Ganaraska Hiking Trail Guidebook
First Draft – February 2019
The Ganaraska Hiking Trail extends from Port Hope on Lake Ontario to Glen Huron, nestled in the Niagara Escarpment, just south of the Blue Mountains. The southern and northern parts of the trail go through rolling farmlands and woods, follow quiet country roads and even pass through a town (Lindsay) and a city (Orillia), as well as several villages. The southern part of the trail consists of the Pine Ridge section and the Kawartha section. The northern part of the trail consists of the Orillia section, the Barrie section, the Oro-Medonte section, the Mad River section, the Midland section, the Tiny Trails section and the Wasaga Beach section. The Wilderness section of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail, which connects the southern and northern parts, is unique. It is on the Precambrian shield and has very rugged terrain.
A hiking trail is like a string of pearls, the scenic spots being the pearls and the trail markers the string, to take you from one pearl to the next.
From the members of the GHTA Guidebook Committee, we hope you enjoy using this guidebook, but most of all, we hope you enjoy hiking the wonderful Ganaraska Hiking Trail!
Note: This guidebook was current at time of publishing, however the trail data is subject to change due to re-routes. It is the guidebook owner’s responsibility to keep this information in your copy up-to-date, and to check for recent updates when planning to hike on the trail. Updates to this guidebook are published in the Ganaraska News, the periodic newsletters of the Association. Newsletters are sent to members and landowners. Please keep updating the revision identification on the first page, when you update your guidebook. Re-routes are also posted on GHTA’s website www.ganaraska-hiking-trail.org
For those who are not yet members, we invite you to become one and to participate in hikes, trail maintenance, club and Association work, so that the trail may be well kept at all times and available to all who love the outdoors. Members receive the Ganaraska News, which lists the planned events and hikes, and contains interesting articles.
For membership inquiries, write:
Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association
Box 693, Orillia, Ontario L3V 6K7
Or visit our website at www.ganaraska-hiking-trail.org
The hiker familiar with standard hiking trail markers will have no problem with the trail markers of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail. They are a white strip, approximately 2 inches wide and 6 inches high. Two blazes, one slightly above the other and to the side, indicate a turn, the upper blaze telling the direction of the turn. Blue blazes indicate a side trail. In the wilderness, trail markers may also be in the form of rock cairns, flagging tape or painted markers on rocks; a turn may be indicated by a painted ‘dogleg’ on a flat rock or by a double blaze.
If while hiking you find that the blazing does not correspond with the guidebook, follow the blazes.
What to wear and what to take
Except for the Wilderness section, the Ganaraska Trail is not a difficult trail. Beginning hikers would do best to wear the sturdiest pair of shoes they happen to own. Many hikers just wear sturdy running shoes. In the wilderness, good hiking boots are a must. During the bug season, be sure to protect yourself with your favourite repellent. Wear a hat to protect yourself from the sun and carry a water repellent jacket in case of rain. In winter, protect yourself with layers of clothing.
Always carry plenty of water, a lunch, camera, guidebook, map and compass. When with a group, the leader should be prepared for emergencies. After some initial experience you may wish to indulge in real hiking clothes, boots, backpacking and survival techniques, but these are not really necessary on most of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail. It is there to enjoy.
Objective of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association
The Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association is dedicated to the conservation of our natural resources and has as its objective the establishment and maintenance of a hiking trail for public use from Port Hope to the Bruce Trail near Collingwood. It may also develop and maintain side trails and loop trails with the objective of accessing places of scenic interest or to connect to other trails.
History of the
Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc.
After the Bruce Trail was completed from Niagara to Tobermory in 1967, another public hiking trail called the ‘Ganaraska’ was started northward from Port Hope, Ontario. In 1969, the Ganaraska Trail Association was formed to extend this trail to connect with the Bruce Trail near Glen Huron, south of Collingwood. Originally, the trail followed the abandoned railbed of the Cannonball Express going north from Port Hope to Millbrook. The Association has hiking clubs which take on the responsibility for maintaining sections of the trail. Currently clubs are based in Angus, Barrie, Midland, Orillia, Peterborough, Port Hope, Wasaga Beach, Oro-Medonte Township and Wyevale. A separate eclectic group from all over Ontario maintains the trail in the Wilderness. The Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association is a member of Hike Ontario and parts of the main trail have been designated as part of the National (Hiking) Trail Association of Canada. A member is encouraged to participate in the organized activities of all the clubs, but may designate one club in particular for affiliation. A member receives a membership card, renewable annually, a GHTA crest and the periodic newsletters published by the Association. The newsletters contain the activities of all the clubs. Participation in group hikes, work parties and social and other events is recommended as the continuity of the Association depends on it. The Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association is a not-for-profit organization and obtains its funds entirely from membership fees, donations and sales of crests, guidebooks and other merchandise.
Stay on the trail
Use stiles when crossing fences
Respect all animals, plants and trees. Never strip bark from trees.
Carry out your litter, leave nothing behind but your footprints, take nothing with you but photographs and memories, and leave flowers and plants for others to enjoy.
No fires or camping are allowed on the Ganaraska Trail except in the Wilderness section where indicated in the guidebook.
No dogs are allowed on GROUP hikes. If you are hiking alone with your dog, keep it leashed near homes, barns and farm animals, as well as where required by law, i.e. Provincial or municipal parks, cities and towns.
At all times, behave as guests of both the landowner who has granted you the privilege of hiking on his land, and of the earth that has provided you with the opportunity to enjoy her beauty.
ALWAYS REMEMBER: A trail is a privilege, not a right.
Hikers use the trail at their own risk. While every care has been taken in compiling this guide, the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association cannot be responsible for:
Any loss or accident resulting from the use of the hiking trail or the trail guide.
Any act of trespass or damage committed by individuals using the Guide.
To help you travel the distances to hike the long trail, a listing a Bed & Breakfasts is available on our website. You can also arrange to hike from B&B to B&B in some sections of the trail, as part of the Inn-to-Inn network.
PINE RIDGE SECTION
Maps 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Generally easy with some steep sections. Some poison ivy.
The first few kilometres of the trail are in the valley of the Ganaraska River.
0.0 The pink granite cairn marking the southern terminus of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail is east of the Town Hall, on the west bank of the Ganaraska River. There is parking on Queen St., adjacent to the cairn, or west of the Town Hall. The trail initially follows the west bank of the river. Cross Walton St. and continue north to Barrett St. Note that Walton St., Port Hope’s main street, is an architectural gem and is renowned as the best preserved 19th century streetscape in Ontario. It is designated a Heritage Conservation District.
0.6 Cross the river at the Barrett St. bridge and follow the trail along the east bank of the river through the wooded areas of the narrow floodplain until Jocelyn St. is reached. This town section of the river was deepened, by blasting the limestone bedrock, following the damaging spring flood of March 1980.
As you reach Jocelyn St. from the south, observe the former Molson’s Mill, situated on the east bank of the Ganaraska River just north of Jocelyn. This used to be Molson’s Brewery, part of Thomas Molson’s brewery properties in Port Hope from 1850 to 1880. It was discovered abandoned in 1923 by artists George Reid and J.W. Beattie and became the Ontario College of Art’s summer school for artists under Mr. Beattie until 1940.
The building is currently used by “Journey through the Arts” as a summer art school for children aged 7 to 13. Follow Jocelyn St. west across the river bridge to Cavan St., where you will turn right.
2.0 Just before passing under Hwy 401 you will pass Corbett’s Dam and the fish ladder (be sure to have a look at the fish ladder, especially in the spring, when the fish are migrating upstream). Continue under Hwy 401 and turn left up Choate Rd. You will pass The Port Hope Conservation Area on your right.
3.6 Turn right at Hawkin’s Rd. (a narrow gravel road) and proceed to Dale Rd.
On the way down there are good views of the Northumberland Hills to the north. Some of the hills are recognizable as drumlins, which are elongated, oval-shaped mounds of glacial till that were deposited and shaped beneath an advancing ice sheet during the last ice age.
In this area the long axis of each drumlin is aligned roughly NE-SW, with the steep, blunt end of the long axis facing up-glacier to the northeast and the gentler “tail” slope facing roughly southwest. Most drumlins are quite small, a few hundred metres in length and 30 to 45 metres in height, and frequently occur in swarms.
Turn left on Dale Rd. (County Road 74).
5.1 Turn right on Sylvan Glen Rd. and proceed north past the Sylvan Glen Conservation Area. Immediately north of the bridge over the Ganaraska River turn left, crossing the ditch and fence. The trail goes through an attractive wooded area and reaches the north bank of the Ganaraska River. It continues through the woods along the river bank until reaching a tributary stream.
Turn right and follow the stream until you reach a log bridge. Cross the bridge and follow the trail directly away from the stream across an open area with small shrubby trees. The trail re-enters the woods on the far side and finally emerges after a short steep climb into an open area and out on to the 4th Line.
7.6 Turn right (east) on the 4th Line for 2.4 km then turn left (north) on to an abandoned railway bed through or to the side of a metal gate.
10.0 This is one of several abandoned sections of the Port Hope, Lindsay & Beaverton Railway, built in 1857 to compete with the neighbouring Cobourg-Peterborough Railway (the CPR lasted only a few years, until its trestle across Rice Lake was destroyed by massive spring ice floes on that lake). The Ganaraska Trail follows the original PH,L&B railbed from this point northward, via Quay’s Crossing and the 6th Line.
