**Possible temporary reroutes are noted further down.
There are TWO route files you should have downloaded for the BT 700. It is advised that you have some practice using your navigation devices before heading out on the BT 700 especially if you haven’t navigated trails or backcountry roads before. GPS navigation is a must. It would be very hard to follow the BT 700 with an old-school paper map. The route can be updated or modified at any time so it's best to review the route in advance for trip planning but download these files shortly before your ride so you have the most up-to-date ride file.
Please DO NOT use old route files floating around Ride with GPS from other riders or files you may have downloaded a long time ago. The links here are the current route you should be using.
1) This is a bare-bones file for navigation because devices like Garmins and Wahoos do not handle large files well and will not show Points of Interest.
If downloading a .gpx file DO NOT click on Reduce to 500 Points. This will result if poor navigation. Here is some additional information on downloading the route to your navigation device.
You can also use this file to navigate with on your mobile phone using the Ride with GPS app. For non BT 700 club members, offline navigation is only available for those with a paid membership. However, it's best to have the files below with the Points of Interest on your phone.
Some GPS navigation devices, including the Garmin eTrex, have a track-point limit to the .gpx files they can store. And some devices just don't function optimally when working with a lengthy route. For this reason, breaking up the route file into smaller segments might be necessary. Here is a tutorial on how to break up a route into two or more segments. Note that you'll need to save the route to your route library on Ride with GPS before splitting the route into shorter segments.
Riders have reported having some major device issues when trying to record one continuous ride during and ITT. Particularly with Wahoo devices. It is strongly recommended that you stop and save your ride occasionally and then use a program like this to combine the files post ride if you want to upload one big ride to programs like Strava.
2) These are larger files that includes numerous Points Of Interest (POIs) and can be used for planning your trip.
BT 700 Part One: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/39947965
BT 700 Part Two: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/39947976
These route files should be downloaded using the free Ride with GPS mobile app https://ridewithgps.com/help/mobile/. I have broken down the full route into two separate parts as the mobile phone app will be less glitchy when using smaller sized files. Simply start up part two when you have finished riding part one. To download, click on the route link while using your mobile device and it should pop up in the app, then click download. All the Points of Interest including locations for food stores, bike shops, hotels and camping areas will remain visible. Tap on a POI and the additional information will be displayed such as the opening hours for food outlets. Zoom in on a particular area of the route as some POI’s overlap and many of them are not visible when zoomed out.
FREE Off-line Navigation with your phone: If you become a BT 700 Bikepacking Club Member (no cost) you'll be able to download the route files using the Ride with GPS app and access it's navigational features including voice prompts. Normally, this is only available for Premium Account subscribers. All you will need is a free Ride with GPS account.
Anyone with a free or paid Ride with GPS account who clicks this link will be added to the club and automatically approved. Just click View in the Route Library and it will open up a route file that can be downloaded. Here is some more info about the benefits of being a club member.
NOTE: When downloading the file for Offline navigation, it can take a long time. On the app, under the Offline Tab in your Library, you should see a NAVIGATE symbol.
Here is a good summary of the pros and cons of using a smartphone to navigate with the Ride with GPS app.
When navigating with the mobile Ride with GPS app, it’s best not to rely solely on the voice prompts as sometimes they can steer you in the wrong direction. The line on the map remains the best navigation tool.
Using both a navigation device like Garmin and the Ride with GPS mobile app when riding a route can offer a nice safety net. If one is not going well, then you have a second option for navigating.
If running the Ride with GPS mobile app as you ride you can enable Live Logging so friends and family can follow your journey in live time. This is available for Basic and Premium members. Data usage is minimal but you'll have to keep on top of your battery power.
If you run into issues downloading these files onto any of your devices let me know and I can try to provide assistance.
Temporary Reroutes: None at this time.
Route Note: At the 282km mark of the route is a short scramble (on foot not bike) to perhaps the finest viewpoint of the entire route overlooking Georgian Bay. Most riders miss this side-trail so keep a lookout for it. The side trail is just before the downhill on Colploy Range road.
