MILL RUN TRAIL
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
ABOUT THE TRAIL
Substantially upgraded during 1998, the Mill Run Trail is a 6 km off-road hiking and biking trail between Russ Street, just off Eagle Street (Preston-Cambridge), and Sheffield Street at Clemens Avenue, just off Guelph Avenue (Hespeler-Cambridge). The trail, from Russ Street to Beaverdale Road, is on a portion of the original 1895 right-of-way of the former Galt, Preston & Hespeler Street Railway. In 1918, a new right-of-way built further away from the river was put into service to solve the problem of the rail line being under water when the Speed River flooded in the spring. This electric railway line later became part of the Grand River Railway. The balance of the trail runs through natural fields and forests. There are no hills on the trail which is stonedust for its entire length except for an 80 metre section of boardwalk over a swampy area. This trail is considered 'wheelchair accessible'.
For those who wish to only walk the trail one way, it is possible to return to your starting point using the Grand River Transit System.
TRAIL ACCESS POINTS
PRESTON-RUSS STREET - Russ Street runs off of Eagle Street which runs west from highway 24 (Hespeler Road) and east from highway 8 (King Street). There is plenty of free parking in the lot at the foot of Russ Street.
HESPELER-SHEFFIELD STREET & CLEMENS AVENUE - Sheffield Street (parallels the CNR tracks), runs off of Guelph Avenue which runs off Queen Street at one end and highway 24 at the other. There is plenty of free parking in the lot at the end of Sheffield Street.
DIRECTIONS TO THE TRAIL
If you wish to enter the trail at Russ Street; from highway 401, exit to highway 8 south. Continue down hill after joining highway 8, following signs for 8. This involves a left turn at the foot of the hill, a right turn at the next stop light. Stay on this road crossing over the river bridge. At the next stop light is Eagle Street. Turn left here. Proceed along Eagle, crossing a set of railway tracks and up a short hill. Just as you start to go down a slight grade, Russ Street will be on your left. The parking lot is at the foot of Russ Street.
Hespeler end of trail - from highway 401, exit to highway 24 north. Follow highway 24 to Fishermill Road, turning right onto Fishermill. When you come to Clemens Avenue (beside Victoria Park), turn right. Proceed to the end of this street where you will find a parking lot. This is where the trail begins.
SOME POINTS OF INTEREST ALONG THE TRAIL
SPEEDSVILLE ROAD - Speedsville, a small community built on the banks of the Speed River, was founded around 1842 when Joseph Witmer moved here and constructed two dams, dug a millrace, erected a two-storey pail factory and a general store. In 1827 John Galt crossed the river here on his way to found Guelph. An island at this point made fording the river easy, resulting in Speedsville Road being the stage coach route to Guelph until the mid-1830's.
IDYLWILD PARK - Nick-named Mosquito Park because of the abundance of the pesky creatures in the area. The park was opened on May 24, 1899 and could only be reached by taking the electric radial cars of the GP&H. The park contained a pavilion where dances and other events took place. The sidewalks, swings, picnic and playground areas sheltered by tall elm, maple and evergreen trees made this a popular park attracting people from as far away as Hamilton. The park closed at the end of the 1916 season.
BEAVERDALE ROAD - Beaverdale, another tiny settlement, grew up around the buildings of Squire William Ellis. Born in Ireland, he first moved to Pennsylvania and then to Upper Canada in 1810.
SILKNIT DAM / DOMINION WOOLLENS AND WORSTEDS - A small sawmill was erected in 1823 near the site of the present dam. In 1864, a stone woollen mill was constructed which later grew to be the R. Forbes Co. The company later became Dominion Woollens and Worsteds, and in 1959, Silknit. The electric railway served this large plant which was a major employer in its time. The plant was pretty much closed down by the end of the 1970's. About one-third of the building was razed in the mid-1980's after a fire.
JACOB'S LANDING - (On Guelph Avenue beside the Speed River.) In 1847, Jacob Hespeler constructed a stone dam 160 feet long, 13 feet high with a 42 foot thick base. A grist mill, flour mill, saw mill, distillery, and cooperage all existed at this site.
GRAND RIVER RAILWAY HESPELER STATION - Unfortunately, the station no longer exists having been demolished in the 1980's after suffering severe fire damage on a couple of occasions. The site is now a parking lot.
Photo on right is also taken facing east, just east of Speedsville Road.
NEARBY CAMPING AREAS
Camping along the Mill Run Trail is prohibited. The nearby Pinehurst Lake Conservation Area offers excellent facilities for all types of camping including hiking trails. It is located mid-way between Cambridge and Paris on Highway 24A (west side of the Grand River).
A camping area is also located in Churchill Park, Cambridge, directly across the road from the start of the Cambridge to Paris Rail-Trail.
For further information, please contact the City of Cambridge at (519) 623-1340 or the Cambridge Trail Advisory Committee, (519) 740-4681 ext. 4229.
LINKS TO RELATED SITES
Iron Horse Trail
Ontario Rail Trails
This page, a private effort, is intended as an extension of my Canadian Pacific Electric Lines pages providing information on the current usage of the former Galt, Preston & Hespeler Street Railway, and Grand River Railway right-of-way between Preston and Hespeler. Neither the City of Cambridge or Cambridge Trail Advisory Committee have participated in the preparation of this page. Although every effort is made to maintain accuracy, I will not be held liable for any errors or omissions.
Cambridge Trails logo at the top of this page was provided courtesy of Cambridge Trails.
Last updated September 19, 2007