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Thread: Recommended driving directions around GTA

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  1. #1
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    Tom

    Default Recommended driving directions around GTA

    It has been about 30 years since I have driven in the GTA and would like some advise. I plan to travel from Montreal to Barrie but would like to avoid the 401 near Toronto as much as possible. As I will have a rental car from Montreal I also want to avoid any toll roads. Can anyone suggest how I may be able to bypass most of the 401. Perhaps going north around Oshawa then somhow getting over the to 400.

    Thanks.

    T J

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Recommended driving directions around GTA

    If your destination is Barrie, there's absolutely no reason to go near Toronto.

    You can take 417 to Ottawa, 17 to North Bay, and 11 south to Barrie. Would take about 6-7 hours if memory serves me right.

    Or hwy 7 from Perth to Peterborough/Kawartha, then 404 to 400N.

    As for toll roads, only 407 is a toll.

    Try playing around with routes on google maps.
    Last edited by Max In Sudbury; 06-03-2012 at 10:50 PM.
    "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils."

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Recommended driving directions around GTA

    If you are not coming in during rush hour, the 401 thru T.O. to the 400 is pretty smooth. People who drive during non-rush-hour times tend to be "people who drive the roads during the day for a living" and largely drive civil as compared to the plethora of yahoos who maniacilly drive in angst during rush hour trying to either better their record times driving their daily from A to B drives, or are simply frustrated with their lives/jobs taking out their frustrations on their drive to and from work.

    While the 407 can be in some situations faster, there are some who drive it thinking they are on the Autobaun, and feel that they need to go significantly faster than the norm of 120-130 that most clip at on the 407 during non-rush hour times. You can avoid Toronto traffic using it (somewhat) on some occasions, but you have some drivers who consider the 407 a free for all. You really have to check your side and rear views driving on that highway moreso than the 401 even though it may not be congested or have what seems to be semi-sparse traffic.

    You could also take highway 7 to cut across, but imo, it is far more dangerous imo as you still have traffic areas, you'll need to negotiate a lot of detours, and simply it will take forever in comparison. You could take it to the 404, cut up to Newmarket, and then go along Davis drive to the 400, but Davis drive is no gift either. Lack of proper left hand turn lanes at many intersections make it for an unimpressive and potentially hazardous and long "shortcut", which it is not. Once out of Newmarket, on Highway 9 to the 400 it is rife with speeding maniacs along long sweeping curves and impromptu intersections where anything can happen.

    Have you considered flying to your destination?

    Really, take the 401 to the 400. Unless I'm in a hurry, living east of Toronto, I prefer the 401 over the 407 due largely to the toll issue, but also because to get to it from the 401 east of Toronto, it adds a decent amount of time to your trave to get to it from the 401l. Until they build a link up road in Whitby, or it is finally running all the way to the 35/115, it is not worth it for convenience alone unless you would be traversing T.O. in the thickest rush hour times.

    TIP: Listen to AM 680 NEWS for traffic info every 10 minutes (on the "1's") in the GTA. You should be able to receive it from Port Hope onwards.
    Last edited by Lost in the Woods; 06-04-2012 at 05:15 AM.
    Kevin

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Recommended driving directions around GTA

    the 401 isnt really as scarry as it seems, you just chose your travel time carefully

    we travel to the east coast every year towing a 21 ft travel trailer behind a windstar and we plan our times carefully

    generally we leave sarnia at 6pm on a thursday night, pearson airport around 9pm, then its a quiet no traffic trip across toronto. friday night is to be avoided even late at night. we usually get to montreal at 1 am, and its very quiet

    coming home, again we avoid daylight hours at all costs, the 401 at 3am is a deserted bowling alley, you can cross toronto at a constant 120 easily

    tips? avoid rush hours(an oxymoron), avoid daylight, late at night if you can(its lit up like daylight), give the overnight truckers space

    ive done it many many times, a few times towing the trailer, no problems

    and yes id rather travel long distances with a 100 semis than a 100 cars, especially towing the trailer

    so my message is, chose your travel time carefully, both the 400 and 401 can be a nightmare, my best suggestion is arrive around oshawa at 10pm or later but not on a friday night, you'll be in barrie at midnight

    a good new gps makes the trip far easier and less stressful, we just bought a new tom tom, and it tells you which lane to be in
    Last edited by stevem; 06-04-2012 at 08:08 AM.
    my shop is a beaver lodge
    steve, sarnia, ont

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Recommended driving directions around GTA

    Once you get close to the the GTA you can take almost any exit and head north until you reach Steeles, or Highway 7. Then head west until you reach the 400. Be prepared for a billion traffic lights though.

    Another option and the best one in my opinion is exit onto the 404 North and take highway 9 west until you reach the 400, this is much quicker than going through North Bay. The only drag is Newmarket traffic can be a PITA. If you plan on making the trip during a long weekend there is no avoiding traffic. The 400 north is a death road. I drove that road every day for 10 years and as a result I moved to a place that there is one traffic light within 200km of me in any direction. I don't miss Southern Ontario traffic.