Some of the original stations on this Northumberland section of line were Port Hope, Quay’s (halt), Perrytown (halt) and Campbell’s (Campbellcroft/Garden Hill). In 1869 the PH,L&B was renamed the Midland Railway of Canada, and in the following year the previously opened branch from Millbrook to Peterborough was extended to Lakefield, to tap into the lumber and steamer traffic from the northern lakes. The Midland came under the control of the Grand Trunk
Railway in 1883, which itself was taken over by the Canadian National Railroad forty years later. The passenger service lasted ninety-four years, with the final train leaving Port Hope on May 31, 1957. In that year the track between Port Hope and Millbrook was removed. Follow the railway bed straight north through woods and later a washout (crossed on the left), until you reach Quay’s Crossing.
12.4 You will emerge just south of the intersection of Knoxville Rd. and the 5th Line (Bethel Grove Rd.). Turn north to the intersection and then turn left. The railway bed continues to the north just a few yards west of the intersection. At this point you are at the former beach limit of Lake Iroquois, which formed as the last glacial ice sheet began to melt and recede about 12,500 years ago and whose surface was therefore approximately 70 metres above the present Lake Ontario.
Continue north on the railway bed. Another washout is crossed by going down a path on the right side, crossing the stream, and returning to the railway bed up some steps on the left side. Just above the steps the bluff overlooking the stream is gradually being eroded and care is required following the trail across it.
14.7 At the 6th Line cross the road and follow the railway bed over a stile and another washout. You will pass a house on your left and follow its driveway on to Campbell Rd. Turn right and follow this road to the 7th Line.
16.8 Turn left for 0.9 kilometre and turn right (north) on Grist Mill Rd. You will pass Fudge’s Mill and pond before reaching the Ganaraska Rd. (County Rd. 9). If Fudge’s Mill is opened, be sure to go in and have a look around.
20.2 Turn left (west) on the Ganaraska Rd. and proceed for 0.8 kilometre, then turn right on to the Tinkerville Rd. After a short distance this road turns into an unmaintained road allowance. Continue on this to the 9th Line where the trail turns left to Thomstown. Please note that there will be white blazes to the right but they belong to the Oak Ridges Trail Association.
The trail has now reached the renowned Oak Ridges Moraine, a collection of higher sandy hills that were deposited by ice sheets of the last ice age which converged on this area from the north and east-northeast, thus forming this type of “inter-lobate” moraine. It is a local high area: on the south side, the watercourses flow to Lake Ontario, on the north side the streams go to the Kawartha Lakes. This moraine country continues for about 30 kilometres along the trail and provides great views of the hills and forests.
Cross County Rd. 10 and follow Pine Grove Lane past Thomstown. There is good parking at the end of this road. Turn left on to a forest road that winds through a wooded area until it meets the unmaintained road allowance for the 9th Line (Oak Hill Rd.). Shortly thereafter it becomes a paved road.
26.6 Turn right (north) on Walker Rd. and follow it to the 10th Line.
There is a fine valley view from this road. At the junction with the 10th line the ORTA trail rejoins from the right (east). Turn left (west) on the unmaintained road allowance. Please note that from here to Glamorgan the trail passes through a portion of the Ganaraska Forest on municipal road allowances. Entry to the Forest requires payment of a day use fee, so please stay on the marked trail. Follow this picturesque road allowance for 5.7 kilometres.
There are many great views to the south, while to the north the hilly Ganaraska Forest (Central Section) is now apparent. Originally dominated by hardwoods and White Pine, the Ganaraska
Forest was largely denuded of trees between the late 1700’s and late 1800’s as a result of Britain’s demand for hardwood for the hulls and the White Pine for the masts for its Royal Navy ships. Subsequently much of the area was further cleared for agriculture, which proved a mistake as the settlers were unaware that forest cover was needed to protect the soils from wind and water erosion.
By 1900 many of the farms had been abandoned and much of the Ganaraska area turned into sand dunes. Consequent degradation of the entire watershed led to many of the mills on the Ganaraska River ceasing operation. In 1944, a landmark report on the Ganaraska Watershed was published recommending reforestation of the area. The Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority was formed in 1946 to buy and reforest the land, and by 1991, 4,200 hectares were acquired, of which half had been reforested with Red Pine, the primary planted species.
Presently the forest is being actively managed to revert it to a more natural state, which will allow hardwood species as well as other coniferous species to gradually mature and provide a much more natural looking forest.
34.5 Turn right (north) on Cold Springs Camp Rd. After a short distance on the paved road the trail enters an unmaintained road allowance while the paved road continues into the parking lot of the Ganaraska Forest Centre. The unpaved road descends to pass a spring of cold water before turning left, climbing and turning right (north).
Note: A short distance after this the ORTA trail turns west. Continue north following the GHTA blazes on unpaved Glamorgan Rd. Stay on this road until you reach the Old Marsh Anglican Church (1876) at Pontypool Rd. (Lunch spot).
The Welsh place names “Glamorgan” and “Pontypool” indicate early settlement in this area by immigrants from south-east Wales, where the present county of Glamorgan and town of Pontypool are located.
41.3 Turn left on Pontypool Rd. Cross the bridge over Hwy. 115, then immediately right to regain Glamorgan Rd. and continue north to the T-junction at Solanum Way. Turn right for 300 metres.
43.5 Turn left (north) on an unmaintained road and across the CPR tracks at Dranoel Rd.
Continue on Dranoel Rd., generally north, passing various side roads to Hwy 7A.
48.4 Continue north from Hwy 7A on Dranoel Rd. There is a great view of Bethany in the valley about 1 kilometre to the west. There is a general store in Bethany.
(Note: Possible lunch spot)
53.4 The road turns right on Stewart Line but the trail goes straight ahead on the unmaintained road and down a very steep track, coming out beside the Devil’s Elbow Ski Club. Continue north on Hillview Dr. and an unmaintained road to County Rd. 38.
55.9 Cross directly over County Rd. 38 and up the steep slope of an unmaintained road. Continue north over the Hogsback drumlin, with excellent pastoral views to the west, and eventually across the bridge over the languid Pigeon River.
(Note: Possible lunch spot.)
Follow the trail to County Rd. 31 (Mount Horeb Rd.).
60.1 Turn left (west) on County Rd. 31 and proceed 1.4 kilometres to the abandoned railway bed between Dranoel and Lindsay (a further continuation of the former PH,L&B Railway).
Note: Just before reaching the railway bed, the Windy Ridge Conservation Area, on the south side of Mount Horeb Rd., has a picnic shelter and a portable toilet.
61.5 Turn north on the abandoned railway bed, known locally as the “rail trail”.
63.3 The Pine Ridge section of the trail ends at Crosswind Rd., the first east-west road crossing the rail trail.
Maps 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Generally easy with some rugged portions near the northern end.
The Kawartha section starts on Crosswind Rd. on the abandoned railbed between Dranoel and Lindsay. The first 10 kilometres follow the railtrail as it meanders through the gently rolling countryside just to the north of the Oak Ridges Moraine. There are many scenic views along this part of the trail. A number of roads cross the trail, as follows:
0.5 Old Mill Rd.
2.5 Post Rd.
4.2 Hillhead Rd.
7.5 Under the overpass for Hwy. 7.
10.0 Logie St. in Lindsay
From Logie St., the trail wanders beside the Scugog River for about 1.8 kms. Some of the landmarks that can be seen: pass under a high-level bridge, a former railway bridge. Pass a footbridge over the river. This bridge gives access to parkland and side streets on the other side of the river. Off road parking and trail access is available at the turnaround at the western end of Riverview Rd. Riverview
crosses Logie St. Logie runs parallel to the trail and river. A short distance further on the trail comes out onto King St. Follow King St. a short distance to Lindsay St. Lock 33 of the Trent Canal system is located just beside the bridge. There are picnic tables and washrooms here.
Intersection of King St. and Lindsay St., turn left (south) and cross the bridge over the Scugog River. Immediately on the other side descend the steps to join the trail going west through a series of parks and walkways beside the river. This continues for about 600 metres to Pottinger St.
There is a blue (side) trail which starts at the footbridge mentioned above. This is called the Rainbow Bridge because it resembles a rainbow and was originally painted in rainbow colours. Cross the river on this bridge and proceed west along Russell St. to Simcoe St. and north to Kent St. E then north to Old Mill Park along the south shore of the river. The blue trail then meets the main trail at the Lindsay Street bridge. Follow the main trail and catch the blue trail again at Pottinger & Lindsay St.N. The blue trail takes a quiet back street running north through the Rivermill complex then through a quiet neighbourhood before continuing north to a short access trail on your left to reconnect to the main trail.
Some of the places of interest are:
11.8 McDonnell Park. Historical plaque for Purdy’s Mills. Pass under the Wellington St. bridge. Carew Park. Street access via Colborne St. The trail goes beside the access road for the apartment buildings and reaches:
12.4 Pottinger St. Turn left (west) and follow Pottinger St. for about 600 metres to Victoria St. Turn right (north) and walk approximately 100 metres to the entrance to the rail trail.
