The original rail line was built by the Guelph & Goderich Railway and completed in 1907 to link the port at Goderich and a string of rural communities to Guelph and markets beyond. The business prospered for a few decades but freight and passenger traffic dwindled with the automotive
era and Canadian Pacific Railway received permission in 1988 to decommission the line. Over the next decade, public access was piecemeal, some sections were rehabilitated by local volunteers, some became overgrown and gated off, and the bridges closed or removed.
In 1998, the County of Wellington and Regional Municipality of Waterloo leased 45 km of the trail, from the outskirts of Guelph to the village of Millbank, to create the Kissing Bridge Railtrail, named for the historic covered bridge at West Montrose. Other local municipalities and volunteer groups also rallied to recondition and open sections of the trail, such as the Goderich to Auburn Rail Trail and Blyth Greenway Trail at the far west end.
In 2013, G2G Rail Trail Inc. was formed to spearhead efforts for completion and to encourage public engagement with the recreational, tourism and economic potentials of the trail.