Route Note: At the 507km mark of the route you will enter the Castle Glen area. There is a sign saying No Trespassing but the public is allowed to use this trail system and you can enter. It's posted for liability reasons.
Several trail sections on the route have been marked in blue to indicate these are optional for riders who are not comfortable on these sections. Suggestions for ride arounds have been made. For the most part, the trails are not technical and don't require expert mountain bike skills.
Segments at a Glance
St. Jacob’s to Southampton (200km): The route commences in the village of St. Jacob’s, the heart of Ontario’s Mennonite country, and travels through rural areas featuring open farmland and close-tied communities towards the beach at Lake Huron. The terrain is mostly gravel roads with a couple of sections of unmaintained stuff, singletrack and rail trail of variable roughness to spice things up. Classic gravel grinding. This is the flattest section of the route, allowing riders to cover mileage more quickly. However, a dreaded headwind can slow your progress on this section.
Southampton to Thornbury (186km): Leaving the lakeside town of Southampton, it’s here where your undulating ride begins as you pass through Saugeen First Nations land. Wending east it’s a combination of smooth or bumpy gravel roads, disorderly non-serviced roads and forest trail as you ride through the little visited Georgian Bluffs and then onto the Bayview Escarpment. Plenty of viewpoints to be enjoyed. Well-maintained community trail takes you between Meaford and the sections terminus Thornbury.
Thornbury to Mono Mills (241km): Time to get swallowed into the belly of the BT 700. A beast of a climb takes you out of Thornbury where riders will then strike through the fetching Beaver Valley making use of an abundance of gravel and dirt roads and some rougher ‘no exit’ paths. One of the routes most white knuckled downhills brings riders into the charming village of Kimberly where praise-worthy butter tarts await. The route then strikes back north - there are dirt roads everywhere in this region but some may come away scared by the punchy climbs. Hardly a well-kept secret, the Blue Mountains still offers up gritty riding and big views. If you have the legs for it, hop into the Loree forest trail system for some fat-tire fun. Now we head back south for a section of the route that involves plenty of tough climbs on rougher (albeit beautiful) little used unmaintained roads and forest track. The punchy hills are a proving ground even for the most adept bikepackers. The unpaved bounty of Grey county and Dufferin county has earned a thumbs up from gravel geeks. Forest riding abounds in three provincial parks, with the glide through Mono Park being one of the prettiest sections of the trip. Overall, this is by far the most rugged and hilliest section of the BT route. So plan your time accordingly.
Mono Mills to St. Jacob’s (132km): For the most part, the final section of the BT 700 seesaws cyclists between trail and gravel roads. From the crossroads town of Mono Mills, the route enters the longest section of singletrack through the Glen Haffy Conservation area and Oak Ridges. These are generally not technical sections but can slow down the riding pace and be a bit tricky to navigate especially if riding at night and/or sleep deprived. There are also areas that can be overgrown in the summer so caution is needed and should be followed by a tick check. But the path is predominately downhill. What fallows some doubletrack fun in Palgrave forest is smooth, well-maintained rail trail as riders head west towards the finish line. But just when you thought the fun is over a final challenge awaits in form of heart-pumping vertical and tricky Bruce Trail into Forks of the Credit Provincial Park. A long stretch of flat, smooth rail trail brings riders to touristy Elora, home the mighty Elora gorge. From here, it’s a mix of pavement and gravel for the return to St. Jacob’s, a heavenly welcome at the end of a butter tart pilgrimage.
BT 700 Lite
Not ready or able to commit to the full BT 700 route? Here is the diet version that makes use of a detour from Flesherton towards Mono. This removes some of the more challenging terrain in the Blue Mountain/Creemore area. You’ll still get a rewarding bikepacking experience with this scaled down version of 660km and 4000+m of climbing.
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/31293942 (BT 700 Lite with Points of Interest to be used on the Ride with GPS mobile app)
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/31293957 (BT 700 Lite without Points of Interest for navigating with devices like Garmin and Wahoo)
If you enjoyed your time on the BT 700 or GNR bikepacking routes consider making a donation to help with future route development.