Hike #42: Sheffield Conservation Area

Distance hiked: 4.5km
Location: Sheffield Conservation Area, Ontario
Date: September 20, 2020

Located just north of Napanee along Highway 41, Sheffield Conservation Area offers the most southerly dark sky site in Ontario and is often used for stargazing. The conservation area also features a single hiking trail that weaves through the forest, along granite outcroppings and around wetlands.

Cases have steadily been rising in Ontario since the start of September. So to (safely) celebrate my brother-in-law’s 30th birthday, we decided to head up to the cabin for the weekend. On the drive back to Toronto on Sunday, we stopped at the Sheffield Conservation Area to knock another hike off the list from our 52 Hike Challenge. The weather was fabulous (16°C with blue skies) and we could use the exercise from eating pure garbage over the weekend.

The trail starts near the small parking lot and boat launch. There is a small fee for parking ($5 per day), which assists with maintenance and upgrades of all the conservation areas in Quinte. Near the trailhead there’s a map of the trail.

Near the trailhead, there are a couple of picnic tables overlooking the lake. There is also a plaque that indicates that the purchase of the land for the Sheffield Conservation Area was made possible by a donation from the Belleville Yardmen Benefit Fund.

Shortly after the trail reaches a junction, we turned left and hiked clockwise along the loop. The trail is clearly signed with blue blazes on the trees and rocky outcrops.

The path follows along Little Mellon Lake before winding deeper into the forest. About 1.3km in, the trail crosses over a little stream near a beaver pond. We were a bit confused where to go at first because there’s a sign that indicates that the trail is closed and there is no maintenance beyond this point. But then we saw some makeshift bridge of logs, so we used that to cross over the stream and continued to follow the blue blazes onwards. The path seemed in decent shape, a bit narrow and rocky, but we’ve handled worse.

The path then follows along granite outcroppings to a scenic lookout of Haley Lake. From here, the trail continues along the ridge, above the treeline. Maybe we should have brought sunscreen for this. I was also starting to regret my decision to wear sweatpants (sweat is right).

The path onward wasn’t obvious and the blue blazes weren’t always easy to spot. We had to backtrack a couple of times, but eventually we found our way.

The path then dips back into the forest, providing some much appreciated shade from the sun. The trail continues through the forest leading back to the junction and passes by a few marshy areas along the way. These were easily the most scenic lookouts of the hike.

Even though it was still early in the season, some of the leaves were already starting to change colour here. We finished up our hike shortly after 12p.m and from here it’s about a 2.5 hour drive back to Toronto. Not a bad way to end the weekend.


My progress on the 52 Hike Challenge can be found here

31 thoughts on “Hike #42: Sheffield Conservation Area

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. It certainly helped that we had those lovely blue skies as a backdrop. While this wasn’t the birthday celebration we initially planned for my brother-in-law, we were fortunate to have the cabin as a back-up plan and made the most of the situation. It certainly will be a memorable birthday, just like the rest of 2020.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. I am terrible with directions and always appreciate trails that are well signed. Glad we figured out where the path continued without having to aimlessly wander for too long. And agreed, can’t wait to have lovely weather again. It’s become a real struggle to leave my apartment these days with the gloomy weather (and pandemic). Take care.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We’ve passed by Sheffiled so many times on the drive to and from the cabin, so it was nice to finally check it out. We’re lucky that we have so many provincial parks and conservation areas in Ontario to explore. I’ve never truly appreciated all this green space until this year. Take care.

  1. winteroseca says:

    A lot of features on that trail! I totally get when you said “sweat is right”. I learned quickly after my first trip through the Central Valley in California to always wear shorts, so I feel you!

  2. Ab says:

    Looks like a nice hike and not too far from Toronto. I still remember when Napanee became world famous thanks to Avril Lavigne!

    I see your next two hikes are about Lynde Shores and Ferris. Can’t wait to read your thoughts on those!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Ha, that’s right! The last I heard about Avril was that she was battling lyme disease. I’ve just finished writing a draft of Lynde Shores and Ferris and plan to post them next week. I actually got the idea to visit Ferris from one of your posts!

  3. ourcrossings says:

    Such a beautiful place to explore on foot. I love those bursts of autumn colours. Your post actually reminds me how huge Canada really is. For us it takes just under two hours to drive from West coast to East coast! Thanks for sharing and have a good day 😀 Aiva

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Looking back, I’m glad we made the most of those final days of summer. It’s become a bit of struggle to motivate myself to go outside now that it’s winter. And yes, it’s crazy to think just how huge Canada is. On our Northern Ontario road trip we drove almost 15 hours west and were still in the same province!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. Hiking this time of year is always hit or miss. It’s been damp and gloomy the past few weeks. And it’s not cold enough for the ground to freeze, so everything is wet and muddy. So unfortunately no hiking anytime soon for us either.

  4. Lookoom says:

    The good weather and the beautiful nature reminds me of this pleasant period of September, it was the time to enjoy the outdoors as soon as the weather was nice.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. It was a perfect day to go for a hike as the sun was shining, it was warm outside, and the leaves were just starting to change colour. It provided a sneak peak for what was in store in the coming weeks. The fall foliage in Ontario this year was just outstanding. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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