Tag Archives: Maitland Trail

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!

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Stocked pond provides hours of family fun

5 May

fish3By Diva Caroline Thuss

Looking for a great (and inexpensive) way to entertain everyone from young to old now that the nicer weather is here?

Hop in the car and take the short and scenic ride to Falls Reserve Conservation Area in Benmiller and check out its stocked fish pond.

My family headed out for our first fishing adventure of the year at the Falls Reserve on opening day. For the cost of a gate pass ($15 per vehicle) and a fishing permit ($8 for adult and $4 for child) for the stocked pond we were ready to enjoy several hours at the beautiful location.

fish5Don’t have a fishing rod? Don’t worry! The Falls Reserve is a loaner site for the OFAH / OPG TackleShare program where you can sign out a rod, etc. like you borrow from a library! The fish pond is located shortly after you enter the park and very close to the Maitland trail. There is lots of room for picnic lunch on the grass or a table nearby.

When we arrived there were already several people around the pond looking for that beautiful big trout. Some were using spinners, others jigs, and some the classic worm bait to get them to bite. We chatted briefly to the father and his son who had caught their quota of four beautiful trout already and were heading out. It was great to see so many people taking advantage of this program.

We enjoyed the sun while we cast out our lines hoping that we might get lucky. It did not take too long before we had a fish on the line and were able to reel in a nice sized trout, which my kids were super excited about…okay I was a little excited too as it has been a long time since I was able to catch a nice sized fish. We did release a few other lucky ones as the kids were more excited about the chance to reel one in than the thought of eating our new “friend” for dinner. It is all about building a positive experience for the children and encouraging them to practice sustainable fishing.

We will be back on July fourth when they host the Family Fishing derby, which is like a small derby for children with lots of prizes fish6and excitement from what I have been told.   This annual event will occur from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.  There is no cost to participate although park admission will apply.  The maximum park admission fee is $15 for a car load of people.  There are three age categories (10 and under, 11-17, 18+) and prizes will be awarded for the three longest fish caught in each category.  A prize will also be awarded for the smallest fish of the day.  There will be a variety of prizes donated by local sponsors and provided by the Falls Reserve C.A.  After prizes have been awarded according to the categories a draw will be held to give away the remaining prizes so all participants are encouraged to register to be eligible to win a prize.  They must also be in attendance to win a prize.  There will be a barbecue and refreshments available during the event.  Bait will also be available to purchase.

We were able to enjoy a short hike on the Maitland Trail as well before heading back into town to dress the fish and get it ready for the barbecue. Yummy! You can access the recipe I used here.

What: Falls Reserve Conservation Area

Where: 80900 Falls Reserve Line, RR 4, Goderich, ON N7A 3Y1

Why: Stocked Trout Pond

When: Day permits valid from 8 am. to 10 p.m.

Cost: Daily vehicle permit: $15. Daily pond permit: $8, adults; $4, children aged 5 to 12 (April 25 to June 26, trout only); no charge children aged 5 to 12 (June 27 to Sept. 30, catch and release only.)

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Huron County – 29 Beautiful Hiking Trails

17 Jul

by Diva Calista Powell
When I was a kid it was nearly impossible to keep me inside in the summertime. I can vividly remember my best friend Brittany and I exploring the many hiking trails around Goderich. We told ghost stories at Tiger Dunlop’s tomb and watched many sunsets from the Menesetung bridge. To this day, my appreciation for nature has not subsided and I am happy to call Huron home as we have over 29 beautiful hiking trails to discover. Here are some of my favourites that I have explored this season:

Trail #1: Maitland Woods

This 3.3km hiking trail is on the south edge of Goderich and is family friendly. There are boardwalks put in place to protect the varieties of plant life along the way and it is not uncommon to see wildlife along the path. What is great about this trail is that in the winter time it makes for an excellent cross-country skiing adventure!

Directions: Main entrance is off of Parsons Court at the southwest corner of the Knights of Columbus parking lot in Goderich, Ontario.

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THe Maitland Trail – hiking the gravel path at sunset.

Trail #2: Bannockburn Conservation Area

The Bannockburn trail has always been a favourite for my family, and every year we honour our tradition and attend their Fall hike hosted by the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority. I remember as a young kid I had a special mug that I would bring from home to fill up with hot apple cider to enjoy along the walk. The Bannockburn trail is also a favourite for many because you can bring your family pet as long as they are leashed. Also, there are alternate routes for hikers with a higher experience level. Come and enjoy the six natural communities Bannockburn has to offer; wet meadow, deciduous forest, old field, aquatic, marsh and white cedar.

Directions: Bannockburn Conservation is located on 76249 Bannockburn Line and is the first side road east of Varna off of County Road #3 (Mill Road).

Trail #3: MacNaughton-Morrison Trail

The MacNaughton-Morrison Trail is a 4km loop that is part of the South Huron hiking experience along the Ausable river. Known for it’s population of white squirrels, trail-goers can expect to see a variety of wildlife among the hardwood and pine forests. What is particularly great about this trail is that it is wheelchair accessible and even has a great volunteer-run “Trail Mobile” that gives people with limited mobility the chance to experience the beauty of nature free of charge. To book the Trail Mobile, contact Ausable Bayfield Conservation at 519-235-2610.

Directions: This trail is located off of MacNaughton Park in Exeter at 62 MacNaughton Drive.

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For more information on these trails and to discover many more, pick up Ontario’s West Coast Hiking Guide or visit www.hikehuron.ca