How to do a Pub Crawl on the Millennium Trail 🍺🚴
At the height of the Barley Days, in the late 1800s, a rail line cut through Prince Edward County from Picton to Trenton – part of the old Central Ontario Railway that once hauled loads of minerals, lumber and crops from such exotic destinations as Mumby’s Mills and Maymooth.
An interesting bit of history? Yes. A successful money-making venture? Not so much.
About three decades after the track was abandoned to nature, The County bought the rail line. The newly-dubbed Millennium Trail had a lot of potential. It did not have much in the way of smooth surfaces.
But that’s all changed. The freshly rolled limestone screen has smoothed and widened the trail, making it much easier for hikers, bikers, ATVers and more.
And how best to explore this bit of County history?
Two words: Pub Crawl.
Yes, there are many fine breweries, pubs and restaurants along the trail. And now you can visit them without a train ticket – or getting stuck in summer traffic.
by Ryan Aldred
1.) Get Ready
The first big choice – on wheels, or on foot?
If you’re biking, you’ll want to start by checking for any surprises that might otherwise appear halfway between Bloomfield and Wellington. Give the chain a quick spray of oil. Make sure you have a bell. Check that your helmet still fits, and hasn’t been colonized by squirrels over the winter months.
Of course, you might not have a bike of your own, or it might be stuck at home. If so, rental bicycles are also available at several County businesses, including the Bloomfield Bicycle Company, Pedego Electric Bikes, County Bike Rentals and Ideal Bike to name a few.
Need to make a fix? There’s even a public bike repair station on the trail, north of Wellington.
Not a biker? You can also do a shorter version of the Pub Crawl on foot. You’ll need a pair of sensible hiking shoes, ideally something with a bit of waterproofing. The trail is mostly dry from Spring to Fall, but it doesn’t hurt to have the option to explore a side path.
Regardless of whether you’re on two feet or two wheels, be prepared to be outside all day in a range of weather. Apply sunscreen. Charge your phone. Pack some water, a snack, and a windbreaker or rain jacket in a pack.
And bring a camera – the scenery is stunning.
2.) Plan Your Route
Two big questions when planning your route – How far do you want to travel? And how many stops do you want to make?
The Epic Loop from Picton to Wellington is about 50 km, or around three hours of cycling. If you’d prefer something shorter, the Bloomfield Circuit from Picton will be about half of that – 25 km, or 90 minutes. If in doubt, go with the shorter option. It never hurts to have a reason to return.
Hikers should consider staying close to Picton. Parsons to 555 Brewing is an 8 km loop, which is about two hours on foot. Continuing on to Waring House will add another 30 minutes, or a 2.5 hour round trip in total.
How many stops?
If you were to stop at every drinking establishment within 100 metres of the Millennium Trail, you would – by conservative estimates – require a liver transplant. So you’ll need to narrow it down.
Here are a few sample itineraries –
Quick and Easy – Parsons -> Prince Eddy’s -> 555 Brewing -> Waring House*
Bloomfield Circuit – Matron** -> Lunch in Bloomfield at the Bloomfield Public House, Agrarian or Saylor House Cafe -> Barley Days -> Waring House -> Parsons
The Epic Loop – Midtown Brewing Company -> Lunch in Bloomfield -> Matron** -> Barley Days -> Prince Eddy’s -> Parsons
* Add-on if you’re feeling ambitious. Want to add a cider option? Consider Settlers Cider, west of Wellington. Hubb’s Creek, Karlo Estate and Trail Estate wineries are all additional wine options, which will take you another 3 km beyond Wellington.
** Opening May or June 2019.
Allow yourself around an hour per stop – longer on holidays and weekends – and don’t forget to consider where you might want to break for lunch or dinner.
On lengthy trips, consider doing your longest leg first and then working your way back. From Picton, that might mean heading out to Midtown Brewing Company in Wellington. From Wellington, head to Parsons first.
