Saturday, April 13, 2013

Discovering the Cheltenham Badlands Trail

I am continually amazed by the rich diversity of southern Ontario. From lush Carolinian forests and rolling meadows to countless waterfalls and lakefront, we seem to have it all. A recent visit to the Cheltenham Badlands in the Caledon area introduced me to a new and very unique landscape unlike anything I had seen before.

Parking at the small makeshift parking lot on Olde Base Line Rd, I stepped out onto the red clay. The colour of the ground immediately catches your eye and provides a sense of the view to be had once you walk the few steps up to the vantage point there. From this point you can see the entire area as it drops away and the uniqueness of the ground is breathtaking.
According to the Ontario Trails Council “Badlands” is a geologic term for an area of soft rock devoid of vegetation and soil cover that has become molded into a rolling landscape of rounded hills and gullies. Such areas are rare in Ontario and this is one of the best examples. They exhibit the reddish hue of the Queenston Shale that forms them; the iron oxide in the shale produces this colour. The narrow greenish bands that can be seen throughout the shale are due to the change of red iron oxide to green iron oxide brought on by the circulating groundwater. The relatively soft shale is essentially clay and is easily eroded by water. This site was acquired by the Ontario Heritage Foundation in 2000 and is under the care of the Bruce Trail Association.

As this is a sensitive natural area, walking through it is discouraged. The Bruce Trail travels just past this site and it is just a short walk off the main trail to the access point.
This such an interesting area and I look forward to the opportunity of a summer return. I imagine that when the surrounding woodlands are fully green the contrast will be spectacular. Catching a sunrise or sunset from this area would also be very worthwhile.