There's Gold In Them Thar Hills
The sun sits high in a cerulean sky on a cloudless, sunny Sunday just outside of Peterborough as 17 bikes head north to Fowlers Corners. Tooling along Frank Hill Road, beautiful Chemong Lake rolls out like an artist's canvas. Yankee Line takes us over to the causeway near Bridgenorth and Robinson Rd. brings us into the cute little hamlet of Ennismore. Tara Road heads uphill out of town and it's gentle curves sweep us through farmland and rolling hills, and open pastures and across Gannon's Narrows Bridge. With Pigeon Lake on one side and Buckhorn Lake on the other, fishermen try their luck and boaters can be seen in the distance enjoying the sunny weather.
Lakehurst Road winds through lush forests and empty fields partitioned by split rail fences adorned on either side by wild daisies, buttercups and chicory in full bloom. A couple of loud bikes tear past us scaring every animal or human in sight, but they are soon gone, leaving us with just the sound of the wind in our ears. I often wonder what pleasures are derived from LOUD and I am happy they are gone.
A few brave souls have ventured into the early June water of Sandy Lake as we curl around the bend and past the beach. In beautiful Buckhorn the Trent-Severn locks provide us with the necessities for a bio-break and a few minutes to take in some of the beauty of Ontario's near-north. From Buckhorn, CR 36 winds through the Canadian Shield displaying red, grey, and brown granite. The rock cuts, adorned with oak barrels cut in half, are filled with flowers. Swamps, bush, rivers, and the occasional home dotting the roadside, keep us craning left and right trying not to miss anything.
At Burleigh Falls we head north on Hwy. 28 to Woodview and across Northeys Bay Rd. Cresting a knoll, a huge turkey vulture flees from his early morning road-kill-meal. His surprise matches mine as his huge wings beat the air and he disappears into the thick roadside foliage. Furtive glances to our right reveal cottages perched high above Stoney Lake's rocky shoreline, but the twisty road demands my attention or I could end up on someone's dining room table, motorcycle and all. Beautiful arching curves introduced by cautionary speed signs make this road fun to ride. Forget the signs; Northeys Bay Road. is a seat-of-the-pants-fun-ride.
Past the Petroglyphs Provincial Park we stop at a T intersection and turn south on Stoney Lake Rd. Hugging the lake's eastern shore we bank left and right following nature's undulating topography. As the lake fades behind us, CR 44's pea-gravel and tar surface presents us with it's different demands, we curl around, up, over, and down to CR 46 taking us south to Havelock.
The Station Restaurant, housed the old Canadian Pacific Station is a great find and an added treat for train lovers. It's nostalgic exhibits take me back in time as I bask amongst the antique railroad memorabilia. There is even an original safe outside, on which the marks left by unsuccessful would-be-thieves can still be seen. The food is spectacular and everyone agrees that they have driven by here so often but never stopped to eat. The patio immediately beside the tracks offers us a close-up but no trains come by today, however, the ambiance and nostalgia takes us back to simpler times, when in 1929, this building was placed in service.
In 1866 Ontario's first gold rush began when gold was discovered near Eldorado, and subsequently at Cordova, Deloro, and Malone. At the east end of Havelock, CR 48, the first of three "Miner's Loops" begins. Accelerating past the hugely successful Havelock Jamboree grounds, this pleasant, quiet ride takes us past many typical near-north farms eking an existence from the thin rocky topsoil. Not a demanding stretch of road, CR 48 leads us through the hamlet of Cordova Mines, a mere shadow of its golden days.
At Beaver Creek we stop to watch some kids jumping off the bridge into the water below; right beside a sign that says NO SWIMMING FROM BRIDGE. Meandering on to the village of Marmora we slip eastward, out of town, past the huge open pit iron ore mine to Deloro Road. We turn left up the hill and soon a sweeping right takes us into Deloro. From Deloro to Malone and on to CR 62 the fun factor elevates considerably as the road twists and turns following every knoll and valley along its way. With almost no traffic whatsoever this is a treat to ride.
South on CR 62 we curl through a couple of curves entering Eldorado, home to Ontario's original gold rush. Today Eldorado, a rural backwater, has only a few residents and a couple of old buildings. Even the once productive Eldorado Cheese Factory closed in 2011.
At Hwy. 7 a Tim Hortons and McDonalds beckon us but we continue east and then north into the third "Miners Loop" on Cooper Rd. Rolling up and over the hills, along green ridges, and past small family farms we arrive at CR 20 and turn right. Six kilometres later we roll into Queensborough, another community that started in the early 1800s around a water powered mill. Sir John A. MacDonald once owned several village properties here but the 1935 closing of the railroad sounded the death knell for this village. Set on a curve of the beautiful Black River they could not take away its natural beauty and today it is recognized as a friendly community by the kayaking public who paddle these waters.
A jog east on Hwy 7 and we are heading south along the Black River on CR 37 into Tweed where we take a break at the great Canadian tradition, Tim Hortons, right across from the Moira River. Just south of the bridge a right turn takes us uphill out of town on Quin Mo Lac Road. It is a bit bumpy here and there but a nice westward alternative that takes us past farms, rural homes and over to CR 62. Turning south to Springbrook Road we again head west over to Springbrook then on to Pethericks Corners and the Church Key Brewery. Established in 1999 in the highly unlikely Methodist Church, it appears that brewing is more important today than Methodism. Times change but we opt to stay sober being on motorcycles so other than a taste by a few we continue down into the Trent Valley and Campbellford.
Named after two brothers, Lt. Col. Robert and his brother Major David Campbell who served in the British military, this was the shallowest place to ford the Trent River and thus the name Campbell's Ford. If you are here on any day but Sunday, a stop at Dooher's Bakery, just over the hump-back bridge, for a coffee and some delectable pasties is a must-do.
Eastward out of town on CR 8, and just after the big curve we arrive at Ontario's best source for curds, Empire Cheese and Butter Coop. A quick browse around the selection of cheeses whiles away just enough time for us to make it down the road another 6 minutes to Chubby's Restaurant at Hoards Station. Chubbys is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM only, and we are first in the door. All-you-can-eat succulent roast beef, and fried chicken with all the trimmings; followed by a hoard (excuse the pun) of cakes, pies and assorted deserts that will leave you with a pleasantly round belly and a huge smile on your face. Chubby's is a family owned business that serves only the highest quality home made food and is an absolutely fantastic way to end a great day of riding through some of Ontario's nostalgia.