I organized a one-day cycling trip with some friends this past weekend so I thought I’d publish my notes, for anyone looking for a fun, physical activity for a perfect Ontario summer day.
- Starting point: West Harbour GO Station, or Grimsby (see note in Transit section)
- End point: St Catharines GO Station
- Total distance: 60-70km
- Elevation change: A few small hills towards the end, but mostly flat
- Possible Stops:
- Peninsula Ridge Estates
- Villa Romana
- Kew Vineyards Estate
- Cave Spring Vineyard Tasting Room
- Back 10 Cellars
- Bench Brewing (not a winery! they make beer)
- Green Lane Estate
- Cave Spring Tasting Room (skip if you’re going to the other Cave Spring)
The best route is to take Cannon St southeast as far as it goes, then get north of the QEW to the Lakeshore Trail and the North Service Road, eventually cutting back south over the QEW as you enter Grimsby. Here is the route on Google Maps.
You can take Barton St to leave Hamilton too (we did this) but the road is in poor condition so you may end up cycling slower. Cannon St has dedicated bike lanes and better surface.
This route goes through many quiet, residential streets, giving you ample opportunities to take breaks. It is also really nice to take a pit stop at Casablanca Beach, and that is a good rendezvous point if you have a split party where 1-2 people are starting from Grimsby.
Once you pass Grimsby and start entering the Niagara region, the name of the game is to stay on King Street. You will notice that all the wineries I recommend above are along King Street. Ignore Google Maps directions to take the long, square blocks to the north and south. (I told Google Maps to give me car directions for this portion.) The terrain in this area is basically a valley, so the moment you start going north or south, you will probably be climbing some very large hills. If you’re an avid cyclist who loves hills, feel free to visit some locations further from King St, but I wanted to give my group the best chance of making it to the end of the day, which meant preserving our energy whenever possible.
King St generally has no bike lanes, just a narrow shoulder in many places, and as you approach St Catharines, there are some blind turns, so cycle carefully and take the lane if you need to. Despite these challenges, I still recommend staying on King St because this is the flattest, most direct route.
The overwhelming majority of motorists were respectful and gave us a wide berth, but you might encounter some motorists that are less accommodating, which is why I must highlight that this route is not for beginner cyclists. There are no public transit options beyond Grimsby to turn to for backup, so everyone in the party must be comfortable riding their bike for several hours. My recommendation to my group was to train until you’re comfortable going 40-45km, so your body knows what it feels like, and so you have a chance to stress-test your equipment. If you already cycle everyday to commute around town, you will probably be OK.
Transit in/out of Toronto
At the time of writing (summer 2023) the GO train service runs on weekends from Toronto to West Harbour once an hour. I’d recommend taking the ~8:45am train departing from Union Station. It’s a bit easier to get onto the train with bikes at Exhibition GO, because it spares you from having to navigate stairs within Union Station.
The return service from St Catharines back to Toronto runs less frequently. In previous years (and I believe from 2025 onward) VIA Rail operated in this corridor, but in 2023, all we had was the GO train. The most logical train to catch back is the 4:32pm return from St Catharines; if you miss that, you can take the 8:32pm train, and kill some time at Cold Break Brewing near the station. Most wineries close around 5/6pm, so it’s a bummer that there’s no 6pm or 7pm return service.
Note: You can shorten the overall route by about 25km by hopping off the GO train at Burlington and catching a bus to Grimsby. GO Buses can only accommodate two bikes on the front of each bus, so this strategy only works if you’re a party of 1 or 2.
Check the GO train schedules when you plan your day, don’t take me at my word! These things change often.
I highly recommend making Peninsula Ridge your first stop. It is one of the first wineries you hit as you enter wine country, so geographically it makes sense to stop here, and it’s also a very good winery! There is a restaurant on-site, but you likely won’t have time for a sit-down meal if you want to visit at least one other winery. The tasting room has a patio that overlooks the entire vineyard. It is a memorable, beautiful way to start the tasting portion of the day. There is a small hill as you approach the parking lot, which is why I like to do this one early on in the day, while I still have the energy to climb!
For the second stop, I recommend choosing from any of the wineries in the above list, from Villa Romana down to Kacaba, inclusive. They are all within about 5km of each other, along King St. I’ve only personally been to Malivoire and Tawse. Malivoire has a beautiful patio (but not much view of the vineyard). Tawse has large picnic tables outside that overlook their vines, and I believe they also have sheep and alpacas! It is a pretty brutal, steep push to get up over Tawse’s driveway though.
If you want to add a third stop, I’d recommend stopping off at Cave Spring in Jordan Station, which is located up a small shopping street – a change of scene from the outdoor patios so far. There is also a bakery across the street called RPM Bakehouse, operated by the same folks behind Pearl Morrissette – their baked goods were a huge hit with my friends. Stopping here gets you about 40% of the way towards St Catharines.
I am not affiliated with any of these wineries – I just like to cycle and drink wine!
Preparations and packing
Because of the tight GO train return schedule, I do not recommend stopping to buy lunch. Instead, I recommend that you pack your own food, and eat it at any patio or pit stop, whenever you are hungry. The majority of wineries only serve snacks like charcuterie boxes, which is personally not enough for me to refuel throughout the day, so I pack a big sandwich or container of pasta salad.
This was the packing list I sent to my group:
- At least 1L water bottle
- A packed lunch and lots of snacks
- Puncture kit and hand pump
- Padded bicycle shorts, suggested if you’ve never cycled this long in one day
- Helmet, bike lights, lock
- Panniers/bungee cords/etc if you’re planning to purchase wine
- Portable battery and cable for charging your phone
- Bug spray
If you want to do exactly as I did in June 2023:
- 10:05 Arrive at West Harbour GO
- 12:45 Arrive at first winery (Peninsula Ridge)
- 1:30pm depart Peninsula Ridge
- 1:50pm Arrive at Malivoire
- 2:30pm Depart Malivoire
- 3:00pm Arrive at Cave Spring
- 3:40pm Depart Cave Spring
- 4:20 Arrive at St Catharines GO
You can see that the stops at each winery are pretty tight - 30-45 mins. You can take it slower and reduce the number of winery stop, or just resolve to get the 8:30pm train from St Catharines, in which case you can dawdle a bit more.
If you have a group of more than 4 people, I’d recommend calling every winery the day before to make sure they can accommodate you. Every winery we visited was incredibly warm and welcoming, and I called them to update them on our actual arrival time throughout the day.
Happy cycling! If you decide to do this route, I’d love to hear about how it went for you.