Category Archives: Bruce Trail

Bruce Trail – Olde Base to The Forks

Saturday, October 20, 2018

In a previous post we had looked at The Devil’s Pulpit having approached from the Forks of the Credit road.  Thinking that the fall colours might still hold some charm we decided to hike to the pulpit from the south.  When possible, we like to hike longer sections of the Bruce Trail using two cars.  We met on the Forks of the Credit Road near the end of Chisholm Street where we left one car.  We drove east to McLaughlin Road and then two concessions south through the historic community of Inglewood to Olde Base Line.  There is parking for a few cars west of here where Chinguacousey Road dead-ends.  The Bruce Trail roughly follows the old road allowance north from here.  It was an ideal morning for a hike in the woods with the sun shining and the smell of fall in the air.

The remains of an old split rail fence snake their way through the woods.  These fences were often the first method a farmer employed to divide his fields.  They were easy to build and could be made from material cut from the property.  They also provided the farmer with the option to reconfigure his fields, changing the size and shape of them quite easily. Their biggest drawback came in the amount of land that was used in their construction.  In later years when farming techniques improved and productivity was sought from the greatest amount of land possible.  The wooden snake fence was often replaced with flat wire fencing.

There are several ponds along the side of the trail that appear to have formerly been aggregate extraction sites.  Many of these former quarries along the Niagara Escarpment are now flooded and have become important wildlife habitats.  Mother nature reclaims her own.

Original property owners found that land grants along the top of the Niagara Escarpment were often not the best farmland.   The climax forests provided an initial resource in wood but this was soon exhausted.  Many land owners then sought to make money off the natural resources on the escarpment.  Transportation costs meant that many small quarries could no longer be profitable when local road building projects were completed and the market moved farther from the quarry.  Other uses for the property then had to be developed.  Grants have been offered at various times over the years for property that is reforested.  The production of maple syrup can turn a forest into a profit centre for a few weeks each spring and there are remains of sugar shacks in the woods.

Eventually the trail emerges onto a small section of Chinguacousey Road that provides access to one of these aggregate extraction sites.  Deforest Brothers Quarries is licenced to operate a quarry that is just over 10 hectares in size.  They are allowed to extract up to 20,000 tonnes of material per year.  How ironic that the Deforest Brothers have been cutting down trees to reveal their product.

The trail follows the Grange Side Road west for one concession until it reaches the third line, now known as Creditview Road. Once again, the Bruce Trail heads north along the old right of way for the road.  The road was never completed through to connect with the Forks of the Credit Road because the Devil’s Pulpit lies in the way.

The fall colours are still quite vivid on some of the trees but most of them are past their prime.

White Baneberry grows in a small patch along the trail.  Birds will eat the berries and the seeds pass through their digestive system and are deposited somewhere else to start a new plant.  Toxins in the seeds are known to have a sedative effect on the human heart muscle and ingestion can lead to cardiac arrest and possibly death.

This beautiful pond is one of several along this stretch of the trail.

When you reach the top of The Devil’s Pulpit the view is quite spectacular at any time of the year.

Stairs and a guide wire help you up or down the side of the escarpment.

The rock face at The Devil’s Pulpit must have been an interesting place to work every day.  Workplace standards have changed considerably in the last 150 years.

The trail continues to descend and passes the Ring Kiln Side Trail that leads to the Hoffman Lime Kilns.  This 0.6 kilometre trail leads to a dozen set kilns built in a ring for the burning of limestone.  As the trail descends to the former Credit Valley Railway it uses another set of stairs.

On the way back to the car near Olde Base Line we decided to check out the one-lane rail bridge where the CVR was built over The Grange Sideroad.

We encountered very few people for such a nice fall day on the Bruce Trail.

Google Maps link: Forks of the Credit

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The Bruce Trail – Speyside to The Gap

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Having previously visited Speyside to see a Royal Oak tree that has a historic designation we had covered a small section of the Bruce Trail in the Speyside Resource Management Area.  We had also been to a large gap that is cut in the escarpment by Dufferin Quarries.  We decided to hike the trail between these two locations.  There is free parking at the resource management area.  Near the start of the trail we found a place where people had been dumping garbage in a hole in the middle of a pile of rocks.  This is a shameful way to use one of two historic kilns on the property.  These were used by Alexander Livingstone to dry the hops he grew when this was his farm.

