It’s a rather coolish Friday morning here at the “old homestead.”
Three days ago in our area of Ontario, the temperatures were cresting 30C. Today the temperature is projected to be about a third of that. Right now, it is only 4C outside and raining….yikes.
Lynn and I over the last week, have been trying to head on out hiking and walking as much as we can. As much as from the physical need to be active, but also from the mental wellness perspective as well.
For the last two Thursdays, we’ve climbed in the car and drove over to the Town of Collingwood to hike their extensive trail system. Collingwood and this area of south Georgian Bay, has one of the most extensive in town and slightly out of town trail systems in our area.
Given the pandemic restrictions and stuff over the past 15 months or so, we haven’t been as active in our hiking and outdoor adventures as we likely should have been. As such, it is taking a bit more time to shake off the rust, knee and hip pain than we normally might have.
Yesterday, we covered 7.5 to 8.0 kms along the Georgian Trail and a couple of shorters trails that connect with it.
The picture to the right are some yellow Lady Slipper we found along the edge of one of the smaller trails. They are wild orchids that are either very uncommon or common depending on where you live in the province.
It us took about and 1hour and 45 minutes to do, although for some reason it did seem longer than that.
Not exceedingly fast, but good I though for us, considering we need to get out more.
I can proudly report this morning that, the knee and hip pain that I had been experiencing the day after our hikes last week is hardly prevalent this morning.
So, I’m not sure why I’m posting this, other than I feel somewhat obligated to post some original content.
I get that this isn’t a post that you will hurriedly bookmark to come back and reread to motivate yourself to even greater deeds. It’s unlikely that I will even do that.
But, it does feel good to at least post something original, even if it isn’t too captivating. But, as I finish the post off, you know what?
I do feel pretty good about. And i’ll take that as a win for the team.
— as alway with love —
— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —
I’m not sure why, but for some reason our hiking and outdoor adventuring this spring hasn’t been as aggressive as in previous years.
I do think COVID_19 has played a major part in it. With many facilities currently operating with limited services, finding a washroom along route can be an issue.
Having spent so much time in the past years(and it has been a lot of years)exploring within a four to five hour radius of the “old homestead”, we kind of know where washrooms are strategically located, plus the towns and villages that have those restaurants we like to frequent.
In addition, Lynn has been far busier with her own business during this time and I’ve actually been working far more hours per week since the whole global meltdown started.
Probably the main reason, was that Lynn was having some serious back and upper hip issues in late April and into early May. So the idea of hiking and scrambling over some rocky talus slope along the Niagara Escarpment, perhaps simply wasn’t the best plan at that time.
Nevertheless, those are no excuses. Although, they are the best I can come up with.
We did triumph back in late May, with a relatively flat hike to see how Lynn’s back would hold up along the Bruce Trail, just west of the Village of Duntroon.
There were a couple of reasons for choosing this location. As noted above it is generally flat through here and would be a good test for Lynn’s back.
Secondly, there was a short side-trail that visits an old limekiln on property owned by a doctor who treats people suffering from traumatic brain injuries. Funny enough, Lynn worked with in a clinic with this doctor when we first moved to the area about 30 years ago.
A small world I must say.
Leaving the “old homestead” about 11:00 am and after a drive of about an hour, we arrived at a small “Bruce Trail” parking area on County Road 91.
After getting organized, we starting our day be hiking east a couple of hundred metres east on the Frank’s Kiln Side Trail, arriving at the Frank’s Lime Kiln site in just a few minutes.
Records from the area, indicate the kiln was operated for many years by Joseph Gosnell and family. Kilns like this were common in the 1800s, but were replaced in the 1900s by large industrial operations.
There were many locations along the Niagara Escarpment where lime production was a big operation in the 1800s, due to the abundance of both limestone and firewood.
Lime was the bonding ingredient in plaster, mortar and cement needed by a growing province(Ontario) back a 150 years ago or so. The process to get the lime, involved filling the kiln with limestone pieces piled in an arch over a wood fire that was burned for 3-5 days.
In order for it all to work out, constant attention was needed to maintain the proper temperature. The heat from the fire drove off carbon dioxide and converted the limestone(know as calcium carbonate) into chalky, white lime(calcium oxide) commonly called quicklime.
A few pictures from the kiln.
After a short, but interesting stop at the kiln, we retraced our steps and headed north out along the main trail.
As I mentioned earlier, much of the Bruce Trail through this section or at least the section we completed is relatively flat, with only a few sections that have any grade to them at all. This was one of the two reasons I picked to hike here, to give Lynn’s back a workout, but not a huge challenge with a lot of elevation changes.
We hiked north to (Sideroad 26 & 27 Nottawasaga) at which point we crossed it into the Nottawasaga Lookout Provincial Nature Reserve. We continued north, eventually stopping at the intersection of the main trail and the Singhampton Side Trail.
A few shots from along the way.
All in all, it was a great first time out.
Warm temperatures and a mostly flat trail made for pleasant, but much needed outing. And the bonus was at the time we went…..NO BUGS.
Up until this time, COVID_19 pretty much closed down most hiking trails, provincial parks and conservation areas in southern Ontario, including the Bruce Trail. For many people, opportunities to get outdoors and escape the virus, if only for a few hours seemed to be fleeting throughout much of March, April and into early May.
The mental health of many Ontario folks, as well as those from all over took a major hit through those months. And in many respects, mental health impacts from a variety of COVID_19 related aspects is still occuring and I guess will keep occuring for the foreseeable future.
