Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christie Wildlife Area

The morning fog was just starting to lift as Rosie and I headed down the trail at the Christie Wildlife area. I had found this spot completely by accident, driving north on Middletown Road just north of Regional Road 8. Fortunately, I had spotted the small parking lot on the left side of the road and now as luck would have it, we were exploring a new trail.

This beautiful marsh area feeds into Christie Lake and features a relatively short and mostly flat perimeter trail that follows the shoreline of the marsh. I can imagine that this area is teeming with wildlife during the spring and summer months but with it now being mid November it was quiet with the exception of some song birds and a few groups of ducks, mostly mallards occupying the water.

Exploring the trails, we walked through stands of cedar and pine transitioning into maple and other deciduous trees on the western shoreline. The trail was mostly grass covered and well marked and features a bridge where the trail begins the returning portion.

You can see by my GPS that I made one small error requiring me to backtrack when I realized I was off course but other than that the walk was enjoyable and quiet.

Returning, I made a mental note to definitely plan on a returning as I would love to see the landscape during the winter, spring and summer seasons as well.

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sulphur Springs

For my recent birthday, my parents presented me with the book, Touring the Giants Rib, A Guide to the Niagara Escarpment by Lorina and Gary Stephens. Fully aware of my love of hiking in this area, they always know how to find me gifts that help to feed my passion for the outdoors.

Flipping through it, I stopped on a description of Sulphur Springs and realized that although I frequently drive by and hike through this area, I know very little of the history of this unique spot.

During the late 1800s, the Sulphur Springs Hotel with its mineral spa was a popular summertime destination. The sulphur waters were believed to have wondrous curative powers and as a result they attracted visitors from far and wide. The hotel closed in 1910 after two severe fires. Although the hotel is gone, the fountain that supplied the sulphur water remains.

Stopping the car along the side of the Sulphur Springs Road, the first thing you notice is the distinctive sulphur smell. Plaques on the fountain provide some information on its heritage as well as some detail into what makes this water so distinct.
This site is easy to find while driving on Sulphur Springs Road between Ancaster and Dundas and can also be accessed from the Main Loop Trail while hiking in the Dundas Valley. You will find it while hiking the area between the Trail Centre and the Hermitage site.

This is just another unique feature that makes the Dundas Valley such a rich and interesting place to explore.

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Fall Hike to the Hermitage

One of my favorite areas of the valley to visit in the fall is The Hermitage. This ruin that dates back to before 1855 has a very interesting history and is particularly picturesque when surrounded by the vibrant colours of autumn.

The Hermitage can be found while hiking from the Dundas Valley Trail Centre and is located on the Main loop. This trail is a favourite of mine, filled with rolling hills, streams and moss covered rocks. There is also a small parking area at the Gatehouse Museum that provides for a shorter trail.

If in this area, step behind the Gatehouse Museum to see the Hermitage Cascade. This beautiful cascade waterfall is 13 feet (4 metres) in height and is very pretty.

On a recent visit, we started at the Hermitage Cascade, than followed the trail as it meanders towards the ruins of what was at one time an elegant estate.

According to the historical plaque at the ruins, stones used in construction were quarried from local sites, the red bricks from the Dundas Valley and the limestone sills from the Credit River Valley. The Hermitage had several owners before it was acquired by George Gordon Leith in 1855.  After George’s death in 1901, his daughter Alma Dick-Lauder bought the estate from the rest of the family and lived there until 1934, when a fire broke out during a party and burned the house down. Even after this fire, Alma continued to live on the site, building a modest home within the ruins where she lived until her death in 1942.

With the surrounding tree’s rich in red and yellows, the front facade of the home provides some indication of how majestic it once was. This is an interesting area to visit as you wonder around the remaining walls of the house and its outbuildings.
With its rich history and beautiful surroundings, a hike into this area is always worthwhile.
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