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Sometimes you see the least expected things in the woods if you slow down and take notice.  We covered the first kilometre or two of this hike in a record long length of time, but we found some interesting things we may have otherwise missed.  For example, the peeling bark on this dead Paper Birch looks like an alien or a skeleton.  These trees are also known as White Birch or Canoe Birch.  This example could make an interesting picture if photographed just at dusk when it might look even spookier.

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Mushrooms often come in look-a-likes that can be very different in toxicity.  For instance, the mushrooms below could be either Pholiota Squarrosa or Pholiota Squarrosoides.  A minor difference in spelling (“oides” as a suffix means “looks like”) and also a minor one in appearance.  The Shaggy Scalycap Mushroom (P Squarrosa) is dry between the scales on the cap and has a green gill below. It is considered poisonous and appears to be more dangerous when mixed with alcohol. The P Squarrosoides is sticky between the scales, has a whiter flesh with white gills and no smell.   I believe these mushroom here are the P. Sqarrosaoides but as I didn’t touch the cap or get a shot of the gills I can’t be certain.

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Chocolate Tube Slime is another of those curiosities that can easily be missed.  This is found in my National Audubon Society field guide for mushrooms but it isn’t really a true mushroom.  It forms spore bearing clusters that can produce an incredible number of spores.  Slime molds start off as plasmodia that creep over surfaces and absorb food sources.  It takes less than 24 hours for the slime to transform into the chocolate coloured tubes that will spit out spores and then vanish almost as fast.

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Cup fungi are usually small and grow in clusters.  Some of the bigger ones can be up to 4 inches across and often grow individually.  This common brown cup fungi was a couple of inches across.

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These hairy white caterpillars are the larvae of the Hickory Tussock Moth.  Near the front and rear of the caterpillar are a couple of black tufts of hair.  These are part of a venom delivery system that the insect uses in self defense.  If these are pressed, a poison is injected that will feel much like stinging nettles.  The sensation will last for about 20 minutes for the average person and can range from a burning feeling to severe pain and nausea.

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As you cross a little stream on the trail you can see the Cardinal Flowers that are just beginning to bloom.  They live in shallow wetlands and provide a bright splash of red in the late summer and early fall.  Some native tribes used the plant in a plaster to be applied to swelling and to reduce the pain of rheumatism.

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We followed the trail until we came to the place where Dufferin Quarries has cut an opening in the side of the escarpment.  We’ve covered this in more detail in our second most popular post, The Gap.  The picture below shows the workings of the quarry.

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We made our way back from the quarry as the heat of the day climbed and our water disappeared.  When we reached the closed end of St. Helena Road we elected to follow the roads back to the car to take advantage of some even footing and reach our stash of cold water quicker.  It is quite common to see little book exchange boxes in the city but it was unexpected when hiking the Bruce Trail.  This one is near the little parking area along St. Helena Road.

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Speyside has been reduced to a ghost town.  The gas station and general store have been closed for years and almost all other early buildings have vanished.  The price of gas was 79 cents per litre when these pumps were last used.  It’s closing in on double that now.

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We used the Bruce Trail app to track our hike and had lost the first part of the trek through Speyside Resource Management Area when I closed the app by accident.  I’ve drawn that part back in on the map below.  The tracker shows 12 kilometres and with the additional section, the hike was about 14 kilometres.

Speyside to Gap

Google Maps Link: Speyside

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The Bruce Trail – Limehouse

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Bruce Trail has many side trails which form little loops along the way, especially in The Toronto Section where side trails account for 60 kilometres compared to only 50 kilometres of main trail.  This makes for a nice change of scenery if you are doing a one car, return hike.  We set out to hike from the parking place on the Sixth Line, north of 22nd Side Road, into Limehouse and back doing the Ridge Side Trail and Todd Bardes Meadowland Side Trail along the way.  A severe limitation to the Bruce Trail App in combination with my iPhone is the extreme drain on the battery.  I was forced to switch it off after only 8 kilometres because the battery was down to 1%.   I have since learned that using airplane mode and low power can help resolve this if I want to map hikes for the sake of a blog.

