Cycling in Haliburton, ON

collection of bird houses
A collection of bird houses at Abbey Gardens near Haliburton
Reading Time: 5 minutes

On our third day we were off to Haliburton and left the Simcoe area to attend the wedding at Bark Lake. We combined the trip heading out with some short parts of Humdinger Bicycle Tours multi day tour in the Haliburtons.

Kashagawigamog Lake

Charming Bonnie View Inn near Haliburton
Charming Bonnie View Inn near Haliburton

We first drove to an area south of Kashagawigamog Lake. Highway 18 is a very quiet road, leading north east towards Haliburton. Tour groups would stay overnight at the Bonnie View Inn here but we just popped in and checked out this lovely place with cottage charm written all over it. We didn’t see the rooms, but I think I would prefer to stay in the main building rather than in the separate units, although the amenities might be different in the different places.

The common room at the inn in Haliburton
The common room at the inn

Haliburton Steam Train

"Step on a steam train, step out of the driving rain, maybe"
“Step on a steam train, step out of the driving rain, maybe”

We biked a fairly short distance to Haliburton, passed an old jet on a pedestal and an old CN train that’s put up for display without much more information than “This is a locomotive donated by the Kiwanis”.

I did a bit more research and it is actually a N4A class steam locomotive from 1911 built in Richmond in the US for the Grand Trunk Railway by ALCO’s Brookworks with 2-8-0 wheel arrangements in the Whyte notation. Grand Trunk was eventually bought by CN Rail which reclassified the locs as N4’s. A total of 232 were produced in 5 years time. This loc was built in the same year my grandmother was born, so steam is really not that long ago. Just so that you know if you happen to run into a train buff.

Haliburton Sculpture Forest

Moose built from vintage farm objects at Haliburton sculpture gardens
Moose built from vintage farm objects at Haliburton Sculpture gardens

We continued our trip a bit further to the north end of Head Lake on which Haliburton is situated. I am sure this is beautiful country in the fall season too with lakes and hills and (very) small towns. We biked up to the Haliburton Sculpture Forest, with has 33 sculptures in any shape and form from 2001 until today.

Embracing EOS - wire and steel male figure
“Embracing EOS” – wire and steel male figure. Can you find it?

The collection is still growing. One can walk a path that wraps around the Fleming College Haliburton Campus, “one of Canada’s premier art colleges offering diplomas in Integrated Design and Visual and Creative Arts”. The path is a few hunderd meters long. Don’t miss the viewing deck overlooking Head Lake.

C to C: Dry stone structure with locally quarried granite
“C to C”: Dry stone structure with locally quarried granite built by students of the dry stone program

A visit to Haliburton is not complete without a coffee at Baked and Battered, which sounds like a greasy spoon with sagging siding and two faded Cocoa Cola umbrellas, but nothing is further from the truth. Coffee and lemon tarts it was at this hip and bustling place on Highland St.

curved steel spine
Lost in art: “Redwing Frond”, curved steel spine with painted acrylic panels

Abbey Gardens

Organic veggies at Abbey Gardens
Organic veggies at Abbey Gardens

The 118 heading heading north is a busier road but it got us to another destination, the Abbey Gardens (and yes, they have an Abbey Road).

Abbey gardens is an interesting destination (“Yesterday’s dream, today’s gardens”) known for its locally grown organic vegetables, its Food Hub store and cafeteria with lots of local food products, a solar and wind company and the Haliburton Highlands beer brewery, all located in an old gravel pit. You really want to check out the website and get excited. We ordered sandwiches.

The non-descript Home Depot-esque made in China patio chairs and tables so not match the vibe of the place. They really should have looked for a mishmash of used wooden chairs.

Food hub at Abbey Gardens
Food Hub at Abbey Gardens
A bite at Abbey Gardens
A bite at Abbey Gardens

Maple Lake St Peter’s Anglican church

North of Abbey gardens are Beech, Maple, Green, Pine and Cranberry lakes with a pleasant cottage road on the north side. Don’t miss St Peter’s Anglican church on St Peter’s Rd overlooking the lake, just past Highlands Mobile Pressure Washing (“Our unique combination of biodegradable detergents and 200 degree hot water system ensures maximum cleaning results”) if you are coming from the south end. Note the several colours of stone from the region used to built the church. After a smooth ride, it was off to Bark Lake by car, change into way more formal clothes and attend the BBQ and campfire on the beach on the evening before the wedding.

Check out the region

We look back to some very pleasant days. We would never had known many of the locations Sara suggested to us and although we didn’t bike the multi day tours organised by Humdinger Bicycle tours, we definitely have a much better impression of the possibilities of the Haliburton and Simcoe regions. Certainly worth checking out and if you are uncomfortable going on your own or if you can’t find the time to get organised, why not join a (small) group? Check out Sara’s website.

Deer at Haliburton Sculpture Garden
(real) Deer at Haliburton Sculpture Garden

Go back to part 1 in this series of 3: Simcoe County

Note: Sara didn’t pay us for this visit. We stayed at Sara’s home, brought some of our own food and shared the cost of our beers and eat out lunches. I write blogs for fun and to help promote cycling.

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