The Hasty Highlander is a multi-day jaunt that traverses wildly variable countryside in Central Ontario including the greatest hits of Haliburton Highlands and Hastings County. Mainly using unsurfaced terrain, the route traces up to 800 kilometres of rolling hills, hidden lakes, gritty rail trail and enticing backcountry gravel largely free of car traffic in favour of wildlife. It all feels unspoiled and in many instances rugged. Not to be overlooked is that the Hasty Highlander is within easy striking distance of major hubs like Toronto and Ottawa.
A key feature of the Hasty Highlander is the use of an extensive network of trails including the Haliburton Country Rail Trail and the Great Trail that have been converted over from a once thriving railway that was used to support industries of years gone by. A surfeit of wilderness and local hospitality awaits any participant. Come and find out why this place was naturally made for bikepacking. Full of thrills and challenges for cyclists of all abilities. It is not designed to be the most gentle, direct or fastest route, but one that inspires a sense of two-wheel adventure, whilst providing eyesome scenery, rewarding riding, and plenty of memories.
- Great Trail: The Great Trail, also known as the Trans Canada Trail is the longest trail in the world stretching 24,000km in total from coast to coast to coast in Canada.
- Canadian Shield: Punctuated by classic Ontario dense forest, idyllic backcountry lakes, meandering rivers and rugged Canadian Shield.
- Trent Severn Waterway: Known for being one of the finest interconnected systems of navigation in the world, the Trent Severn Waterway is a canal that will take you through some of the oldest towns in the region. Some locks even allow for camping on their location.
- Algonquin Park: Established in 1893, Algonquin Park is Ontario’s first provincial park and one of the oldest in the country. The Hasty Highlander passes through some of the less pedalled parts of the park
- Rail trail: Ride on rail trails that once carried consumer goods and natural resources throughout the region.
- Trestle Bridges: Enjoy the moment as you pass over the 200-metre long Doubes bridge.
- Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge: A gorgeous bridge in Ferris Provincial Park.
- Haliburton Forest: A chance to ride in the trail and gravel nirvana that is the Haliburton Forest – a 100,000 acre lake-studded outdoor amphitheater.
- Wildlife: Don’t be surprised if you spot beaver, deer, moose and maybe even bear. And fall asleep to the sound of howling coyotes (or the buzz of mosquitos).
The Hasty Highlander was not created by the team at Bikepack Adventures. It being featured on this website is for informational purposes only and to give a full picture of the amazing rides in the region.
For more detailed information on this route, including the latest updates to the route and POIs, visit Hasty Highlander route on the BT 700 website.
Hasty Highlander Gallery
Alternate route options
Hasty Highlander Lake Loop
At the 260km mark of the route riders can choose to add this remote lake loop.
Note that some sections of this loop can be wet and sandy with no services.
Here is a great write-up of the remote Lake Loop southeast of Bancroft on An Athlete’s Blog.
There are two options for riding through the southern part of Algonquin park to Whitney.
The first is what is plotted which involves some forest two-track riding and a stream crossing that can be off variable deepness depending on the season and past rainfall. Overall a fun, backcountry ride.
Or riders can take this option to Whitney which involves more traditional gravel road riding and is not as remote.
Hasty Highlander Lite
Not ready to tackle the whole route. Then it is possible to ride a paired down version of the Hasty Highlander.
The lite route is up to 516 kilometres long by avoiding the loop through Algonquin and Haliburton Forest. However, the ride between Bancroft and Haliburton is excellent. See below for an image of this route.
Here is a smaller sized route file without POIs that can be uploaded to navigation devices like Garmin or Wahoo.
Haliburton Forest Extension
If you would like to add some gravel and trail riding to your Hasty Highlander Lite route you can take on this add-on loop through the Haliburton Forest reserve. It starts and finishes in Haliburton.