Top 6 Mountain Bike Trails Near Collingwood, Ontario
Updated: Sep 9, 2021
Kids today are so spoiled for places to ride. It used to be most of the hiking trails were closed to riding. Now we have whole trail networks put in with mountain biking in mind. Berms and rollers, log piles, and skinnies are put in just for our enjoyment.
Luckily I still see myself as a kid, so I get to shred along with the younglings.
When looking around for great trails, the Collingwood area is the jumping-off point for some of the best mountain biking in Southern Ontario. With everything from shuttle-ready technical downhills to trail networks big enough for all-day adventures, there is something for all levels of rider.
Due to the proximity to the Niagara Escarpment, the area offers some of the most significant elevation changes in Southern Ontario. You will also find lots of exposed rock also accompany the Escarpment. Knobby limestone, which can be treacherous when wet, is located in plentiful supply at Three-Stage and Kolapore Uplands.
Just like downhill ski runs, mountain bike trails have difficulty ratings.
If you are checking out areas on Trailforks.com a thing to understand is that not all blue or black trails are created equal. A trail is rated by a combination of the hardest features and the overall challenge. An intermediate trail at Three-Stage is much more challenging than the same rated trail at the Hydrocut in Kitchener. Before heading to an area it is wise to research it and see what people have to say.
Trail Difficulty Ratings
(On the Trailforks app the colors denote the difficulty of the trail)
Beginner (Trailforks: Green) - Generally smooth with few technical challenges.
Intermediate (Trailforks: Blue) - Can have roots, rocks, and moderately steep hills.
Black Diamond (Trailforks: Black) - Technical with drops, jumps, and features that require skill to ride clean. Increased risk of injury if you crash.
Double Black Diamond (Trailforks: Red) - Usually both technical and strenuous with the size of features increased. Requires a higher level of skill to ride and has a higher risk of injury.
Wasaga Beach Provincial Park Trails
Grade: Beginner to Intermediate
These are groomed cross-country ski trails in the winter, but they are open for riding the rest of the year. There is around 30 km of beginner and intermediate trails. The terrain is rolling with a few steep hills.
The soil is sandy, so even wipeouts don't hurt that bad unless you hit a tree. The Ganaraska hiking trail runs through the park. You can use it to take you out of the park along the river for even more miles.
When riding in the park, you are only a 5-minute ride from the beach, so it is easy to put together a fun day of riding and relaxing. If you stay in Wasaga Beach at any of the hotels or campsites, you can ride to the trails.
We like to start at the water treatment plant as it gives you a bit of extra riding with some significant sections of trail before you cross the road and get into the nordic ski center.
Wasaga Beach ski trails are a great place to bring new riders or get in an easy ride. For experienced riders, there are enough exciting trails to make for a fun few hours of riding. And then you can hit the beachside patio for a cold beer.
Grade: Intermediate to Advanced
When you are ready to get into chunky Niagara Escarpment trails that benefit from lots of suspension travel and body armor then Three Stage is a must-see destination. Located in the Pretty River Valley, Three-Stage is one of the best places to find technical downhills, especially with the closure of the Blue Mountain Bike Park.
While there is a mix of trails from beginner to double black diamond, even the moderate trails here are rocky and rougher than you will find in most areas.
Just south of Collingwood, Three-Stage is perched on the shoulder of the Escarpment offering up technical descents and lung-busting climbs. It is home to some of the biggest downhills in Ontario but if you have a heavier, long-travel bike you won't enjoy the fact that there are no chair lifts or shuttles to the top.
There are hours of riding at Three-Stage but make sure your fitness is on point or you will be doing a lot of walking on the uphills. If you are from Southern Ontario it is akin to Hilton Falls's level of rockiness with big elevation changes.
The trail network is a mish-mash of interconnecting trails so planning your loops can be a bit of a learning experience.
TrailForks Map of Three Stage
Three Stage In Action
Blue Mountain Resort
Grade: Intermediate to Advanced
In 2021, while they have ceased chair-lift operation for downhill riding, Blue Mountain still has trails open for cross country riding. You will either have to shuttle to the top with a vehicle or earn your descents by riding up.
