SPRING HIKES IN HURON
Spring can present the most challenging season on the trails in Huron County, with conditions ranging from late winter snow and ice to large puddles and mud, but the payoff can be spectacular. We’ve picked three trails that best show off our spring season, so be sure to pack your camera and waterproof footwear.
Hullett Provincial Wildlife Area: Hands down, this is our favourite trail from March through to June. For best hiking through damp conditions, the dyke system remains fairly dry and from its elevated vantage point it provides the best views of the waterfowl on the ponds in the marsh.
In March and April, you will be able to see the migratory birds, such as the tundra swans using the Bluebill and Butterball pools as landing strips. By May and June, the dykes are an excellent way to watch the nesting habits of the Canada Geese that have taken over the ponds. And keep your eye on the water close to the shore, as muskrats can often be seen paddling by. Lucky hikers may come across snapping turtles basking in the sun. White-tailed deer, sandhill cranes, herons and wild turkeys are also common sights so be sure to keep a camera with a zoom lens handy.
The location’s website features a detailed map and printable checklists to track your sightings of flora and fauna at www.hullettmarsh.com. The parking lot at 40874 Summerhill Road features a viewing stand, easy access to the dyke system and a short loop trail (orange blazes) that features both sweeping vistas of the pools and an easy tromp through a meadow and back through a cedar grove to the parking lot.
Robertson Tract: Just west of Auburn, down Pinery Line, is the entry point for the Robertson Tract, one of Huron County’s managed forests. There is a sign board with a map of the area and pictures and text outlining the history of the tract. The main trail is part of the Maitland Trail (an extensive trail running 52 kilometres between Auburn and Goderich, along with a network of side trails) and several fire cuts through the forest that are well-marked.
From the parking lot, head east along the river. In the spring, you will likely encounter plenty of fishermen, canoes and kayaks taking advantage of the high water. The riverbanks are steep in places affording great views of the river below. Follow the white blazes until you reach the point where the Maitland Trail makes a sharp right. Instead, take a left and wander the fire road back to Pinery Line. Follow the road until you reach the next fire road entry on the left. This entry point will bring you back to the Maitland Trail and a right turn will eventually lead you back to the parking area.
While meandering through the reforestation, watch for trilliums and anemones blooming. There is often a lot of evidence of red squirrels with great piles of midden (pine cone scales and scores) heaped under the trees in this section.
The Rodgers Tract on the other hand is a little farther off the beaten path and experiences less traffic and while it can be uneven the trail is not difficult to navigate.
The 13 Huron County forest tracts are a legacy of the massive reforestation effort across southern Ontario that was undertaken by municipalities in partnership with the province starting in the early 1900s.
Huron County residents and visitors are now reaping the benefits of that vision with over 1,500 acres of managed forests to provide educational and recreational opportunities.
On Hoover Line just south of Westfield Road lies Rodgers Tract. The trail consists of one loop around a pond and a one long rolling straight path along a ridge ending with a view over a large gravel pit.
The ponds and lowland marsh areas sing with the sound of frogs in the spring, and you will see a variety of nesting ducks early in the year.
Portions of the trail reach heights where you feel like you are on a treetop walk.