    A side note, you are wise to avoid the 407. Spit! They are the worst bunch of crooked incompetent morons running that POS highway. Spit!

    If you want to avoid the 401 altogether good luck and make sure to pack a lunch, it's going to be a long drive.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Recommended driving directions around GTA

    Unless you a complete phobia about the 401 in TO you are probably better off taking it. The other routes take hours longer. The problem is, Lake Simcoe is in the way to a fast cross country route. The best time for the 401 IMO is Sunday morning which also might be OK for The 400 to Barrie. Like Red I too have moved away from all that mess over 30years ago and don't miss it at all.
    When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Recommended driving directions around GTA

    Quote Originally Posted by Max In Sudbury View Post
    You can take 417 to Ottawa, 17 to North Bay, and 11 south to Barrie. Would take about 6-7 hours if memory serves me right.
    Ummmm.... that looks way out of his way, according to Google Maps. It's also 150km longer, and Google maps estimates 9-1/2hrs drive.
    It's not about you.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Recommended driving directions around GTA

    Quote Originally Posted by ArtMulder View Post
    Ummmm.... that looks way out of his way, according to Google Maps. It's also 150km longer, and Google maps estimates 9-1/2hrs drive.
    Ummm, you're right, but it does provide an option - as do my other options - that meet the criteria presented. Interesting that you would point this out, given your tagline.
    "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils."

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Recommended driving directions around GTA

    Quote Originally Posted by Tee Jay View Post
    It has been about 30 years since I have driven in the GTA and would like some advise. I plan to travel from Montreal to Barrie but would like to avoid the 401 near Toronto as much as possible. As I will have a rental car from Montreal I also want to avoid any toll roads. Can anyone suggest how I may be able to bypass most of the 401. Perhaps going north around Oshawa then somhow getting over the to 400.

    Thanks.

    T J
    As others have said -- the 401 is not that bad...

    However.. if you take the Hwy 7 to Hwy 12 I have found it to be about the same as taking the 401 and the 12 to the same point. You can then continue to follow the Hwy seven route, or follow the "back roads" through to Bradford and north to Barrie.

    Use Google Maps to find Sunderland ON for example which is on the Hwy 12 route. At a reasonably large scale you can see the regional road system which will take you to Bradford and the Old Hwy 11 -- Yonge street route which drops you into Barrie at the south end of the Bay. However you could also pick up Hwys 88 or 89 back on to the 400.

    If you have a GPS and can adjust it to shortest or most fuel efficient routes it will guide you through the regional system quite handily. Of course printing the google maps and looking for those roads will do the same.

    I have done this may times on the return trip to Ottawa -- rather than going south to 401 and returning north to Ottawa. We find no significant difference in time or fuel usage.

    For example:
    Travelling west from ... somewhere east on the Hwy 7 ( Turn north and go through Ottawa, or Turn North on the 35,115 to Lindsay, or North on the 12 to Sunderland area))
    Fom Hwy's 7 & 12 Intersection, turn left, (south);
    then in a short distance right (west on Concession 7, it turns into regional 23 which heads west for a mile or so then swings north,
    catch regional 32 over to Woodbine (about a mile after you swing north) --
    At Woodbine, turn South (left)
    then head South to Green Lane -- (about 15 min) --
    turn right (west) on Green Lane -- follow signs back to 400 Hwy -- (You will turn south on Bathurst then west on Hwy 9 to go back to 400)

    or -- turn north to Bradford on Yonge -- through Bradford --
    where you can again continue on via 88 to 400 --
    or take the right turn(s) north to Barrie by following the signs.

    Look at the google maps -- you will see. The time really is about the same.
    Last edited by willr; 06-04-2012 at 09:42 AM.
    ---
    Will

    “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.” —- Mark Twain

  10. #10
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    Default

    Bear in mind that rush hour on the 401 in Toronto starts at 330 pm until c 7pm. If Im working there I try to be at my destination by 7am and either leave by 3 or after 7pm. Anything else seems a waste of time.
    Cheers

    Tim

    www.timbowdin.com

    'If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem'

  11. #11
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    yup its Greg

    Default Re: Recommended driving directions around GTA

    I have lived in Montreal and Toronto. You noted coming from Montreal. If you can drive in Montreal then you can drive the 401 in non-rush hour no problem. BTW driving on the 400 up to the Barrie area is no picnic either!! Like others have noted if you have the time get a map/GPS and drive cross country and enjoy.

