Tiny and Tay Route: A Trail of Two Dogs

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Tiny and Tay townships in north Simcoe County are known for their rich history, adjacency to Georgian Bay, and… being the namesakes of dogs owned by the wife of the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada from 1818-1828. Today I am sharing a route that is  part of our Georgian Bay – Muskoka tour, so you can start planning ahead for easier times. It is  a delightful, moderate-difficulty point-to-point trip that cuts through both townships, starting just outside of Waubashene and ending in the town of Wasaga Beach, with an optional extension to Collingwood. It is mostly flat, with the notable exception of a hill out of Midland. Much of the ride is along the scenic shores of Georgian Bay. The route is 75km one way. There is a route map and link to a mapmyride file at the end of the post.

View of Georgian Bay from Victoria Harbour

Stuff to know before heading out

This is a point-to-point route that is 75km ONE WAY, so be prepared for a long day if you are going out and back. Alternatively, arrange for a shuttle back to the starting point.

If you are starting in Waubashene, there are a few parking spots where Coldwater Road intersects the Tay Shore Trail. If those are taken, check out Tay Township’s tourist map for other free parking options close by.

While overall this is a relatively quiet route, Tiny Beaches Road can be busy on summer weekends and the town of Wasaga Beach is always busy in the summer. Collingwood is quite bike friendly, but do study the city’s bike routes and paths before you go, as they can be a bit tricky to navigate. The route provided below ends just as you enter Collingwood, and does not provide details about getting through.

Tay Shore Trail coming into Midland

Waubashene to Midland

The Tay Shore Trail is a paved, multi-use trail that winds along the shores of Georgian Bay between Waubashene and Midland. It is mostly flat, with a few very short gentle rollers. It sneaks along between quaint cottages and their water access, and through wetlands, parks, and marinas. It intersects the historic Sainte Marie among the Hurons and the Martyr’s Shrine, and then , a few kilometres later, the Midland Harbour pops up to surprise you.

In Midland Harbour, during non-pandemic times, there are many places to stop for refreshments. Several benches invite you to sit and admire the waterfront and the public art.  An enormous stainless steel trumpeter swan by artist Ron Hunt flies gracefully above the parking lot, honouring the return of North America’s largest water fowl. One of Midland’s several whimsical, historical murals by the late Fred Lenz is in the harbour. At  80 x 250 feet, this depiction of Sainte Marie is said to be the largest historical outdoor mural in North America.

Trumpeter Swan by Ron Hunt, Midland Harbour

Midland to Balm Beach

For the next phase of the journey, there is a hill to climb to get out of Midland. You will go up and up, and then finally be rewarded with a lovely, long downhill into Balm Beach. So put it in an easy gear and keep spinning until you get to the crest of the hill. Head up First Street, and then turn right on Yonge, which has a bike lane. Yonge eventually turns into Balm Beach road. It is a wee bit busy, but there is a good rideable shoulder. Enjoy this lovely agricultural section of Tiny Township. Soon after you pass through the small village of Perkinsfield, you will see beautiful Georgian Bay below you and the Blue Mountains off in the distance. This delightful vista is your reward for having climbed the hill.

Balm Beach Road with Blue Mountains in the distance

Balm Beach to Wasaga Beach

At the bottom of the descent is Balm Beach, where there are public washrooms and, other times, several places for a snack. The beach is quite often busy in July and August, but fairly wide open in the shoulder seasons. Once you have admired the view and dipped your toes in Georgian Bay, it is time to head south on Tiny Beaches Road. This is a relatively quiet cottage road used by the residents and cottagers with places adjacent to the beaches of Tiny Township. There are frequent views of Georgian Bay, and several public access points to the beaches. Be aware that there are some turns to stay on Tiny Beaches Road. Tiny Beaches Road becomes River Road as you get close to the town of Wasaga Beach. The first couple of kilometres are quite busy with traffic, so take extra care.

Balm Beach

Extension to Collingwood

Feel free to end your trip in Wasaga Beach – have a swim, grab a bite to eat, enjoy the Bay. But, if you carry on to Collingwood, the ride becomes 75km, which seems a good number for bragging 🙂  There was a time, in the not-so-distant past, when continuing meant you could finish up at a lovely bike-friendly watering hole in the area, Northwinds Brewhouse. I like it because, well – brewhouse… plus good food, bike racks outside and they will loan you a lock while you are inside.  We know those days of gathering together with friends and strangers will be back, and Collingwood has no shortage of options.  In the meantime, dream about the future, and stay safe and healthy.

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