Eastern Ontario's undiscovered path to history and nature
The Cataraqui Trail is an important link in the trail network in eastern Ontario. It is a four-season trail for hikers, cyclists, equestrians, snowmobilers and cross-country skiers following the former Canadian National Railway line from Strathcona near Napanee to Smiths Falls – a distance of 104 km.
Many Points of Access
The trail has 48 main and secondary road access points along its length. Travelling from south-west to north-east, the trail route follows the Napanee River from north of Napanee to Yarker, then passes over a slight height of land to Harrowsmith, descends to Sydenham, passes through the Canadian Shield to Chaffeys Lock, and then parallels the Rideau Lakes to Smiths Falls.
The route is on railroad grade with a road bed of varying material and sizes as surface (standardizing the surface for all users is a high priority). The trail passes through or near numerous small communities with ever changing surroundings, and has many delightful sections with no evidence of human activity other than the railway right-of-way.
Enjoying it Today
Today, evidence of the rich history of this railway is rapidly disappearing. The rails and ties, sidings, stations, and even the connecting railways have often disappeared. The communities along the route have changed greatly over the years. The stations, mills, factories, mines, cheese factories and granaries have largely disappeared. Try to imagine the importance to the small communities along the route that the railway once occupied as you enjoy the silence of the present trail.