13.1 Enter the pathway to the Victoria Rail Trail on the right (east) side of the street.
When on the Victoria Rail Trail, there are numerous scenic spots to admire. The Ganaraska Trail continues along this rail trail 2.5 kilometres past Burnt River. Some of the landmarks along the route are:
17.5 Ken Reid Conservation Area. Past the Conservation Area is:
19.0 part of the McLaren Creek outlet into Sturgeon Lake, an ecologically significant wetlands area. In summer, you can see numerous redwing blackbirds among the cattails.
21.5 Naylor Rd. crosses
22.8 Longbeach Rd. in Cameron. Some parking available.
24.2 Country Lane crosses
26.0 Ranchers Rd. crosses
28.2 Longbeach Rd. crosses (again)
28.7 Wagar Rd.
33.6 Lindsay St., (County Rd. #121), in Fenelon Falls. At this point there is an old railway station, which was built in 1885 by the Grand Trunk Railway. Tourist information may be available here. There is a breakfast restaurant across the road.
In the winter months you continue along the rail trail, crossing several streets (please be mindful of the traffic) and then over the oldest swing bridge on the Trent Severn Waterway.
During the summer navigation season this bridge is swung open for boat traffic so you must detour by following the blue blazes. Turn right on Hwy. #121, (Lindsay St.), crossing the Fenelon River via the dam, Island Park and Lock #34. Island Park has picnic facilities and good views of the lock and boat traffic. On the east side of the river is John Langton Park where you can view the spectacular gorge and falls. The falls are 7 metres high and 42 metres wide, pouring over a natural limestone ledge. At this point County Rd. #121 has become Colborne St. At Water St. you turn left (west) beside the river, following the waterway to go back to the rail trail. There are many good places to find food in Fenelon Falls.
Maryboro Lodge Museum is located on the trail at 50 Oak St. (Oak St. branches off Water St.) An elegant home, dating from the 1830s, Maryboro Lodge is open May to October. Victorian teas are served every Wednesday in July and August, when there are also Sunday afternoon concerts. Beyond the Museum, the trail goes through Garnet Graham Park, which has a public beach for swimming and snack bar, etc. After the park the trail goes beside private property. Please respect the residents’ privacy. The trail now goes alongside Cameron Lake for some distance. The views are marvelous! Some of the landmarks are:
39.4 Northline Rd. at the north end of Cameron Lake
39.9 Poulsom Rd.
41.7 Superior Rd. in the hamlet of Fell.
42.0 Fell Station Drive in the hamlet of Fell
44.7 Somerville Concession 3.
46.4 High level bridge over the Burnt River
49.1 County Rd. 43 between Coboconk and Burnt River.
50.7 Burnt River Village. There is a General Store with ice cream. Good parking is also available.
51.2 Hillside Dr. (County Rd. 44) crosses.
53.2 Turn off to the left (west) into Victoria County Forest.
54.5 Pinery Rd. Proceed a short distance west along Pinery Rd. and turn north onto a forest road. Watch for pink lady’s slippers about 2 kms along, on the right.
After about 3 kilometres along the forest road, where the road turns left, the trail goes straight on into the bush. Don’t miss this turn. About 1 kilometre in, there is a nice open area with a log bench, a great lunch spot. There are some interesting, many-limbed pines further along. It is at this point that the granite-gneiss rocks of the Precambrian Shield become more visible. This is rugged, rocky terrain with wet, swampy parts in the low-lying areas. Good hiking boots are required.
61.9 Dongola. About 8.5 kilometres east of Norland on County Rd. #45, (formerly Hwy. 503) there is a parking area and also some portable toilets. At this point, the trail turns west along County Rd. #45 for about 1.5 kilometres, then turns right into the forest.
63.4 Follow the trail through the forest for 700 metres until it reaches a forest road. Turn right (north) and follow that road for about 1.6 kilometres. The trail then turns west and goes into the forest again.
The trail now continues in rugged terrain. Hiking boots are required. The trail parallels beautiful Corben Lake, locally called Long Lake. Near the north end of Corben Lake, the trail crosses the two outflows from the Goodoar lakes over beaver dams. We now get to the private property of Diane Thomson. After negotiating a series of beaver dams, we enter the private property of Donald and Nona Payne. Eventually we reach:
71.6 Buller Rd. Cross Buller Rd. and go along South Beaver Lake Rd. There is a right turn about 3 kilometres along, (the road also continues straight), don’t miss this turn. Continue following the trail along country roads to Moore Falls.
76.7 The Kawartha section ends in Moore Falls, at the small parking area belonging to Bill and Sandy Valentine, just north of Hwy. #35, off county road.
Maps 12, 13, 14, 15
Rugged terrain! Challenging! For very experienced hikers only
DO NOT hike this section alone
The Wilderness Section is accessible by public road at only four points. The first one is at Black Lake Rd. and Hwy. 35 in the Village of Moore Falls. There is a parking area just before a sign indicating that only cottage residents are allowed further. This is private land, so please call Sandy Valentine (705) 454-3792 to let her know that you are a GHTA member and would like to park on her land. Do not take cars on the Black Lake Cottage Rd.
The second access point is at Devil’s Lake. This can be reached by going about 6 kilometres along the Deep Bay Rd. (County Rd. 2) north of Moore Falls, and then turning left on to the Devil’s Lake Rd. There is ample parking at the landing at Devil’s Lake.
The third access point is at Victoria Bridge, which can be reached by summer road along the north loop of the Black River, north and east of Sadowa. Note that this road is closed from March 1 to May 15 each year.
The fourth access point is at Sadowa, however, this access is closed for 2006. Please check web site for the latest status.
The following are the hiking distances:
From Moore Falls to Devil’s Lake 19 kms
From Devil’s lake to Victoria Bridge 37 kms
From Victoria Bridge to Sadowa 20 kms
From Moore Falls to Sadowa 65 kms
From Moore Falls to Victoria Bridge 45 kms
Blazes create a route with little evidence of a trail. In treeless areas, the blazes are painted on rock outcrops or are indicated by rock cairns.
The terrain in the Wilderness is rugged and in places very strenuous. It should be attempted only by experienced hikers. Averaging 3 kilometres an hour is considered good going. West of Loon Lake, for about 10 kilometres, the route goes around beaver ponds, swamps, small lakes and over beaver dams with no landmarks visible, so watch the blazes! Carry a compass and GPS, and have a good map with you. Never go into the Wilderness alone!
Do not attempt to traverse from Devil’s Lake to Victoria Bridge without telling a responsible person:
When you are going in
What your route is
The names of the people in your party
When and where you expect to complete the hike
If and when to alert police if you are overdue
Note: Because of the prevalence of beavers, the water in the Wilderness MUST be boiled or treated or filtered before drinking it.
Access Route From Devil’s Lake
Start of Devil’s Lake Section
0.0 Parking lot at Devil’s Lake. Just east of the parking area the trail leads west along a cottage road.
0.7 The trail turns left into the forest.
1.3 Deep ravine. Shinny down the cliff near a birch tree.
1.6 Cross over a beaver dam to get south of the lakes.
2.7 East arm of Sheldon Lake. The trail proceeds close to the lake to reach the north arm of Sheldon Lake.
3.6 Start of the portage route between Sheldon Lake and Devil’s Lake.
After a short distance, the trail turns west, off the portage trail, proceeds around the north shore of Sheldon Lake and follows an ATV trail to:
5.5 Petticoat Junction. End of Devil’s Lake Section. This is where the access route from Devil’s Lake meets the main Wilderness trail.
Main Wilderness trail from Moore Falls
Start of Scrabble Mountain Section
Maps 12, 13, 14, 15
0.0 Hwy. 35 and Black Lake Cottage Rd. in Moore Falls.
0.1 A grassy area is on the left where Ganaraska Trail hikers (only) can park a car. A sign indicates that the road is for cottage residents only. Proceed on foot along that road.
1.1 Trail turns right into the forest.
2.6 A small stream with a beaver dam – Fairy Pond (mostly dried up). Past the beaver dam is a crossing over a creek at the top of a waterfall – Fairy Falls. Trail follows a faint path and then turns right, up a hill, goes over and past scenic rock formations, then comes down again. The trail proceeds in a northwesterly direction to the north end of Black Lake, where it comes to and follows a bush path that leads to:
6.0 Snowmobile bridge over Black Creek. The trail goes up the hill on the other loop and follows a snowmobile trail.
8.6 Scrabble Mountain, a beautiful view in all directions. Memorial marker for Aldie LeCraw, buried in Norland, who loved this area. He was a “jack of all trades” and operated a local hunt camp. According to Peter Verbeek, leaving a coin at the memorial will ensure that you will come back here one day.
9.3 A left turn into a deep ravine and out again. Trail goes in a northerly direction through gently undulating forest.
11.0 Snowmobile bridge over a deep gully. Trail follows snowmobile trail in a northerly direction.
13.0 Portage trail between Sheldon Lake and Cooney Lake.
13.5 Petticoat Junction. End of Scrabble Mountain Section, start of the Wolf Lake Section.
Junction with the trail coming from Devil’s Lake. There are direction signs attached to trees.
