Distance hiked: 7.5km
Location: Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, Ontario
Date: May 23, 2020
It’s finally starting to feel like spring (maybe even summer?) here in Ontario. Provincial parks reopened last week for day-use only, so we’ve been taking advantage of the nice weather and going for more hikes. However, the nice weather tends to bring out the crowds. Especially on the trails as they are one of the few things open these days.
We are early risers and we usually pride ourselves in being some of the first hikers out on the trail. Despite arriving a bit before 9a.m at the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, the main parking lot was already full and we instead parked in the additional parking section. Obviously not a good sign.
The Forks of the Credit is part of the Niagara Escarpment biosphere and features a number of interconnecting trails that weave through meadows, open fields, lush forests and near the Credit River.
From the main park entrance, we first hiked along the Meadow Trail, which as the name suggests, winds through an open meadow with rolling hills, passing by Kettle Lake. The landscape in this park are the massive deposits and depressions left behind by glaciers from many thousands of years ago.
The Meadow Trail ends at a junction. We hiked along the Bruce Trail and followed the signs down into the valley for the waterfall. At the bottom of the valley, the main trail splits off into a few side trails. We first hiked along the Cataract Side Trail (1.1km one-way), which follows the rim of the gorge to a view of the Cataract Falls. Back in the day, this used to be an industrial waterfall. It is now surrounded by concrete ruins. There is a viewing platform closer to the falls, but it was closed off due to erosion.
We turned around at the end of the trail and walked back to the junction. This time we veered right and continued along the Bruce Trail, away from the crowded waterfall. From the open meadow, the path leads into the shaded forest, providing some relief from the sweltering sun.
This portion of the trail was relatively flat and substantially less busy. We followed the white blazes along the main trail to the south eastern edge of the park. We turned off at the Dorothy Medhurst Side Trail (440m) and followed the side trail up the steep wall of the valley.
The side trail connects back to the Bruce Trail. We followed the path along the rim of the valley back up to the open meadow. We took the Trans Canada Trail back up the parking lot. By the time we returned to the car, both parking lots were completely full and the side of the road was lined with cars. It was insane. We were eager to get back into our car and back home.
Along the drive back, we made a short detour to the Cheltenham Badlands, which are located about 15 minutes from the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park. These red stained rocks look straight up from another planet. Caused by soil erosion, the colour of the terrain is due to iron oxide deposits. You used to be able to walk on the Badlands, but due to massive overuse by the public, a viewing platform has been constructed and visitors are no longer able to walk along the terrain. The viewing platform was closed off due to the pandemic, so instead we took some pictures from along the side of the road in the car.
My progress on the 52 Hike Challenge can be found here