After Ricksomís comments last week, I decided to go out and explore Glenorchy Conservation area that is located in North Oakville (Nayagawa/407). At one time, Nayagawa used to cross a branch of Sixteen Mile creek, but was shut down around the time that the 407 was built. The area was used by hikers/off-roaders/equestrians/mountain bikers for some time, until the Provence stepped in and made it a proper conservation area a couple of years ago.
I last rode it about four years ago, but gave up because of the condition. The quad bikes had tore-up most of the trails, leaving them deeply rutted and unrideable in many sections. Most of the ruts would hold moisture for a long time after a rain, compounding the problem. Having said that, I suspect that most of the trails were originally created by the quad bike riders themselves, so you have to take that into consideration before you criticize them.
Nayagawa ends just north of the 407. A steel barrier blocks the road at the top of the ravine. You can park at the side of the road. There are basically three trails you can ride. At the bottom of the hill, you cross the old bridge and take the trail west. It follows the river and eventually brings you out onto highway 25 (I think). This trail crosses the river in a number of places, but is never more than two feet deep. Heading East you have two options. At the bottom of the hill, you turn right before the bridge. From there, you can follow a trail along the river, and again cross it a number of times. I believe it goes as far as Upper Base Line (it swings north after a couple hundred yards). The last trail I found (and the one I rode) follows a river along the top of the ravine on the south side.
To ride this trail, you head down the hill and make a right before the bridge. Go over two steep mud piles and make a sharp right up a narrow/steep/rutted gravel trail to the top of the ravine. At the fork, make a left (a right takes you out to where you park). You basically follow the trail East along the top of the ridge. You will be mostly under the tree canopy on double track. From the following pictures you will see there are a number of deeply rutted sections, but it is not half as bad as it used to be. Even with the ruts, you can mostly ride it. In the past, the quad bikes would all follow the same line and the ruts would all be very deep. Now, they just bush-wack a new trail, so the very boggy sections have 2-3-4-5-6 sets of tracks. It looks like crap, but you can mostly pick a line and make it through without getting bogged down, or falling into a rut.
You eventually will come out along the fence line, next to the 407. Keep heading east. The trail will swing north and eventually bring you out to a farmerís field. Make a left and follow the very edge of the field around and head towards the electrical towers. You will see a bunch of trails/jumps that appear to have been used by dirt bikes. Just past the electrical towers, you go down a steep/sketchy hill towards the river. If you take a right (which is now north), the trails crosses the river multiple times and bring you out on Lower Base Line. If you make the left, you have two options. You can either follow the trail along the river (with about 3 or 4 water crossings) back to the bridge at Nayagawa. Or, after about 200 yards, there is a trail that climbs back up to the top of the ravine. Follow it for a short will, and will rejoin the top trail which will take you back the way you came.
The loop I did was quite slow and took me around about 3/4 hour (I stopped and took a bunch of pictures). I think it was around 7k, but certainly felt longer. If you did all the trails and off-shoots, you may be able to fill one to two hours.
The whole area is beautiful and has a ton of potential. With a little effort, you could put together a bunch of outstanding routes with some great climbing/descents. Given the people who presently use the area, and the amount of work required, I donít think it will ever happen...
Mtbr's 2016 Winter Biking GearReviews and Roundups
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