We live in an area that is blessed with beautiful places and amazing natural amenities. After a hot summer enjoying the beautiful beaches across the region, September is a great time to get out of the house, throw on your hiking boots and take a walk on the natural side.
If you are looking for a place to get started, Simcoe County offers an abundant system of trails for hikers and cyclists of all calibres to enjoy. Here are some of our favorite trekking adventure spots:
North Simcoe RailTrail
This popular network is a 30 km long trail, which skirts the famous Minesing Swamp and historic Fort Willow before heading through the Mayer’s Marsh, stretches of farmland and forests. The North Simcoe RailTrail follows the route of the North Simcoe Railway, which was built in 1878 and primarily served Georgian Bay’s lumber industry. The trail now offers stunning views over the Minesing Swamp and the Mayer’s Marsh, both excellent birding spots. Or you can check historic Fort Willow, and its Nine Mile Portage Heritage Festival every September. The trail connects to the Tiny Trail in the north, and with the Ganaraska Hiking Trail and the Nine Mile Portage.
Every September, the Nine Mile Portage Heritage Festival at Fort Willow includes several organized walks along the North Simcoe RailTrail.
This is a bit of a hidden gem – a natural area located right in Barrie, with more than 17 kilometres of trails on 518 acres. Located between Ardagh Road and Mapleview Drive, west of Essa Road, most of the area is zoned Environmentally Protected (EP) and houses a variety of different plant species. The Ardagh Bluffs Recreational Trail System will be used for walking and hiking, Parking is limited, so leave your vehicle at Holly Community Centre on Mapleton Avenue and access the trail across the street.
Thornton-Cookstown Trans Canada Trail
This abandoned CN rail line runs nine kilometres between Thornton and Cookstown. The gravel and sand surface are perfect for hiking, cycling, horseback riding and mountain biking. This trail travels through green pasture land and forests and crosses the Cookstown Creamery Creek six times and it’s a scenic walk for all ages and abilities.
Scout Valley Loop Trail
Scout Valley is 2 km west of Orillia, off Highway 11 on Old Barrie Road East. You’ll find this 93-hectare nature park and former Scout camp, with its three trails each two-kilometres long, is a superb place with a provincially significant wetland, a remnant of majestic white pines and two substantial areas of hardwood bush.
Oro-Medonte Rail Trail
The Oro-Medonte Rail Trail is 28 km long and goes from the outskirts of Barrie to Orillia, along the Lake Simcoe shoreline. The abandoned rail line affords users the opportunity to explore beautiful Oro-Medonte along the way. The trail surface is crushed stone, making it great for walking, biking and running year-round. To find this trail, take any south line along Highway 11 and drive until you see the trail. For trail maps and more information, visit Tourism Simcoe County at experience.simcoe.ca/discover/the-great-outdoors/trails
by Robin MacLennan