Distance hiked: 11km
Location: Earl Rowe Provincial Park, Ontario
Date: July 12, 2020
With many travel restrictions still in place, we’ve been trying to explore more of Ontario’s provincial parks. Located about an hour outside of Toronto in Alliston, Earl Rowe Provincial Park provides a number of outdoor activities such as canoeing, swimming, fishing and hiking.
Toronto has been under a heat warning for the past two weeks. But after a major thunderstorm a couple of days ago, the temperature has somewhat resumed to normal so we were pretty excited to get some hiking in. We arrived at Earl Rowe Provincial Park shortly after 9a.m and picked up a day-use permit.
There are four smaller trails scattered around the park and one larger trail, Rainbow Run (11km loop, rated easy) that encompasses the entire trail system. We parked at the East Beach and wandered around the beach area until we found a trail marker for Rainbow Run.
The first stretch of the path was paved and followed along the Fletcher’s Mill Pond Trail (1.5km one-way, rated easy) around Earl Rowe Lake. There were a couple of interpretive signs that tell the history of Earl Rowe Lake. It was created in 1964 when a dam was built on the Boyne River. At the same time a fishway was built at the dam site to ensure that rainbow trout could continue their annual migration up the river to spawn.
From there we followed the trail to the Little Trail (0.5km one-way, rated easy), which winds through a forest toward West Beach. From there, the path leads through a large open meadow.
The path then follows the shoreline of Earl Rowe Lake and provided lots of great encounters with the wildlife: the geese.
Rainbow Run then follows along the Resource Trail (1.5km loop, rated easy). You know it’s going to be a good time when the description of the trail recommends bug repellent. The trail features a number of interpretive signs that provide interesting fun facts about the various plans and animals found in Earl Rowe Provincial Park. The trail also features large hordes of mosquitoes. The path passes through several habitats adjacent to the Boyne River, including wetland and hardwood forest.
It was a bit unclear where the Rainbow Run trail continued at this point. After wandering around for a bit, we finally found a marker. We then followed the path through an open field, passing by some of the campgrounds, before meeting up with the Lookout Trail (4km loop, rated moderate). The trail ascends up a hill to a small lookout platform overlooking the surrounding area.
From there we followed the trail down and through a red pine forest. There was a sign here that explained that the forest along this section was planted during the mid-1960s in order to provide a windbreak for the open field habitat of the park.
We finished our hike shortly after 12p.m. Initially we planned to go swimming after our hike, but the lake was closed to swimming due to high bacteria levels. Since the lake is surrounded by agricultural fields and there is minimal water flow, it is subject to run-off, which sometimes creates unsafe conditions for swimming. Instead we drove back home to Toronto. At least this way we didn’t have to worry too much about traffic as it was still early in the day.
My progress on the 52 Hike Challenge can be found here