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The trail starts off along a beautiful boardwalk through the woods which were surprisingly free of mosquitoes on this morning.  There was also a stillness to the woods as the birds were quiet.  The trail leads almost directly from the sixth line to the fifth where you are forced onto the road for half kilometre or so.

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Hemlock Varnish Shelf is growing along this fallen tree.  This fungus starts off as a small red nub on the side of the tree and grows into the familiar conk shape.  When it is young it has a brighter red colour and a varnished look to it.  The outer edges will be yellow or white but as it ages over the summer it changes to a more even rusty colour extending to the edges.  These fungi are known as polypores because they have multiple small tubes or pores on the underside of the fruit body that release the spores.  This group of fungi is key to the breaking down of wood and are key in the nutrient cycle of the forest.  Polypores are often used in traditional medicine and science is studying the Hemlock Varnish Shelf for potential uses in cancer therapy.

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As this hike progressed it became obvious that there was an extremely large variety of mushrooms growing along the trail.  Every time we hike there is always something interesting and unique about the area we’ve selected.  This time it turned out be the fascinating colours and forms of the fungi we encountered.  Giant puffballs grow along the trail in several places and are one of the prized edible mushrooms.  They grow from August to September and can grow to 20 inches or bigger.  They can be pan fried or battered and fried in slices.  The spores form inside the mature ball and are released in a “puff” when the skin cracks at maturity.

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As the puff balls mature they turn yellow and the skin cracks to release the spores.  The inside turns from white to grey or dark yellow of the puffball spores.  It has been estimated that an average size puff ball can contain up to 7 trillion spores.

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Oyster Mushrooms are considered to be one of the choice edible ones.  They need to be collected when they are young before the flesh becomes tough and woody.  Many Asian cultures use them extensively in cooking and they are cultivated in parts of India.

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There were several places where Scarlet Fading Waxy Cap mushrooms were growing.  As this mushroom matures the scarlet fades to orange or yellow.  The cap is deeply convex with an incurved margin.  It is one of the edible mushrooms however it is reported to be flavourless so it may be best used in a soup or chili.

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Several types of artificial bee habitats have been set up in places along the trail.  These ones are known as mason bee tubes.  This type of bee habitat can be a fun home project to make as a way to encourage the survival of the honey bee.

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The bees still seem to prefer their own handy work in building their nests but the similarities to the mason tubes is interesting.

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A good example of a mushroom that may be edible or may be a poisonous one is seen below.  If this is a Jack O-Lantern it is poisonous but because it is growing singular instead of in a cluster it is likely a Chanterelle which is edible.  Either way, the gills under the cap make this an interesting looking mushroom.

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The Yellowish-White Melanoleuca is also an edible mushroom but there is a very similar mushroom that is poisonous.  The Entoloma species look almost identical but have very different spores that allow them to be distinguished.  Due to the fact that so many mushrooms have look-a-likes that are poisonous you should either be very sure of your identification or leave the plant alone.

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Having reached Limehouse, where a large collection of 19th century lime kilns are preserved we made our way back to the car.

Google Maps Link: Bruce Trail Limehouse

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The Great Esker

July 7, 2018

This week I bought the Bruce Trail App for my phone and so it got it’s first workout.  After identifying a section we hadn’t been on before we set out for the parking area on the map (8th line north of 22 Side road, north of Georgetown).  There are several places that you can pull off and park that are not on the map including where the main trail crosses the road a little farther north.  With the tracking feature turned on it marked our trail as we progressed and created a record of the hike that can be saved toward earning trail badges.

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We entered on the Eight Line Side Trail and made our way to The Great Esker Side Trail.  Along the way we identified the remains of an old car in the woods.  It has clearly been there for decades as it has no motor and is surrounded by mature trees. It is in a very advanced state of decay.  The front bumpers and grill pattern were quite unique in the various car models of the 1940’s.  Having looked through hundreds of online picyures, positive identification wasn’t possible but the closest candidate was a 1946 Chevy Stylemaster.  That particular car was a sedan and this model was most likely a truck.

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Flowering Raspberries grow along the trail in many places.  Their flowers are quite large for the raspberry family and have a long period of blooms which also makes them of special interest to honey bees.  The fruit looks like a large flat raspberry and is used by mammals and birds.

