Distance hiked: 9.5km
Location: Belfountain Conservation Area, Ontario
Date: June 21, 2020
It’s been an unusually hot summer here in Ontario. With temperatures exceeding 30°C on the regular, it hasn’t been ideal weather for hiking. But we were on a mission to complete 52 hikes this year, so even though it was sweltering hot and humid outside, we went for a hike anyway. Besides, we planned to visit G & S afterwards to go swimming in their pool. So how bad could it be? Spoiler: it was terrible.
We decided to hike through the Belfountain Conservation Area due to its close proximity to G & S’s house. We’ve hiked part of this trail before and knew that we were in for a challenge as there are lots of steps up and down. But we thought we were getting in pretty good shape and could handle it. What we didn’t factor in was the heat.
We parked along the east side of Creditview Road and first hiked along the Bruce Trail for a few kilometres to get to the Belfountain Conservation Area.
The first stretch of the trail is reasonably flat and pretty uneventful. This was a good warm-up for the main event. After crossing Caledon Mountain Drive, the terrain becomes progressively more rugged and rocky. We followed a few steep switchbacks down the side of the Escarpment and were presented with our first (of many) stair challenges. There was even a rope attached to the side of the cliff to assist with the first set of steps. That’s how steep they were.
The path continues to weave its way down the Escarpment (key word being down), passing over, on and around lots of rocks along the way.
We then followed a few more stair cases further down before crossing a set of railroad tracks.
The path heads back through the forest for a few hundred metres before leading to the Forks of the Credit Road and Dominion Street. We followed the road for a short period (thankful for the fact that there were no roots and rocks to scramble down) before coming to the Belfountain Conservation Area.
The entrance was partially blocked off and we weren’t sure whether the conservation area was permanently closed or that the barricades were simply remnants for when all the conservation areas were closed during the height of the pandemic. We proceeded anyway.
We first hiked along part of Trimble Side Trail (2.5km one-way), which follows a river before ascending a large hill.
The trail then passes Crow’s Nest Side Trail (1.1km loop), which was named after the Crow’s Nest Quarry that opened in 1880. The trail loops through an old quarry road and leads up to a ridge overlooking Forks of the Credit Road. We didn’t see much in terms of views as the forest was quite dense. The views would probably be better in the spring or fall without all the leaves on the trees.
Once we looped back to the start of the trail, we took a snack break. We initially planned to complete the Trimble Side Trail, but we were a bit concerned with the hike back as it would mostly be uphill. We turned around and walked back the way we came.
It was a long struggle uphill in the heat.
Along the way back, we made a detour along the Ring Kiln Side Trail (600m, one-way). The side trail leads part way down the Devil’s Pulpit (going down anything with the name “Devil” in it probably means that it wasn’t a walk in the park) and follows a series of old rail beds to the Hoffman Lime Kiln Ruins. The climb downhill (and then back uphill) was worth it.
At the end of the trail there was an interpretive sign to explain the history of the ruins. The Hoffman Lime Kiln was constructed in 1896 with 12 draw kilns and was approximately 30 metres long and 15 metres wide. The kiln, which contained insulated chambers, was used to turn limestone to lime, which was then loaded onto trains and taken to local markets for use in construction, industry and agriculture.
From the side trail the path levels out. It was then a couple of kilometres back to the car. The fact that we were going swimming after this provided great motivation to get us through the hike.
My progress on the 52 Hike Challenge can be found here