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Bearbells by Leslie Noonan

Bearbells by Leslie Noonan

April 5, 2024 – It is getting harder and harder to know where to hike with this ridiculous weather and forget about snowshoeing this winter. I would have better luck surfing Georgian Bay and as such my snowshoes remained in the trunk of my car and did not see any action.  Today the ground is covered with a heavy wet snow, and the backcountry is a right mess, icy and muddy in equal parts.  Instead, I decided to check out Grant’s woods just north of Orillia.  Several times I had passed the sign for this area off Division Road but had never stopped.  This seemed like the perfect time to explore a small forest that should not be difficult to traverse while a mixture of rain and snow fell around me.

A word to the warning, the short driveway to the parking area is sporting a magnificent number of potholes this season.  However, once at the small parking area, head into the office.  It is manned by several very friendly staff that are happy to tell you about the trails.  There is no cost to use this trail, but donations are appreciated. This reserve was donated to the Couchiching Conservancy in memory of Jack Grant and is roughly 21 hectares (or 52 acres for us older folks).  There are several trails to take through the old growth forest.  The shortest trail is only 230 metres and is fully wheelchair accessible along a raised walkway.  How lovely is that there is a forest that anyone can enjoy!  For a longer hike there is a series of four kms of trails leading through old growth forests of white pine and hemlock and crossing several small bridges and walkways across the infant North River. Yes, the trail is wet and muddy in places, but in this season, there really is no where that isn’t.  Wear the appropriate footwear and be prepared to get muddy.  The outdoors are messy this time of year.

The longer Trillium Trail follows the borders of the forest, leading out of the evergreens and into an area of mature mixed forest consisting of maples, beech and ash.  Even with the layer of wet snow, spring is attempting to return to the area, as wintergreen, lilies and trilliums are poking thin green spikes out of the snow.  The trail is easy, with gentle inclines, and would be perfect for children to explore.  Although this was more a forest stroll than a hike, I think I will be back, as this is a perfect place for a quick mental health break or a much-needed moment of solitude once the weather clears. Spring is coming, as this evening returning home, I heard the spring peepers, the earliest harbingers of spring.  I love these little guys, singing with such gusto.  After all, it is not how big you are, but how loud you are heard!

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