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Eskers are glacial deposits that run in nearly straight lines and rise above the surrounding landscapes.  They are formed during the melting phase of the ice age when water is rushing in a river either over or under the ice.  The formation of eskers is described in greater detail in our earlier post The Brampton Esker.  The Great Esker Side Trail runs, in part, along the top of an esker.  It stands about 30 metres above the surrounding terrain but is much shorter than the one in Brampton.  As far as eskers go, the Great Esker isn’t so great.  The Thelon Esker is almost 800 kilomtres long.  The trail leads directly up the esker.

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The escarpment is made up of limestone and harder layers of dolostone.  Scattered throughout the landscape are large granite boulders that appear to be out of place.  They have been carried by the glacier and deposited across the province by the retreating ice sheet.  Rocks that are different sizes or minerals than the ones common to where they are found are known as glacial erratics.

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Old stone fences run through the trees marking off the earlier fields.  More recently some guide wires have been put in some places along the trail.  These are growing into the trees in several spots.

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Most of the mayapples, or mandrakes, have been harvested by the local wildlife but a couple large ones remained that are still green.  When they start to turn yellow they will put off a pungent odor that attracts raccoons. It is suggested to remove the seeds if you do happen to harvest some of this native fruit.  You’ll have to be lucky because the raccoons check daily for the newly ripening fruit.

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Butterflies abound along the trial and this Appalachian Brown was one of several flittering among the plants.

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The poison ivy doing very well along the sides of the trails.  Urushiol oil in the leaves and stem causes an allergic reaction in 85% of people.  It is white when the stem is broken but turns black upon exposure to oxygen.  The oil is highly concentrated and a drop the size of a pin head can cause an allergic reaction in 500 people.  In the United States about 350,000 people a year get a rash that can last for up to 3 weeks.

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One of the truly interesting boardwalks is this one that takes advantage of this tree and the massive root system to carry the trail.

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Snow’s Creek Falls are located at the intersection of 27th side road and the 8th line so we made a detour to see how much water was there at this time.

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It was certainly cool to check out the Great Esker Side Trail and take the Bruce Trail App for a test run.  It likely means more hikes on the Bruce in the near future.

Google Maps Link: The Great Esker Side Trail

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Nassagaweya Canyon

Saturday March 19, 2016

The cover photo shows a turkey vulture sitting in a tree looking out across the Nassagaweya Canyon.  This canyon is a deep cut in the Niagara Escarpment and it takes it’s name from an Indian word meaning “Meeting of two rivers”.  Sixteen Mile Creek and Bronte Creek both occupy the canyon.  When the escarpment was formed a large river cut through the bedrock and created an island of rock which is known as the Milton Outlier.  It has Rattlesnake Point on the southern end.  Four ice ages have further carved the river channel and widened it to the present size as glacial meltwaters flowed through the canyon.

When the county atlas was drawn in 1877 the 4th line was continuous and ran along the Nassagaweya Canyon floor next to Limestone Creek.  The portion of road through the canyon has since been closed.  The northern section is now known as Canyon Road and the part south of Rattlesnake Point is known as Walker’s line.  We parked on Canyon Road where it dead ends near the north end of Nassagaweya Canyon. The closed roadway is still open as a trail which leads toward a connection with the Nassagaweya Canyon Trail, The Bruce Trail and a Bruce side trail.  One possible factor in the closing of this road allowance is the wetlands that it passes through and it’s three crossings of Limestone Creek.  I’ve marked the road in red and the property of John Agnew with a red arrow.

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The early settlers who owned the land grants on either side of this road struggled with the maintenance and elected to create a corduroy road.  Logs were placed perpendicular to the roadway to make the road passable.  These roads were bumpy at best and a danger to horses because the logs often shifted.  They were not as refined as plank roads like the Gore and Vaughan Plank Road.  The picture below shows a section where the logs from the corduroy road are showing through the mud and grass.

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Along the old roadway there is clear evidence of human engineering in the form of drainage pipes, ditches and embankments.  At one point we noted a ridge on the west side of the road that didn’t look natural or man made.  Beavers build retaining walls for their ponds by scooping dirt up using their tails.  The trees around the pond don’t show any sign of recent chewing and so it looks like the beaver pond has been abandoned for a little while.

