Tag Archives: hiking

Hiking the GART

11 Feb

gart4By Diva Shari Parsons

AUBURN – My hubby and I love hiking on the many lovely nature trails that Huron County has to offer. The spring-like weather recently was the perfect time to check out the section of the GART (Goderich to Auburn Rail Trail) that we are taking responsibility for this year as Trail Rangers for the Maitland Trail Association.

The GART follows the old CPR rail line from the historic CPR Station in Goderich (now the Beach Street Station restaurant) to the remnants of the former bridge over the Maitland River just west of the village of Auburn. The trail is a little over 13 km long with the vast majority of it being an easy walk over flat ground on a fairly wide and well cleared trail. For the most part, the trail base is made up of finely crushed rock with flat grassland and hard-packed soil in other sections. Large sections, especially at the beginning of the trail, are wheelchair and stroller accessible (not in Winter). The entire trail is great for riding bikes (not in Winter). Part of the GART is also used as a snowmobile trail in winter.

gart7This weekend we hiked the section between Sharpes Creek Line and Heron Line, a distance of approximately 4 km return. Depending on the season, there is a little space for parking one or two cars on either side of the road edge on Sharpes Creek Line. The trail entrance is well marked.

As we walked along we enjoyed the wind whispering through the tops of the Scots pine that line each side of the trail. The pines give way to scenes of rolling farm fields and tree studded hilltops. Towards the far end, there is a small bridge that spans a burbling stream.

gart8The trail is popular with walkers, joggers and their faithful four-legged companions. It is also a veritable highway for the local wildlife. A thin layer of snow made the perfect medium for leaving tracks of all shapes and sizes. We saw squirrel, rabbit, hare, and fox tracks along with the snake-like trail of a field mouse in the snow. We also got to enjoy the sound of chickadees “chick-chick-chicking” us and the sight of a beautiful hawk soaring in the sky. I even found an old rusty rail spike lying on a mound beside the trail giving evidence of the trail’s former glory as an active rail line.

gart5If you are looking for an easy stroll filled with peace, tranquility and pleasing scenery, give a section of the GART a try. There are eight or nine different access points for the trail so you can walk just one section at a time if you wish. My only complaint/comment about the trail is that there aren’t any benches to sit on for most of the trail.

A free hiking guide with maps for the GART and other area trails can be found at http://www.hikehuron.ca/. You can also purchase a Maitland Trail Guide from the Maitland Trail Association

Happy trails!



Hiking in Huron

17 Oct

By Diva Cindy Fisher

Well, okay. . . there have been a few flurries in the forecast for this weekend but don’t let that discourage you from hiking in the fall colours in Huron County – Ontario’s West Coast.

There are still weeks of good fall weather for hiking and if you pick up a County Hiking Guide or view it online. You will see that there are over 25 hiking destinations featured from all over this great County. Put them all on your bucket list!

Menesetung Bridge.

Menesetung Bridge.

Let’s start at the lake, with a recent photo of the Menesetung Bridge captured this week by Debbie Carroll. If that doesn’t hustle you out the door, I don’t know what will! I appreciate this bridge over the Maitland River and am so thankful that it was saved from demolition when the CPR line was abandoned – I can’t imagine Goderich without it.

This converted railway bridge in Goderich will link you to several great trails:

– the GART (Goderich to Auburn Rail Trail) – 13 kms and beautiful pastoral scenery;

– the Sifto Loop – 1.6 km – follow the blue blazes off the north end of the Menestung Bridge;

– the Menestung Trail – 1.8 kms – follow the yellow blazes off the north end of the Menestung Bridge, and;

cindy&friends– the Maitland Trail – You can follow the white blazes off the GART near Tiger Dunlop Tomb entrance. The trail is a total of approx. 50 km but you don’t have to do it all in one day J. Some people do, but I prefer a more relaxed approach in my enjoyment of the outdoors; it was pretty fun to do ½ of the trail (25 km) on the Camino weekend event at the end of September – hundreds of people agreed! And here I am with my neighbours, happy and hiking!

Goderich also has the Millennium Trail (about 3 km along the Maitland River in Goderich) and the Maitland Woods behind the Columbus Centre – and also great trails behind the Maitland Cemetery.

So many trails……so many trail snacks!