    Always fun/enlightening to read people's views on driving in the GTA.
    "every man is the maker of his own misfortune"

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Recommended driving directions around GTA

    The best thing to come out of Quebec? The 401.

    hoss10, what do you consider the west coast of Ontario? I am 100km from the Toba border.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Recommended driving directions around GTA

    Watch for the nighttime road closures in the summertime. I've had my commute go up by 45 minutes at 1 or 2 in the morning due to contruction land closures. Google maps with traffic turned on, or one of the GPS units with the traffic feature is becoming more and more indispensable.
    If a man speaks in the forest, and there's no woman around to hear him, is he still wrong

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Recommended driving directions around GTA

    Your best bet is to go the northern route it is 20 minute shorter than the 401 and a heck of a lot nicer drive.
    https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?vps=1...ee2d41669ef529
    Last edited by Jerome; 06-05-2012 at 03:51 PM. Reason: getting the link to work

    Jerome
    Elmvale On.
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Recommended driving directions around GTA

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerome View Post
    Your best bet is to go the northern route it is 20 minute shorter than the 401 and a heck of a lot nicer drive.
    https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?vps=1...ee2d41669ef529
    I've done this drive over 100 times over the last 20 years (when I moved to Barrie from Ottawa). I hate the 401 (between Toronto and Ottawa its just so dull, I find Hwy 7 is equally boring.). Whether its faster or not, I can't answer, but it sure seem shorter to me. I've convinced several people to go this route, and most like it better, some hate it.

    If you still want to take 401, and avoid the GTA, I'd encourage you go to the 404 take it North, to the end (green lane), take that West to Bathurst, go South 2-3 KM to Hwy 9 (a.k.a. Davis) and take that West to 400. You could get off 404 at Davis, but it will put a lot of traffic lights and poor city planing in your way.
    The more I learn, the better I understand how little I know.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Recommended driving directions around GTA

    Have you considered one of the GPS systems for driving?


    I have found them very helpfully.


    On a recent trip across the northern states it gave me directions for the whole trip. This included a few rush hour times in larger cities.
    Egon
    from
    The South Shore, Nova Scotia

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Recommended driving directions around GTA

    The 401 is not bad unless it is rush hour. The express lanes are steady. The feeders are pretty hairy. Try to plan your trip to hit it right after noon. The 400 north to Barrie on a Friday afternoon is as bad or worse than the 401 has ever been. It is a slow crawl all the way thru Barrie with cottagers. So, my suggestion is to avoided Friday afternoon altogether.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Recommended driving directions around GTA

    Quote Originally Posted by kevinhanna View Post
    I've done this drive over 100 times over the last 20 years (when I moved to Barrie from Ottawa). I hate the 401 (between Toronto and Ottawa its just so dull, I find Hwy 7 is equally boring.). Whether its faster or not, I can't answer, but it sure seem shorter to me. I've convinced several people to go this route, and most like it better, some hate it.
    Personally I avoid the 401 at all costs if time isn't an issue.... I'd opt for the northern route as jerome and kevin have suggested.


    If you still want to take 401, and avoid the GTA, I'd encourage you go to the 404 take it North, to the end (green lane), take that West to Bathurst, go South 2-3 KM to Hwy 9 (a.k.a. Davis) and take that West to 400. You could get off 404 at Davis, but it will put a lot of traffic lights and poor city planing in your way.
    Why backtrack to hwy 9...? You can take GreenLane to Hwy 11 and it's a straight shot to Barrie. It might take 10mins longer (maybe), and you get to avoid all the morons on the 400.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Recommended driving directions around GTA

    Quote Originally Posted by kevinhanna View Post
    I've done this drive over 100 times over the last 20 years (when I moved to Barrie from Ottawa). I hate the 401 (between Toronto and Ottawa its just so dull, I find Hwy 7 is equally boring.). Whether its faster or not, I can't answer, but it sure seem shorter to me. I've convinced several people to go this route, and most like it better, some hate it.

    If you still want to take 401, and avoid the GTA, I'd encourage you go to the 404 take it North, to the end (green lane), take that West to Bathurst, go South 2-3 KM to Hwy 9 (a.k.a. Davis) and take that West to 400. You could get off 404 at Davis, but it will put a lot of traffic lights and poor city planing in your way.
    I live in Newmarket and agree with Kevin on his directions above.
    If you hit the outskirts of the GTA on 401 outside of rush hour, the traffic moves fast on this portion of the 401 within the GTA and is only about 20 kilometers duration.... I would stay on the "express" lanes and not shift over to the collector lanes; the express lanes does have its own ramp to the 404 and notice of the ramp is well marked about 4 kilometers ahead, then 1 kilometer ahead..... the turnoff from the 401 to 404 is marked "Newmarket" and (something like) "downtown Toronto"..... the turnoff ramp dips down initially and the left hand lanes of the ramp go under the 404 to merge with southbound traffic going into downtown Toronto; you want to move over to the right lanes - not difficult - to the then rising ramp lanes that merge with northbound 404 traffic going to Newmarket; Green Lane is the last exit on the 404 so you can't miss it......

    good luck

    michael

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Recommended driving directions around GTA

    Quote Originally Posted by michaely View Post
    I live in Newmarket and agree with Kevin on his directions above.

    michael
    If you destination is Newmarket I completely agree. I live in Barrie, and there's really no need to backtrack to highway 9. Depending on the time of day, or even worse if it's a Friday. You'd want to avoid the 400 more than the 401....lol.

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