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The old road allowance connects with several other trails including the main Bruce Trail which is marked with a white slash.  The blue markers indicate Bruce Trail side trails and the orange is the 7.2 kilometer Nassagaweya Canyon Trail.  Following it to the right will bring you to Crawford Lake and the restored village of Longhouses there.  Following it, as we did, to the left takes you up the Milton Outlier where the trail follows the canyon edge to Rattlesnake Point.

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The blue side trail indicated above with two markers in a T formation is the Jack Leech Porter trail.  It is named after a member of the Iroquoia and had a boardwalk installed in the mid-1980’s.  In 2010 it was decided to replace the old 480-foot boardwalk with the new one which features a 16-foot bridge over Limestone Creek.  An 8-foot rest area is built into the boardwalk and can be seen in the picture below.

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The Nassagaweya Canyon provides a perfect habitat for Turkey Vultures.  They nest on the sides of the cliffs and in April or May produce up to three eggs.  The little ones are fed with regurgitated carrion which makes a smell that attracts predators.  The remote edges of the canyon cliffs provide protection for the nests from these threats.  The vultures spend the winter south of New Jersey and have recently returned to the canyon.  We were approaching Rattlesnake Point when we saw several pairs of vultures circling and resting in trees.  Making our way along the edge of the cliff allowed us to get some close-up shots of the birds.

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When we visited Rattlesnake Point last weekend we noted an old farm house near the mouth of the canyon.  From our vantage point, we had wondered if it might be abandoned and if we should investigate it some day.  We decided that climbing down the side of the cliff to reach the canyon floor was the only way to find out and so we set out to do so.  We are in no way suggesting that this is a good idea or that you do this.  This picture shows the limestone cliff face near Rattlesnake Point from part way down the side of the canyon. Traversing the valley would allow us to turn the Nassagaweya Canyon Trail into a loop instead of the usual two-way walk.

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Limestone Creek is a tributary of Bronte Creek and flows through the canyon.  We found a solid tree that had fallen across the creek to use as our bridge.  The forest through the canyon valley is quite young and most of the trees appear to be less than 40 years old.

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The mouth of the canyon at the south end is full of glacial deposits of sand and gravel. Farmers had to clear their fields of rocks every spring and they were lined up along the edge of fields in place of a fence.  This old stone fence marks the line where a field on the right has recently gone back to forest while the one the left was sold for the mining of aggregates. This property belonged to John Agnew in 1877 as shown on the county atlas above.

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The abandoned house we were seeking is on the edge of the old quarry.  This story and a half Georgian style home has a small dormer on the front which sits just slightly off centre.

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 The house hasn’t been abandoned for very long as there is little damage from weather or vandals.  The view from the upstairs hallway looks out over the extension at the rear of the house toward the site of the quarry.  The tree to the left of the house has an abandoned dog house beneath it.

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We had to ascend the canyon’s western wall to where we could see people on the Bruce Trail walking along the top of the cliff.

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This is the view from the top of the canyon looking back across to the Milton Outlier.  We had descended the 144 feet to the canyon floor at the left end of the white limestone cliffs on the far side.

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Scarlet Elf Cup is a type of fungus that grows in early winter through to early spring.  They are bright red on the inside and were used by the Oneida people to stop the bleeding on umbilical cords when an infant bled longer than usual.  We found large patches of them growing along the closed roadway.

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Along the old 4th line road allowance stand the remains of this old building, likely abandoned long before the road was.

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Google Maps link: Nassagaweya Canyon Trail

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Terra Cotta Conservation Trails

Saturday Feb. 6, 2016

The Terra Cotta Conservation Area has gone through many transformations over the years and has now been converted from a campground and picnic area into a naturalized park full of hiking trails.  We parked on the 10th line where the Bruce Trail crosses and a side trail known as the Walking Fern Trail leads to a rare species of ferns.  The main trail follows the road for a short distance before passing along the edge of a series of fish ponds.  This property is legally known as lot 29 10th concession in Halton.  The home was built around 1910 and is known as Edwardian architecture because King Edward was on the throne (1901-1910).  This style of building is generally less ornate than the Victorian style that preceded it.  The home is made of field stone with cut stone quoins on the corners and around the windows.  An enclosed stone porch surrounds three sides of the building.  A small stone bridge leads to a circular island in the pond.