From here to:
Sheldon Lake landing 1.9 km
Devil’s Lake parking lot 5.5 km
Victoria Bridge 31.4 km
From Petticoat Junction: If you are hiking from Devil’s Lake, the distances shown are 8 kilometres less.
13.5 Head north-northwest into open scrub land before going west, then south, through the woods, to avoid a swamp north of Cooney Lake, and reach the portage trail between Cooney Lake and Peter’s Pond.
17.2 Trail turns north from the portage into the bush and parallels the north shore of Peter’s Pond and Victoria Lake.
19.0 Trapper’s cabin. There are a couple of good tent spots here near the shore. The terrain north of Victoria Lake is the most rugged and strenuous in the Wilderness Section.
20.7 Cross the Head River over a very long beaver dam. This is a large river crossing at the outlet of the Head River and Wolf Lake. Beavers have historically moved their dam from time to time, if it is impassable, try the old beaver dam approximately 500 metres upstream on the Head River. The trail crosses a conspicuous pine-clad isthmus between Victoria and Wolf Lakes, then generally follows the south shore of Wolf Lake, moving inland a few times to avoid swamps.
On the south shore of Wolf Lake, there are a couple of spots suitable for camping. The first one has tent platforms and an outhouse, that have been put up by a fly-in fishing camp operator. Do not use this site if there are people there.
23.9 The trail turns west and follows a faint snowmobile trail again, skirts the north shore of Freshette Lake before heading to Loon Lake.
26.4 Loon Lake. End of Wolf Lake Section, start of Black River Section. The north end of Loon Lake is about halfway between Devil’s Lake and Victoria Bridge and is an excellent camping spot. There is a cairn under a large rock, containing a register for people to sign. Then begins a long winding course around beaver ponds, lakes and swamps.
29.6 Deep Gully. There is a sign at the beaver dam crossing over this long north-south feature. There are a few good tent spots here. For the next six kilometres, there are few good tent spots because of beaver ponds and swamps. This part of the trail goes through an area with no landmarks, so watch the blazes. About 8 kilometres west of Loon Lake, the route meets up with an ATV trail, which it follows until it has crossed a wide watercourse on a beaver dam.
37.2 Turn off the ATV trail, into the forest and follow the south loop of the watercourse for 2 kilometres to Otter Junction. This is the junction with the blue-blazed Montgomery Creek Loop Trail. Follow the white blazes to the right and cross a small stream in a deep ravine.
40.2 Crossing over Montgomery Creek. There is a steep descent to the creek and slippery rocks at the crossing point. Cross the creek and proceed west, paralleling the north loop of Montgomery Creek. If the water level in the creek is too high, return to Otter Junction and proceed via the blue-blazed Montgomery Creek loop trail.
44.9 Victoria Bridge. End of Black River Section. This is very scenic area where the Black River forces its way through some narrow chutes in the rocks.
This is an access point where there is ample parking and a summer road heads 12 kilometres west to Brook’s Bridge, which leads to Sadowa, or 26 kilometres to Washago and Hwy. 11. A car shuttle from Victoria Bridge to Devil’s Lake Landing, via Sadowa, is 80 kilometres and will likely take 1.5 hours.
From Victoria Bridge. Start of Graveyard Section.
The trail now proceeds beside the Black River till the mouth of the Montgomery Creek, which it crosses. From here, it follows the Victoria Colonization Rd. to the top of the hill overlooking the Black River. The Victoria Colonization Rd. was built in the 1800s and ran from Glenarm to the Peterson Rd. in Oakley Twp. The trail continues south and then southwest.
45.7 Black Creek Junction overlooking the bend in the Black River at the top of the rocky hill. To the east, up the rocks, is the start of the Montgomery Creek Loop Trail. To the west, a few steps further, is the start of the Ragged Rapids Loop Trail. Both loop trails are marked with blue markers.
From here, the trail proceeds in generally open, rocky terrain, with some forest. There are few landmarks. Numerous beaver ponds are also found in this area.
54.4 Black Fly Junction with the western end of the Ragged Rapids Loop Trail.
56.6 Trail crosses a terminal moraine in an old northwest-southeast glacial valley. There is a T-shaped lake to the south with a low beaver dam on top of the moraine. The lake at the toe of the moraine in the valley to the north is about 8 metres lower. There is a scenic lookout west of the beaver dam, which is a good spot for lunch on a day hike from Victoria Bridge to Sadowa. Trail proceeds west along the north bank of the west arm of the T-shaped lake.
58.4 Hiker’s Graveyard. It is said that hikers end up here if they do not stay with the hike leader. The east end of the High Falls Loop Trail comes in from the left about 300 metres further west.
63.4 Junction with the western start of the High Falls Loop Trail.
65.0 Sadowa. End of the Wilderness Section. End of Graveyard Section.
The name ‘Sadowa’ probably came from the name of a small town, now in the Czech Republic, where a Prussian army decisively defeated the Austrian army in 1866 during the Seven Week War.
The best parking spot in Sadowa is at the Sadowa United church, just west of the only intersection. Please leave a donation to retain their goodwill.
Day Hikes And Loop Trails In The Wilderness
Hiking the Wilderness end-to-end is usually considered a three or four-day backpacking hike. There are many flat camping spots, but water is often a problem. Water must be filtered before drinking, and water from beaver ponds or other stagnant water will plug up a filter. There are a number of day hikes which experienced hikers can do in 8 hours or less, on both the main trail and the three loop trails.
Moore Falls to Devil’s Lake via Petticoat Junction 19 kms/7 hours
Victoria Bridge to Sadowa 20 kms/7 hours
Both of these hikes require a car shuttle.
Victoria Bridge along the Montgomery Creek Loop Trail to
Otter Junction, returning to Victoria Bridge along
the main trail 12 kms/5 hours
Victoria Bridge along the Ragged Rapids Loop Trail to
Black Fly Junction, returning to Victoria Bridge
along the main trail. 16 kms/6 hours
From Sadowa, along the High Falls Loop Trail,
to the main trail near Hikers’ Graveyard and returning
to Sadowa on the main trail. 15 kms/6 hours
These hikes do not involve a car shuttle.
All day hikes involve rugged, challenging terrain, not suitable for beginners. Do not hike these trails alone.
Montgomery Creek Loop Trail
Map 13, 14
From Victoria Bridge, proceed south on the main trail along the Black River, across the Montgomery Creek Bridge, then to the top of the rocky hill overlooking the bend in the Black River. Turn east onto the Montgomery Creek Loop (blue) Trail. This trail parallels the Montgomery Creek going east for about 5 kilometres, meeting the main trail at Otter Junction.
The trail to the right goes up the hill and continues east to Petticoat Junction. The trail to the left goes down into a valley and is the return to Victoria bridge. The combination of the blue and main trail make a very nice loop. It is very rugged and suitable for day use by experienced hikers. Several steep ascents and descents require extra care, especially in wet weather. There are many excellent views of Montgomery Creek, beaver ponds and the open country to the south. Total distance is about 12 kilometres and will require probably 5 hours to complete.
Ragged Rapids Loop Trail
From Victoria Bridge, proceed south on the main trail along the Black River, across the Montgomery Creek Bridge, then to the top of the rocky hill overlooking the bend in the Black River. Turn west into the bush onto the Ragged Rapids Loop (blue) Trail. It is a rugged but very scenic trail.
The trail first goes south to cross a deep ravine over a beaver dam with a lake to the south. Then the trail gradually climbs through dense ferns to a rocky ridge covered with scrub oaks. A high point overlooks a grassy marsh, beyond which the summer access road to Victoria Bridge is visible, with the Black River directly in the foreground.
The trail now continues westward, often next to the Black River, until it comes to the Ragged Rapids. Watch carefully, because the trail veers south and climbs to the top of a high rocky gorge. This is a wonderful lunch and photography spot. The river, with two sets of rapids with a pool in between, is directly below. That spot is on the private property of Mr. John Steen, who has given us permission to visit it.
Just past the ‘rock garden’ at the lower end of the rapids, the trail turns south (left) and climbs through mixed forest. About 1 kilometre from the river, the trail descends into a grassy gully and then climbs back up through open mixed forest and then across flat rocky terrain to Black Fly Junction. Turn east on the main trail and follow it back to Victoria Bridge, or turn west (right) to follow the main trail to Sadowa.
High Falls Loop Trail
Map 14, 15
This trail makes an excellent day trip from Sadowa. Follow the main trail eastward for 1.6 kilometres, where the western end of the High Falls Loop Trail turns off to the right. It quickly ascends to the top of Mount Pleasant, a bald granite dome with excellent views in all directions. Leaving Mount Pleasant, the trail proceeds south across open country to High Falls, a steep chute some 8 metres high on the Cranberry River.
The trail turns east, past another rapid on the river and then north, passing through a thicket and a wide gully to emerge onto the rocky flats to the east. Skirting a small beaver dam to the north, the trail travels eastward on the bluffs forming the northern edge of the Cranberry River Valley.
The trail turns north above a beaver pond to join an ATV trail which leads to a landing on the Cranberry River. Then turning north through dense woods, the trail parallels the river along another ATV trail. Just east of there is a beautiful scenic lookout over the Cranberry River and the outlet from Rainy Lake. The trail then goes north, paralleling the shore of Rainy Lake. At the northwest corner of Rainy Lake, there is another excellent view, from a 10-metre high cliff, of this very scenic lake. It’s a good spot for lunch.
