Enjoy the Kingston & Pembroke Trail – On Your Own Steam

By Margaret Coughlin

The horses weigh a thousand pounds each and are clopping their way eastward along the Kingston and Pembroke Railway line at a sedate 6 kph. The locomotive faces west on the same line, the K&P. Just 13 kilometres separate them, an 8 minute shot at full steam. The horses and the “iron horse” are in their glory on this fine, almost-spring day. Find out more!
 

Horses and trains: recipe for disaster?
Horses and trains: recipe for disaster?

Engine 1095 is a ten-wheeler built in 1913. It weighs 155 tons.
Engine 1095 is a ten-wheeler built in 1913. It weighs 155 tons.

 
In its heyday, Engine 1095, the Spirit of Sir John A., posed a significant threat to creatures such as these majestic Arabians. Fortunately, its 155 tons aren’t going anywhere on this bright morning. The 1095 is permanently parked across from the west wing of Kingston City Hall, beside the limestone Kingston and Pembroke Railway terminus.  Built in 1885, the station is now a busy visitor centre.
 
The P in the name of the railway line is misleading. Although the K&P was never completed as far as Pembroke, the tracks did stretch 180 kilometres, to Renfrew, where another railway completed the link to Pembroke. The K&P, nicknamed the Kick and Push, became part of the Canadian Pacific Railway a hundred years ago. Service on this section was gradually discontinued and it’s been almost three decades since the last stretch was abandoned. Find out more!
 
The railway tracks are long gone.  Through the advocacy of dedicated volunteers and the leadership of local governments, what remains is the K&P Trail, where horses, dogs, winter warriors on snowshoes or skis, walkers, runners and cyclists are safe, and more than welcome.
 
From downtown Kingston, half an hour on a city bus (with one transfer) will get you (and your bike, if you care to load it on the bike rack) to Dalton Avenue where it meets Binnington Court. Find out more! (Click on Rack & Roll program)
 
On the west side of Binnington, beyond the mailbox and the parking lot, is the head of the 15 kilometres of trail within Kingston city boundaries. If you’re driving, there is ample parking here and at the five other entry points. Hiking or cycling a 30K round trip isn’t enough of a challenge? You could tack on a jaunt to rural Harrowsmith and beyond, adding another 35 kilometres or more to your adventure. Find out more!
 
Informative signs are posted at all entry points to the K&P trail.
Informative signs are posted at all entry points to the K&P trail.

 
Winter, especially one such as 2014 has dealt us, is a quiet time on the K&P. On a sunny day the trail is perfect for listening to the crunch of your footsteps or the swish of your skis. A bag of seed might entice a few chickadees from their nests.
 
A late afternoon outing is rewarded with pink-tinged vistas.
A late afternoon outing is rewarded with pink-tinged vistas.

The moon above the treetops is a gentle reminder that it's time to head home.
The moon above the treetops is a gentle reminder that it’s time to head home.

When all of this snow is just a memory, visitors can see trilliums and robins and finally, a host of purple flowers will line great stretches of the trail. CREDIT: Audy Tallack
When all of this snow is just a memory, visitors can see trilliums and robins and finally, a host of purple flowers will line great stretches of the trail. CREDIT: Audy Tallack

 
Because motorized vehicles are not permitted, pint-sized pedallers can zip past their parents in the spring, summer and fall, enjoying a heady freedom not possible on their subdivision streets. In the summer months all trail travellers, but especially runners looking for a cool spot for those tough intervals, will appreciate the many shady stretches. No matter which season you choose, you will find the best that Mother Nature has to offer on the K&P Trail.
 
The K&P offers a great vantage point from which to enjoy the colours of fall. CREDIT: City of Kingston
The K&P offers a great vantage point from which to enjoy the colours of fall. CREDIT: City of Kingston