Whether you’re a mountain biker, a road cyclist, or a casual rider, these incredible bike trails in Hamilton all lead to adventure.
Cycling has taken Ontario by storm over the past few years. The freedom of the wide-open trails, access to ample fresh air, and the benefits of low-impact exercise have made this sport one of the fastest-growing outdoor activities in Ontario.
While the province is stocked with incredible hiking trails, such as the St. Lawrence Recreational Trail that winds through Cornwall, Gananoque, and Kingston to the trails in southern Ontario as far south as Windsor.
When it comes to the best cycling destinations in Ontario, it’s no surprise that Hamilton springs to the top of many lists. The city has become a world-class destination for waterfall chasers and hiking enthusiasts. And, after it was announced that Canadian Olympic sensation Clara Hughes had moved her training base to the city to take advantage of the incredible cycling routes, the popularity of bike trails in Hamilton has exploded.
Among the vast list of incredible things to do in Hamilton, supporting the cycling community has become a big goal of the city. From dedicated bike lanes to multi-use paths, along with a great selection of both on-road and off-road trails, the future of biking in Hamilton is in great hands. And not just for beginners or casual cyclists either. There is a range of trails that are fit for all levels, even those who verge on the extreme.
Cycling in Hamilton also has a great infrastructure of bike shops, bike racks, and repair stations sprinkled throughout the city. The bike trails in Hamilton are well marked and there are even GPS-marked routes to guide those travelling to Hamilton for cycling as well. They even have a convenient bike share program that is perfect for those just getting started in the sport.
10 Great Bike Trails in Hamilton, Ontario
It’s fair to say that there are far more fantastic bike trails in Hamilton than we can properly list in an article like this. But for those looking to head out for some two-wheeled excitement, here are a few of the best cycling trails in Hamilton.
Dundas Valley Trail
This 32-km trail follows the scenic Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail through the beautiful Dundas Valley. While the entire route is stunning, the 9 km loop through the Dundas Valley is the crown jewel of this section or rail trail.
The route follows a mix of paved and unpaved trails under the towering Niagara Escarpment. The moderately-difficult route is popular with mountain bikers from March through to October. The main loop of the Dundas Valley trail circles the park, yet doesn’t tend to get too crowded. It offers a good mix of cyclists, hikers, and even the occasional horse and rider.
Sights to see along the way include an abandoned train station and a former homestead farm dubbed “The Hermitage.” The building, which is a shell of its former glory, is covered in ivy and has a fascinating history that can be read about on a nearby plaque.
Great Lakes Waterfront Trail
The epic Great Lakes Waterfront Trail is an epic multi-use trail that begins along the shores of the St. Lawrence River and flows south along the western shores of Lake Ontario, through Hamilton, and down to Windsor in the south.
The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail doesn’t stop there, however. It actually continues up along Lake Huron to Orillia. The route will ultimately connect all the way over the top of Lake Superior, through Thunder Bay, to the US border with Michigan once it’s completed.
The Hamilton section of the Great Lakes Waterfront is a great way to explore the city’s beautiful waterfront. The trail actually splits off into two separate sections dubbed “The Hamilton Waterfront Trail and “The Hamilton Recreation Beach Trail.”
While both trails are mostly paved trails that offer smooth, wide surfaces for cyclists, roller-bladers, and walkers. Along the route are a beautiful pedestrian bridge that crosses the vast expanse of the QEW and a bike trough that allows cyclists to move up and down the 166-stairs of the York St. Bridge.
Red Hill Valley Recreational Trail
The Red Hill Valley Recreational Trail is an easy 13.8 km out and back trail that many consider to be among the best bike routes in Hamilton. The trail is popular for mountain biking, road cycling, and even trail running. While it can get busy, the trail is quieter earlier in the morning and in the evening.
The Red Hill Valley Recreational Trail is open year-round if you’re into fat-biking or winter riding. The route begins at the top of the Niagara Escarpment, where Mud St. meets Kings Forest Park. This Hamilton bike trail runs across the top of the escarpment and travels through the beautiful Red Hill Valley to the turn-around point at Brampton St. near the QEW and Lake Ontario.
If you enjoy a good workout, this trail contains some steep grades. It makes for some solid leg work when going up, and an exciting ride on the way down.
Escarpment Rail Trail
This 8.2 km paved multi-use trail follows an abandoned CN rail line. The draw of the Hamilton Escarpment Trail isn’t just the easy ride and stunning views that it offers, but it also gives easy access to the popular Albion Falls.
The Escarpment Trail begins at Arbour Rd near the Albion Falls parking lot. It makes its way along the escarpment before beginning a descent to lower town to its completion at Corktown Park near Ferguson Ave. South at Young St.
The trail is popular with both cyclists and trail runners and has even become a popular route for birdwatchers. As it winds its way into downtown, the route the trail passes along the Niagara Escarpment, passing the historic Hamilton Brick Works.
