Hidden Gems 6: Simcoe County Museum and Forest Tract
Now that the snow has finally hit the township, two types of people emerge. The people who prefer indoor pursuits during the cold wintery season and the people who are ready and raring for their next outdoor frosty adventure. At Simcoe County Museum, both opportunities await.
Each Saturday, starting December 4th until December 18th, come and enjoy a “Simcoe County Christmas”. Already fully decked out in festive decor which includes garlands, wreaths, traditional trees, giant nutcrackers and more, the museum and its beautiful grounds are sure to get you into the Christmas spirit. The guided tour lasts approximately 70 minutes and takes you through the indoor as well as outdoor exhibits with explanations given along the way. Tours run from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Hot drinks and snacks will be available and can be enjoyed outside by the fire. There will be a special stop at the church. Admission is $8 per person and attendees are encouraged to bring a donation to support the paramedic toy drive. Goodie bags will be handed out at the end of the tour. Book online in advance. Proof of vaccination is required.
For the crafters in the crowd, two Christmas themed workshops will take place on Saturday December 4th, 2021. The morning workshop runs from 9 a.m. until noon with the afternoon one running from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Be prepared for a blast from the past as you create your very own ceramic tabletop Christmas Tree. This was a must-have for every groovy 1970’s household when the holiday season arrived. Sip on some eggnog to get those creative juices flowing and enjoy your trip back in time. People interested in attending this event are also encouraged to book, in advance, online, and be prepared to show proof of vaccination.
Outdoor winter enthusiasts can make their way to that section of Simcoe County Forest known as the Museum Tract. This section of forest is a moderately trafficked 2.4 km. loop. As the trail is quite flat, with only one real “hill”, it’s a great trek for those just starting to embrace a more active lifestyle. Although mostly in a wooded setting, some sections of the trail have been cleared for rehabilitation. This section of land, formerly owned by CP rail, was bought in 1999. In 2018, the Museum Tract officially became a part of the Forest and Habitat Restoration Project to improve the former gravel pit area that had previously been used for the extraction of sand and gravel to build rail beds. Restoration will include the removal of invasive species of flora with the reintroduction of native trees and shrubs. Habitat creation for the reintroduction of the Kirtland’s Warbler will also be a main focus of the project. This particular warbler is a globally endangered migratory bird that, historically, nested in Simcoe County. The flat and peaceful nature of this trail makes it perfect for snowshoeing or cross country skiing. The main access point of this section of forest is 1180 Snow Valley Road, however, access is also possible just off of Hwy. 26 via the Museum parking lot.
But wait, there’s more! For the past several years, the Museum Tract has created an ice rink that winds its way through the forest and heritage buildings in a little less than a 1 km. loop. Pack a picnic lunch filled with your favourite winter comfort foods and/or a thermos of hot chocolate and enjoy some wintery nature bathing as you glide your way amongst the snow capped trees. Admission is $10.