Tuesday, July 30: Bruce Mines to Blind River (86-96km)
Today’s Gravel Grind: 19km (approx.)

Two Heritage Rivers. Two First Nations.

On today’s Great Waterfront Trail Adventure you’ll find long stretches of gentle rollers, have the opportunity to travel along the shores of two heritage rivers (the Thessalon and the Mississagi) and pass through two First Nations (Thessalon and Mississauga). You’ll see idyllic farmland, revivified by the infusion of Mennonite families from Southern Ontario and a string of communities, each with nearly two centuries of history.

Tip: Today’s trip includes the longest consecutive stretches of both gravel riding and travel along the shoulders of Highway 17. For those new to gravel riding, try not to place as much of your weight on your handlebars. Your control should improve and your hands will thank you. The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail between Iron Bridge and Blind River [Maps 6 & 7]  follows 23km of generous paved shoulders on Highway 17 and skirts the shores of the beautiful Mississagi River. There will be truck traffic. We recommend that those not comfortable riding along the highway choose the optional shuttle from Iron Bridge to base camp at the Blind River Marine Park and still enjoy a quick view of the river.

7 am – Breakfast Location – Bruce Mines Community Centre – 9180 Highway 17 East, Bruce Mines, ON

22 km
8:30 — 10 am
Suggested Stop – Little Rapids General Store [Map 3]
A great place to grab a few items and fuel up.

Tip: If you like cheese, they stock over 30 flavours. If you like sausage, theirs is considered one of the best around. If you’re a messy eater, buy one of their t-shirts so you don’t get a thing on your jersey.

23 km – Turn off for Side Trip to Thessalon – Highly Recommended (+10km return) [Maps 3 & 4]

Hang a right at the intersection of Little Rapids Road and Highway 129 for a trip to Thessalon, where you’ll cruise along the banks of the Thessalon River, past the scenic red bridge into the heart of this nearly two-century old community with roots in the lumber industry.

28 km
8:30 to 10:30 am
Thessalon Water Stop-Thessalon Marina. 56 Algoma Street East.

Visit the water station for a water refill and ideas where to stop for a dip at the beach, grab a snack from a pick of local eateries, or relax by the marina and take in views of Lake Huron.

Suggestions: Jo-Anna’s Bakery and Cafe at 212 Main St for some of the best butter tarts around.

Carolyn Beach Inn and Restaurant at 1 Lakeside Dr.  You’re steps away from the lovely beach.

The side trip into Thessalon is 5km each way so make sure to plan for a little extra time and to consider the extra distance travelled when referring to event mapping.

33 km
10  to 11:30 am
Suggested Stop – Brownlee Lake Park  (GWTA support vehicles on hand with water and light snacks) [Map 3] 136 Ingram Road, Thessalon, ON

Nestled in the corner of Ingram and Brownlee Road you’ll find the entrance to this resort and campground with serene views of Brownlee Lake, a beach and a small restaurant. Our vehicle will be stationed here to assist with water refills.

Tip: If you have your heart set on stopping in at Dorothy’s restaurant, make sure to call ahead: 1-705-842-2118.

60 km
11:30 to 2 pm
Recommended Stop and Optional Shuttle Point – Iron Bridge [Maps 5 & 6]

Originally named “Tally-Ho,” this town, with its history steeped in farming and lumber, was renamed in 1886 to honour of the iron bridge that spans these quiet shores of the Mississagi River, the first iron bridge constructed in Ontario. That bridge was eventually replaced after almost a century of use, but its spirit lives on in the Veterans Bridge that connects to nearby Tally-Ho park, and which you will cross on today’s journey.

