Running from Niagara to Tobermory the Niagara Escarpment is perhaps one of the most significant landforms in Southern Ontario. So much so, that it was designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 1990. Along this Escarpment can be found Kelso Conservation Area under the direction of the Halton Region Conservation Authority. With the Escarpment creating much of the elevation that is experienced in Southern Ontario Kelso is perfectly situated for a variety of outdoor pursuits including both mountain biking and skiing in the winter (Glen Eden).
Kelso was an early adopter of mountain bike trails within conservation lands. For many years the conservation area has welcomed riders to its trails and has steadily come to be a favourite with the GTA mountain bike crowd. In fact, Kelso is one of the few trail systems within striking distance of the GTA that boasts several bike only trails. It is certainly worth a trip for that reason alone. Situated just off Highway 401 in Milton the Conservation Area is easily access by points both East and West.
The trails and topography at Kelso offer a little something for everyone from mellow double track to rocky technical riding and even some built up technical features on the X-treem Trail. Their newly added Mountain Bike Skills Zone near the West Daylodge is an excellent place for riders young and old alike to practice their skills prior heading out on the trails. In the skills area riders will encounter obstacles similar to those found on the trails but be able to practice them in a controlled environment. This wide range of trails result in quite an array of bikes showing up at the trail head everything from pinner XC bikes to full blown DH rigs and everything in between. Conveniently, the fine folks at Kelso have put together a comprehensive map complete with well marked trails to help direct riders to trails that are appropriate for their ability. Map can be found here.
There are two major trailheads at Kelso which can be easily recognized as the upper and lower. On the map, these are referred to as the Summit and Park entrance respectively. The Summit entrance seems to be the more popular access point with riders likely due to the fact that your ride doesn’t begin with a punishing climb up the escarpment, unless of course that is your thing. It is also a great place to hook up with other riders, either planned or by choice, to begin your ride. From the Summit entrance riders have a choice of trails ranging from green (easiest) to black (difficult) to enter the trail system. It may take a few rides to figure out a loop that best suits your riding style but the beauty of the trail system is that you can tailor your ride to your ability level and amount of ride time. However, rest assured no matter which trail you take it will be both well maintained and lots of fun.
Should you choose to access the trails from the Park Entrance you will be faced with a substantial climb, right out of the gate, to get you into the trail system. However, the climb might just be worth the effort for the series of amenities not found at the Summit Entrance. The lower entrance provides a wide range of options for both riders and non-riders alike including a visitor centre, mountain bike skills zone, picnic shelters, boat rentals and a beach perfect for a post ride swim. The upper entrance offers only a vault toilet, should it be required. Substantial parking can be found at both entrances. The abundance of amenities, beyond the trails, make Kelso a great option for a day trip and well worth the price of admission. It should also be noted that should you still need to challenge yourself or feel you still have something left in your legs and lungs, Hilton Falls is just across the 401 and your day pass is also valid for those trails.
Kelso also plays host to several bike related events through the riding season including a Tuesday night mountain bike race series through the summer months and a Cyclocross Race Series towards the end of the season. As mentioned earlier, Kelso has always been ahead of the curve where mountain biking is concerned and they continue to be with their latest Bike Camp offerings geared towards nurturing the next generation of riders. As part of their Ways of the Woods camp series Kelso is offering specific Bike Camps for children ages 8 -14. The camps are broken down into: Bike Camp Intro, Bike Camp Advanced and Bike Camp Trail Builders. Each camp has specific requirements based on age and skill so check where your little ripper best fits.
Kelso’s well maintained and well signed trails are a delight at any time of year. Some may argue that autumn is the best time to ride at Kelso due to the spectacular views provided of the fall foliage from the top of the escarpment. Others might suggest that riding under the towering canopy and a dip in cool lake makes for a great close to the city escape from the summer heat. Either way, a ride at Kelso Conservation Area will be a rewarding experience that will have you coming back for more.
|Trail Length||22 km – Numerous loops|
|Trail Level||Beginner to advanced|
|Trail Type||Singletrack - Some Double Track|
|Trail Map||Kelso Trail Map|
|Access fee||Adult (15-64) $6.75|
Senior (65 & over) $5.75
Child (5-14 )$5.00
Child (4 & under) Free
|GPS||Latitude : 43.509049|
|Name||Kelso Conservation Area|
|HOURS / SEASONS|
|Hours of Operation||Daily at 8:30 am closing times vary seasonally (dusk)|
|Season||Mid-April to mid-November|
Trails may be closed due to special events and trail/ weather conditions
Check the website for latest conditions:
Riding Feels Good has compiled this information and ensured its accuracy to the best our ability at the time of posting (see date at top). We recommend contacting the facilities directly prior to a ride to ensure it is up to date. We will do our best to update it as regularly as possible but rely on users like you to monitor it and provide corrections and any additional information.
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