Date: July 17, 2016
Distance hiked: ~11 km // 6.9 mi
Steps taken: 15, 679
Time on the trail: ~3 hours
Calories burned: 1, 228
Fuel consumed: 1 Clif bar, ~1L water
Wildlife spotted: just your run of the mill squirrels, chipmunks, and forest birds (but lots of cool butterflies!)
Yesterday, I decided to try out a nearby hiking trail located in Marble Rock Conservation Area. The full loop is around 11 km long and is advertised as being of high to moderate difficulty. I arrived at the trailhead around 10:30 in the morning (after getting mildly lost on my way to the parking lot), and there was one other car parked there. Another car pulled in just as I was getting on to the trail, and I briefly crossed paths with that hiker at the first lookout on the trail (Leaning Rock Lookout), but other than pretty much had the trail to myself.
Map courtesy of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere
Some examples of trail along the south loop
It was a hot day out, but the forest was shaded and cool, which was lovely. The trail goes through some really nice forested area, and you can see awesome chunks of the Canadian Shield sticking up out of the ground. I didn’t find many of the lookouts to be too spectacular, but there were definitely a couple of good views along the trail. The red/difficult section of the south loop was quite rocky, and had lots of scrambling up and down steep slopes. To get to the north loop, you climb up on to a more exposed section of the trail, and most of the trail here is over exposed shield rock with lots of lichens. I really like this kind of trail, but it does make it a bit easier to get lost, as evidenced by the fact that I briefly wandered off trail and had trouble finding where it picked back up again. The trail is quite well-marked though, and the rocky sections even have some cairns and blue arrows painted right onto the rocks.
Examples of rocky trail along the north loop
The north loop also goes around what is labelled on the map as “No Name Lake”. A sign along the trail points out that this is actually a large beaver pond, that will one day disappear when the dam fails. It was a pretty lake and the trail wound along beside it for a short time, giving me some nice views. When the north loop turns around and starts heading back south, it enters back into the forest, and I somehow managed to wander off trail again and found a weird hand-painted sign marking the location of a “moonshine spring and shanty” that was randomly in the middle of the woods. I backtracked and found that I had missed a rather blatantly marked turn in the trail. It’s important to stay alert when solo hiking, as getting too deep into thought can result in this kind of thing happening. Luckily, I usually notice pretty quickly when I’ve wandered off track.
“No Name Lake” and random forest moonshine shanty advertisment
The west side of the south loop wound through more beautiful forest, and also gave some of the best views of the hike (I think at the Barn Hill Lookout). Most of the trail was in deciduous forest (except for the exposed rocky bits), but it got a bit more varied at the end, with some sections through grassy/scrubby areas and some really nice pine forest right near the end. I crossed paths with a family out for a stroll near the end of my hike, which was awesome to see. I always love to see parents getting their children out and active in the great outdoors.
Hot and dry south loop trail
I finished the hike in pretty good time. The sign at the trailhead suggested putting aside 3-5 hours to finish the trail, and I squeaked in at just under 3 hours, so I’m considering that a win (not that it’s a competition or anything…). This trail was definitely a beautiful hike, but I kind of found myself wishing I was hiking it during the fall (my favourite season!). I think all that deciduous forest would be extra beautiful decked out in fall colours, and it would probably give the lookout points a little something extra too. Though I will say that at the very end of this hike, my head felt extremely clear, happy, and almost meditative. It was the power of forest bathing at work!
Nice, shaded forest trail 🙂
Trail lesson of the day: Listen to your gut! If what you are hiking on doesn’t feel right or doesn’t look much like trail, and if you haven’t seen a trail marker in a while, you are probably not on trail! The longer you walk on unsure, the more likely it is that you won’t be able to find the trail again. Best to backtrack while you’re still as close to the trail as possible.