Cycling, Travel | 11 comments
By: Zdenko Kahlina
Visiting Mississauga, Ontario
During my recent visit to a friend who lives in Mississauga (Ontario), I wanted to explore the area local cyclists are using for their training rides. I asked my friend (an excellent cyclist) for advice and he suggested I should go towards hamlet of Belfountain and beautiful surrounding Caledon hills, just north of the city.
I took his advice and that’s exactly what I did. Since I didn’t bring my bike with me to Toronto this time, I explored the area with the car.
If you start from Kipling as this map suggest, this route will be about 122 km long. There are very few variety stores on certain stretches of this route – so when going with the bike, stock up on food and fluids BEFORE leaving the city. Be sure to pace yourself and take breaks when needed – you do not have to wait till the designated break to stop and take a rest.
Small hamlet on the Heritage road
On my way out of Mississauga I took Heritage road north/west, all the way to Mayfield Road. As I was driving and approaching Halton Hills on Heritage road, suddenly on my right appeared a beautiful wooden structure of the Ukrainian Catholic St. Alias Church. It was early in the morning, but the Archpriest Fr. Roman Galadza just happen to arrive at the church while I was there and politely offered me a tour of the church.
The parish church of St. Elias
The parish church of St. Elias (before it burned to the ground in 2014)
The parish church of St. Elias the Prophet rises high on the Peel Plain above the Credit River Valley. Though this building was built in 1995, the parish community was started in 1976.
A wooden structure of heavy timbers (Douglas Fir), it is sheathed in Western red cedar. It has been constructed according to an architectural style known as “Boyko”, derived from western Ukraine. The 3 sections (altar, sanctuary, and narthex) are each topped with a dome or cupola.
According to Byzantine liturgical typology, the dome is an image of the heavens. The narthex is the world fallen after the sin of Adam, the Sanctuary is the world redeemed following the Passion and Resurrection of Christ Jesus, and the Altar is the World to Come, an image of the New Jerusalem. The cupolas on the church of St. Elias are in the 17th century Cossack style.
After this unexpected but nice experience, I continued my journey north towards Terra Cotta. There I turned to Mississauga Road, and pretty soon I was in the Caledon hills surrounded by big trees.
This long ride takes you though an incredible variety of terrain – through the beautiful Caledon Hills, past the unearthly dunes of the Badlands, through the breathtaking Forks of The Credit Provincial Park and up an actual switchback hill to the goodies of the quaint Belfountain General Store. At the General Store cyclist (and bikers) usually stop for a break. There are sandwiches, cookies and ice cream available for those who need more energy, before they head back to the city.
Belfountain General Store
Belfountain Conservation Area is situated on the Niagara Escarpment in the valley of the West Credit River at the junction of County Roads 1 (Mississauga Road) and 11 (Forks of the Credit Road), just west of Highway 10 and approximately 15 kilometres south of Orangeville. It’s also about 30 kilometres northwest of Brampton, and 82 kilometres northwest of Toronto.
The first settlers arrived here before 1850, and in 1852, the village was called “Tubtown”. This was a reference to a local blacksmith, Archibald McNaughton, who used large octagonal iron tubs to cool hot metal. The tubs sat outside his shop, which occupied a prominent place in the village, next to the town gas pump.
Belfountain General Store
Belfountain Bed & Breakfast
Fortunately, this name did not last long. A post office was opened at Belfountain (some sources cite it as “Bellfountain”) by Thomas J. Bush in 1853. By the 1870′s the village had a population of about 300 and the local business establishments included a tannery, grist mill, sawmill, one hotel and two general stores.
The picturesque location of Belfountain draws visitors from far and wide, particularly in the autumn when the changing leaves clothe the surrounding hills in brilliant colours. The origin of the name appears unclear, although it may have come from the French “belle fontaine”, or “beautiful fountain” – a reference to the clear waters of the Credit river.
There is plenty to see and do at Belfountain. A nature trail spans the river gorge using a suspension bridge and then winds along the steep sides of the Escarpment requiring steady feet and approximately 30 minutes to walk. A short distance downstream is the juncture of the West and main Credit Rivers, the scenic “Forks of the Credit” area. These can be reached by a rugged hike down into the valley along the Trimble Trail that will take you out of the Conservation Area. The Trimble Trail is not a loop and you will have to retrace your steps to return to the Conservation Area.
On this particular day at the beginning of July, it was really a beautiful summer day, with temperatures in the thirties. Following twisty Forks of the Credit Road I descended from the old town into the valley where the road followed West Credit river.
At the top of the hill you can take a turn and visit Forks of the Credit Provincial Park
Switchbacks on the descent from the Belfountain into the valley
Take a look at this short video of the climb to the Belfountain, by Wes Hodgson: http://vimeo.com/6240853
The cold, spring-fed waters of the West Credit River provide ideal habitat and ample angling opportunities for brook and brown trout and other fish. Freshwater springs flow from the steep valley walls that enclose this tranquil oasis. Heavily treed woodlands of cedar, oak, maple and birch are alive with wildlife – songbirds, rabbits, flying squirrels, ruffed grouse and white-tailed deer. Walkways, a beautiful fountain, gardens, historic stonework including a cave and a grinding stone from a gristmill that once stood beside the river add interest to this beautiful site.
I stepped on to the suspension bridge that spans tumbling waterfalls and take in the view of the river gorge below. You can walk along cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment and watch freshwater springs flowing down limestone cliffs. As you explore, listen for the staccato beat of the ruffed grouse and look for the quick flash of the white-tailed deer. An historic fountain, cave and grinding stone from a gristmill that once stood beside the river also add interest to this beautiful site.
Road thru the valley
Closed Ice cream parlor in the valley
The Credit River is 90 kilometers long, and is home to a wide range of wildlife. Some species are permanent or seasonal residents while others are sighted occasionally. For cyclists and bikers, this is a wonderful drive thru the valley, as the road goes over the small hills. Few kilometers later and I was on McLaughlin Road heading back south towards Brampton.
Beautiful scenery around Inglewood area
Local farm and surrounding hills
Caledon Hills cycling shop
As I was approaching city and very dense populated areas, memories of this beautiful place that I just left behind were still with me. That’s when I decided to put together small blog so many others who will read this, might one day decide to visit “Forks of the Credit” conservation area in Brampton suburbs.
Region of Peel, Caledon
At the end, I was so jealous on my friend who can often ride these roads and enjoy the beautiful scenery around Belfountain Conservation area. Next time I should definitely bring my bike with me and do this tour on the bike.
Have a good and healthy season.
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