Stretching from Gananoque to Cornwall, the 100-kilometer 1000 Islands Parkway bike path treats cyclists to some of the prettiest riding in The Great Waterway. Part of the Waterfront Trail, sections of the route were resurfaced in 2015, also making it one of the safest routes in the region – a wide grass median separates cyclists from car traffic. Riding from Ganaoque is an easy day trip idea: the out-and-back route is 50 kilomters (reasonable for cyclists of all fitness), the terrain is mostly flat and there are plenty of stops along the way to refuel and rest. Here are 6 tips for making the most of your 1000 Islands cycling day trip.
Start in Gananoque
Best known for being a cruise port, Gananoque is quickly becoming a darling destination for cyclists. Bike-friendly accommodations, racks throughout the town and several municipal parking lots to start your ride from make Gananoque the best place to start your day trip. Your first stop should be the Visitor’s Centre at 10 King Street East, where you should pick up a map (they’re waterproof!) as well as sightseeing suggestions from staff. Washrooms and WiFi are available.
Check out every look out
When researching route options, I read a review of the 1000 Islands Parkway as being “boring”, but it is anything but! While the pathway itself may not have riverside views, numerous lookouts are a great place to stretch your legs and soak up the scenery. My favourite on the route is Halstead’s Bay, a peaceful granite outcrop overlooking the St. Lawrence River. If you are riding a hybrid bike or a road bike with puncture proof tires, it’s worth taking detours down gravel side roads to get closer to the river. Tiny Ivy Lea has public washrooms, a restaurant and a cold drink vending machine, plus great views from the cruise port.
Visitor centres are a cyclist’s best friend
Each town along the 1000 Islands Parkway boasts a visitor centre, which I highly recommend stopping at. The visitor centres are a chance to top up your water bottles and top up your knowledge of the region. The Frontenac Arch Biosphere Visitor Centre opened this spring and contains a wealth of information about this UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
Take a walk on the Thousand Islands Bridge
The best views in the 1000 Islands are along the stunning Thousand Islands Bridge that connects Canada to the United States, making it at worthwhile detour. Cyclists to no have to pay a toll, but keep in mind that you do have to walk your bicycle on the designated sidewalk. The section connecting the parkway to Hill Island is 1 kilometer long and best suited to cyclists who are wearing running shoes or cycling shoes that double as walking shoes (road cycling shoes will be too slippery and uncomfortable for this trek).
Rockport rocks as a lunch stop
Rockport’s roots as a port town are evident: the bustling cruise hub buzzes with passengers. Cyclists geared up in spandex won’t feel out of place in the casual dining restaurants and breezy patios here have great riverfront views and bike racks. Sit down and relax at Cornwall’s Pub, the top rated restaurant by TripAdvisor reviewers. In a hurry? Grab a hot dog and a cold drink from the stand outside of the Island View Restaurant.
Cool off at Gray’s Beach
I learned about this hidden gem from the staff at the Gananoque Visitor Centre. On the eastern edge of Gananoque, Gray’s Beach is a secluded place to cool off during your ride. Marked only on your cycling map (there is no highway signage), a covered picnic area, shade trees and soft sand await your tired legs. Note that there are no washrooms, garbage cans or water here.