Kelso Conservation Area covers a unique piece of Southern Ontario landscape in that it is perched upon the Niagara Escarpment, a World Biosphere Reserve as designated by UNESCO.
With some fantastic views along the Escarpment, this trail system offers something for everyone: wide doubletrack, flowy singletrack, techy sections, skinnies and other features, and even some DH.
There is also a beach at the base, so pack your trunks and treat yourself to a nice little swim after a great ride.
Kelso, like many of the systems in the area, is a web of trails and can be ridden in either direction. This Ride encompasses most of the trails at Kelso but does exclude the two double black diamond trails. These can be incorporated into the Ride by adding Broken Spokes
and Digger Downhill
after Rock Garden
and linking up with Base trail, completing the Ride.
There are several variations of this Ride and, I find, the best way to experience these trails is to get out and make your own routes. That being said, here's my favorite way to hit most of the trails without too much overlapping. All the trails are well marked and you can grab a map at the entrance.
The best way to start Kelso is by diving right in. Head left from the parking lot and meet X-Treem Trail
. There's no warming up here, entering the wooded area you are left with an option, take the skinny or the drop. From there you'll weave down the trail and encounter rock gardens, features, and a small features park.
At the features area, make sure to exit to the right of the features, this will keep you on X-Treem Trail
instead of Cheater's Alley
. Coming out of the final section on this trail sends you down a great bridge feature. Once out, you'll have a choice of left or right, both will take you to Old Farm Lane
. If you went left, turn right on the doubletrack, turn right if you went left and the entrance to Rough Trade
should be right there (across the doubletrack).
A couple switchbacks and a couple rocky section make this a fun trail. Add in a couple berms and it's a blast! Coming out of Rough Trade
, you'll get to a fork, stay left and keep left for the next 3 options, which are all relatively close together. This will send you down towards the Escarpment lookout via Lora's Run
Lora's is one of three trails that run parallel, are all extremely fun and can be done in any direction and in any order. Go down Lora's, up Quarry Trail
and back down Wizard's Way
, which will link you back up with Rock Garden
. Before you head across RG, make sure to get up to the top of the lookout and grab a selfie.
At the end of Rock Garden
is where you can make a decision to do the two double blacks or head up B.T. Connector
. If you choose to follow this Ride, head up B.T. and keep an eye out on the right-hand side. Martin's Mayhem
is not very well marked but is tons of fun. A short, pretty steep section will kick you out on Declined
, stay left here and continue to the little switchback section and stay left. This will bring you to Lime Kiln Trail
Depending on how you're feeling, head down the Escarpment via Fire
, but beware, you're climbing back up the ski hill. I'm sure you made the decision to ride Fire
to the bottom, 'cause it's a blast, and after the climb you get to relax a little on Field and Forest
, which will bring you back to the B.T. Connector
. Turn right again, which will send you back toward the summit and head down Martin's Mayhem
one more time (it's worth it!). Instead of continuing on MM to Declined
, hang a left on Sumac Spin
before trying to set a Strava record on Appleby Alley
. The only thing that you could possibly have to worry about on AA is a deer wandering out of the meadows into your bike. If this happens to you, please make sure that your GoPro is running (and you're wearing a helmet of course).
Turn right at the fork on Hawthorne Run
and enjoy the Rocky Road
, which is... well... a rocky road. At the top of this climb, turn right, ride the log and head up the Old Dump Run
loop. There are a couple opportunities to grab some air along here, so have fun!
There's a branch around the first bend that you're going to want to take called the Rogue Trail
. The feature of this trail is riding down the lime rocks. After linking back up to ODR, turn right on Old Farm Lane
, take X-Treem Bypass Trail
back to your car and do it all again in reverse!