The Making of the Trail
When the railroad stopped its service between Collingwood and Meaford it left 32 kilometers of abandoned track. A meeting was held in 1986 to determine the amount of interest there would be in turning this property into a trail for residents to hike, bike, and cross-country ski. There would be many problems to overcome including the fact it passed through two townships and three municipalities. The Georgian Cycle and Ski Trail Association was formed to plan the strategy of implementing the idea and what fundraising would be needed to accomplish it. They overcame each obstacle as it occurred to make the dream a reality. Now there is a wonderful trail for everyone to use that passes through communities, wetlands, lilac groves, apple orchards, streams, and along the shoreline. It is close to the highway and crosses roads several times, so there are places to stop for a rest or snack, as well as a provincial park. The construction is of fine granular that is kind to even thin bicycle tires.
To begin Meaford crosses the Trowbridge St. Bridge and the start of the trail is right across the street from the entrance to the Harbor. The first portion is through town so is used by local residents in summer for shady walks, year-round to walk the dog, or just to go from the center of town to the east end, and in winter for families to cross country ski or snowshoe together. You will pass homes, a factory, and treed areas at the first road crossing you could branch off to view Swarthmore Farm and the 1860 home or the Lakeview Cemetery. You then parallel the highway for a while and come to a small section of county forest, and over the banks of Workman’s Creek to the site of the old Meaford brick factory. Continue on to Christie Beach Road where you can stop and swim if you choose. Next, you will come to a small detour around Lora Bay and on into Thornbury where you can again leave the trail for a break or to start your return trip. Next, you come to a highway crossing and on to the village. There is an old trestle/girder bridge with a viewing deck when you cross the Beaver River. It then continues past Georgian Peaks, Craigleith where you could visit the Heritage Depot’s exhibit at the old train station or Northwinds Beach. The trail then leaves the highway through woodlands, past streams, and cedar groves, and on to the Harbourview Park where the trail ends on Birch St. Collingwood.
Some of the advantages this trail offers are:
1. Road crossings are marked with the name of the road and what amenities are close by.
2. Benches, restaurants, shops, opportunities to sight-see or leave the trail to be picked up or plan a return trip.
3. Most sections are suitable for children as long as you watch them at highway crossings.