Header Image Via CraftBrewCreative.
One of the first things I did when I moved to the Bay of Quinte region last fall was investigate the local cycling scene. As a road cyclist, I’m always looking for new routes to explore and when I heard that the region had a trail dedicated to cheese and craft beer – two of my favourite indulgences – I wanted to learn more. The first thing I found was that the most practical way to explore the region’s 18 craft breweries, cider houses and artisanal cheese factories is by car, since the Cheddar & Ale Trail stretches from Campbellford’s Church Key Brewing in the north to Picton’s Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co. in the south.
While some cyclists might see the distance between stops along the Cheddar and Ale Trail as a drawback, I saw only an opportunity to explore the Bay of Quinte at my own (delicious) pace. So while I can’t bike the Trail in a single day like I first imagined, taking in a few stops at a time is truly the best way to savour both the region’s bike-friendly back roads and fresh local flavours.
Living on the eastern edge of the Bay of Quinte region, MacKinnon Brothers Brewing and the Wilton Cheese Factory are the Cheddar & Ale Trail highlights closest to me and the first ones I visited. Depending on your fitness level – or your dedication to combining both craft beer and cheese in a single ride – take either one or two days of your visit to the Bay of Quinte to explore this section of the Trail. These routes are bike-friendly, offering smooth pavement, wide shoulders and plenty of places to stop to rest, for photo opportunities and of course, tours.
Start in picturesque Bath for this easy 25 kilometer road ride, which includes a section of the famous Loyalist Parkway and The Great Waterway. Expansive views of Lake Ontario and idyllic farmland urge you to slow down and take your time along this mostly flat route. Enjoy a tour and a full flight testing at MacKinnon Brothers Brewing before returning to Bath to dip your toes in the lake.
Any squeaks you hear along this route will be from the fresh curds at the Wilton Cheese Factory! Park your car in Camden East, then point your bike east towards Yarker. Once you arrive in Wilton, take time to not only sample delicious local cheeses, but to sit and relax on the pretty main street. The highways along this route are marked at 80 km/h, but the wide paved shoulders allow both cyclists and motorists to safely share the road.
On this challenging route that starts in historic Napanee, you will have certainly earned the right to all the cheese and beer you’ll enjoy at your end destination! There’s a good chance you will meet other cyclists along the way, with County Road 8 and Highway 2 being with locals. Your first stop will be at MacKinnon Brothers Brewing, where you can wet your whistle with samples of their locally made craft beers and stretch your legs on a tour of the 8th generation farm. Make your way then to the Wilton Cheese Factory for their famous curds (a bag is small enough to tuck in a jersey pocket!). On the return trip, the towns of Camden East and Newburgh offer convenience stores to buy water or snacks.