During your visit to Iron Bridge, you’ll find 3 restaurants, convenience store and the Iron Bridge Historical museum. Restaurants in Iron Bridge have requested that where possible you reserve ahead of time or be prepared for a wait. The numbers are listed below:

Red Top Motor Inn – 705 843-2100  vegan/vegetarian options available

Three Aces Restaurant  – 705 843-2135 Chinese/Canadian

Village Inn Diner – 705-509-2010 – new diner location on the Eastern side of town – lots of seating

Between Iron Bridge and our overnight location in Blind River are 23kms on the generous paved shoulders of Highway 17.  If you are not comfortable riding  this distance along the shoulders of the Highway our scheduled shuttle service is available from Blind River to the GWTA base camp at the Blind River Marine Park.

2 pm
Shuttle departs for camp at 2pm.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The final 20km of todays ride are along the generous paved shoulders of Highway 17.  When riding along the shoulders it is important that you ride in single file. Should you need to stop please DO NOT stop in the shoulder but continue riding until you come upon one of the off Highway stopping areas labelled as “snow circles” or the MTO Parkette.

Noon to 3 pm
72 km – Suggested Rest Stop – MTO Parkette [Map 6]

MTO has created this parkette and picnic area with washroom facilities and a stellar view of both the Mississagi and nearby Woman Island. Look out for the GWTA support vehicle which will be on hand with water and jujubes.

80 km – Alternate Route – Mississaugi – Blind River Connector [Map 7 & 8]  El Dorado Road

This is a wonderful hiking connection and only recommended as a single track mountain biking experience. This scenic trail meanders through forest, marshlands and scramble-worthy rocky balds, a collective effort between Mississauga First Nation, and the  Town of Blind River with funding from the Great Trail.

1 to 4 pm
83 km – Recommended Stop – Pier Seventeen Restaurant

Looking to stop for a late snack on your way into town or a celebratory pint to commemorate a day well-traveled? Pier Seventeen has a lovely lakeside patio and serves some local brews including Stack.

84 km – Blind River [Maps 7 & 8]

Blind River’s history is cradled in the fur trade and logging and mining industries. The Town has several restaurants and amenities, and some great river and lake views.

Tip: If you’re looking for laundry service or LCBO, groceries or convenience, you may want to get those out of the way before our included community dinner at the Blind River Marina.

Things to Do: Looking for a swim? Try Fourth Sand Beach. Looking for a hike or some trail riding (including lookouts and secluded beaches) stop by the Boom Camp Trails. Interested in local history? Visit the Timber Village Museum.

85 km – Tim Hortons [Map 8]

You love it. You hate it. You love to hate it. You hate to love it. No matter how you feel, whatever your story, if you’re from Southern Ontario you will have some sort of relationship with Tim Hortons. You’ve gone without it for one day, but now…it’s…BACK!

Just FYI.

86 km – Overnight Location – Blind River Marine Park [Maps 7 & 8] 1 Hagger Road, Blind River ON

Tonight campers will be nestled right up to Lake Huron as we stay at the Blind River Marine Park.

Book your Massage!
The wonderful Krystle is waiting to massage your aches and pains away with 15-minute treatments at the waterfront.  She will be waiting with heat and cooling treatments that will make your day amazing. Neck, arms, or legs– let her know, she is yours to help!
As a special for our guests, Krystle is offering a $20 special for 15 minutes or $30 for 30 min.  Please let us know if you would like to secure a session at marina@blindriver.ca. Payment is not required to secure, simply let us know!

6:30 Buffet Dinner at the Blind River Community Hall, 110 Indiana Ave, Blind River, ON P0R 1B0

8:30 Water Ceremony performed by Evelyn Niganobe, a Mississauga First Nation councillor, at the Blind River Marine Park

Trail History:

During today’s journey you pass through the Municipality of Huron Shores, the first Great Lakes Waterfront Trail community to sign their route exclusively via a municipally led and volunteer driven work bee, giving a window into the heart of this stellar community and making the Trail uniquely their own.

This stretch of trail on the shoulders of Highway 17 represents a historic partnership with the Ministry of Transportation, which shouldered over 50 km of Highway 17 in order to achieve connectivity between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury. The shoulders on the highway and the signs installed along it are a reminder of this partnership and the efforts by the Province to achieve this, the first long-distance cycling route in Northern Ontario.

Past Highlights