As much as we all practice or should practice good physical safety aspects concerning COVID_19, our mental health and wellbeing of those we love needs to be attended to as well.
Each one of us needs to figure out what we need to do and employ on a regular basis to ensure we still as mentally fit as possible during these challenging times.
What that may look like, may be and likely will be different for each one of us.
I would encourage you if possible, get outside to a local municipal park or something further afield and let the sights and sounds of nature strip away the stress or at least some of the stress we all find ourselves in during these times.
Time spent in nature is always a good investment.
— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —
And with a restounding yes, we did manage to get out to hike a section of the Bruce Trail, about an hour or so from the “old homestead.”
With brilliant sunshine and temperatures that were cresting 20 degrees Celcius in the afternoon(ignore that silly 18 degrees) in the screenshot, it was the perfect afternoon for our first significant “outdoor escape” during COVID_19.
We hiked much further than we and specifically I had anticipated, given the state of Lynn’s back over the past two or three weeks.
At the end of it all, we spent about 3.5 to 4 hours and totalled +/- 9 kilometres in an adventure that took us from our car located on County Road 91 into the Nottawasaga Lookout Provincial Nature Reserve and back again.
Lynn is still processing the many pictures that she took, but here are a few I snapped with my phone.
We met only two other couples during the entire time we were out. And yes, social distancing on the trail worked just perfectly.
Did getting out yesterday in the sun and summer temperatures help to shake off COVID_19 blues?
For me it did and Lynn certainly expressed her thrill at being back outside on a trail again. So, I guess it did for her as well.
Stay tuned for a more detailed post with plenty of pictures of our afternoon on the Bruce Trail.
— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —
This whole social distancing thing is really putting a “damper” so to speak on getting outdoors for some serious outdoor adventure. All Provincial and National Parks, as well as most Conservation Areas, are closed for use at this time. This includes the Bruce Trail as well.
Closure of all parks and such certainly has polarized the outdoor community. Most understand the reasons behind the closures. Unfortunately, there are very vocal outdoor enthusiasts who almost take a form of bizarre pleasure in boldly stating, the social isolation and distancing measures do not apply to themselves.
I’ve dropped out of or muted(not sure what the correct phrase is) a number of FB outdoor groups I belonged to, due to the pure and unadulterated viciousness that some members directed to others in these groups.
Although Lynn and I certainly do miss with great sadness our ability to hike through Algonquin Park or a day out along the Bruce Trail, we’re not having a mental breakdown, as some are suggesting they’re having because they can’t go winter or spring camping, let alone the opening of spring trout season.
But, enough about this. I’ve come to realize, it is simply natural for some to be selfish and focus solely on their own needs and desires. On the other hand, it is also good to remember that karma can be a bitch.
Just about a year ago, Lynn and I hiked along the Georgian Trail through Collingwood and along the shores of Georgian Bay. To say it was a sloppy and wet hike, would be a gross understatement.
From April 10, 2019
One place or trail that we’ve talked about getting to over the years, is “The Georgian Trail” along the pristine shores of Georgian Bay. The trail runs approximately 34 kilometres between Collingwood and Meaford.
The trail as we experience it today was originally The Northern Railway Line that connected Collingwood and Meaford. It was constructed in 1872 and used extensively hauling rail goods until the line was deemed unnecessary and abandoned by the Canadian National Railway(CNR) in 1984.
In 1988, a feasibility study recommended keeping the abandoned rail corridor in public hands and to be developed as a recreational trail. In October 1989, The Georgian Trail officially opened to the public.
Leaving the “old homestead” mid-morning, it was a leisurely drive over to Collingwood with us arriving close to noon. We parked our car at the south-west corner of a large commercial plaza putting us pretty much adjacent to an entry point for the trail.
Collecting our gear, we headed off for another afternoon of discovery and yes – fun.
As the name suggests, it was originally a railway corridor. As we all know, railway lines are generally flat and run for the most part in a straight line. The Georgian Trail is no different. One of the neat aspects of the trail, however, is it connects with other trails within the Town of Collingwood and other communities along the way, creating a myriad of options for a day’s adventure.
There had been a fairly significant spring snowfall a couple of days before we headed over to Collingwood. Although the trail was well packed-down, the snow and ice started to turn to slush as the afternoon wore on. In addition, with it being spring and that ever welcoming rise in temperatures, there was significant standing water in the low areas adjacent to the trail.
The following was the route we took for the afternoon. In the top part of the photo above the yellow line, is one of the many resort developments in the area. This one is the Living Stone Golf Resort, formally known as Cranberry Village and one of the original resort developments in the Collingwood area.
To the south, there is some industrial development. Noise from heavy machinery and trucks was quite loud at times. The potential for noise in a semi-urban/rural environment should be anticipated. Although loud, making the choice to ignore it and enjoy being outdoors, maybe the best and only option available along this part of the trail.
We kept trucking along, with Lynn madly taking pictures at every available moment and of every object worth capturing with her camera.
As I mentioned, a tad wet in some areas.
Trying to look regal and dignified. Not sure if I achieved it or not.
Along the length of the trail we covered, there are numerous signboards with information regarding the trail and as well benches to stop and have a rest if you need to.
I think this is the best picture of the day.
At one or two points along the trail, you can connect to other trail options. This one took you up and through the Living Stone Resort golf course.
After 2 or 3 kilometres along The Georgian Trail, we came across the “George Christie Nature Trails.” It is a series of trails looping through a mixed forest of hardwood and cedar and appears to be a favourite go-to spot for cross-country skiers, snowshoers and hikers.
