Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: January 2021
Ferris Provincial Park is located next to the Trent River in Campbellford and offers just over 10km of trails through the forest, open meadows and along the river. We visited Ferris during the fall last year, but it’s always nice to return to a place in a different season.
We spent the long weekend up at the cabin celebrating the New Year. On the drive back to Toronto we stopped at Ferris to stretch our legs and cross another park off the list from our Ontario Parks Challenge. But first, we made a detour at the Old Mill Park in Campbellford to see the Giant Toonie. The monument was built in 2001 in recognition of the effort of a local artist, Brent Townsend, who created the polar bear that is now featured on the $2 coin.
Ferris is typically open from mid-May to mid-October. While the main entrance into the park is closed during the off-season, there is a small secondary parking lot at the Ranney Falls Generating Station that is open all year round and is plowed in the winter.
The Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge is located near the secondary parking lot. We walked across it to get to Ferris and were rewarded with gorgeous views of the Trent River.
On the other side of the bridge there’s a sign that provides more information about the history of Ferris and how the park was named and created. The Ferris family who owned the land helped create this provincial park to ensure that the property remains in its natural state and be available to the public to enjoy.
The park was operated by the province from the 1960s to 1994 until a decision was made to close Ferris along with seven other parks. A group of concerned citizens from the town formed a group called “The Friends of Ferris” who were willing to operate the park, however a partnership agreement was reached between the Municipality of Campbellford/Seymour and the government and the park was reopened on June 25, 1994. In 2001, the new Municipality of Trent Hills took over the operation of the park under an agreement with the province and the “Friends of Ferris” continued to support the operation and development of the park.
From there it’s a short walk to get to the main parking lot, which is closed in the winter, but leads to the trailhead for the three trails in the park. We first walked along the Ranney Falls Trail (1km, rated easy), which follows the original roadway into the park before looping back along the river. The trail features a scenic lookout of Ranney Falls and the Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge.
The steps leading down to the small viewing platform were a bit icy, but we managed.
We then hiked along the Drumlin Trail System, which consists of three interconnecting loops: Blue (1.2km), White (2.5km) and Red (2.5km), all of which are rated moderate.
Drumlins are small teardrop-shaped hills that were formed under moving glacier ice thousands of years ago. Ferris contains three drumlins: two along the Drumlin Trail System and the other in the Valleyview Campground. We hiked along the Blue and White Trails, which lead near areas where the Ferris family’s sugar houses, shingle mill, granary and sheep pens once stood. Unfortunately little remains of their pioneering enterprises. Just forest. The path is well marked and even contains a map of the trail at each junction.
Once we looped back to the trailhead we walked to the Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge and crossed it to get to the secondary parking lot. Even though Ferris is not maintained in the winter, the trails seemed well used judging by the number of footprints in the snow. From here it’s about a 2 hour drive back to Toronto. We’re glad we had a chance to hike through the snow as there was hardly any of it left on the ground by the time we got back to the city. And it was raining outside.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here