The village of St. Jacobs is full of unique retailers that line the main street, and offers many ways to relax with a little entertainment, or to learn about the village’s history (check out Shopping, Learning and Leisure in St. Jacobs). But that’s not all there is to do: it’s time to explore some of St. Jacobs’ other hidden gems.
Part of what makes St. Jacobs so special is its location – perfectly situated in some of the most beautiful countryside in Waterloo Region. That countryside just begs to be explored, whether it’s by walking, hiking or cycling. And, if you work up an appetite or need something to quench your thirst after a busy day exploring, you’ll find lots of great options to choose from in the village.
So lace up your shoes – it’s time to explore the Village of St. Jacobs!
Mill Race Trail:
First, a little history. A ‘millrace’ is a current of fast moving water that, back in the day, would drive water wheels which ran the mills – the industrial life force of many villages in years gone by. In St. Jacobs, the Mill Race Trail runs beside the stretch of the Conestoga River that flows next to the former Snider Flour Mill (now home to several artists’ shops and studios, as well as exhibits depicting the early days of St. Jacobs).
The trail is a very level, hard-packed stone chip trail, making it easy to navigate whether you’re walking, cycling, or pushing a stroller. It’s also home to lots of little creatures – chipmunks, chickadees, and the odd muskrat! Access the trail off Front Street by the old mill silos.
Health Valley Trail:
You can actually feed on to the Health Valley Trail from the far end of the Mill Race Trail, if you want to extend your outing.
The Health Valley Trail was formerly known as the Contestogo River Trail – a route that used to connect the villages of St. Jacobs and Conestogo back in the earlier days of both villages (now the trail ends around University Avenue East in Waterloo). The trail has several surfaces, starting off with stone dust, and switching to a mix of natural footpaths, woodchips and some boardwalks through the wetter sections. The trail winds its way through fields and bushes, providing a look at some of the area’s rural beauty. You can catch the trail off Albert Street in St. Jacobs.
DYK: Both of these trails are also part of the Trans Canada Trail – the world’s longest trail!
CYCLING IN ST. JACOBS
Venture Forth Bicycle Tours:
1441 King St. N, St. Jacobs
You can now rent a bicycle to go exploring in and around St. Jacobs! Venture Forth Bicycle Tours is a new business that offers bicycle rentals by the hour or day. Owner Kerri is an avid cyclist herself, and is happy to offer up suggestions of places to visit in and around the village. She can even tell you the best places to stop and enjoy a picnic lunch, and can rent you a picnic backpack too! Open Thursday to Sunday, look for them in the Red Caboose on St. Jacobs’ main street.
FOOD & DRINKS:
EcoCafe Coffee Roasters:
1441 Kings St. N., St. Jacobs
Light roast, dark roast, latte, espresso – whatever brew you’re craving you’ll find it at EcoCafe! They serve up certified Organic, Fair Trade, Direct Trade and Rainforest Alliance coffee beans that are sourced from around the world, and then roasted on site by Dan, EcoCafe’s ‘roasting guru’. Dan also heads up the weekly coffee sampling that happens at EcoCafe every Wednesday morning at 11 a.m.. Coffee lovers can sign up for the cuppings, where they’ll be lead through 3 coffee tastings for just $10. Who knows – you might just discover a new favourite brew!