Want to build your own trip? You can find plenty of options on VisitPEC.ca and Google Maps. Or check out the Millennium Trail Pub Crawl map layer here.
The big day is here. Grab your bag, hop on your bike – or put on your walking shoes – and find one of the trail’s many access points.
In Picton, you can get to the trail via Johnson Street or near the LCBO on County Road 10. Or hop on via one of the unmaintained side trails accessible at the Northwest ends of McFarland Drive or Fawcett Avenue.
In Wellington, consider joining the trail near the North end of Wharf Street or on Consecon Street. And in Bloomfield, you can access the trail via Stanley Street or the south end of Barker Lane.
And you’re off – through dappled forest shade, overtop running brooks and past the golden fields in search of a cold and frosty mug.
Alcohol will hit you that much harder when exercising. Ask instead for sampler glasses and half-pints instead of full pints, particularly if you’re doing a bunch of brewery stops. Consider also breaking up the pub crawl with a freshly brewed cappuccino or a bottle of sparkling water.
Remember that – even on a bicycle – public intoxication is still against the law. In the case of electric or pedal assisted bicycles, the same laws apply as driving a motor vehicle. Besides, no one wants to show up at work on Monday with a cast on their leg and have to explain to their co-workers that they fractured their ankle on a bicycle pub crawl. That’s how you end up with a nickname like Drinky McBreakLegs.
Be mindful of the other travellers on the trail. Remember to use your bell when overtaking on a bicycle, and to pass slowly without kicking up rocks or gravel. Move to the side to allow ATVs to pass. The vast majority of trail users are courteous and polite, so feel free to offer a friendly wave to those you see along the way.
Don’t hesitate to call it a day if you’re feeling strained or exhausted. Hours of hiking or biking is a tremendous amount of work, and can be made all the more difficult with a full stomach. There are many fine cab companies that can give you and your bike a lift back, including Cronkie’s, Terry’s and the Taxi Guy.
Another vital safety tip – if you do purchase cans or bottles of beer en route, remember that they’ll be bumped and shaken for several hours while you cover the length of the trail. So open those slowly when you get home.
5.) Until Next Time
There’s something very special about the Millennium Trail. And when that something special is combined with a day-long trail trip and a few visits to some of the best food, beer and beverages that The County has to offer, you’ll find yourself daydreaming the next time you’ll be able to sit on a bar stool in the Midtown Brewing Company to enjoy a nitro-infused stout and a burger, or maybe a Duke Dog…
Where was I again? Oh, right. Until next time.
Parsons has an extensive beer list – lagers, ales, stouts, gose and more – in a heritage barn with a Mexican kitchen and plenty of patio space to spread out.
Prince Eddy’s mix of ales, lagers, stouts, sours and more comes with an on-site kitchen featuring all your favourite fried foods, plus a beach volleyball court.
555 Brewing Company has a dog-friendly patio in the heart of Picton, plus a range of taps and a bar menu with nachos, pizza and grilled cheese.
Waring House is an institution and their Barley Days Pub frequently features local musical acts jamming out, Newfoundland kitchen-party style.
Barley Days has nearly a dozen beers on offer, from dark ale to pale, lagers, IPAs and a Kolsch.
Bloomfield Public House serves a high-end menu, plus gourmet coffees, teas and pastries in a beautifully restored former bank on the village’s main street.
Agrarian Bistro has all your favourites on their lunch menu, plus a huge patio perfect for people-watching.
Saylor House Cafe takes you away from the hustle and bustle of Bloomfield, inside a delightfully quirky cafe featuring a soup-sandwich-or-salad lunch menu and a idyllic patio overlooking farmers’ fields.
Matron Fine Beer is set to open Summer 2019 and features two beers for the moment, a Janky IPA and a helles-inspired lager.
Midtown Brewing Company is the local haunt in Wellington, with communal tables, an ever-changing menu of delicious lunch classics and a beer menu featuring their own brews plus a few favourites from around the region.