We did about a 3-kilometre loop through this part. There were many low areas that were flooded or at least heavily saturated with water as we found out. So did our boots and socks, unfortunately.
Even the woods were smiling at us today. Made the day all that much more enjoyable. We all need a happy and cheerful log.
The trails starting to melt and get sloppy as the afternoon wore on.
Lots of texture and opportunities to compose some interesting and effective shots.
Woodpeckers have had quite the go on this tree.
Spring hiking does have its drawbacks. Water and wet boots are certainly one of the somewhat negative results.
After coming out of the forest portion, the trail followed this fenceline before turning right at the trees in the background of the picture. It all seemed simple enough, other than the field was flooded and flooded for several hundred metres to the right of what is in the picture.
We actually had to gingerly maneuver several hundred metres down the field to find a slightly higher location that wasn’t quite so wet as everything other spot in the field.
Slowly and carefully working our way across. Not that it mattered much, as our boots were pretty much soaked by this point.
An abandoned jeep just before we turned right onto the 11th Line to head the 1.5 kilometres north to eventually re-connect with the Georgian Trail.
Wet and still wet areas.
The story of my life…just a blur in someone else’s existence.
While heading back along the rail trail, Lynn became obsessed with taking pictures bulrushes or cattails.
We spent 3 to 4 hours out and covered approximately 8 kilometres in total.
Although the day was dull and gloomy, it was still a great afternoon outside. As Lynn often says, it is our attitude that will determine how the day goes. You can get all pouty and miserable because of the weather, or be thankful that you’re outside, while others may not have this opportunity.
If you’re in the area, make a point of checking out some of the trails in the Collingwood area, especially The Georgian Trail. As it is also a bike trail, one could make a wonderful day trip from Collingwood all the way to Meaford or any location along the way.
Thanks for reading.
— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —
Valentine’s Day has come and gone for another year. And this year, that special day coincided with a day off for me which added to being a bonus all around.
Oh, before we continue on here, this isn’t a post on Valentine’s Day. Although at some point we could do one – maybe.
Having said that though, we did spend our Valentine’s Day on the road to Owen Sound in Grey County and specifically Jones Falls and Inglis Falls.
Since the beginning of January, we haven’t been out, perhaps as much as either Lynn or I might have liked. There hasn’t been any particular reason as to why other than simply life and other stuff seemed to pop up from time to time.
Leaving the “old homestead” about 8:30am, we stopped at a local coffee shop in a village south of us, picking up coffee and bagel breakfast sandwiches, before continuing west towards Owen Sound.
We arrived at Jones Falls around 11:00am and were blessed with temperatures that had risen from a minus 21 degrees C(when we had left home), to now a balmy minus 12 degrees C.
Now, where did I put my shorts and tee-shirt?
Unfortunately, in the rush to get out there door of the “old homestead”, Lynn forget the one camera lens she wanted to use in order to capture the essence and fury of the waterfalls. Undaunted, she managed to capture enough pictures with other lenses which give a good sense of the wintery environment.
The top of Jones Falls.
At the bottom.
After leaving Jones Falls we drove over to Inglis Falls located just south of the city.
I also put together a 2 or 3-minute video clip of our day. Not my best video work, but it does the trick!
Seeing as it was late afternoon and the temperature was starting to drop down again, we left Inglis Falls and headed back into Owen Sound for a late lunch/early dinner, before starting the trek home.
Our day ended up being what for us was the perfect Valentine’s Day. Outdoors on an adventure with the one you love, doesn’t get any better in our minds.
We hope your Valentine’s Day was special, regardless of how you celebrated it.
If you get the opportunity, head on out to the Owen Sound and Grey County areas. There is plenty to do and take in for the entire family. Great places to hike; tons of things to see and visit; fabulous restaurants to fill your tummy; plus wonderful and quaint inns, hotels or B&B’s if you feel like making a weekend out of it.
Here are a couple of links to help in the planning. Now, get to it.
When it comes to the Bruce Trail as it winds it’s way throughout the province, there is an almost overwhelming list of possibilities when it comes to heading out for a day of hiking and adventure.
Many people simply choose a section of trail, head out, park their car and enjoy a few hours relishing in the comfort and solitude that hiking delivers. On the other hand, there are many who have made it their goal to hike the entire length of the Bruce Trail(the almost 900 kilometres) in one year or over several years.
Regardless of the motivation, a hike along any section of the Bruce Trail during the fall is almost guaranteed to be a day being part of a kaleidoscope of colours as the forest changes from green to brilliant reds, oranges, yellows and every combination of them possible.
And Lynn and I are no different.
We had started my last week of holidays with a 12-kilometre hike and felt that it was only fitting to finish the vacation week with another day spent in the great outdoors in Ontario with a hike along the Bruce Trail.
One place we’ve driven past on numerous occasions and talked about stopping to hike is the Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve.
The 378 hectare(935 acre) Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve is located approximately five kilometres northeast of Orangeville, in the Town of Mono, County of Dufferin.
One of the great things about this location is that there is plenty of off-road parking available at a maintained Bruce Trail parking lot, located approximately 250 metres east of the trailhead along Hockley Valley Road.
So, with a destination in mind and with no particular schedule or time constraints(hey… we’re on vacation), we left the “old homestead” between 9:30 and 10:00am and arrived at the parking area around 11:15 or so.
As a point of interest, when we were there in mid-October, there was a portable toilet located at the far eastern end of the parking lot. I can’t confirm if the “porta-potty” is there throughout the year. But, nevertheless, as a dear-departed mother used to say, “make sure you go to the bathroom before getting into the car.”
