The Frontenac Arch Biosphere Network

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Sydenham & Desert Lake Loop (43km)

Trail information: 

One of the most ruggedly picturesque routes, this loop starts in the town of Sydenham, settled in the mid-1800s by the great-grandfather of actor Dan Ackroyd. It's a farming community where the Frontenac Arch meets the St. Lawrence Lowlands. Ride out of the north end of town on Mill St. to turn left on William, then right on Walker and right on Loughborough-Portland Boundary Rd. You’ll pass through flat then gently rolling farmland with descents and climbs across old stream beds, providing an opportunity to warm up before hitting the twisty roads and hills of the Arch. 

The road becomes VanLuven Rd., out to Hartington. Turn north on Hwy 38 a short distance, then onto Hinchinbrooke Rd. At the intersection of Desert Lake and Bedford Rds., turn right and into hills and valleys of the Canadian Shield. The rest of the ride back to Sydenham, is a joyous up and down, twisting, turning delight over and between granite outcroppings, surrounded by woodlots and occasional fields, with frequent glimpses of small lakes and cottages.

There are three potential side trips in and from this loop. Turning right onto New Morin Rd. and north to the intersection with Holleford Rd. takes you to the site of the Holleford Crater, created 500 million years ago when a 100 meter diameter slammed into the Precambrian rock, with a crater 2.5 kilometers in diameter. The rim is still quite apparent, but time, sediments from ancient seas and glaciers have nearly filled in 250 meter deep crater to become farmable land today. See the plaque just down Holleford Rd. You could keep going north to connect at Desert Lake Rd. to make a smaller loop inside the larger Sydenham loop.

Combine cycling with hiking and maybe paddling and a swim at Gould Lake Conservation Area. From the Loughborough-Portland Boundary Rd., turn right on Freeman Rd., then left on Gould Lake Rd. which ends at the Area’s beach and day-use areas. The Mine Loop Trail leads to a FAB Amazing Place.

On the full loop return, turn off Bedford Rd. on Salmon Lake Rd., into Frontenac Provincial Park and the Interpretive Centre. Exhibits and staff can walk you through the stories of this  wilderness park, one of Canada’s premier hiking and paddling locations.

Start Location: 

The town of Sydenham, located 22.3 km north on Hwy 38 from interchange 611 on Hwy 401.  There is ample parking in town, and several places for food and drinks. Be sure to see Trousdale’s General Store – the oldest of its type in Ontario.

Terrain: 

Challenging hills; about 260 m. of altitude change.

Distance: 
43km
Bike Suitability: 

This is a route for a road and hybrid bikes - paved all the way and lots of hills.

Notes and Cautions: 

The roads through the Arch in this area are lightly travelled most of the time, yet are busier on summer weekends with cottager traffic. Sightlines on the hilly, twisting sections of these narrower roads may be limited - exercise appropriate caution. Similarly, a very short stretch of Hwy 38 after the right turn in Hartington may be busy with summer seasonal traffic.

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