Bike on a Hike

My bike, a 20 year old Giant ATX 870 and I have a deal. If it will carry me to where I want to go, I'll carry it where it can't go. That works well in and around the trails of Parry Sound. The trails provide great access to the outdoors and Georgian Bay, but sometimes you need to get off the trail, onto the rocks, and into the bush. I'm not that confident rock hopping with the Giant so that means some practical compromises, in this case taking the Giant for a walk. Discretion is the better part of valour in my opinion.

The Giant at the mouth of Thunder Creek.

The Giant at the mouth of Thunder Creek.

Walking with a bike can actually help when crossing some of the wetter sections of the North Shore Rugged Trail. By leaning on the Giant I can more easily step from rock-to-rock without getting wet feet. And there are of course sections where it's necessary to put the bike over my shoulder and climb up over rocks.

My preferred short bike and hike route out of Parry Sound is the North Shore Rugged Trail. From my home in Parry Sound I can head down Bowes Street, catch the Rotary Algonquin Regiment Fitness Trail as it crosses Great North Road and follow it over the Seguin River down to the Waterfront. The trail is a very easy ride past Sail Parry Sound, Waubuno Beach, and the Tony Agnello Water Treatment Plant, until reaching Salt Dock Road. Heading left takes you down to the Smelter Wharf, where the North Shore Rugged Trail can be accessed from behind the salt pile, aka the Great Pyramid of Parry Sound. The North Shore Rugged Trail at this point is impossible to ride and requires carrying a bike if you've made it this far.

Instead, heading right at Salt Dock Road brings you to the entrance of the Voldemort Trail, about 100 metres on the left. (Voldemort Trail is my name for this unnamed and unofficial trail, as per the Harry Potter reference to 'that which shall not be named'. The Town recently went through a trails master plan process and refused to acknowledge the existence of this trail. It is probably the most used all-season trail in Parry Sound, especially by dog owners. The reason that the Town won't acknowledge it's existence is because it is on private property. The property owners have posted No Trespassing signs but have been generous in not actively restricting access. It seems to be one of those 'don't ask, don't tell' situations, although I think it would be good to get a formalized agreement to avoid future problems. But for now the Town will not mention it by name or indirectly.)

One you are on the Voldemort Trail you have a couple of options. After a couple of hundred metres you can head left and follow along parallel to the North Shore Rugged Trail. The trail is for the most part bike friendly depending on your skill level, although there are a couple short sections where most people will need to get off and push the bike. Alternatively, heading right takes you further inland and parallel to the CP railway track. Following this path takes you to the extension of Oakridge Blvd, where if you turn left, you will catch the same path back to the Smelter Wharf that that runs parallel to the North Shore Rugged Trail, the trail you would have been on had you originally turned left when starting out on the Voldemort Trail .

Regardless of which path you take you will, in short order, end up in the 'Hemlock Grove' (photo below). At this point I generally walk my bike out to the North Shore Rugged Trail and follow it back to Parry Sound. It's not rideable in my opinion. The trail is rugged at points and at times requires crossing water, depending on water levels and the wind. This is especially the case when crossing Thunder Creek. If the water is a bit too high or challenging it's simple enough to head left and catch up with the Voldemort Trail. Turning right will take you back to the start. Turn left and you will be heading north towards Oakridge Blvd and the Township of McDougall.

The Hemlock Grove - Voldemort Trail.

The Hemlock Grove - Voldemort Trail.

The walk back to Parry Sound and the Smelter Wharf, with or without a bike, is special. it takes between 30 and 60 minutes, and offers some great views.

The view towards Parry Sound from the North Shore Rugged Trail.

The view towards Parry Sound from the North Shore Rugged Trail.

Enough for now, more information to come as Spring heads to quickly towards Summer. This is a great time to be out on the trails in and around Parry Sound, it's warm enough and there are no bugs. In general the North Shore Rugged Trail doesn't have a problem with bugs, blackflies or mosquitos, perhaps because there is always a breeze coming in from the Big Sound.