With pleasant temperatures and a cloudless sky, we hiked 250 metres west along Hockley Valley Road to connect with the trailhead as it enters the Nature Reserve.
Once leaving the roadway, it was a short hike uphill along the main trail, before reaching the junction of the Tom East Side Trail. We took the white-blazed main Trail(made a left turn here).
From this point, the trail first climbs to a hikers’ rest bench with some outstanding views of the Hockley Valley.
Our general hike for the outing was heading north along the Main Trail; connecting to the Isabel East and Glen Cross Side Trails(done in a counter-clockwise loop); re-connecting with the Main Trail(heading south) and taking the Tom East Side Trail in a generally clockwise direction to re-connect with the Main Trail. A total distance of approximately 10 to 11 kilometres. We had a few side adventures along the way that added a bit of distance.
View from the bench and the lookout across the Hockley Valley.
A few pictures from the day.
An interesting find along the way was this abandoned 1939 Chevy sedan.
One of the first things that entered my mind, as I’m sure it does yours is, “how does a 1939 Chevy sedan end of in the middle of the Bruce Trail, seemingly in the middle of nowhere?”
Well, mystery solved. Check out this July 2013 article from Wheels.ca.
There is always a fascinating story as to how stuff ends up where it ends up. Apparently, this story is no different.
Actually, the story seems kind of normal given the circumstances surrounding it.
A few more pictures of the sedan.
The 10 kilometres(plus or minus) we hiked out along the Bruce Trail through the Nature Reserve took us about 4 to 4.5 hours.
Not a fast pace, but a pace that provided ample opportunity to stop, observe, take breaks and for Lynn to happily snap pictures to fill the memory card in her camera.
In closing, the Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve offered up everything it was supposed for the day. Warm fall temperatures, tons of sun, spectacular clours in the forest and renewal of one’s soul and spirit.
Given its location in the area, there are a number of small villages and restaurants minutes away in just about any direction if one felt the need to recuperate with a meal and a cold beverage.
Our time spent hiking at Hockley Valley provided the perfect ending to the week of excitement and adventure.
If you’re in the area and looking for a spot to hike that is both challenging and beautiful, you can’t go wrong by making the trek to the Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve.
— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —
The lure of Algonquin Park and all it has to offer garners a tight vice-like hold that many have experienced over the years. There are many right now who are likely experiencing a “slight tightness” this very moment.
Whether ardent outdoor enthusiasts or those out for a sunny afternoon drive in the Park along Highway 60, Algonquin Park draws all into its influence so it can display a vast array of wonderment for all our senses to experience.
And yes, Lynn and I fall deeply into the group that Algonquin Park group.
The Mizzy Lake Trail, the longest of the interpretative trails in the park has been on our bucket list of trails to hike. In addition, fall colours in this area of the province are either at peak conditions or just slightly past peak.
Fall colours, plus the Mizzy Lake Trail seemed like the perfect combination for the Tuesday of vacation week.
With a weather forecast of near-perfect conditions of sunny skies and temperatures hovering around 16 degrees Celsius, we departed the “old homestead” at 7:00am for the two and a half hour trip north.
For anyone who knows’s Lynn well, you would also be acutely aware that mornings and Lynn do not fit necessarily well together in the same sentence.
Nevertheless, she managed to rally herself; get ready and as I said we were off and on the road at 7:00am.
With a quick stop in Huntsville for a touch of fuel, we arrived at the Mizzy Lake trailhead just before 9:30am.
I mentioned in a post from last year, Algonquin Park at the leaf change time of the fall, draws people from all over the world who come to view primarily the vast landscapes of reds, oranges of the changing Red and Sugar Maples.
I was shocked to some extent at the volume of cars and tour buses that were either at the West Gate to purchase permits for the day, or already transversing Highway 60 to view and snap pictures this early around 9:00am.
We have a seasonal Ontario Parks pass we purchased in April that is valid until the end of November, so pass-by the queue at the West Gate, we did!
The Mizzy Lake Trail is an 11 km loop trail. There is an optional two-kilometre side trail to view “bear nests” found in Beech trees. Unfortunately, when we came upon the side-trail, there was a sign posted by park staff indicating that at this time, there wasn’t any activity to be viewed as a result of black bears in the Beech trees eating beech nuts.
The main trail hits up nine ponds and offers one of the best opportunities for seeing wildlife.
The trail is rated as moderate in difficulty which is probably a fair assessment.
While there are moderate changes in elevation along the 11-kilometre length, they are not as steep or as plentiful as can be found on several of the other interpretative trails within Algonquin.
Mizzy Lake Trail has many flat sections, including an abandoned railway bed(between 2 to 2.5 kilometres in length)found between guide posts 3 to 5, as well as several wooden boardwalks that go over wet and boggy locations.
The element that could move the trail to moderate to slightly more than moderate are the tree roots sticking up along the trail that you need to be constantly aware of and constantly stepping over.
Without any more talk, some pictures from the day.
The first stop along the way was a pretty impressive beaver pond resulting from a pretty impressive beaver dam.
A spruce grouse sat happily in a tree without seemingly a care in the world.
Not so much more text, but pictures from along the trail.
Our lunch spot for the day.
We had a small, yet very cute visitor along the way.
A couple of pictures of many of the boardwalks found along the length of the trail.
We spent about six hours out on the Mizzy Lake Trail. Not being in any great rush, we simply poked along, with Lynn taking pictures whenever the creative mood hit. Which was quite often!