Leaving Rainy Lake, the trail passes through rocky ridge and gully terrain, to emerge on an ATV trail leading to the junction with the main trail, about 300 metres west of Hikers’ Graveyard. Turn left on the main trail to return to Sadowa. Apart from a long beaver dam crossing on the main trail, this is not a difficult trail. Use a stick to help you balance while crossing the beaver dam.
Maps 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Mostly flat. Generally easy. Suitable for beginners.
The Orillia Section of the trail starts in Sadowa and follows Sadowa Rd. toward Sebright. This is a transition area, where the terrain changes from rugged Precambrian Shield to limestone flatland. The trail bypasses Sebright and turns toward Orillia.
0.0 Sadowa, start of the Orillia section where the Wilderness section comes out of the bush on Morton Lane. First road on the right, Chisholm Trail, leads to Brooks Bridge on the Black River.
You continue west on Sadowa Rd.
1.2 Preferred parking area at the Sadowa United church. Please leave a donation (say $2 per car) in the church to maintain their goodwill.
6.0 After crossing the Head River Bridge (excellent lunch spot), continue on the paved road for another kilometre going south.
7.0 The trail turns west on Rama Conc. D-E.
You now come to a terrain called ‘alvar’. Alvar is named after an island off the coast of Sweden, which is low, flat limestone, with most of the topsoil removed by glaciers. There is typically a lot of flat, barren limestone outcrop, known as ‘karst’.
Soils are too shallow for much tree growth. It is quite unlike the Niagara Escarpment, where the Amabel limestone dips west and is soon covered by later sediments. The interesting feature of the alvar natural history is the particular flora and fauna that live there. Carden Twp, south of Sebright, is the home of the Loggerhead Shrike, an endangered species. Wild bergamot is common, as are many other members of the mint family which like calcareous soils.
9.3 The trail turns south partly in bush and partly on limestone flats for 3 kilometres.
12.3 County Rd. 45, Monck Rd., turn west and proceed for 2 kilometres. There is a snowmobile track on the north side of the road.
14.2 The trail moves off the road where County Rd. 45 turns to the right, proceeds along a small forest path, then turns sharply south and goes over a fence. A short distance farther, there is an area that can be very wet in spring or after heavy rainfalls. The trail follows a snowmobile trail over gently undulating terrain. At one point, the trail goes over a small control dam, constructed by Ducks Unlimited to encourage wildlife in the marshes on both sides.
County Rd. 169. There is good parking here. Cross the road and proceed along Ramara Conc. 12. There are blazes mainly on hydro poles. The roads are dusty in the summer but pass through pleasant rolling farmland, gorgeous dandelion fields in the spring, and pasture land with horses.
25.6 Cemetery at Conc. 12 and Fairvalley Rd. has 2 benches for a good lunch spot! The trail turn south for 1.4 kilometres on Fairvalley Rd., then continues along Ramara Conc. 11, westward.
27.0 Ramara Conc. 11. Proceed westward for 6.5 kilometres along this quiet country road to:
33.5 Hwy. 12. The trail follows Hwy. 12 westward.
35.0 Between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching is the Narrows, which is crossed by the bridge. This was an ancient fishing site and weirs constructed by prehistoric Indians have been found here. Today, it’s one of the busiest waterways in Ontario. There are several motels, B&Bs and campsites in the area.
35.2 Just past a small strip mall on the right, the trail turns off the road to the right on the paved city trail system. Behind the mall the trail turns left at a junction. The trail to the right leads to a dead end where the fish weir area can be viewed. The main trail continues across Couchiching Point Rd. and turns right at a junction and enters Tudhope Park, following the lakeshore through the park. This park has ample parking as well as restrooms year round in the Barnfield Point Recreation Centre or at the beach houses during the summer. Leaving the park, the trail parallels Atherley Rd. across Forest Ave. at the lights, turns right then left on the old rail bed still on the paved trail. Continue across Cedar Island Rd. to Elgin St. (just before the skateboard park) and turn left. Follow to Front St., turn left along Front to King, cross at the lights. There are washrooms in the bus station that are open year round. Follow past the taxi stand and then turn right on the gravel rail trail.
40.0 The trail follows this rail trail across West St. and James St., goes under the bridge on Hwy. 12 then continues to the city limits at Woodland Dr. where it turns right. While crossing James St., Memorial Ave., with many food outlets, is visible to the right. Follow Woodland to Memorial, turn left, cross the bridge over Hwy. 11, then turn right off the road onto an old laneway. This forested area, Scout Valley, is owned by the City of Orillia and contains many trails marked in various colours. Be sure to stay with the white blazes. A short distance down the lane, our trail veers left through an old gravel pit then enters the forest again. As you emerge from the forest near an old gravel pitt, a trail leads left to the old Pioneer Wall and a large parking area. The main trail continues right, skirting the pit, passing a sandy area on the right then crosses Mill Creek on a steel bridge. The trail turns left and climbs a steep hill to the top of the ridge. On the right is a viewing stand overlooking the valley and Lake Simcoe. After entering the woods again the trail turns sharply left and descends to the large parking area off Old Barrie Rd.
West of Scout Valley, the trail rises up onto the Oro Moraine. The Oro Moraine is a geological formation left behind by the receding glaciers after the Ice Age. It is over 17,000 hectares, and is composed mainly of sand and gravel. The Oro Moraine is covered primarily by hardwood forests and pine plantations managed by the County of Simcoe. The Oro Moraine boasts some of the best spring water and maple syrup. The forests are home to a large variety of birds and wildflowers, including Ontario’s provincial flower, the Trillium. Most of the next 40 kilometres of trail are on the Oro Moraine.
48.8 Follow Barrie Rd. to Rugby and turn right on Line 12 North.
Turn left off the road near the crest of the first hill and follow a treed fence line into a hardwood bush on a logging road. The trail turns left on the unopened 11th Line for about 300 metres to Rugby Estates.
56.0 There is excellent parking 100 metres past the cul-de-sac with car access from Old Barrie Rd. Do not park in the cul-de-sac.
Just north of the cul-de-sac, turn west in a wooded area. This part of the trail is heavily wooded with very few open areas for the next two concessions. After about 0.8 kilometre, the trail that has tended to veer to the south now turns sharply to the northwest through pine trees. This is quite visible going west but watch carefully when hiking eastward.
57.8 Line 10 North. Turn north along Line 10 for about 300 metres, then west into the forest again. After about 300 metres, the trail veers north; it is well traveled and rises to give excellent views as it approaches Line 9 North.
59.5 Go across Line 9 North through hardwood bush for about 1.5 kilometres and along the end of the field to Line 8 North.
61.6 Line 8 North. Go straight across the road and follow the trail through pine and mixed hardwood forests. A blue side trail has been marked which gives a nice loop through the forests. There are many other trails in this area marked in three different colours – be sure to stay with the white markers. The trail emerges near Bass Lake Rd. and parallels it for a short distance. Several interpretive signs are located there.
66.2 Cross Bass Lake Rd. and Line 7 and leave the corner on the forest road. Follow an unopened road as far as Line 6, and turn right. Follow this path to Sugar Bush Estates. The Orillia section ends where Line 6 North meets Huronwoods Dr. for the first time, at Monica Court. The Barrie section now begins with a turn to left, along Huronwoods Dr.
69.2 End of the Orillia section.
Maps 19, 20, 21, 22
Gentle undulating moraine country with some road sections. Suitable for beginners and seasoned walkers.
0.0 The Barrie section starts in Sugarbush Estate at the intersection of Line 6 North and Huronwoods Dr. next to Monica Court. Huronwoods is a crescent and there are two places where it crosses Line 6. The Barrie section starts at the south end of Huronwoods Dr.
Turn left on Huronwoods, follow west then north and enter bush on left (Tustin Tract). The trail passes through forest to Line 5 North. Turn right and follow Line 5 North, across Horseshoe Valley Rd. to the turnoff into the Amos Tract.
4.0 Here, turn left at steel gate and follow a forest path.
(Note: Interpretive sign on right.) In about 500 metres the trail makes a sharp right turn down narrow ravine. The route now follows wide bush trails used, depending on season, by hikers, snowshoers, cross-country skiers and horse riding enthusiasts. You are now in Copeland Forest.
The 1,650 hectare Copeland Forest property contains a part of the Oro Moraine. There are steep slopes and this area is the source of the Coldwater and Sturgeon Rivers. The Copeland Forest is managed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
7.5 The Side Trail to the Oro-Medonte section (previously Midland) branches off to the north (right). The trail comes back to the Horseshoe Valley Rd. Just before reaching this location, there is a good rest spot with benches and a shelter. On the right is Settlers’ Ghost Golf Course.
12.1 Cross the Horseshoe Valley Rd. with care, turn right and follow this long road section to Craighurst.
15.1 Craighurst – A good place for breakfast, a coffee or ice cream. Crossover County Rd. 93 at lights and continue west.
17.6 You are now at Old 2nd North. Turn left (south) and after a short distance, make a right turn into reforested area. The trail goes through an attractive area of mixed bush and fields, crosses some creeks and a beaver dam.