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There is a small footbridge at the bottom of the ponds to allow access to the Bruce Trail. Concrete from a former dam structure remains in the bottom of the creek creating a small waterfall.  The current bridge is built on wooden beams set in metal drums which stand on the old dam structure.

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Queenston Shale can be seen along the sides of the trail.  The distinctive red and grey shale was formed in the Queenston Delta during the Silurian period when the sediments of the Niagara Escarpment were being laid down.  These shale formations have almost no fossils in them and are the lower layers of the escarpment.  They can be seen here as well as at the Devil’s Punchbowl and Cheltenham Badlands.

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In the 1940’s Clancy’s Ranch opened and it soon turned into a popular swimming spot. Soon it would pass to Leo Wolf and Gord Ward who developed a weekend recreation park which they called Terra Cotta Playground.  It became a popular place for dances and picnics.  In 1958 the Credit Valley Conservation Area of Terra Cotta was opened.  In the 1980’s we used to camp here in one of the 137 campsites that the park featured.  These have since been replanted as have the 650 parking spaces that used to serve the 10 acre day use park.  Mini golf, a concession stand and a 1 acre swimming pool used to round out the facilities.  The pool had replaced the swimming hole on Clancy’s Ranch.  A more environmentally friendly approach has since been taken with the pool being torn out and replaced with naturalized wetlands.  These wetlands are now used as an educational tool. Wolf Lake is named after Leo Wolf and has a thin coating of ice on it at this time.

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One of the side trail loops in the park is known as Maple Hills Loop.  Near where this trail joins  the Terra Cotta Lane trail there is a series of tubes fixed in the trees for the collection of maple sap.  This will then be boiled down to make maple syrup.

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When we entered the woods we had heard the hard tapping of a large woodpecker as it searched for it’s food.  From the sound we guessed that it was a pileated woodpecker and we found plenty of evidence of their presence in the area.  The pine tree pictured below has a fresh pileated woodpecker hole dug in it.

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Terra Cotta Conservation Area has a wide variety of hiking trails that are mapped out in eight colour coded trails.  The post below has an orange tag to mark the Vaughn Trail, a red tag for the Bruce Trail and a purple one for the Terra Cotta Lane trail.  After wandering around parts of each of these trails we took the Bruce Trail in search of the Terra Cotta Waterfalls.

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We took the purple trail named Terra Cotta Lane.  This trail follows an old roadway along the western shoreline of Wolf Lake.

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Terra Cotta waterfall is a 12 metre plunge waterfall on Roger’s Creek.  It is visible from the main Bruce Trail just north of the conservation area.  The waterfall has a deep plunge pool and the shale is deeply undercut below the harder dolomite that it flows over.  It is possible to reach the bottom of the waterfall in the summer but ice makes it impossible at this time of the year without proper gear and ropes.  This waterfall is also seen in our cover photo.

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A coyote has passed along the side of Rogers Creek leaving a set of distinctive footprints. The front prints are larger than the rear with the average size being about 2.5 inches long by 2 inches wide.  They have an oval shape and are more oblong than a dog’s prints.  The claws are less prominent than a dogs and the two front claw marks will be close together.

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The earliest versions of the horse drawn sickle mower began to appear around 1845 but they didn’t become popular until the 1860’s.  By the second world war there was a push from the government to replace work animals with tractors.  This example of a late 1800’s farm implement sits on display in the front lawn of the Terra Cotta Inn.

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Across the street from The Forge Park stands this old building.  Typical of wagon maker shops this building has a doorway on the second floor where painted parts would be left to dry.  The date stone on the front of the building is badly worn but appears to say 1900.

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On the edge of town stands this gorgeous five bay Georgian Revivalist home which is very similar to the Cawthra Estate house we visited last weekend.

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There is plenty left to visit in Terra Cotta including the historic brickworks and kilns. These will have to wait for another time.

Google maps link: Terra Cotta

GPS coordinates for Terra Cotta Waterfalls:  N 43° 43.165 W 079° 58.165

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The Gap

Saturday Nov. 14, 2015

In 1962 a quarry blasted a huge gap in the Niagara Escarpment and set off a chain reaction that led to the escarpment being declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.  The gap in the escarpment can be seen from the 401 which is 3 km away.  We parked at the turn around loop on Dublin Line and made our way along a small trail that departs from the cul-de-sac.  It was 2 degrees but feeling like minus 2 as we started up the side of the escarpment.  We followed a trail that led between the moss covered boulders, seeking the Bruce Trail that runs along the top of the escarpment.