The trail can certainly be hiked faster. Subtracting the time spent taking pictures and stopping for a lunch break, our time might have been between 5 and 5.5 hours.
After arriving back at oor car at the trailhead, we drove along Highway 60 admiring the fall colours and stopped at the Visitors Centre for 30 minutes for so.
A few more pictures from the afternoon.
My favourite picture of the day.
It was pushing 6:30pm or so when we reluctantly decided to climb back into the car for the trek back home.
Our day ended up being almost exactly 14 hours from the time we left at 7:00am to unlocking our backdoor at 9:00pm.
This was one of those trips that were just about all one could ask for.
A great trail to hike; fall colours galore to look at; warm temperatures; all combined by NOT having to deal with the insane amount of visitors that Algonquin Park experiences on the weekends in the prime fall times. As a side note, we went on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving weekend. On the Sunday of the Thanksgiving weekend, the traffic at mid-day was backed up 8 kilometres west of the West Gate office.
Any time spent in Algonquin Park from where I sit is always time well spent. Time invested in soothing your soul; refilling your emotional and mental-well being tank and all the while creating memories is priceless.
We hope to make two more trips at least before our seasonal pass expires at the end of November.
We hope that you have taken the time, or are taking the time to invest in yourself this fall season in whatever manner fits you and your situation.
— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —
I must readily admit, it has been a while. In fact, a long while since I’ve posted anything much along the lines of a trip report.
Perhaps you’re expecting the next sentence to read, “and for that I’m sorry” but, in all honesty, I’m not really sorry at all.
Life does and will get in the way of doing what we may want to do at times. That’s just the way things tumble and roll. Life and wellness or lack thereof seemed to race out to the forefront since about the second week of July.
As many of you may know or perhaps you are just finding out for the first time, I’ve been dealing with some mental wellness issues, primarily surrounding anxiety since returning from our trip out east back in July. That was a fun, yet whirlwind 3-day adventure to Halifax to the east coast of Canada in the second week of July to deliver a kitten our daughter had purchased back here in Ontario.
Notwithstanding that, I had noted in several posts throughout the summer and into early September of what has been occurring in my life with regards to my own mental wellness. Feel free to search through and read about them if you feel like it, but I’m trying to march forward here and keep the focus at least at this juncture on a more positive note.
So, with that in mind, let’s leave all that there and move right along.
Back in early September(Saturday of the long weekend), Lynn and I headed up towards the Owen Sound area for a day of hiking and exploring the Bruce Trail as it traverses across the Niagara Escarpment in this area of south Georgian Bay.
After much research(well, not that much research), we settled upon the “Silent Valley Nature Reserve” and the “Crevice Springs Side Trail”.
Both locations are just a short jaunt from the City of Owen Sound.
Silent Valley Nature Reserve
If one is looking for a hike that combines a little bit of everything you could want in an adventure, then the Silent Valley Nature Reserve has to be on that list.
a pioneer homestead
a plane crash site with wreckage
….to name a few things
After leaving the old homestead and our ritual stop in Collingwood for the required snacks(okay – mostly junk food) for the day at…
….we continued west towards Silent Valley.
The trailhead for the Silent Valley Nature Reserve is at the north end of Concession Road 2. There is parking for three or four cars, but be sure not to block the private driveway located here as well.
The following is a screenshot with more detail of the various trails throughout the reserve.
Heading north from our car and hiking several hundred metres on the road allowance, we came to a wonderful and very useful information board, detailing the history of the Silent Valley Nature Reserve.
Our general route for the day was north on the Silent Valley Side Trail; followed by a left turn to the Wilson Homestead Side Trail; a steep hike up the escarpment face and a right turn to connect with the main Bruce Trail; a right turn onto the Avalanche Pass Side Trail; re-connecting with the Silent Valley Side Trail and back to our car.
The total distance was approximately six kilometres
The Silent Valley Side Trail is generally flat, passing through a wonderful meadow before entering a mixed forest, but predominately cedar forest.
After making the right turn onto the Wilson Homestead Side Trail, all four of the major historical elements are located relatively close together.
The first historical site was a fossil interpretation information board. It detailed the types of fossils that have been found on and in the rocks in this area. Unfortunately, and for some unknown reason, we didn’t take any pictures of this. Interesting nonetheless.
The next two elements focus on the Wilson Homestead.
(1) – the dug well and dry stone masonry sides.
(2) – the barn walls and discarded machine parts.
The final historical location was an infamous 1970 plane crash site, found just south of the homestead location.
A short video clip.
We continued the adventure on the Wilson Homestead Side Trail as it meandered through meadows and a mixed cedar forest until we started the arduous climb up the escarpment face to connect with the main Bruce Trail. An interesting fact, that just after connecting with the main trail, you will pass the deepest crevice in the Sydenham section of the Bruce Trail.
This one-kilometre section of the trail through this area is littered with deep crevices and such. Many of them are covered with leaf and forest debris, thus concealing what could very well end up being a quick fall into a situation you don’t want to find yourself in.
After about a kilometre or thereabouts, we made a right turn to the Avalanche Pass Side Trail.
This section of the trail makes a steep downclimb from the main Bruce Trail to the valley bottom. It is as the picture above indicates, the trail weaves through a steep talus slope of large rocks and boulders that have separated from the escarpment face and over the millennia tumbled and crashed to the slope bottom.
We only have one picture from our trek down the escarpment face along the Avalanche Pass Side Trail.