This is a pretty area intersected by steep sided ravines with some wet and muddy patches. There are a number of bush roads on this part of the trail and it is important to keep an eye for blazed changes to the route. As you near Gill Rd. you will pass through a large section of Red Pine. This is Simcoe County Forest (Orrock Creek S.).
24.4 At Gill Rd., go left; this is a road section so keep to the left facing oncoming traffic. Proceed over railway tracks and along Gill Rd. to Craig Rd.
25.8 At Craig Rd. turn right. This road allowance is a pleasant hilly section bordered by mature maples. Watch for left turn in about 500 metres. From here, pass through a mixture of field and reforestation leading to Midhurst and to the parking lot of the Community Centre.
It is possible to use the parking lot other than on Sundays. Ice cream is also available at the General Store just east of the parking lot.
27.7 From the Midhurst Community Centre, turn right onto Doran Rd. and, at its intersection with Belmont Cr., the trail goes down a narrow gravel path in to Willow Creek Valley (on left).
Follow path down and cross bridge over Willow Creek. Bear right after bridge and continue up the hill and out to County Rd. 27. Look for blaze on telephone pole high on the opposite side of road. Cross with great care as this is a busy highway. Climb short steep hill and proceed to Hwy. 26 (short distance).
28.7 Cross over and follow trail into Simcoe County Museum Property. There is parking at the Museum, as well as across the road at the County of Simcoe Administration building.
The route leads to the back of the property beside an old sand/gravel quarry then back into scrub bush and reforestation. (Watch for poison ivy – bad in some areas.)
Note several interesting interpretive signs.
Emerging from the plantation, cross the railroad tracks (caution) and enter the back of Springwater Provincial Park. Please stay on the trail in this area This is a fairly flat, easy walking, wide trail that ends up at Wilson Dr.
32.0 Turn left, cross over the railroad and then turn right on Snow Valley Rd.
Follow this road section until George Pkwy.
33.4 Turn left. Again cross over the railway and walk to the end of the road. Here the trail enters the bush by a gate, turns right immediately and left into a cedar swamp (wet most of the time). Follow trail again to the left then around and up to the rear of Snow Valley Ski Resort. A sub division will be at the right just before coming out onto Seadon Rd. (To the left will be Barrie Hill Farm and Rd.).
Nine Mile Portage
Barrie is the site of the eastern end of the Indian portage from Kempenfelt Bay to Willow Creek.
During the War of 1812-1814, a fort or depot was constructed at the Willow Creek end of the portage where war materiel was stored. In the winter of 1813-1814, a force under Lieutenant-Colonel Robert McDougall followed the portage to Fort Willow Depot and from there by canoe down the Nottawasaga River to Georgian Bay, on his way to relieve the isolated British garrison at Michilimackinac.
36.2 At Seadon Rd. the Ganaraska Hiking Trail meets up with the Nine Mile Portage route and both take the same route to Fort Willow. The trail is now on Seadon Rd. until it reaches George Johnson Rd. (County Rd. 28).
38.1 Cross over George Johnson and follow blazes into bush. This is a township right of way. The path meanders through forests and fields, which ends at Grenfel Rd. (unpaved) near a hydro right of way. Turn right on Grenfel, over railway tracks again, then left into Fort Willow.
40.8 Here there are toilet facilities, benches and shelter; a good place for a rest or lunch stop. As this fort is maintained by volunteers donations are most welcome.
The trail passes through Fort Willow, down a flight of stairs then makes a left hand turn on the North Simcoe Rail Trail. This is a recreational route used for hiking, cycling, horseback riding, cross country skiing and snowmobiling. It is also a part of the Trans Canada Trail.
Following along, the rail trail leads to an overlook site (on right) for the Minesing Swamp. This is a good place to take a break or just admire the view.
Continue along the rail trail until you reach Pinegrove Rd. (12th Conc.).
Note: Simcoe County Forest Miller Tract sign on opposite side of road.
42.8 Pinegrove Rd. Turn right here, then left almost immediately. You are now on the outer edges of the Minesing Swamp property. Here the trail joins a reforested area following along both edges of two shallow ravines. Eventually, the trail edges down into a valley for a while before climbing out again onto a grass bush trail. At the fence line, with the fields beyond, turn right for about 200 metres. Watch for a stile on the left. Here the trail heads into mature hardwood which gradually edges right and down closer to the swamp edge.
The Minesing Swamp is designated a Ramsar Site. It contains a 6,000-hectare network of interconnected swamps, fens, bogs and marshes. It is home to a large variety of Flora and Fauna, including Ontario’s 5th largest Great Blue Heronry.
44.7 Eventually, the trail reaches a stile at a bush path. This is the end of Baldwick Lane (previously Conc. 13) which peters out as it enters into the swamp on the right. Cross this stile, go to the left approximately 10 metres, turn right and cross a second stile on the opposite side of concession road.
Follow the trail while keeping high ground to the left. The trail here is narrow. Try to keep to the trail, as much of the ground can be really boggy.
The trail emerges out of a patch of cedar facing a muddy creek bed. Cross and head for a patch of cedar almost directly ahead. Pass through these, over some “tussocky” ground to the wire fence, go right a short distance and climb over yet another stile. Because this area is always wet, keep going along the fence line (fence on right) until reaching change direction markers. Turn left and proceed over more “tussocky” ground (watch for post marker).
Cross another small creek. Post markers angle at about 45 degrees to the right until fence line is reached. Turn left and follow fence to steel gate and climb over. Now you face a sea of very tall grass. Post markers are very difficult to find. A compass could be very useful and direction is roughly south/southwest. Failing that, head for tree line slightly to the left and follow until blazes are located at the far side, near the corner. Here the trail is well marked for the most part but it can be very wet. The best time to even consider this section is in a dry spell or when frozen or snow covered.
The trail now narrows and passes into a mixture of cedar and young fir trees, from this point on, until reaching Hwy. 90. The high ground is on the left.
There are two more tall grass sections on this trail. The first is a small clearing; just edge slightly left or south/southwest and watch carefully for blazes on opposite side. Again, a wet to very wet section with many fallen trees. Proceed with care and eventually the trail will merge with a snowmobile trail coming from the left. Once more, a wet and boggy section (private property on both sides) that finally exits from the trees facing the last tall grass section. This is swampy terrain for about 100 metres long and difficult to cross. Head south/southwest or keep close to trees just to your left passing under hydro lines.
48.1 You will now hear traffic and, after climbing a small knoll, will reach the end of the Barrie Section at Hwy. 90, just west of Conc. 6.
MAD RIVER SECTION
Maps 24, 25
Mostly flat, with a couple of hills. Suitable for beginners.
The Mad River Section derives its name from the river which is parallel in many places. Sometimes in the spring, west of Avening, trout can be seen going upstream to spawn. The spawning ritual itself can often be seen. There are some outstanding scenic views from Ten Hill and McKinney’s Hill. The Mad River Section of the Ganaraska Trail goes through the New Lowell, GlenCairn and Carruthers Conservation Areas and several Simcoe County tracts. At its terminus, the trail links up with the Bruce Trail, just outside of Glen Huron.
0.0 Hwy. 90. Stile over the fence on north side of County Rd. 90. Cross the road and proceed east for a short distance and turn south on the 6th Line of Essa and continue for about 1.3 kilometres.
1.3 30th Sideroad. Turn right (west) on 30th Sideroad until house number sign “6059” appears on the south side of the road and turn left just past the house. Follow the blazes through the property and through a field (old Algonquin shoreline) to the railway bed.
1.8 Railway bed. Follow the railway bed westward for 10 kilometres through downtown Angus.
The railway bed is still used from Utopia to Collingwood twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday, by the Barrie-Collingwood Railway (BCRY), a short-line railway operation. If a train should approach, move well off the track. Following the trail, you will encounter several rivers which all merge in the Angus area. There are the two branches of the Bear Creek, the Nottawasaga River, the Pine River and, for the first time, the Mad River. In Angus, you will be close to several donut shops, and washroom facilities at the Library. (Look for the Clock Tower). The trail skirts Canadian Forces Base Borden before heading northwest, bypassing Brentwood. Here are some landmarks:
3.5 Nottawasaga River Bridge
4.8 Mad River Bridge. Compare this view with other sightings of the river. At this point, the river is more mature.
6.6 Bridge over the Mad River.
7.2 Sunnidale-Tosorontio Town Line.
9.4 McCarthy Dr.
10.4 Conc. 2 Sunnidale.
11.0 Sunnidale 12/13 Sideroad.
11.9 Turn west, off the rail trail. The trail comes off the Barrie/Collingwood railway right-of-way southeast of New Lowell onto a short sideroad. The trail follows this gravel road to the Hogback Rd., a SW diagonal route between New Lowell and Glencairn. As the trail meets the Hogback Rd., it turns a very short distance north, and then turns west into the main gate of the New Lowell Conservation Area.
13.2 New Lowell Conservation Area. The 140-acre New Lowell reservoir is located on Coates Creek. It offers swimming, canoeing, and fishing opportunities. The Ganaraska Trail winds its way through the southwest end of the property, an area that is famous for its old growth cedar forest. The 140-acre property is operated as a recreational facility. A reservoir separates the property into two parts, the north side is managed for “Day Use” only, while the south side operates as a seasonal campground. There are no overnight sites; seasonal permits only. For a nominal fee, visitors have access to all “day use” facilities including a large clean beach, plenty of picnic tables, fishing docks, canoe access and a roofed pavilion for special events, weddings, etc.
