Running The Royal Recreation Trail in Guelph, Ontario

I discovered this little gem of a trail to run in Guelph on a recent trip to Southern Ontario. The Royal Recreation Trail North is such a beautiful trail to run that I thought it worthy to tell you about. I hope you enjoy my story as much as I enjoyed running in this beautiful area.

A day to explore Guelph

I was in Guelph, Ontario, Canada on business.  One day of my meetings was cancelled, so I decided to explore the area by run.  I love combining running and exploring. I have seen scenery and amazing things I wouldn’t normally see if I didn’t run.  You can explore faster and further by running.  And you often take paths that are less traveled by tourists, usually places only the locals go.  It’s a wonderful way to sight-see. 

The weather was perfect for a run

I was fortunate to have perfect run weather that day.  It was overcast and cool. But I was going to heat up during my run, so it was wonderful weather.  While walkers were wearing spring jackets and long pants, I wore a thin short sleeve top and shorts.  It was cool at the start, but I quickly warmed up as I ran.

I searched online for a place to run

I found the route by searching online for “run Guelph”.  I saw some runs that others had done on Strava and Garmin Connect.  One run kept popping up; the one from Riverside Park.  So I looked it up online.  I discovered what looked like a potentially nice run along the Speed River that extended out to Guelph Lake. 

I had no set distance in mind, except to run at least 5 km.  I was planning for an out and back route and had no time commitments.  It was perfect.

I packed a lunch and went to explore

I packed a lunch of gluten free bread, peanut butter, jam, sparkling water and an apple I had leftover from the day before.  Tossing these items into my bag, I dressed in my run gear and headed out to Riverside Park.  

I started at Riverside Park

The park was beautiful. I was drawn to this little garden area immediately. I explored this area first before running.  There was a wall of local community art work and garden.  It was lovely.  After snapping a few photos, I started my run.  

I ran along the Speed River on the Royal Recreation Trail

The run went through the park to a foot bridge.  I crossed this bridge and ran along side the river.  It was a forest path inside the city.  The trail was well groomed and soft underfoot.  Really nice to run on.  The scenery was gorgeous, even for an overcast day.

Royal Recreation Trail North Guelph Ontario
Royal Recreation Trail North in Guelph, ON

I discovered Robbie’s Path

The trail then crossed over the bridge on Woodlawn Road.  On the other side I was greeted by a sign that marked the trail as Robbie’s Path.  The sign marking the path tells of Robbie Montgomery’s efforts to save this area from development. Unfortunately, Robbie passed away at age 15, but his legacy lives on. I am very glad he was successful. I stopped for a minute and paid my respects to Robbie before continuing on.

This path was also fabulous.  The trail scenery changed to a stand of cedar trees.  The variations in flora along the trail was refreshing.  It completely grabbed hold of my imagination and kept my attention focused on the natural surroundings.

The views along the trail were spectacular

This slide show gallery are some of the beautiful scenery photos I took along the route. I hope you enjoy them. You can click on the pictures to enlarge them to see them better.

I wasn’t finished running yet

I made it to Victoria Road, which was the turn around point for a total 5 km distance.  But, I wasn’t finished exploring yet.  So, I decided to continue my run out to Guelph Lake.  

The trail on the other side of Victoria was maintained by the Guelph Off Road Bicycling Association.  It was a narrower, more rugged trail and still fabulous.  It is a part of the Grand Trunk Trail System.

I ran about a kilometer into this trail until I got to a sign that said the trail was closed.  I looked around, but couldn’t see what lay ahead that would cause the closing of a trail. 

Sadly, the trail ended sooner than I wanted

However, I was now at 3.5 km, making my run a total of 7 km.  Good enough.  I decided not to push my luck and go beyond the trail closing sign.  Besides, it was almost time for lunch.  So, I headed back to Riverside Park.  

I had lunch in Riverside Park after my 7 km run

I ran back to the park and was greeted by a rather large flock of Canada Geese.  While some people think these birds are a nuisance, I quite like them. They can be aggressive, so I always approach cautiously and give them a lot of space. However, I enjoy watching them, especially when there are baby birds around.

Canada Geese Riverside Park Guelph Ontario

I grabbed the lunch I packed from my car and found a bench beside the river.  This bench was marked with a plaque dedicated to Martin Vrijenhoek by his friends.  I ate my lunch in the company of bobbing Geese.  The sun came out and it kept me warm as I ate.  When I was done, I packed everything up and thanked Martin for the use of his bench before I left.  

Next, I explored the University of Guelph Arboretum

I still had lots of time left in my day.  So, after grabbing a Tim Hortons coffee, I headed over to the University of Guelph Arboretum.  I had heard many good things about that place, so decided to check it out.  I walked for an hour around the gardens there and was not disappointed.  

The Arboretum was beautiful. I walked from the Arboretum Center, where I picked up a map, to the East Walk and Ivey Trail.

Japanese Garden in the University of Guelph Arboretum
Japanese Garden in the University of Guelph Arboretum

Proof that exercise and fresh air keeps us young

Here, I met a woman on the road who was 92 years old. I was surprised. She did not look 92. She was healthy and walking at a good pace. I enjoyed walking with her as she told me all about the trees in the area. She also told me that she walks miles every single day. It just proved to me that exercise and being out in nature keeps us young, in both body and mind.

Finally, I found the Lilac Gardens in the Arboretum

Next, I walked out to the other side of the Arboretum in search of the lilacs that this woman told me about. I was happy to see all the bees out and enjoying the lilacs too. The fragrance was amazing.

Guelph, Ontario is a great place to explore. I really enjoyed my day. I hope you enjoyed my story and photos too.

Read about more trail and run adventures in the Races & Places section at


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  1. That trail is amazing. Running peacefully during vacation is so good for the soul. And you found the perfect trail. Love it.

  2. Hello fellow ontarian! I live in Toronto but have visited Guelph! It seems so peaceful! I love running in Toronto but it can be a little busy sometimes so taking a peaceful trail like this looks amazing! I’ll have to try strava! I usually use map my run by under armour!

  3. This is beautiful! You don’t meet a lot of people from Ontario! I’m from Leamington/ Windsor area, but living in Toronto and moving to Sarnia! hah! I love trails! So peaceful.

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