One of my trekking poles got caught in a deep crevice opening. As I was walking, it pulled out of my hand and slipped down into the crevice, apparently never to be seen again.
The Avalanche Pass Side Trail, once it gets to the talus slope bottom, traverses through another meadow and forested area, before connecting again with the Silent Valley Side Trail and the return to where we parked our car at the end of Concession Rd. 2
When I had been planning for us to head over to hike here, I thought it would be very busy or at least have people hiking through here, given it was the Saturday of the Labour Day long weekend and it’s relative closeness to Owen Sound.
Nope, that wasn’t the case at all.
For the three hours or so we were there we didn’t come across anyone else out enjoying the day. I did read after that even with the variety of hiking terrain and things to check out, that the Silent Valley Nature Reserve remains a bit of a hidden gem.
Regardless of whether it is a hidden gem or not, we thoroughly enjoyed it. It seemed every kilometre or so along the trail, either the terrain changed or there was a new site to see and explore further.
If you happen to be in the area or are looking for a bit of variety in hiking for a few hours, be sure to check out the “Silent Valley Nature Reserve.”
It was mid to late afternoon by the time we left Silent Valley. We then headed on over into Owen Sound for a bit of a tour through town and some refreshments.
After a quick stop at a local LCBO for some “adult beverages” to consume later that evening, we headed west along Highway 26 to the hamlet of Woodford and the Crevice Springs Side Trail.
Crevice Springs Side Trail
The Crevice Springs Side Trail forms a short loop off the main Bruce Trail, immediately south of Highway 26 in the tiny hamlet of Woodford located about 15 kilometres east of Owen Sound.
Parking for here is across Highway 26 on Woodford Cres. There is a widening of the shoulder of Woodford Cres., just after turning from Highway 26. The Bruce Trail guide also suggests you can park at the Woodford Community Hall which is right off the highway as well.
It traverses through many crevices and rock openings before climbing from the bottom of yet another talus slope to rejoin the main Bruce Trail.
Follow the blue blazes….
All in all, hiking at these two locations made for a wonderful afternoon.
We really hadn’t done much hiking or adventuring since hiking a fair bit in Algonquin Park in late June and into the first week of July.
We both remarked, that although we love to hike and explore new areas, at times hiking for hours on end through what is a seemingly endless forest all looking the same can get a tad boring.
The Silent Valley Nature Reserve and the Crevice Springs Side Trail delivered a kaleidoscope of challenging terrain and historic locations to check out.
These are only two hikes of many in this area that are more than well worth checking out.
One suggestion would be hiking to Inglis Falls, located on the south boundary of Owen Sound. A great little excursion is to park and leave from Harrison Park and hike the Bruce Trail south to Inglis Falls and then return via the same route. It makes a round trip of somewhere between 5 to 6-kilometres.
We did that particular route back in 2016(before justabitfurther came into existence).
Thanks for taking the time to “hike” along with us.
The changing of seasons into fall is in full swing in our area of the country. Nevertheless, regardless of where you may be hiding out or when you might be reading this little entry, be sure to take some time for yourself and get outside to recharge.
Time spent wandering around in a park close to your home will provide benefits beyond measure. So, put down whatever you’re doing right now; lace up your shoes or boots and head on outside.
You deserve it.
— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —
We’re getting to that point in time, when I say to Lynn, “let’s head to Parry Sound”, that once we get in our car, it can pretty much drive itself from the “old homestead”; across Highway 12 and then north on Highway 400.
That’s kind of reflects how many times we’ve been to Parry Sound this year alone. Forget about going back a couple of years.
So, with vacation going full-bore, what better time than that to sit back and let the car take us north to Parry Sound and the NorthShore Rugged Trail.
With the NorthShore Rugged Trail as the destination, and on the first Saturday of our vacation, we left the “old homestead” for the quick journey up Highway 400 to Parry Sound.
We parked at the trailhead, which is located at the bottom of Salt Dock Road at the far end of Smelter Wharf.
Now, having said that, one of the great things about the trail system in Parry Sound is that everything seems to connect to everything.
You could, for example, park at Waubuno Beach and hike along the “Waterfront Fitness Trail” and simply continue on to the NorthShore Trail at the Salt Docks. It would make your hike slightly longer, but that is rewarded with great views out and across the water.
Another option might be to park further down towards The Stockey Centre making your hike even longer. But, again you would be rewarded with the magnificent views out over the horizon.
Thinking about it for a moment, this could very well be the best alternative out there. When you got back to your car, you are right there to slip on over to the restaurants located along the waterfront. Or simply continue hiking along the trail, cross the river and stop at The Trestle Brewing Company for a pint and a bite to eat.
If hiking or trail walking is not your thing, then simply pick someplace that gives an outstanding view; get out to the patio and enjoy yourself.
Seeing as we like to hike, we deferred any of the above options to another time and started out on our adventure from the trailhead at the Salt Docks.
There is a reason they include “rugged” in the trail’s name. It follows the natural topography of the shore, so there are some ups and downs; mostly rocky terrain; and some places that are in the bush.
However, for the most part, the trail follows the shoreline which is a good thing to keep in mind.
There are not a lot of markings on trees or rocks to suggest you are on the trail. In fact, we didn’t see any markings at all. Not to suggest they aren’t there, but we simply didn’t see any.
Nevertheless, there is an obvious trail that follows the shoreline.
The trail from the Salt Docks goes out about 2.5 kilometres to the Parry Sound/McDougall municipal boundary, resulting in about a 5-kilometre round trip.