The trail follows the main access road to the left into the seasonal camping area, and follows open ground to the area of picnic tables, close to the water’s edge. At this point the trail enters into the mixed deciduous and coniferous woodlands for about 1.5 kilometres of undulating topography, that parallels the south shore of the reservoir. The tree cover is age-variable and includes Ash, Maple, Poplar, American Beech, as well as Spruce, Pine, Hemlock and Balsam Fir.
The walking experience is interesting because hikers are moving up and down and across drainage gullies, leading from the southern height of land towards the reservoir. This overland route is an excellent habitat for birds, animals and wildflower species in the spring. It ends at a cleared forest trail that leads upslope southerly. Take a short walk to the right, for an excellent viewpoint or picnic spot on the shore of the reservoir. Then proceed up the sloped forest road to almost the top of the valley height of land, where there is a double blaze turning right for about 50 metres, where it meets another double right hand blaze, at the edge of Staghorn Sumac on the right and an evergreen reforestation stand on the left. Now, this westerly heading part of the trail is relatively easy walking, with a broad, needle-based surface that gradually enters a mature Red Pine forest, where the tops of little valleys can be viewed on the right. This part of the trail is also a snowmobile route, running all the way to the property boundary of the New Lowell Conservation Area, then turning left. At this NW corner of the Conservation Authority lands, it veers abruptly south, and follows the limits of the Simcoe County Forest tract all the way along its west boundary, down close to Conc. 2 Sunnidale, where the trail veers south-east into the forest and then follows a forest track again to Conc. 2. A fascinating feature of local property in this section of the trail is the incidence of blow out sand dunes. These are examples of why the County of Simcoe and Conservation Authorities purchased Class 5, 6 or 7 lands in the area, so that reforestation would heal such wind eroded sites.
16.4 Just west of Hogback Rd. and Conc. 2, the trail turns west along Conc. 2 for about 500 metres.
16.9 Go south on 6/7 Sideroad Sunnidale, on sand road until reaching Hogback Rd. After crossing Hogback Rd., now paved, watch for trail turning east into Simcoe County Forest. Follow the trail as it winds through this scenic Red Pine and deciduous forest. You will also see Simcoe County Trail signs which follow the Ganaraska Trail for about 3 kilometres. If you have GPS, a Geocache can be found on this section of trail.
21.5 You are back on 6/7 Sideroad Sunnidale. Turn left on the sandy trail alongside the road to
21.8 Sunnidale-Tosorontio Townline line. Turn west and follow the road, around the bend, to just before the bridge over the Mad River.
22.9 Mad River. Good off road parking is available here. The trail turns west onto private property. The trail parallels the Mad River to the Glencairn Conservation Area. This section is in fairly rough shape from off road vehicles, but is being repaired by cadets each summer. There is good parking as well, which can be accessed by a lane just south of the bridge on the east side.
25.3 Glencairn Conservation Area is a small area overlooking the Mad River in the Village of Glencairn (located at the junction of Webster and Hogback Rds. at the northwest corner of Adjala-Tosorontio Township). The area is a pleasant spot for a picnic or short hike along the Mad River. It also provides opportunities for angling.
Walk out to the road and turn northwest. Follow Webster Rd. and turn north on Centre Line Rd.
29.6 Turn west onto a beautiful forest path, which winds its way through a Simcoe County Forest tract.
32.9 Airport Rd. Turn south to:
34.3 Carruthers Memorial Conservation Area.
Enter this scenic and interesting conservation area, which provides facilities such as parking, picnic tables and outdoor toilets. The Ganaraska Trail follows the Mad River again and is especially appealing for hiking with children. Proceed through the site beside the river, where many photo opportunities present themselves in this beautiful natural watercourse. Just follow the white blazes to an un-opened road allowance, that directs you north to the Nottawasaga Concession 3 S road (emergency property number 7273). At this point continue north on Nottawasaga Concession 3 S road to George St. E. Go left on George St. E. to Mary St.
37.9 Turn right on Mary St. and follow north to Edward St. Turn left on Edward St. and follow west to Library St. (Visit Canada’s smallest jail). Turn right and follow north to Caroline St. Turn left and follow Caroline St. west to Collingwood St. Turn right and follow Collingwood St. north going past the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 397 and the Creemore Community Centre and Arena until you reach County Rd. 9.
This community has a number of great tea rooms and restaurants and is renowned for its brewery. Also observe the beautiful business signs along the main street and the old Victorian homes. It is also the location of the smallest jail in Canada which, luckily, is no longer in use.
39.5 Turn left (west) and follow County Rd. 9 until you reach km 40.5
40.5 Turn north on an unopened road allowance (Conc. 5 South Nottawasaga) which takes you to the top of Ten Hill, from which there are many great views.
42.3 Turn west on 12-13 Sideroad Nottawasaga and make a gradual descent from Ten Hill.
43.6 Turn north onto Conc. 6 South Nottawasaga, which after a while runs into Riverside Dr. Continue north to the top of a rise.
45.0 Turn west into the fields over a stile. This is also the point where the Wasaga Beach Section continues north along Riverside Dr.
The Mad River section descends into the pasture land which can be very wet, particularly in the spring. Look for a footbridge, built by Army Cadets from Blackdown Cadet Summer Training Centre in the summer of 2004, to cross the creek before entering a Cedar forest, which is shared with a herd of cows. Don’t enter this part of the trail with clean white running shoes, as they will certainly be coming out muddy!
46.4 Old Websterville Steel Bridge over the Mad River was moved there from its original position over the Noisy River. The legend has it that it was here that many years ago, in the midst of a very cold winter, a lady who had brought away wheat to the mill to be milled, and brought it back as flour, lost her balance while crossing the icy river, and lost all the flour. She was so mad, that she cursed this “mad river”, which from then on was known as the Mad River!
The trail then continues through an apple orchard, which when timed right in the spring, can be quite a beautiful and fragrant sight! Apples from the orchard can be bought at the Glen Huron Apple Storage or indulge in one of the best apple pies ever!
48.5 Cross Conc. 8 South Nottawasaga (just west of Glen Huron) on gravel road. Look back for the view. In the spring, you can see beautiful yellow fields of canola.
50.0 McKinney’s Hill. End of Mad River Section, where it meets the Bruce Trail. At this point there is a cairn with an engraving which indicates the end of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail.
A worthwhile side route is from km 48.5 into Glen Huron, past the running water wheel. (Be sure to visit the General Store with its fresh eggs and washroom facility). Then hike up the blue Mad River side trail, maintained by the Bruce Trail, which takes you along several ponds and the rushing waters of the Mad River to Devil’s Glen Ski Resort. Stop for a look on the bridge over the Mad River, and then go up the ski slope and left along the Bruce Trail to the cairn, which marks the end of the Ganaraska Trail.
WASAGA BEACH SECTION
Maps 25, 26, 27, 28
Gently undulating terrain; some poison ivy.
Suitable for beginners.
Direction: East to West; distance: 48.6 km.
The Wasaga Section starts at Tiny Beaches Rd./Archer Rd. A small area for parking may be used, free of charge, between September and May but, at any other time, parking is permitted only on some off-beach roads; observe restrictions.
0.0 Wasaga Town limit; a plaque dedicated to the founder of this section has been placed here.
0.7 Eastdale Dr. Turn west and enter Allenwood Beach, part of the longest freshwater beach in the world and a popular place for sunbathers, wind-surfers and swimmers. Follow the sandy road for 1 kilometre, then stay close to the shoreline. A narrow run-off, shallow most of the time, will have to be crossed. A short distance ahead, steer left, away from the beach, then enter Mary St., walking eastward. Cross River Rd. East and continue to a dead end; beyond it, find a small footbridge and cross it.
3.0 Wydunas Cres. Keep right, then turn right onto Deerbrook Dr. which joins River Rd. East; proceed to Zoo Park Rd., then turn left. Continue going south, cross River Rd. West at the traffic light and walk as far as Golf Course Rd. Turn right and find the trail continuation at 358 Golf Course Rd.
6.5 This steep private driveway is one of several access points to Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, 500 hectare of fragile ancient beach ridges which are home to a variety of plants and animals, some of which are native only to this area and are on the list of endangered species. Two interpretive signs will be found in this location. In spring, you can spot some pink or golden Ladyslipper orchids and a multitude of showy Trilliums; the Pine and Oak forest tracts are home to the white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, snowshoe hares, porcupines and the threatened but harmless Eastern Hognose snake; there are no poisonous snakes within this park. The Ganaraska Hiking Trail runs for 17 kms thru this unique dune system. As you walk in either direction along this section, you will notice two side trails, each marked by blue blazes; at these points, a 1-1.5 kilometres long walk leads to the Nordic Ski Centre where ample parking and two outdoor toilets are available. For those who wish to start hiking from this location, easy access is provided. (Interpretive sign found here.)
