Silent Lake - Bancroft Loop : 72 km
A lovely slice of Haliburton and north Hastings counties.
Boring preamble - TL:DR
Not long after the shoulders on Highway 28 from Lakefield to Bancroft were finished, I started working out all the short 3 day tours starting from home that could be put together to take advantage of them.
Apsley looks like a logical overnight stop, there’s a nice route around the east end of Stoney Lake that makes it an 80 km ride away. Unfortunately accomodations are thin on the ground there, one motel that we’re never sure is still in business and no nearby camping. Which is a shame, Apsley is a real place and would make a good overnight.
Not far up the road and that same 80 km away from town (if you ride 28 all the way, boring but simple) is Silent Lake Provincial Park which is a pretty special place. It would also make a great overnight stop, with the bonus that you can easily detour into Apsley to stock up instead of having to haul supplies from your starting point. You could also base yourself out of Silent Lake for a few days and have sveral unloaded loops to ride.
Then it was just a matter of getting to Bancroft and back, preferrably not on 28. Lots of possibilities; this route, or heading out 620 from Apsley to Coe Hill and up Lower Faraday Rd., or further west and Up Old Hastings Rd. then 62 north. For lots of gravel, south to Jeff Rd then Clydesdale Rd. to Rose Island or Chandos Wollaston then up Faraday and north to Monk Rd. and back.
Crazy number of possibilities.
This route caught my eye however, lots of hills, lakes and remote. South Baptiste Rd. looked especially nice but has not been street-viewed by Google, so it was a bit of a mystery. Monck Rd. looked delightful.
In the Age of The Pandemic however, camping touring is off the table for us. All campgrounds including Ontario Provincial Parks are offering reduced services, showers being one of the casualties. Plus, right now, Provincial Parks, and possibly (probably) private ones as well, are jam-packed with Torontonians doing their best to be their worst. do. not. want. Just Day rides for now.
So one day earlier this spring, we headed up and drove the loop. Then it was just a matter of waiting for a non-crazy hot, crazy windy day. Which took forever.
end Boring preamble
- We left the car at the south end of Dyno Rd. right across from Dyno Estates where there’s a trailhead and a bit of space for a few cars to park.
- Dyno road is nice and squiggly with a good number of hills. If you turned left on West Eels Lake Rd. a few km up, you’d have a great paved ride halfway around the north end of Eels Lake and then a rugged adventure ride around the south as the road turns into a logging, backcountry access type of road.
- Full shoulders on 118 out of Haliburton. As far as I’ve been able to learn, there are now full shoulders on 118 all the way across from Bracebridge through Haliburton to the intersection of 118 and 28. I fully expect that we’ll ride that 6-7 day loop one of these years.
- Loop Rd. has a nice climb, over 1 km long with grades holding around 7%. First you see this large Haliburton sized hill framed by the road and go “Oh nice, look at the big scenic hill.”, then you realize the road is going up and over it. Fun.
- I wish there was a general store or something in Highland Grove, it’s a little community that would make for a nice break spot.
- South Baptiste Lake Rd. is a gem. The western end is bordered by hills to the north and really reminded of us of roads we’ve ridden in Vermont. Then you hit a succession of lakes with the road running right beside. See pictures.
- At the east end, South Baptiste Lake Rd. starts getting pretty busy so I decided to leave it while it’s still nice and head over the ridge south to quiet Airport Rd. via WoodCox Rd. which is an adventure all by itself. I’m still amazed our little diesel managed to chug and bounce its way over this road.
- Airport Rd. is dead quiet. There’s an airport (truth in advertising!) and a good view of the tall rock faces north of downtown Bancroft.
- Bancroft was hopping. Plenty of places to stop and sit on a patio or grab something to take-out and sit at the riverside park. We passed, running late from all my picture taking and anticipating Monck Rd.
- Monck Rd. is just great. There’s a crazy sign just as you turn on saying something like “We discourage the use of GPS navigation in this area...” I regret not grabbing a picture of it. More lakes, then gravel next to smaller lakes that have no development on them. Very remote feeling. Short, chunky gravel hills.
- South of Cardiff, just when you think all the fun is over, you scream down a hill, around a corner and get a nice view of Upper and Lower Paudash Lakes, crossing the connector between them on a bridge, then down Upper Paudash Lake Rd. which runs next to cottages on the lake.
- The northern end of Paudash Lake is Lower Paudash and the southern end is Upper Paudash. I know it has something to do with how the water drains, but it just seems like the north end should be Upper.