Hike in Huron - Fall 2023
Wingham Community Trail
Like many Ontario towns, Wingham owes its existence to a river. Back in the spring of 1858, Edward Farley floated down the river from the now-vanished village of Bodmin to what is now the location of Wingham where he cleared land and built a log cabin.
The river became a source of power for early industries, but times changed. In 1983, with the failure of the dam that had backed up the water to power the Howson’s flour mill, it was not repaired (the mill had burned decades earlier) and nature reclaimed the river flats.
In 1991, a committee set out to turn the area into an ecological park. Today the trees and shrubs they planted have matured and the trails provide a pleasant walk for residents and visitors alike.
You can access the trail from the south end by going west on John Street until you reach William Street and using the parking lot at the playground and splash pad there or you can enter in the north end of town on Josephine Street (Wingham’s main street) through the big wooden arch on the west side of the street and park in the lot there. This entrance leads to the spectacular lookout on the 150-metre-long former CN Rail bridge which was saved after the railway wanted to demolish it in 1995.
The Wingham Community Trail runs along the old abandoned rail bed, crossing the Maitland River and then makes a loop around the Turnberry Flood Plain Conservation Area to take you back. Several benches are placed along the trail on the east side of the river. A covered gazebo is at the east end of the trail.
The Klopp Woodland Trail
A short trail just off Highway 84 mid-way between the villages of Hensall and Zurich is a short trail, perfect for stretching your legs and escaping into nature just for a moment.
The easy route meanders its way through the deciduous trees and through wetlands that are part of the Hay Swamp. The natural trail surface is ideal for families and pets on leashes are welcome.
Since the trail is a loop, the route can be followed in either direction from the memorial gardens at the entrance. You should allow around 30 to 45 minutes to complete both the larger route and the smaller side trail that passes through more coniferous forests.
The proliferation of wildlife in the area makes it a great trail to introduce the young hikers to heron, geese and beavers. In the wetlands, it’s not uncommon to find fish and mussel species, some of which are endangered.
The trail is part of the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority’s area, with the Hay Swamp extending 13 kilometres long and two kilometres wide and straddles two townships, Bluewater and South Huron. The swamp plays an important role in the Ausable River drainage system, including flood management and water quality in the river system.
Given the presence of deer in the vicinity, hunting passes are provided for an annual fee.
To find the Woodland, look for a large wooden sign with wagon wheels indicating Klopp Commemorative Woods. From here, the road leads into the parking lot where the trail begins just steps away. County Rd. #84 between Parr Line and Babylon Line, north side of the road.
The County of Huron continues to encourage use of their forest tracts for recreational hikers and, while some lie off the beaten path, they are definitely worth the trip.
The Bannockburn Tract (formerly known as the “Varna Pit”) is an 85 acre property that holds a wide variety of habitats. The wetlands, ponds, vernal pools, streams, woodlands and meadows and their bounty of flora and fauna make the site an ecological treasure. The three kilometres of trails begin by circling the former gravel pit and then climb up the hillside and through a deciduous forest. Besides hiking, try your skills at geocaching or throw a fishing line in the pond. In the winter, Bannockburn Tract is a great place to snowshoe or cross-country ski.
Beware that the trail does have some slippery sections, especially after a rain or wet snow and the pond is deep.
Bannockburn Line, 1.2 km south of Mill Road (Between Brucefield and Varna)