Cycling the Kick ‘n Push Trail

By Christine Bruce

Ever had one of those moments where you pass an entrance that beckons to an unexplored but enticing dimension? For me, this summer, that was the Kick ‘n Push Trail.

Officially known as the Kingston and Pembroke Trail, the Kick ‘n Push—its local nickname—is a groomed, recreational trail that runs along an abandoned Canadian Pacific Railway railway bed, now owned by the City of Kingston and the County of Frontenac.

Starting in Kingston, the trail runs north for nearly forty kilometres, through farmland and wooded areas to Verona, intersecting with the Rideau Trail and the Cataraqui Trail.

My plan one overcast morning was to cycle the twenty-two kilometres to Harrowsmith. I’d then travel four kilometres into Sydenham for a quick lunch before returning to Kingston.

To prepare for the trip, I followed an old adage: take a light bike and a heavy wallet. In these cases, there’s no substitute for a solid pocket and a bike basket.

Road traffic near the entrance at the Binnington Court Trailhead (located at the end of Dalton Avenue, off Sir John A Macdonald Boulevard) is not bike friendly, so take precautions.

The trail is crushed gravel. It’s a heavenly, flat terrain that discourages speed while encouraging multi-use. On either side are vigorous trees and native wildflowers, abundant small creatures, insects and birds. The only aspect of the trail that gives pause is the detours around the access point fences, but they really are wide enough for your bike.

Under the trail’s canopy cover, you’re protected from the elements and the environment is peaceful. It’s a thoroughly different ride from the city experience: not hot, not windy, uncomplicated.

In thirty minutes, you can ride through several access points—Sydenham Road at the 401, McIvor Road, Jackson Mills Road at Burbrook Road, Unity Road, and finally, Orser Road. The path runs through wetlands, farmland and forested escarpment. Reassuringly, there are runners, dog walkers, other cyclists, even a woman with a baby carriage, suggesting that the distance between access points is not intimidating. Foot traffic within the city limits makes the trail feel both safe and beloved.

At Jackson Mills Road, I had to stop to consider direction. Stepping forward slightly, I found clear signage at the intersection of Jackson Mills and Burbrook Road. Assume that others have your best interests at heart!

As I travelled north, I rode meditatively. A flying grasshopper kept enchanting pace with me.

North of Merton Road, the trail is less manicured but absolutely travel-worthy. The rock-cuts are spectacular and it’s got that durable Canadian Shield vibe going.

Once I relaxed in knowing that I wasn’t going to get lost or dehydrated, eaten by bears or waylaid by robbers, I began to hail other cyclists. They love this trail and genuinely want others to join them.

Just south of Harrowsmith, the trail again ends abruptly. To your right is the intersection of the K&P trail with the Cataraqui Trail.

When I entered the trailhead, I expected to stop in Sydenham: I’ve proven that plan to be absolutely feasible. However, the trail had other plans for me: it enticed me with its beauty, its good signage and even terrain, its visitors—friendly companions of all species—who accompanied me. I continued through Harrowsmith, cycling forty kilometres to Verona. Eventually, this multi-use trail will connect users from Kingston to Sharbot Lake.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once advised, “The only thing to fear is fear itself.”

Go get your bike tuned up and without further consideration, head into that beckoning trail. The Kick ‘n Push is a marvellous adventure.