Lake to Lake (Sibbald Point to Pickering)
Easily accessible via public transit from Toronto, this overnight loop is a great way for bikepackers in the GTA to get away for the weekend. Utilizing the extensive trail networks through the York and Durham regions, the course winds its way through 240 kilometres of Ontario countryside. You’ll ride a variety of hiking trail, horse trail, rail trail, mountain bike singletrack, and a variety of back roads. Each day is technically challenging with a number of steep off-road sections, so two-inch tires or bigger are recommended.
This route was created by:
- Claremont Nature Centre
- Durham Forest
- Sibbald Point Provincial Park
- Brown Hill Tract
- Seaton Hiking Trail
The Lake to Lake can be tackled using either a drop-bar gravel bike or a rigid mountain bike, with the latter providing the most comfort on the rougher trail sections of rail trail to be found.
- Mountain Bike: For mountain bikes, anything over 2.5-inch tires will be overkill and full-suspension is not required. A mountain/gravel hybrid like a Salsa Cutthroat/Fargo would also be a great choice for this route.
- Gravel Bike: If using a gravel/cross bike with 700 wheels, you’ll find the route easier to navigate with fatter tires, say a width of 40 or larger. You should also have some experience riding trails with this type of bike, or you may find yourself walking from time to time.
- Setup: Run tubeless if possible. You can use bikepacking style bags or old-fashioned panniers. A lighter set-up allows of easier riding, especially in the hillier sections.
- The route starts at the Pickering GO Station, so riders can easily take transit from Toronto to the start of the course. Day one frontloads all of the technical trail sections, as you’ll link up the Duffins Trail, Greenwood Conservation Area, Claremont Nature Centre, and Durham Forest with just a few kilometres of road in between. We recommend an early start so you can make it to the lunch stop at the halfway point in Uxbridge at a reasonable time.
- The second half of the day consists of about 30 kilometres of continuous rail trail and 25 km on a mix of gravel and paved country roads as you make your way to Sibbald Point.
The campsites at Sibbald Point offer decent privacy and plenty of shade. There are a number of potable water stations throughout the park, and each camp area has a washroom facility with hot showers. There’s a lovely beach if you care to go for a dip.
- Day two starts with a leisurely spin along the shores of Lake Simcoe followed by a rip through some of Sutton’s ATV trails. These trails turn into a literal swamp if it’s been wet, so we only recommend riding through this section if you’re going in the late summer. About 10 kms into the Zephyr-Sutton Rail Trail, riders have the option of taking a right on Ravenshoe Road to explore the trails of the Brown Hill Tract, or continue straight down the Rail Trail to its terminus just north of the lunch stop in Mount Albert. After lunch, the route links up a number of tracts in the York Regional Forest system. Trails through here range from smooth crushed-gravel doubletrack to sandy horse trails to rutted out technical mountain-bike oriented singletrack. There are plenty of optional loops to explore, but save your energy because you’ll still have to tackle some tough climbs through the meadows around Musselman Lake and the route ends with a rip down the challenging but extremely rewarding Seaton Hiking Trail.
- Trains from Pickering GO back into Toronto run every half hour so you might even make it home for dinner.
- Fresh water: Realistically, for this route there is no need to worry about water resupply and to be bringing filters, tablets and the like. There are cafes, shops and villages/towns along the route which will make it easy to resupply.
- Food: As with water resupply, there are cafes, restaurants, convenience stores and the like throughout the route which make it easy to have some fresh food or to buy some snacks for the ride.
Lake to Lake is the perfect weekend trip out from the GTA region to get some fast-paced gravel riding in. With a good mix of paved and gravel, it is not too difficult overall and can be tackled by riders of all experience levels.
Average Physical Difficulty – 2
- 1-2 – Relatively level riding
- 3-4 – Regular rolling terrain with sustained climbing
- 5-6 – Rugged terrain with frequent climbs, some of which may be steep and unrelenting
- 7-8 – Very rugged terrain with abundant climbing, some of which is very steep and unrideable
- 9-10 – Numerous very steep, climbs requiring bike-pushing and/or carrying
Average Technical Difficulty – 3
- 1-2 – Smooth riding surface with few obstacles (e.g., graded dirt roads, rail trails); suitable for novice mountain bikers
- 3-4 – Track has occasional obstacles and steep sections (e.g., maintained forest roads, mellow singletrack); suitable for beginner mountain bikers
- 5-6 – Continuous sections of track may be rocky, loose, and steep; (e.g., 4×4 roads or singletrack in rugged/rocky terrain) suitable for intermediate mountain bikers
- 7-8 – Narrow trail with regular obstacles, sustained steep grades; suitable for intermediate to advanced mountain bikers
- 9-10 – Very challenging riding with frequent large obstacles, exposure, very steep grades; suitable for advanced mountain bikers
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This route was created by:
This route was created by: