Our Trails

The Thames Valley Trail is over 110 km connecting the Elgin Trail and the Avon Trail from Delaware, through London to St. Mary’s.

Trail History

1968 – An idea takes root
As early as 1968, the London Chamber of Commerce expressed concern over suggestions that the government should purchase river valley lands for public use. It was felt by many that the ideal situation would allow for public enjoyment of these lands without the landowners losing control of their property. With this as its premise, the Chamber Recreation Committee began studying various recreational possibilities in the Thames River Valley, including the feasibility of a hiking trail similar to the well-publicized Bruce Trail. After hiking the area and making preliminary contacts with some landowners, it was seen that the idea of a hiking trail held a great deal of merit.

1971 – The TVTA is formed
Three University of Western Ontario students who were keenly interested in this venture, together with the Chamber of Commerce, organized a meeting of about fifty like-minded persons at the London Public Library and the Thames Valley Trail Association was formed on October 19th, 1971. The first directors were Bill Ratcliffe and Jim Gilpin, two of the U.W.O students; Jay Sanderson and Wilf Lamb of the Chamber of Commerce; and Chris Horne.

1972 – Trail work starts
The University of Western Ontario approved a trail through its grounds on July 10th, 1972. In December of the same year the section of the trail around Fanshawe Lake was completed.

1973 – Official opening
The London section of the trail was officially opened on June 16th, 1973.

1976 – Trail expansion & incorporation
Over the following years, trail construction, clearing and marking continued with the co-operation of many community-minded landowners – from large property holders such as the London Public Utilities Commission, to many farmers north of the city. The trail continued to develop and finally reached St. Marys, north of London in July of 1976. In this same year, the association became incorporated. Several years later, Tom Petley developed and blazed a trail through Kains Woods west of London. After Roy Kerr had maintained this trail for many years, the Thames Valley Trail Association took over and named it the Roy Kerr section of the trail.

1992-1995 – Trail completion and links

In 1992, through the efforts of Gordon Jackson, the trail was extended south and west through Komoka Provincial Park. Finally, in 1995, a further extension southward through Delaware to Elgin County linked the Thames Valley Trail with the Elgin Trail, completing a network of trails from Port Stanley to the Bruce Trail. This final extension was brought about through the enthusiastic efforts of John Nolan who carried this idea to fruition, extending the trail from its original length of 60 kilometers to 109 kilometers.


We thank our landowners for generously permitting us to travel on their property. Please stay on the trail. Walk around the edge of fields. Do not disturb the animals. Guy Engels has been working on maps, records and archives to update our lists. Landowners receive a copy of the Trekker. We do not hike on the trail Dec. 25. This allows the land to remain private. Wildlife is to be left undisturbed and protected.

The Trail Guidebook

The Trail Guidebook provides natural, historical, and cultural background information on the Thames River Valley and the Thames Valley Trail Association, in addition to maps, directions, and practical advice for hiking the Thames Valley Trail.

Trail Guidebooks are out of stock at this time.

Scope of The Trail

The Thames Valley Trail is a 110 kilometer hiking trail which follows the Thames and North Thames Rivers along most of the route. It links the Elgin Trail at the Elgin/Middlesex County line in the south with the Avon Trail in St. Marys in the north.

The southern portion passes through farmland on a flat clay plain before joining the Thames River south of Delaware. Through London, the trail follows a multi-use pathway much of the way and continues along the North Thames River. North of London the trail traverses the Fanshawe Conservation Area operated by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. North of the Conservation Area the river cuts a deeper valley, and the trail offers excellent views of this valley at several elevated locations. Because some of the trail is on floodplain, flooding can be hazard, especially in early spring and late fall. As well as the main trail, several loop trails are described in the guidebook. These 26 km of loop trails connect with the main trail and provide hikers the opportunity to return to their starting point without having to retrace their steps.

Private Land

About one-third of the Thames Valley Trail is on private land. Public spirited landowners are asked to give permission for people to walk through their property. This permission may be withdrawn at any time if the landowners feel that their property or generosity is being misused. Clearly, the establishment and continued existence of the trail depends upon the users respecting the property of the individual landowners.

Trail Markings

The main trail is marked at regular intervals by white rectangular blazes, 15 cm high x 5 cm wide which are painted on trees, fence posts, utility poles and other suitable objects. A double blaze (two marks in parallel, one lower than the other) indicates a turn. If the upper mark is slightly offset to the left, the turn is to the left and if it is offset to the right, the trail makes a turn to the right. Normally the next blaze can be seen from the current one, but on a straight forward path or where there are no suitable objects on which to put blazes, this may not be the case. Blue blazes are used to mark the side trails. As well, plaques with the Thames Valley Trail symbol are posted every 1 to 2 km along the trail.