Distance hiked: 8.0km
Location: Terra Cotta Conservation Area, Ontario
Date: June 6, 2020
With nice weather on the forecast, there was only one thing we could think of to spend our weekend: hiking. On Saturday we went to the Terra Cotta Conservation Area, which includes a variety of different trails that weave their way through a diverse ecosystem of wetlands and forests.
We are typically early risers and planned to arrive at the conservation area ahead of the crowds. Our strategy was to first cover off the trails closest to the parking lot and then make our way further to the boundary of the conservation area.
We first hiked along the Wetland Trail (0.6km loop, grey trail), which is a small rinky dink path that loops around a restored wetland ecosystem. Back in 1949, Terra Cotta opened as a privately owned recreation facility that contained a swimming pond and had rentable cabins. In the late 1980s, there was a shift toward greater environmental protection and the campgrounds returned to forest and the pool was transformed into a wetland.
From there we followed the pink markers along the McGregor Spring Pond Trail (1.8km loop, pink trail). The trail loops through a forest providing a few viewpoints of Muskrat Pond and Spring Pond. There were an insane number of these (what I think are) small forest-tent caterpillars hanging from silk strands from the trees, which created a unique obstacle while hiking.
Part of the McGregor Spring Pond Trail overlaps with Terra Cotta Lane (3.2km loop, purple trail). Once we looped back to the start of the path, we followed the purple marks along the southern part of the Terra Cotta Lane, which passes by Wolf Lake.
During our walk along the lake, we passed a few signs that have recently been placed reminding visitors to stay apart and practice physical distancing.
We followed the path north to get to the end of the Vaughan Trail (2.8km one-way, orange trail). From here the path narrows considerably and is more rugged. This trail runs parallel with the Bruce Trail for a kilometre or so before veering back toward the parking lot.
Along the way back, we made a detour to hike along the A.F. Coventry Nature Trail (1.2km, yellow trail). This was probably the most challenging of the trails through the conservation area as the terrain was quite rugged.
We wrapped up our hike just after 11a.m and effectively managed to beat the crowds. Success!
My progress on the 52 Hike Challenge can be found here