While not all the details have been released, they are expanding the cross-country trail network.
The trail network is well developed and signed, making getting around pretty simple.
The Grind is one of the most challenging climbs you will find in Ontario, with an elevation gain of 240 meters in 2.3 km. This climb lets you access the trails on the top of the hill.
You can ride several kilometers of moderate trails on the top before choosing a route to make your back to the bottom. As this was Southern Ontario's downhill mountain biking destination for the last few decades, there are many options for the way down.
If you put together the Upper Groove and Lower Groove trails, you will have a moderate difficulty descent of over 3 km.
Before heading up, check out the Blue Mountain website for current riding rules.
Dufferin Forest, Mansfield
Grade: Beginner to Advanced
The Dufferin Forest is one of the best places to go if you want a long cross-country ride. There are miles of flowy single-track trails with enough elevation to get your heart rate up.
This is a great place to ride after it has rained as the sandy soil drains quickly. In fact, when it is damp the trails are less dusty and feel grippier. Rollers, bermed corners, and the occasional long climb make for a fun, but challenging place to ride. Even crashes aren't so bad as long as you don't hit a tree.
Located on Airport Road, just north of the Village of Mansfield, the forest is home to multi-use trails that can see dirt bikes, horses, and mountain bikes. Don't be intimidated by the motor vehicle use as they don't tend to ride the technical single track and you have lots of notice that they are coming. No one with a dirt bike sneaks up on you.
With a combination of forest jeep trails and single track cut specifically for mountain biking, you can put together routes that are as short or as long as you want. The forest has been home to long-distance mountain bike races over 50 km.
Grade: Intermediate to Advanced
This rocky chunk of land was developed originally as cross-country ski trails but when the snow is gone mountain bikes are welcome. With lots of exposed limestone, swamps, and steep inclines, Kolapore is not for beginners. But if you have some riding experience you can have a lot of fun.
Compared to a lot of the trails in the Collingwood area, you will find Kolapore a lot less busy.
This is one of our favorite areas as it has great riding and is home to some of the best rock climbing. With Metcalfe Rock on the west and the Swamp hiding in the middle of the forest you could spend a week just in here riding and climbing.
There are trailheads on the west, south, and east sides but due to the traffic on the west for rock climbing at Metcalfe it is wise to choose either of the other two. The parking lot on Sideroad 2, just south of Ravenna is the most convenient due to its size and ease of access to the trails.
Copeland Forest/Horseshoe Valley
Grade: Beginner to Advanced
This was a new area for us that we found on Trailforks. The Copeland Forest is located on the backside of Horseshoe Valley Resort. The forest is free but you need a trail pass even for cross country riding at the ski resort. You can ride both if you have a trail pass for the ski hill. While not as tall as Blue Mountain, Horseshoe Valley still offers chair-lift accessible downhill riding.
The area has around 100 km of trails with something for everyone. Flowy singletrack merges into technical steep trails. With a ski hill in the area, it isn't surprising that there are some serious climbs and descents but there are a lot of options for those who don't want to cough up a lung.
A large part of the Copeland Forest is flat or rolling terrain leading up to the heights that are the home of Horseshoe resort. For the epic masochist, you can even link up to the forest tracts just to the south to get even more miles of singletrack.
We will definitely be going back when we have more time to put in a long enduro day.
Copeland Forest Route 2020
Copeland Forest Video
The Wrap Up
Collingwood is home to a lot of great mountain bike riding. With the combination of a wealth of public land and the Niagara Escarpment, you have a recipe for great riding. The trail maintenance groups in the area put a lot of love into the trails making for great riding in an area that is fun to travel to.
We love the area because you have mountain biking, hiking, and rock climbing combined with great amenities such as accommodations and restaurants. If you are looking for an adventure getaway that involves shredding the trails then the Collingwood area is one of the prime spots in the province.