On the way to Bayfield you can check out Naftel’s Creek Conservation Area, right on Highway #21 between Union Road and Kitchigami Rd – can’t miss it.

In Bayfield, you will find three great trails there – Sawmill, Heritage and Woodland. The Sawmill starts north of the village and river, at the end of Sawmill Rd. Heritage and Woodland start from Clangregor Square.

Near Bayfield you can find the beautiful Varna Trails starting at the Stanley Recreation Complex just west of Varna on County Rd. #3/Mill Road. Who doesn’t love the 2 kms at Bannockburn CA just east of Varna – a real fall jewel.

There are great trails near Exeter (McNaughton / Morris Dam); and I haven’t even mentioned Hullett Provincial Wildlife Area or the Lobb Trail near Clinton. Wingham has a clever trail associated with the former CNR Bridge and Blyth has a nice greenway trail on a former rail bed. Benmiller boasts the Falls Conservation Area.

I love living here…year round…next time I will share some great local spots to cross country ski.

If you like to go on guided hikes, check out what is happening on: www.maitlandtrail.ca or at www.bayfieldtrails.com . Both of these trail associations also have pretty sweet detailed trail guides so that you won’t get lost. If there is signage regarding hunting this season, asking you to not use a particular section of trail, then don’t – here are lots of other hiking spots around.  So get off the couch (unless you’re cheering on the Blue Jays), go out the door and walk – you will be glad that you did.


Oct. 18, 2015 – Editor’s Note: Cindy sent in this photo after a fall hike on a snowy day.


Time to explore the trail systems in Huron County

11 Mar
This stunning canopy of trees can be found on the Mara Street Walkway, which is part of the Heritage Trail in Bayfield. Photo courtesy of Heidi & Tyler Hessel, Outside Projects.

This stunning canopy of trees can be found on the Mara Street Walkway, which is part of the Heritage Trail in Bayfield. Photo courtesy of Heidi & Tyler Hessel, Outside Projects.

HURON COUNTY – Now that the days are getting longer and a warm breeze has blown into Huron County, the conditions are perfect to get out to cross-country ski, snowshoe or hike the many trail systems across our woodlands, riverbanks and countryside.

Here are a couple of top picks to get you started. Explore more of the county’s natural areas and trails here.

1. Picks ( and pics) from Heidi & Tyler Hessel, Owners, Outside Projects of Bayfield

The Sawmill Trail, Bayfield.

The Sawmill Trail, Bayfield.

We often enjoy snowshoeing the many trails in and around Bayfield. All are easily accessible and within a light to moderate difficulty level. They’re easy for anyone to get out and enjoy the winter even if you are simply hiking or have on a pair of snowshoes. Maps and information about these trails can be found on the Bayfield River Valley Trail Association website.

The Mavis / Taylor Trail, Varna.

The Mavis / Taylor Trail, Varna.









2. Picks (and pic) from Phil Beard, General Manager / Secretary Treasurer, Maitland Valley Conservation Authority

I like to go on the Wingham Community Trail extension, which goes out to the new elementary school in Wingham, aptly named the Maitland River

Wingham Community Trail extension.

Wingham Community Trail extension.

Elementary School. Behind the school is a farmfield that is proposed for the Wingham Creek Subdivision.

There is an easement around the field for an extension to the Wingham Community Trail. A lot of people cross country ski on this property. It connects with the parkland owned by North Huron that extends along the Maitland River.



Six Beavers or One Beaver, Six Times?!?

21 May

nickelby Diva Gwen Richardson

I wish I had the photo to prove it, but I don’t.

Recently I had some time to fritter away in the early evening in Clinton, so decided to visit Hullett Provincial Wildlife Area. I hadn’t been there for quite a few years, but it won’t be long until I return. I randomly chose to turn down Bridge road off Kinburn Line; an excellent choice! Walking alone, and thus quietly, I noticed a small brown animal, no more than 5 feet in front of me. We both were frozen still for a moment before it scurried off the dyke and into the marshy area.    I instantly thought “that was a beaver!” and almost as instantly, “nah, probably not.”

I continued on, enjoying all the sights (Canada geese, many varieties of ducks, redwing black birds, robins, tree swallows, finches and warblers) and sounds of the marsh. There were so many birds singing, and I know for sure I heard spring peepers and bullfrogs, and I think tree frogs too.  There should be an app for that, and there probably is.

