Island to be part of Lake Huron North Channel bicycling route

TORONTO—Manitoulin Island is definitely going to be included and treasured as part of a nearly 400 kilometre bicycling trail that will run through 21 communities, from Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie, that will be open to bicycle enthusiasts next year.

“This cycling trail is going to be great for all the communities and areas included such as Manitoulin. This is going to be great for Manitoulin Island,” stated Marlaine Koehler, executive director of Waterfront Regeneration Trust (WRT), on Friday last week, a day after a shuttle ride on Highway 17 east, near Spanish. “We have  MICA (Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates) flyers on the table at our office, and Manitoulin Island will be an easy sell for cycling enthusiasts.”

She is part of a group of about 10 experienced cyclists who were on a week-long ride along the Lake Huron North Channel route (LHNC), the newest leg in WRT’s trail system, which extends from the Quebec border to Grand Bend.

WRT is a non-profit organization that supports the Waterfront Trail-a bicycle trail that stretches more than 1,600 kiilometres skirting Canadian shores of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair, and the Niagara, Detroit and St. Lawrence Rivers. The trail was created to “regenerate, celebrate and reconnect people” to the Great Lake waterfronts. It connects 76 communities and more than 405 parks.

WRT has created a detailed digital map of the new LHNC route, but last week’s ride marked the first practical run along the course is to open in 2017.

The route will be fully signed, fully mapped and uses the infrastructure that is there and achieves connectively from Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie.

Ms. Koehler indicated one of the key initiatives when looking at the trail was to find an alternate route so cyclists would not be forced to travel Highway 17. The plans show there only about 40 kilometres of the route is on Highway 17.

The Ministry of Transportation has committed to improving the shoulders of the highway that are part of the route, Ms. Koehler told the Recorder.

The North Channel route is WTR’s first Northern expansion. Ms. Koehler said her group plans to expand the trail from Grand Bend in southern Ontario to Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula, to South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island, where riders will be able to travel on the Island, through Whitefish Falls and Espanola to connect with the LHNC trail.

She pointed out during last week’s ride that Maja Mielonen of MICA was invited and also joined the group.

“In 2017 the MTO will be improving the shoulders of Highway 6, so are able to continue the trail south through Manitoulin Island,” continued Ms. Koehler.