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The escarpment is over 700 km long and is full of valuable natural resources.  The area around Milton is important as a source of dolomitic limestone which is used in construction.  The location is critical because there is about 30 meters of good limestone very close to the surface. It is also close the the highway for transportation and the GTA which is the largest market in the country.  We needed to get to the top of the escarpment and found a natural gap in the rock where we were able to climb up.

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Even from before the creation of the gap there had been a movement to keep quarries under some tighter controls.  The Sixteen Mile Creek Conservation Authority was formed in 1956 and three years later they had acquired an 88 acre chunk of the escarpment to prevent quarry expansion. This would become Mount Nemo Conservation Area with Rattlesnake Point being created in 1961. Then, like a missing front tooth, came the visible scar of the gap.

From the top of the escarpment you can see the towers in the city.  The CN tower has been a landmark for 40 years but now, taking their place on the right of the tower, are the so called Marilyn Monroe towers in Mississauga.

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Concerned, Ontario Premier John Robarts commissioned a 1967 report on protecting the escarpment, the first of it’s kind.  In 1973 the government passed an act creating the Niagara Escarpment Commission which began to control development.  The Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment (CONE) was established in 1978 to make recommendations on preserving the escarpment.  Through their efforts the Niagara Escarpment Plan would be passed by the government in 1985.  In 1990 the Southern Ontario portion of the escarpment was designated a World Biosphere Reserve.

The processing plant can be seen from the highway, not only through the gap, but rising above the limestone cliffs to the east of it.  This processing plant was built in 1974 and the earlier one closed down.  It has since been removed and the site put into the rehabilitation plan.

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This large size cable spool had rolled down the side of the excavation berm and come to rest on the fence.  The steel fence post is about 2 feet shorter than the spool making it about 7 feet in diameter.  Made in Japan, this Canada Belt product contained 925 feet of cable on the spool. There were a lot of empty Texaco lubricant tin buckets, a Zenith washing machine, a lawnmower and other trash in the same area.

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In 1989 the Bruce Trail Association started a campaign to bridge the gap and connect their conservation lands on either side.  $150,000 was raised through donations to build the 40 metre bridge.  This allowed the trail to be relocated onto a better route.  The bridge was officially opened in May 1991.

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Over the years the quarry grew to take in larger and larger sections of the escarpment.  In 2006 they applied for and later received an extension to the licensed area of the quarry.

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Parts of the original quarry have now been put into a regeneration project.  There will be wetlands and wild life habitat created.  Every year since 1993 Scouts Canada has planted trees in the closed section of the quarry as part of their Earth Day celebrations.  In 2008 they planted their 100,000th tree.  Both forests and meadows are being created as well as lakes.  When we got back to the natural gap in the rock and had descended, we decided to make our way along the front face of the limestone cliff.  The large loose chunks hanging out over our heads and broken pieces under our feet were a constant reminder that they fall on a regular basis.

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We found this hardened lime at the bottom of the cliff in a couple of places.  It was drilled in several spots with little animal holes.

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Based on current mining rates it is expected that the Dufferin Quarry site will run out in about 25 years or less.  When the rehabilitation is complete over 400 ha of parkland will be handed over to the conservation authority creating one of the largest public land holdings in the entire GTA. The picture below was taken on November 1, 2015 during our Hilton Falls excursion.  It shows the quarry lake and the back of the processing plant.  The bridge across the gap is also seen in the distance in the centre of the picture.

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Part of the recent approval for expansion that was granted included the company dealing with the industrial scar of the gap.  In the short term they have planted as many trees as possible to screen the gap.  When the quarry closes they will implement a more permanent solution.  Filling the gap back in is one option but would restrict the animal traffic that now uses it. This could be overcome by creating a tunnel with fill on the top.  Building a new land form behind the gap to create the illusion of it being closed is yet another option being investigated.  A more creative idea includes building a terrace across the gap with trees planted on it.

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Many believe that it was the destruction of this small section of the escarpment that led directly to the creation of the NEC and ultimately to recognition by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization).

Google Maps: The Gap

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