waters. After taking in the views, reconnect to the Hastings Heritage Trail via a short and at times technical ATV trail, then head south for 7km on this rough section of the rail trail to Stirling-Marmora Rd. Following a quick left and right, the route continues east on country gravel via Spry Rd.
Spry Rd. offers a welcome respite to the rail trail as the loop continues on smooth and well maintained dirt for the next 16km, crossing several small concrete bridges over the Moira River to Spring Brook Rd. Proceed downhill on this brief section of pavement to Twiddy Rd., then remaining on gravel all the way to the hamlet of Ivanhoe, home to the Ivanhoe Cheese Factory.
After a mandatory ice cream stop, exit Ivanhoe via Slab St. to Kerby Rd. Turn left and proceed north and east via a mix gravel and pavement, past a short section of unmaintained, to the Kaladar Rail Trail. Upon reaching the trail, make a right and remain on this shared use trail for 13km back to the start in Tweed.