Note, however, that hiking is not permitted during the winter season when a 30-kilometre trail system is groomed for
14.8 Veterans Way. Interpretive sign is found near entrance on eastside of Veterans Way Parking is available near the trail crossing. You are now entering the western portion of the park which is used by snowmobilers during winter. Winter hikers are cautioned to be prepared to yield right-of-way for the next 200 metres. The trail swings to the left and ascends over several dunes to reach the Nottawasaga River Ridge.
19.3 A picturesque picnic area allowing a good view of the Nottawasaga River below, also a river access point for fishermen.
20.3 Lookout point with interpretive sign; fragile sand bluffs high above the river’s oxbow.
22.3 Exiting the western section of the park and crossing Oxbow Park Dr. you will see Schoonertown Parkette. A historic site dating back to War of 1812, it had been transformed into a conveniently located picnic area with tables, benches and a small parking lot. From here turn left across bridge; go along town streets.
24.3 Sunnidale Rd. Turn south and follow the blazes to just below the water tower which is one of the largest in North America. A short side trail ends up at a lookout whereas the main trail, leading downward, merges with Wasaga Sands Dr. Keep right and find trail access between houses. For a short distance the Ganaraska Trail coincides with a local trail named McIntyre Creek Trail. Along its route, look out for giant ferns and jack-in the-pulpit.
26.0 Wasaga Sands Golf Course. Stay on designated hiking trail; golfers and golf balls have the right-of-way. Follow the creek valley until reaching a sharp bend to the right. A short ascend ends up in a residential street (Blake Court) merging with Wedgewood Dr.
28.5 A left turn followed by a short walk leads to Sunnidale Conc. 12; across this road the trail continues southward along a stretch of farmland. In this area, it was difficult to mark the trail. Proceed south along the farmer’s field access.
Note: It is not advisable to hike this portion of trail after heavy rains due to the presence of deep mud and puddles on some stretches; also, in late spring be careful with freshly planted crops.
Note the blaze on the big tree in the middle of the field; keep to the fence line on the right and follow it around the field to the southwest corner. Look for an opening down into a wooded valley with a dry creek bed. At the next opening, follow the blazes at the left side of a field until arriving at a creek crossing. A good way to cross the shallow water is to use plastic bags around your boots, then wade to the other side.
33.5 Cross Highway 26, then walk south on Sunnidale 3/4 Sideroad for 1 kilometre.
Sunnidale Conc. 10. At this location, the main trail continues south to Conc. 9, then west to Centre Line, whereas a side trail leads westward along Conc. 10; the latter is not maintained and could be difficult to pass after prolonged periods of rain. It is, however, the preferred route since it leads thru wooded terrain.
37.9 The two sections merge at Centre Line and, turning south, soon continue westward along Nottawasaga 18/19 Sideroad.
41.1 Airport Rd. (Simcoe County Rd. 42). Continue walking west, turn south onto Fairgrounds Rd., then turn west on Nottawasaga 15/16 Sideroad. Great views, especially from the top of the hill, over Nottawasaga Bay and surrounding countryside. Beyond the crest of the hill, the scenery changes to views overlooking the Village of Glen Huron and Devil’s Glen on the escarpment.
48.1 Smithdale. Turn south at the bottom of the hill onto 6th Line.
48.6 Stile. This marks the end of the Wasaga Beach Section and the junction with the Mad River Section.
It is suggested that, when hiking the western end of the Wasaga Beach Section, you hike from west to east, not only to fully enjoy the scenery but also because you are walking downhill after the first 1.5 kilometres.
Maps 29, 30
Gently undulating terrain. Suitable for beginners.
0.0 The Oro-Medonte side trail starts from the main trail in the middle of Copeland Forest at km 7.5 of the Barrie Section. There is no car access to this point. The trail proceeds in a northerly direction along forest paths and at one point follows beside Ganaraska Pond. This part of the trail is really beautiful. Continue along until:
3.3 The trail reaches the P2 parking lot after crossing railway tracks. Just beyond is Ingram Rd., where the trail turns west for 200 metres to the intersection of Ingram Rd. and Line 4. Turn north, cross the overpass over Hwy. 400 and continue to a place where the trail turns east into fields.
4.8 Turn east into a field and follow the trail markings to:
6.5 Line 5, turn north, and proceed for 4 kilometres along Line 5 crossing:
10.5 Moonstone Rd.(County Rd 19). You now descend into an area well named as “Pretty Valley”. This is a wide, picturesque valley made by the Sturgeon River, one of the better known trout streams in Simcoe County.
14.0 Turn east onto Peter Rd. Just past the hydro line, turn north into a field. The trail continues along forest paths and bush till it reaches Line 5 again, just south of County Rd. 23
(The Vasey Rd.).
18.5 End of Oro-Medonte Section, start of Midland Section.
Gently undulating terrain. Suitable for beginners.
0.0 County Rd. 23 – just east of Vasey. Go north on Reeves Rd. about 300 metres, then enter into the bush, on the right, at a small man-made dike. (Parking along the roadside is limited). From here, it drops down into a maple forest with a display of trilliums in the spring. After a short distance, the trail comes out into a farmer’s field. Markers are difficult to spot because of the length of the field. Follow the old rock fence line. At the north end,the trail enters The trail continues to change from pasture to bush trails. You will have to skirt around a man-made pond on the right hand side.. The trail returns into the bush, and then opens up into cattle pasture.
Caution: Poison Ivy in the ditch as you approach the road.
4.1 Hogg Valley Sideroad. Limited parking is available here. Go through old pasture land. After climbing over an old rock fence, you will notice that the trail veers to the left. You will approach a wetland area, with an ephemeral pond, frequented by waterfowl. The trail consists of pasture & bushland, with gently rolling slopes. Just before you approach the old CNR railway line, you will encounter an active beaver pond. This area may be flooded. Veer to the left 90 degrees to follow the abandoned CNR line.
8.4 Follow the CNR line which intersects with Reeves Rd. (A few parking spots are available on Reeves Rd.). This is a good location to consider some of the local history of the area. A small park is located a short distance to the right on Granny White Sideroad. The Huron village of St. Louis was believed to have been located here. The village was burned in 1649, and Fathers Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalemant were captured while on a mission at the village. The Jesuits were then taken to St. Ignace (northwest of Waubaushene), where they were later martyred by enemy Iroquois. The gate to the park is frequently open during the summer months and a short path leads to a plaque commemorating the village and its history.
At the intersection is the Newtonville School, named after the Eastern Ontario community where the original settlers had previously lived. To the left, is another plaque; this one commemorating the site of a former Anglican Church.
11.1 From here, there is a short distance to Elliott Sideroad along the unopened road allowance. There is a gradual climb from a plateau. This can be a muddy section. You may also be greeted by horses in a farmer’s field along the way.
Elliot’s Corners. Continue west.
12.6 Turn north onto Ron Jones Rd. Follow the road as it turns into a small road allowance which enters the Wye Marsh. There is a steep climb to an old abandoned railway line. Turn right when you come to the railway bed.
16.2 Follow this to a large parking lot. This is the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre. Donations are required for the use of the Wye Marsh trails and an admission fee is charged to visit the centre.
If you follow the road towards Hwy. 12, you will encounter the historic site of Ste. Marie Among the Hurons. The site is open to the public between Victoria Day weekend and Thanksgiving. This site is a reconstruction of a Jesuit mission similar to how it would have appeared between 1639 and 1649 when French priests came to convert the native people to Christianity. Costumed interpreters guide you through a 17th century journey. If you have a couple of leisurely hours, you may find this an interesting attraction.
TINY TRAILS SECTION
Maps T1 & T2
Mostly flat. Suitable for beginners.
The Tiny Trail Section is being maintained by the Midland Hiking Club. At present, they are two separate trails. In the future, Midlands Tiny Trails will be joined. There are many places with great views as well as many placid paths.
0.0 Present start of the Tiny Trail Section. The trail starts at Conc. 12, about 1.6 kilometres east of Simcoe County Rd. 6, which goes North of Elmvale. The trail follows a Rail Trail going South. It goes through a fairly open area which provides some good views.
1.5 Conc.11. Golfers can check out the greens on their way by and maybe pop in to play a few rounds at the Balm Beach Golf Course.
2.9 Conc. 10. Balm beach Rd. to Midland. The trail traverses a local park in the Village of Perkinsfield.
4.3 The trail continues through a pine forest.
5.7 The trail makes a gentle turn to the left and converges with Simcoe County Rd. 6 at Conc. 8.
8.5 Conc. 6 continues South. Planes may be heard lifting off and landing from the nearby Huronia Airport.
9.9 Conc. 5, Wyevale. This is a pleasant village with some services.
10.5 Climb up embankment and turn South for a short distance to a monument. This Cairn was erected in recognition of the services of J.F. Wildman in acquiring this forest for the County of Simcoe in August 1942. Much flora and fauna can be found along these paths. There are some small pools of water where spring peepers are heard. This Tiny section of the Ganaraska Trail currently ends at a dirt road (Wildman Side Rd.), but hopefully will be extended in the future to meet up with the Wasaga Beach section of the Ganaraska.
13.3 Turn right on Conc. 2 from the railtrail and follow it for about 1.5km, then walk along the south dyke trail in Tiny Marsh to the marsh to the Interpretive Centre then out on the Tiny-Flos townline line towards Georgian Bay. The townline turns into a path, which connects with the Wasaga section at Archer Road.