This morning was misty and wet from all of the rain the night before. Later on there’s the chance of rolling thunderstorms and … more rain. We hoped to hike a stretch of the Red Hill Trail to the Bruce trail before we got soaked.
The mud along the Red Hill Trail is sticky and slick. Hikers should be extra careful after it’s rained. We noticed many that were out had poles to stabilize themselves.
The trees looked extra moody with a slick of rain on them. This misty light made the green of the new leaves really pop.
Once we got down the first hill the terrain leveled out. The trail follows alongside the creek that Albion Falls cascades into. There are several little waterfalls along the route.
Erosion along the creek bed has left the roots of the trees exposed. Its a reminder of the communication network hidden beneath the soil. Suzanne Simard does an excellent TED talk explaining how trees communicate.
No trip along any of the trails is complete without a little birding. We had a perfect sighting of an indigo bunting. They are such stunning birds!
It’s amazing how many of the creatures inhabiting the forest, not 10 feet from us, are completely unknown to us. The more we get to know the plants and birds and butterflies the more in awe we are.
There is so much to see if we just decide to look.
Our intentions were to get to the Escarpment Rail Trail parking sidetrail and take the Mountain Brow side trail back. This meant a nice loop where we would get to see Buttermilk and Albion Falls. Not having a phone with data on it meant we didn’t realize we were almost there when the rain came. We turned around instead and hightailed it back to the car, making it just in time. Heavy rain poured down on us as we drove home.
We have loved being within walking distance of the Bruce Trail.
When we first were looking at it I really wanted to thru hike it a la Big Three – the Appalchian, Pacific Crest or Continental Divide hikes. There’s something so lovely about the idea of just walking for months on end. Ok, maybe you don’t agree with me, but I’m serious. Unfortunately life kind of gets in the way.
So we’ve been doing the Bruce in stretches because something is better that nothing. There are so many beautiful and interesting things along the way. But there were quite a few things we were unaware of and didn’t expect.
I was surprised at how many people who live along the Bruce Trail just dump their lawn clippings and thinned out garden plants along the trail. They’re probably thinking that its all plant life and its nature so it doesn’t really matter. But unfortunately this had contributed to the rise of invasive species along the trail systems.
Periwinkle (vinca minor) has a lovely purple flower and is an excellent spreading ground cover in your garden. But it is also miraculously resilient. When you decide you don’t like how much its spreading and throw it in the woods it just keeps on groing in its new habitat. English ivy and gout weed will do the same thing.
What can you do about these invasive species?
Effective management of invasive species does not include chucking them in the woods. In most cases, if you don’t have time for intensive management, it’s better not to plant them at all.
Also if you find invasive species on your hikes you can report it using the Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711. Or use the app EDDMapS Ontario.
P.S. If you want to read an incredibly lovely blog about thru hiking the Hayduke Trail grab your warm beverage of choice, find a comfy spot, and start at the beginning of Catherine Cook’s adventure here.
We did a small stretch of the Bruce trail this afternoon.
We started at the Felker’s Falls entrance. There’s a parking lot there for anyone who needs to drive here. Fortunately we’re close enough to walk.
There were so many spring wildflowers blooming along the way.
Violets, apple blossoms and trilliums were everywhere. There are also quite a few I don’t know so I’m going to have to find out what they are. We also saw a coyote maybe 50 feet away from us, and he was beautiful.
This garden opened in 2008 when more than 14,000 perennials and grasses were planted. Helen M. Kippax, the garden’s namesake, was one of the founding members of the Canadian Society for Landscape Architecture.
It is a display of the beauty and sustainability of native plants including more than 130 native species. The design, inspired by local plant communities such as prairie, oak savanna, Carolinian forest, and wetland pond sits on about one acre. Instead of individual plants the focus is on plant communities and a more sustainable approach to garden layout.
From the Kippax Garden you can enter the Woodland Garden.
There is one particularly stunning magnolia tree in the middle of the Morrison Woodland Garden. It was exploding with blooms.
There were also some incredible tulips in the scented garden.
Unfortunately RBG lost some beautiful pine trees in a recent windstorm. They were huge and wonderful, and now only one is left.
The cherry blossoms weren’t at their peak by the time we came. Someone mentioned that with all the wind and rain they didn’t last as long this year.
There were also three different colors of Eastern Redbud blooming. It is considered a native species because of one recorded observation on the south end of Pelee Island in 1892 by the Canadian botanist John Macoun. The species name, canadensis, is the Latin form of Canadian.
The Starburst magnolias are definitely our new favorites. This species was introduced to the United States in 1862 by Dr. George Robert Hall. It comes from the Ise Bay area of central Honshū, Japan’s largest island. It has a much more delicate flower that some of the other larger, showy, pink blooms.
There are also two lovely sycamore trees that have huge branches dipping down and touching the ground. This American sycamore is from the 1940’s when the arboretum was opened.
There is a sycamore tree in Windsor that is 225 years old, with branches that are 120 years old. It has been recognized as an Ontario Heritage Tree. Some sycamores have been known to live 500-600 years.
Forests Ontario has an interactive map where you can search Heritage Trees all over Ontario.
We weren’t really sure what to expect when we went to the Rock Garden today. We knew that it had been made in an abandoned quarry and it reminded me of a book I read when I was a teenager. It was a mystery, I think, and there was a house or estate built in a similar abandoned quarry – maybe an Agatha Christie or something like that. If anyone remembers please leave a comment.
Anyhow, this no longer abandoned quarry is lovely and surprising and has the most delightful little paths leading you to secret places. We found some children hiding in a “cave”, their mother said it was their favorite spot in the garden.
There was no water yet in the waterfalls or river. I’m sure it will be splendid when it gets going.
There are also the most incredible European Beeches near the parking lot. They are old, and wrinkly, and remind me of elephant legs, and they’re beautiful.
The cherry trees were also blooming but it wasn’t the best light to capture them.
Through the Cherry HIll Gate opens the Hendrie Valley Trail system. Everything is still overwintering but there are plenty of birds, squirrels and chipmunks around. Make sure you bring some seed because they will come and eat from your hand. Unfortunately we didn’t have any.
We did find some signs of spring in a patch of early snowdrops.
The Hendrie Park Gates – surrounding the South end of the Scented Garden – were constructed in recognition of the Hendrie family, who previously owned the lands on which the garden now sits. The fountain isn’t yet in working order but it’s still a lovely spot.
Another waterfall we’ve explored along the Bruce trail is Felker’s Falls.
The Peter Street Trail is a wheelchair accessible loop trail which winds through the conservation area. It was named after Peter Street who had a rare congenital bone disease that caused him to suffer numerous bone fractures when he was a boy and led to him having to use a wheelchair. He died at the age of 46 in 1984.