But, back to the beaver.  Once again, a brown animal scurried across the dike and into the marsh.  Watching carefully, “stalking” really, I had the great pleasure of watching it cross my path 4 more times and I was able to watch it swim and use that amazing rudder of a tail, before it would disappear from my view again.

So, 6 beavers, or the same beaver over and over?  It doesn’t really matter to me; it was all so delightful. I was also thinking that those geese and ducks must be nesting, so it will be a fabulous place to spot goslings soon.  When I googled the website, I also discovered that it is a nesting place for bald eagles. Now that will be something to see.

And in case you need one more temptation to go there, just as I was leaving, a magnificent grey heron rose up from the marsh and flew just in front of me.

The Hullett Marsh is huge, about 500 acres, so it would be a good idea to check out their website: www.hullettmarsh.com, and perhaps print off a map.

And don’t forget your camera, bird and flower guide books and a nickel, so you can identify the beaver!!

Phone:  (519) 482-7011    Emailfohoffice@tcc.on.ca

Physical Address: South-East section of the property….
41378 Hydro Line Road,
Clinton, Ontario

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1520,
Clinton, Ontario


Spring is here!

7 Apr

by Travel Diva Jenna

Hiking Guide Cover

Finally we have reached temperatures above 10 degrees! I am excited to get out and Hike this year. Did you know that Huron has 29 hiking trails? What a great opportunity we have in the area! I haven’t decided what trail to start with, so please send me your recommendations. Take a look at the Hiking guide here: www.hikehuron.ca

Bridges and Beaches

15 May

By Diva Jenna Ujiye


I’ve been wanting to get over to check out the Balls Bridge for a couple of months, but the weather wasn’t perfect until last weekend. This bridge is really amazing and it’s story is even better. They say that it is the “bridge that love built,” the original builder built it so his wife didn’t have to get her shoes wet walking through the river on her way to the market back in 1885. This bridge is also one of  the older bridges in Ontario and the design is very rare with less than a dozen left in existence. To find out more about the Balls Bridge visit http://ballsbridgeontario.com The pictures tell it all!

bridge1 bridge2I ended at the Goderich boardwalk, a 1.5km trek along the three beaches in Goderich. My friend Cindy says it’s the best, because there are ice cream shops at both ends. While I was walking I probably passed 100 people enjoying the sun and getting a bit of exercise. I actually watched a couple of kids swimming at The Cove beach, but it was still pretty cold. I can’t wait for the water to be warm enough for me.  This beach has the best waves and sand around! To find out more about these wonderful trails visit www.hikehuron.com

beach1 beach2

A Tiger in Rural Ontario

15 May

By Diva Jenna Ujiye

A couple of weeks ago I decided to explore the hiking trails in Huron County. There are 29 public trails, so I made a plan to hike sections of three of them. I started off at the Sifto monument at the top of the hill across from the Huron Historic Gaol. This lookout area has a really great view of the Menesetung bridge, the Sifto Salt mine, the Maitland River and Lake Huron.

lookout2 Lookout at Sifto Monument

So you may be wondering why I mentioned a Tiger in the title of this blog, well Tiger is actually a person. William “Tiger” Dunlop was a physician, author, woodsman, soldier, politician and raconteur and  one of the founders of  Goderich. I hadn’t hiked the Dunlop trail in years so my next stop was the Tiger Dunlop Trail. This trail is 3.2 kilometers and is great for biking, walking, running, and cross country skiing in the winter. It ends at the Tiger Dunlop Tomb, where there are plaques explaining the history of the man.

maitland1Lookout from Tiger Dunlops Tomb

This trail meets up with the Goderich to Auburn Rail Trail and the Maitland Trail. Seeing as I wanted to finish the trails in a couple of days I decided to drive to a parking area along the 48 km Maitland Trail. I hiked about 6 kilometres along the Maitland River and took in some great views. I even caught a beaver working on his dam, watched two eagles dancing and witnessed a blue heron! I will say I was surprised at the damage that still existed from the 2011 tornado in the area. I know that nature (and the amazing trail volunteers) will take over soon though! If you are in to Hiking, make sure to check out all of our trails in the area at www.hikehuron.ca