Devil's Creek Drainage Area
Only about 2 km of the loop consists of the Devil's Creek drainage area between George Street North and Blenheim Road. Some of Devil’s Creek Trail passes through both a Regional Environmentally Sensitive Policy Area (ESPA) and Provincially Significant Wetland (PSW) containing more than 30 rare plant species and located on the edge of a Carolinian Zone. This section of trail was originally created in 1996 with the construction of a sewer line using micro-tunnelling. After construction of the sewer, a road was created to allow the contractor access to the property for maintenance and replacement of vegetation. Although a multi-use trail was not part of the original plan, it was recommended and passed by Cambridge City Council in 1998 and it now forms an integral part of the Cambridge Trail network connecting residents to the Grand Trunk Trail that runs parallel to George Street North.
Parking for this loop
There are a number of places along the route one could park a car(s) for starting and finishing the walk as a loop. A few of those parking spots are marked on my map and the GPS track one could download (see bottom of this web page) . Parking at the Walter Bean Grand River Trailhead (43.376480, -80.340080) would add about 1.2 km to the walk. Another spot one could park is at Food Basics (43.362984, -80.314807) near the Park Hill Dam. The GPS track I am providing (below) shows the walk starting and ending at the small parking lot near the Tennis Club in Victoria Park (43.358810, -80.326353). The entrance to the parking lot is across from the house at 105 Salisbury Ave, Cambridge.
Description of the 8-km Loop
Let's assume you are starting this loop at the small parking lot near the Tennis Club (see above). Walk to Salisbury Ave and follow the sidewalk towards George Street (that is, downhill or east, toward the Grand River). As you proceed along Salisbury Ave notice all the elegant houses and the dates on some of them. Some have front entrances set up for the 1800's when guests might have arrived via horse and buggy. At approximately 43.358205, -80.322101 (between Brant Rd N and Landsdowne Rd N) look for the back lane (laneway). Older parts of cities had back lanes (some have names, others don't). In the early days such back lanes were used by companies to deliver coal, groceries, milk, ice or to remove wastes. Back in those early days the home owners on Brant Rd N and Landsdowne Rd N may have preferred that such services occur at the back of the house and not at the front.
Once you reach George Street North you may wish to customize your walk or follow the route I have shown. Ultimately the goal is to reach the pedestrian bridge at 43.355490, -80.316440. However, if washrooms are required head left (north) along George St N to the Idea Exchange (library) / Queen's Square. After, check out the Cenotaph and Queen's Square either side of Grand Ave S. Proceed south along Grand Ave past the Architecture Campus and Melville Café. Cross River Street and veer left through the parking lot to the trail near the Grand River and the Galt Horticultural Society Garden. In the next 180 m you will pass behind Barnacle Bill's fish 'n' chips place and then the Sculpture Garden before reaching the pedestrian bridge (43.355490, -80.316440).
Cross the pedestrian bridge to the east side of the river. Once on the other side turn left (north) following the walkways along Water Street towards and across Main Street. Just before crossing Main Street note the Old Post Office. After crossing Main Street continue on the sidewalk for about 100 m and veer left onto the walkway along the river. Continue to Mill Race Park and take the time to examine what is left of the old mill race. Leaving Mill Race Park proceed to the traffic lights at the intersection of Water St and Park Hill Rd. Cross Park Hill Rd and turn left (west) and cross the river. Shortly after crossing the Park Hill Rd bridge, and viewing the dam, watch for the a memorial (Street View) to Const. David Nicholson and Mark Gage, who died at the Parkhill dam in 1998 (43.363074, -80.317367).
Turn right (north) along the George Street sidewalk (opposite Dickson Park and Arena) passing the old South Waterloo Agricultural Society building (look up) that is now the Blackwing Coffee Bar. About 70 m later veer right off the sidewalk and up onto the Grand Trunk Trail. Follow the trail down into Riverbluffs Park. You will notice the Riverbluffs Park Boathouse that has washrooms and they may or may not be open depending on the time of day and year. This is the home of the Cambridge Rowing Club and the Ancient Mariners Canoe Club. Following the trail (south) past the boathouse you will arrive at 43.370990, -80.323880 (see Google Maps). This is the entrance to the Pollinator Preserve. If you follow my GPS track file, it will guide you through the Pollinator Preserve on a footpath and closer to the river before rejoining the wide Grand Trunk Trail at about 43.374490, -80.325960. Shortly after rejoining the Grand Trunk Trail you should see an old limestone quarry (43.375030, -80.329290) just before you ascend to the top of the cliff via a switch-back. About 300 m after the switch-back leave the Grand Trunk Trail by turning left (south) and through a tunnel under George Street (43.375060, -80.333802).
As you pass under George Street you are following Devil's Creek and the Devil's Creek Trail. You will eventually cross Blair Road and enter Morva Rouse Park. Keep left on the trail through Morva Rouse Park until you reach and cross Bismark Drive. As you cross Bismark Drive veer right and take the Devil's Creek Trail. After about 150 m keep left along the Devil's Creek Trail passing under the railroad tracks. Follow the trail all the way to Blenheim Road.
CAUTION: Turn left (east) along the left side of Blenheim Road. For the next 300 m there is no sidewalk. Keep single file on the left side facing oncoming traffic and keep off the road where possible. After about 300 m cross over at the intersection of Blenheim Road and Parkswood Drive. Continue along the Blenheim Road sidewalk to the entrance to Victoria Park (43.360085, -80.330926). Follow the Victoria Park trail south and then east until you are back at the start and parking lot.
GPS Track of Walk in Google Map
GPS Tracks for Download
HELP: If clicking on the links does not provide a download option, try RIGHT clicking the link (especially the .gpx file) and then choose "Save Links As" (or equivalent) from the drop-down menu. Pick a download location (e.g. desktop) for the file.