Over the past week or so, temperatures in our area of the province have been high, to say the least. In addition, to imply the bug situation has been intolerable in many locations would be an understatement – a huge understatement.
So, recapping – temperature hot; bugs(especially mosquitoes and black flies) bad.
Why mention this?
It has generally been our experience hiking along the waterfront in Parry Sound, that there is a breeze of some description blowing. Sometimes strong, often just enough to gently caress your face.
Today, it blew enough to moderate the temperature and to blow the bugs away to some place that we really don’t care where it was.
Here are a few more pictures from our afternoon.
If anyone is looking for the engine casing for their riding lawn mower; we know where it is.
“NorthShore Rugged Trail” – YES or NO?
A most definite – yes.
It is rugged and a bit of challenge for sure, but that is off-set by the gorgeous views out across the water.
In fact, if you were to go down and only hike out a few hundred metres at dusk, the sunset I imagine would be spectacular.
One thing to mention, the trail is considered to be off-leash for dogs, so don’t be surprised if a doggy comes bounding down the trail.
The thing that became readily obvious was, you didn’t need to drive kilometres out in the hinterland to experience a setting like this. It is right in town. That doesn’t often happen.
So, this summer or anytime for that matter, get on over, up or down to Parry Sound and carve out some time to tackle the NorthShore Rugged Trail. It’s one of those gems, that is right there waiting for you to tighten up those boot laces; fill up your water bottle and come on for a visit.
Don’t forget that after you’re finished to check out a spot or two to re-energize your body with “a bite to eat and a pint to wet your whistle.”
A couple of links to give you a bit more info on Parry Sound and what you can do once you get there.
As many of you have likely figured out by this point if you’ve read any of our recent posts, Algonquin Park holds a dear and special place in our hearts. More mine than Lynn’s, I think, but nevertheless a place that we’ve come to love and to explore for decades.
Having said that, what better way to take a day during vacation time and make a day trip and a long one to Algonquin Park.
Heading out of the “old homestead” around 7:30am, we started our holiday adventure, including a breakfast “stop n’ go” in Gravenhurst and arrived in the park, somewhere between 10:15 and 10:30am
For those wondering, the bugs(including mosquitoes and black flies) were still as obnoxious as they were the week before. Hordes of mosquitoes eagerly awaiting a fresh supply of blood to satisfy their parched souls.
Heading up, we didn’t really have a set agenda in mind once we got there. The only “planning” was “let’s hike as many of the trails we haven’t yet, and then see what happens.” Kind of a plan, but flexible enough to work for us.
One reason for this approach was due in part to the bug situation. Many of the trails we hadn’t hiked yet, were shorter in length. We figured if the bug situation became intolerable, it would be better to know that you may have only 30 minutes left on a trail, compared to realizing that you are now 3 hours into a hike and are only half done.
With that in mind, off we went. For those who follow us, you know that Lynn tends to take “a lot” of pictures when we’re out on an adventure. In order not to use up all of the available media storage on my WordPress account, we’ve included just some of the highlights from our day.
That was the intention at this stage in the write-up. I may have ended up including more pictures than was originally intended. Oh, well.
Whiskey Rapids Trail
Hardwood Lookout Trail
Although short in length, the Hardwood Lookout Trail provides a magnificent view out across Smoke Lake. It is a bit of a steep uphill climb in parts, but is a hugely popular hiking trail. Especially in late September and early October, when the fall colours are at their peak.
The big highlight picture-wise at least for us, was the view from the lookout point near the end of the trail. Up to this point, the scenery is pretty much a groomed trail through the forest. Don’t let that detract you from hiking it. It is only about 1 kilometre in length; doesn’t take much time, but you will be rewarded with a great view.
See – told ya!
Peck Lake Trail
Our third stop of the day was the Peck Lake Trail.
Now, not to cast a negative light on any of the interpretive hiking trails, canoe routes, backpacking trails or one’s favourite beach, campsite, a special spot just to sit or to do whatever it might be, but this is one of the prettiest hikes along Highway 60.
We all might have a favourite location anywhere in the park and it may be “our favourite” for a variety of reasons. All of them would be valid.
Peck Lake Trail simply struck us as a beautiful location for several reasons. Lots of variety in the trail itself. Roots, rocks, trees and a combination of all three at times. And all of this, along the shore of the smallish lake. It also helped that the sun was shining and the slight breeze kept the “flying bug hoards” at bay.
That’s better. We’ll take the option on the right – please and thank-you.
Hello, what’s your name?
Just about at every turn on the trail, it dipped down to the water and provided a magnificent view of Peck Lake and the surrounding area.
The next picture, although not the best is of a loon. A water bird found mostly in the northern parts of Canada, but not exclusively. It does, however, have a very distinct and haunting call. Click here for a short YouTube clip of its call.
For those reading outside of Canada and not familiar with our currency, we have $1 and $2 coins. The dollar coin has a picture of a loon on the front. Hence, that’s why we call the $1 coin, a “loonie.”
The $2 coin is referred to as a “toonie”, which is simply a “loonie” multiplied by 2. We like to keep our math easy out in the colony.
A well-constructed home on Canada’s national symbol/animal – the beaver.
Peck Lake Trail has become one of our favourites along the Highway 60 corridor in the Park for sure. There is not a lot of elevation changes, so it is easy from that aspect. There are plenty of exposed tree roots and alike, but nothing that should discourage one from hiking the trail.
It’s about 2.3 kilometres in length and by just easily strolling along and admiring the views and soaking up the environment, it should take about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete.
