Can't get my kicks on route four one six.
June 23, 2006 11:33 AM   Subscribe

I'm driving from Toronto to Ottawa on Canada Day weekend. I don't want to take the 401. Is this reasonably possible?

I will be leaving next friday, hopefully around lunchtime, but possibly around 5:00pm. Is highway 7 the whole way going to take me like 10 hours? Any better routes by maybe taking the 401 to get out of Toronto and then taking with another road? I really hate driving east on the 401, and the 416 seems really unappealing. Any and all recommendations or cool routes will be considered. Also, a heads up on possible congestion along the way would be appreciated.
posted by helvetica to Travel & Transportation around Ottawa, ON (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Coming from Belleville I find 15 from just past Kingston to be a nice alternative to going up to 7. It means you have to take the 401 to Kingston, but that's only half as bad as taking it all the way to the 416, and it's the Belleville to Prescott and 416 that are the really boring parts. And 15 at 80-100 is just as fast as 401-416 at 120-130, because you're going nearly straight there instead of around the outside of a square. You join up with 7 in Carleton Place.

Here's the route from Kingston to Carleton Place.

Part of 15 just north of Kingston is unsurfaced right now for construction, but it's only about 10-20 minutes worth.

The big win of 15 over 7 is that no-one uses 15 as a long-distance highway, so even when you get someone in front of you going exactly 80, they'll be turning off on a side road in a few miles. You only really start to notice it getting a little busy in Smiths Falls, since 15 is how you get from Smiths Falls to Ottawa.
posted by mendel at 11:49 AM on June 23, 2006

Lots of people take various combinations of 7 and the 401.

Some people take 7 the whole way. Greyhound takes the 401 to Cobourg then RR45 up to 7 around Havelock. I often go to Kingston and then take 15 to Smiths Falls and RR4 to North Gower and the 416, as it's pretty fast and generally unoccupied when I drive it. The 416 south of the city is always under-capacity and shouldn't be very busy at all (although Canada Day weekend may be the one exception to this--I haven't travelled it at that time of year).

The problem with 7, particularly in the rocky wilderness between Havelock and Perth, is that it has almost no passing lanes and is filled with people taking the scenic route and you all travel at the speed of the slowest car.

That being said, travel times at posted speeds will be within an hour on any of those routes. Traffic will be the key thing slowing you down and it's luck of the draw which way will be slower, particularly on a holiday weekend.
posted by cardboard at 11:54 AM on June 23, 2006

Highway 7 at 5 pm in the Toronto area sucks just as much ass, if not more ass, than the 401. Although on the day before Canada Day, the traffic suckage will start by noon. You must allow about 2 hours to travel from Toronto to Pickering. The rest is gravy. If you really want to avoid traffic, cough up the cash and take the 407 east as far as possible.
posted by crazycanuck at 12:14 PM on June 23, 2006

I did this two years ago. Sort of. I drove as far as Kingston on the 401, and then took the Division St. exit (Hwy 10). I drove north to the little town of Westport which is gorgeous. We had a swim at a little municipal beach with change rooms on hand, before having lunch at a little restaurant with a deck right on the lake. You'll see the restaurant on your way into town as you come over the big hill. Then I hooked up with Hwy 7 north of Westport, and took it into Ottawa.

There is no painless route. Lots of people are going where you're going, when you're going. Accept it. Eastbound traffic on the 401 will be bad as far as Oshawa. The 401 will be dense, but moving for the rest of the way. It's actually the faster way, pretty much guaranteed.

If your travelling companions are up for it, take the senic route. Just remember it's the scenic route. Stop for that swim in Westport. You won't regret it. Highway 2 will be a bit crowded, but mostly, it'll be slow because it goes through every small town along the way, (some are quite charming.)
posted by thenormshow at 1:52 PM on June 23, 2006

Some good advice by all. I'm going to take the friday off, so I hope to leave around 10am.
posted by helvetica at 2:17 PM on June 23, 2006

My usual route is to take the 401 out of the Toronto area, then take one of the exits around Coburg to drive through Tweed to get to 7. Hwy 7 is quite pleasant from there all the way to Ottawa.
posted by ceribus peribus at 9:28 PM on June 23, 2006

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