Multi-Use Trails in the Kawarthas

By definition, a multi-use or shared trail system is a trail system where no user group is excluded from using the trails. There may be limitations of use such as hours of the day or months of the year based on  conditions, but all users are welcome to use the trails at some time of the year. Multi-use trails have become the benchmark for trail systems throughout Ontario. Municipalities are recognizing the economic and health benefits of opening up trails to all user groups.

The Victoria Rail Trail Corridor and the Somerville Forest Tract in the City of Kawartha Lakes are prime examples of well managed multi-use trails. In winter you can often see snowmobiles and cross-country skiers on the rail trail, and you might even catch a dog sled team on occasion. The main trails in the Somerville Tract are all multi-use but there are some trails that are designated for cross-country skiing only or mountain biking only, to preserve the optimal conditions for those users.

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In spring the trails open up to fair weather uses such as cycling and ATVing. ATV riders come from all over Ontario and the US to enjoy the trails here in the Kawarthas from May to November.  There are a variety of trails to choose from, such as the rail trail which is best suited for beginners and young riders. The rail trail is a nice flat surface and is 84kms in total length from Bethany to Kinmount. The Somerville Tract is a nice change of scenery as the trails wind through everything from pine compartments to dense forest. There are also some more challenging trails for those who have more experience riding.

We can’t forget about the single-track trails in the Somerville forest for the off-road motorcycle enthusiasts. The single-track trails in the Somerville Tract are so well managed and maintained that the world famous Corduroy Enduro race incorporates some of these trails into the route.

These trails are considered some of the best Ontario has to offer. Where else can you drive less than two hours from Toronto to get on the trails and spend the entire day riding while never seeing the same trail twice? There are plenty of places along the trails to stop for lunch or do a bit of shopping and meet other riders. So, the next time you are looking for some place to ATV, snowmobile, cycle or hike, check out the Kawartha trails – you won’t be disappointed.

By Carolyn Richards, President Kawartha ATV Association
PO Box 21, Lindsay