The trail is not great for cycling year-round. It tends to be used more for hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing during the winter months.
The popular HamBur trail is a 50-km loop that connects Hamilton and Burlington. The route actually combines two of the best bike trails in Hamilton, the Waterfront Trails (Lake and Bay segments) and the Red Hill Valley Trail.
Along the 50-km ride, the HamBur loop passes Bayfront Park, Woodland Cemetery, and the Royal Botanical Gardens before crossing the QEW Causeway and looping up to Albion Falls, past Gage Park, and down to the waterfront near the HMCS Haida.
The trail is about 70% paved and 30% unpaved. The unpaved portion is mainly in the section between the QEW and Albion Falls. If you’re looking for a longer bike trail in Hamilton that offers a great range of views and terrain, this is one to add to your list.
The Falls Run
This moderately-difficult, well-paved 29 km loop runs from Ancaster to Aldershot. The trail is mostly paved with the exception of a short 500m gravel travel along Binkley Rd.
The Falls Run isn’t for the faint of heart. This route involves two relatively steep escarpment climbs. But those who put in the legwork are blessed with spectacular views of both the Webster and Hermitage waterfalls.
This 29km route is considered moderate with two escarpment climbs and is primarily on paved roads. Cyclists get great views of Webster and Hermitage waterfalls. This Hamilton bike trail passes the Ancaster Shops, Crook’s Hollow, Tews Falls, and Great Falls, making it an easy, all-day journey for those who love to check out the sights along the way, two-wheeled explorers.
Gage and Devil’s Punchbowl
For cyclists looking for a leisurely route that will take them from downtown to one of the most popular waterfalls in Hamilton, the Gage and Devil’s Punchbowl Trail is for you.
This route begins at Corktown at Fergus Ave. It follows a route of mostly bike paths along streets and roads up the Niagara Escarpment on a 12 km one-way journey to Devil’s Punchbowl at Ridge Rd. and First Rd. E.
As the trail progresses, you’ll pass the wonderful shops of downtown Hamilton, traverse Gage Park, the Red Hill Valley, the scenic Battlefield House, and up the escarpment to some of the best views over Hamilton and Lake Ontario.
For those with a love for road cycling and looking for either a multi-day ride or a collection of legs that they can complete over a few seasons, the Greenbelt Route offers some amazing cycling in the Hamilton area.
With over 475-km of signed cycling through the protected Greenbelt between Niagara and Northumberland, this route offers an epic journey that’s especially popular with group riders. Along the ride, cyclists will pass beautiful forests, quaint family farms, sparkling rivers, and a number of small Ontario towns that make for wonderful stops.
The entire Greenbelt route traverses Hamilton, the Niagara Region, Grimsby, and up through Halton Region past Burlington.
Hamilton Bike Trails For Mountain Bikers
Hamilton bike trails are just about road trails and gravel paths. For those looking for a little adrenalin rush, there are some excellent mountain bike trails in Hamilton as well. Here are some of the best.
Mountain biking enthusiasts will love the Christie Lake trails. Offering up to 10 km of mostly off-road looped trails, this collection of single and double-track bike trails is popular with both beginners and enthusiasts.
The well-groomed trails of Christie Lake are challenging enough to be entertaining but are not overly technical. They do, however, have a fantastic flow. And the four trails that make up the series of Hamilton bike trails at Christie Lake combine for a wonderful selection of routes that will keep riders entertained for hours.
Christie Lake covers a sprawling 336-hectare property along the Niagara Escarpment. Old-growth Carolinian forests, flowing meadows, and peaceful pine forests within its borders.
If you really want to jump into some serious mountain biking in Hamilton, the Hyde Tract is worth looking into.
The Guelph District Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry runs this collection of trails in a vast region of crown land between Westover and Kirkwall. The forested area contains 7 km of double track trails that were cleaned up from earlier, unmanaged runs. But there’s an expansion underway that will see those trails grow and an additional Blue and Black single track trails added. This should be completed shortly.
While not directly in Hamilton, the Hyde Tract offers some fantastic bike trails for those who want to push their comfort zones and try out some tracks that are a little bit more gnarly.
It’s To Ride in Hamilton!
Whether you’re just getting started or you’re an expert on the trails, these Hamilton bike trails are sure to thrill you. Hit the road by yourself or join group rides with organizations such as Ontario by Bike, who help manage the details, allowing you to simply enjoy the views with a little pedal-pushing.
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Kevin Wagar is a founder and editor of Ultimate Ontario. He has been working in the travel media industry since 2015 when he founded his family travel website Wandering Wagars – Adventure Family Travel.
Over the years Kevin has developed a deep love for his home province of Ontario and aims to showcase the incredible experiences and amazing small businesses found within it.