This is one trail, you don’t want to pass up!
Spruce Bog Trail
Our fourth trail of the day was the Spruce Bog Trail. Located at kilometre marker 42.5, it is about 100 to 200 metres from the Algonquin Park Visitors Centre. Easy to do one, then slip down the road to do the other.
The Spruce Bog Trail is flat and has been designed to be wheel-chair accessible. How neat is that!
We had been on this trail more times than Lynn and I can count.
A “lady-slipper. ” A slightly different shade than the pink colour they generally are.
The trail throughout “Spruce Bog” is either a wooden path like this or crushed limestone.
As the name of the trail suggests, it crosses a large bog area very near the beginning. There is a small shallow stream that traverses through it. One thing I’ve learned over the years is when in the wilderness is to keep looking around for a variety of reasons. One reason and a good one at that, is often wildlife can be close by, but be difficult to detect.
As I was scanning this shallow stream, look who I came upon.
Mr/Mrs. Snapping Turtle. It was difficult to see it, as it was covered in mud and algae and was just sitting on the bottom of the stream. But, a great find nonetheless.
As I just mentioned, keeping your eyes moving will many times reveal things that if you weren’t watching for, you just might walk on by and not notice. The following is a prime example.
The little guy(a Ruffed Grouse)or one of his or her five brothers or sisters, caught our eye as we walked along the wooden pathway. In fact, they were only a foot or two off the path in the grass and shrubs.
Lynn and I, unlike some, don’t normally go out and look for animals to photograph. We figure, being a creature in the wild is a tough enough life. Why stress them more by chasing them around or getting close and stressing them for a simple photograph.
If we happen upon them fine, but we give them a wide berth(it’s their habitat, not ours) and if we can catch a photo – great. If not, that’s okay.
I won’t say any more about it, but believe me, in Algonquin Park as in other locations, the photography of animals and the methods used to capture the shots, is a hot and often contentious topic at best.
Once seeing her and the family, we stopped about 50 feet away and let her “try her best” at “family/sibling” control.
She was quite content to try and move her brood(believe me, it was like she was trying to herd cats) from one side of the boardwalk to the other. She didn’t seem phased at all we were there. She had five offspring. Four of them struck fairly close together and followed Mom generally where she went.
Like any parent, regardless of the species knows, there is always one child that seems to march to a different drummer. She spent most of her time, trying round up child #5.
Wait for me!
Moving along the trail, of course, didn’t Lynn see this. She IS NOT BIG on snakes regardless of the type or size. Not big on snakes is an understatement – believe me.
Nothing to see here folks, let’s keep moving along – shall we?
The Spruce Bog Trail should be part of any trip to Algonquin Park for a number of reasons.
One of the primary ones, it is accessible for those with mobility issues. As well, if you have a young family with a one in a stroller, this is a great trail for you. At about 1.5 kilometres in length, it is doable in about an hour, just poking along.
We left Spruce Big Trail and headed across the road to the Algonquin Park Visitors Centre. The Visitor’s Centre must be on your list of things to see and take in when in the Park. It has a cafeteria, a walk-through interactive display on everything Algonquin; a bookstore; art gallery; movie theatre; observation deck and of course – washrooms.
We usually hit up in the Visitor’s most times when we’re in the park. Today was not different.
A shot from the observation deck, across Sunday Creek. The Spruce Bog Trail would be to the right of the picture. To the left, Sunday Creek flows into Norway Lake, which connects to Fork Lake.
After leaving the Visitor’s Centre, we headed west along Highway 60, making a stop at the little known Cache Lake Trail.
Cache Lake is one of the many access points in the Park in interior canoe tripping. It is also the access location for the many lease-hold cottages that are on Cache Lake.
Cache Lake in the past, was the hub and centre of activity in the early years of the Park, up until about the late 1940s to perhaps the early 1950s.
Cache Lake at one point, was home to a grand hotel built originally by the Grand Trunk Railway called the “Highland Inn.” It was also the location of the Algonquin Park train station. As well, the home of the Park Superintendent was also located here.
A few historical pictures.
Taking leisure and lounging on the verandah of the Highland Inn, overlooking Cache Lake.
The staff house on the right and the home of the Park Superintendent is on the left.
All that remains today of the “hub of the Park” is a retaining wall and a few concrete stairways up to the former Inn. There are also a few water pipes popping up out of the ground and a fire hydrant on the site of the Inn.
All is not lost, however!
There several well-laid out information boards that detail the rich history of this location in the Park. Although not as heavily advertised as other attractions in the Park, for history enthusiasts, this is a must stop.
The actual trail with the information boards is relatively short, just a few hundred metres, but worth the time to check it out.
And with that, our day finished.
In total, we hiked around 8 kilometres. Not a great amount by any means, but satisfying to the soul nevertheless. For us, it is a round trip of 5 to 6 hours just to get there. People often ask us, why drive so far? I can only respond by saying, “why not?”
The pull that Algonquin has on me, is something better explained or to try and explain in another post.
Suffice it to say, it is something I must do. And I must do often.
It was a long day, hot and yes, plenty of bugs for sure. But, it was a highlight of our holidays.
There is always so much to do and take in when visiting Algonquin. I didn’t even mention our picnic lunch along the breezy shore of Lake of Two Rivers or several of the other things we did.
Take the time, if you’re ever in the area to check out Algonquin Park. It’s only a 3 to 4-hour drive from Toronto.
Come early and stay late.
Thanks for visiting and being with us yet another Algonquin Park adventure.
— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —