Ferris Provincial Park in the Winter

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

34 thoughts on “Ferris Provincial Park in the Winter

  1. Little Miss Traveller says:

    The provincial park looks a great place for a walk and how lovely that you saw a sculpture of the $2 coin with the polar bear on it too! Have only been to western Canada but would love to explore around here too. Marion

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We had such lovely weather for a winter hike too. There are three giant Canadian coins in Ontario, the nickel (in Sudbury), loonie or $1 coin (in Echo Bay) and toonie or $2 coin (in Campbellford). So far we’ve been to two of them, the nickel and toonie. This past year has really forced us to explore more of Ontario and we’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much there is to see and do here. The scenery up north is especially scenic. Hopefully you’ll make it here someday. Take care.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Same, I’m not a fan of the cold, but I do enjoy the snow. We have some snow here in Toronto, but not nearly enough to go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. The forecast is calling for more snow later next week though. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. kagould17 says:

    A great little find. Thank goodness Friends of Ferris managed to save it for the public. Our Provincial government seems headed down a similar path to closures and private operators. Do they ever wonder why we pay taxes? Hmmmm. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s great to see people band together in the community and are able to help influence important decisions, like keeping a piece of land open for the public to enjoy. During the first lockdown, the government closed all provincial parks and conservation areas. As a result, there were a higher concentration of people in city parks. I’m glad they’ve been kept open (so far) during the second lockdown. I get that we’re supposed to stay at home, but after living with the pandemic for nearly a year, that expectation is no longer realistic. Mental health issues are real. People need to be able to get some fresh air and exercise and can’t stay cooped up 24/7. It’s not as if we’re interacting with others, so I don’t see what the harm is in going for a walk in the park. Rant over. Take care.

  3. Ab says:

    What a lovely place in the winter! I had thought it closed after Thanksgiving weekend but nice to see that there are still parts that are accessible. The River looks beautiful in the wintertime and how nice to have the suspension bridge all to yourself!

    It’s also interesting to see the River fully flowing. When we were there, we were able to walk down to the River bed cuz the dam had blocked some of the water.

    Can’t wait to visit this place again one day. So close to our home.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You’re right, Ferris technically closes in mid-October. While the main entrance into the park is closed, there is a secondary entrance across from the Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge that is still open. The small parking lot there is even plowed in the winter. The snow on the trails was pretty packed down and we saw lots of footprints in the snow. So clearly people still visit during the winter. And yes, it’s always a nice feeling to have the park to yourself. I didn’t have to wait for people to move out of my line of sight to take pictures. The river was definitely more ferocious in the winter than when we visited in the fall. It’s nice to have a few parks that are close to home. I wish we had more options though.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I haven’t gone skating in ages. I went to look for my skates a few weeks ago when we were going to visit MacGregor Point, but couldn’t find them. So no, we haven’t been taking advantage of the local skating rinks. Have you? I’m glad they were kept open because at least that gives people something to do these days.

      • Ab says:

        Not yet. We’re so exhausted on the weekends to want to do anything that requires a lot of effort. Haha. We want to check out the forest skating trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park if this lockdown lifts.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I bet. Good thing T is going back to school soon, so that should give you a bit more energy on weekends. We went to Arrowhead a few years ago and were impressed with how many winter activities there are. The skating trail was easily the highlight. Fingers crossed the lockdown lifts soon, hopefully before the Family Day long weekend.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Agreed. We visited Ferris last fall when the leaves were changing colour. I’m not sure which was more scenic, the fall foliage in the valley or seeing the frozen ice along the walls of the cliffs. It’s a very scenic area and great spot to go for a hike. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I know what you mean, crossing a suspension bridge can be a bit daunting. The trick is to not look down. It also helped that we were the only people on it. I have never been to Nepal before, but would totally love to someday. The hiking there looks simply stunning.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. The giant toonie or $2 coin was definitely worth the detour along the way to Ferris. There are actually three giant Canadian coins in Ontario (the nickel, $2 coin and $1 coin) and this marks the second one we’ve visited. Now all that’s left is the giant loonie or $1 coin.

  4. ourcrossings says:

    What a beautiful place to explore in winter and just look at the size of those icicles hanging along the river banks. Eating icicles was one of my childhood pleasures and every time I get to see them, even if it’s in other people photos, they bring back fond memories. Thanks for sharing and have a good day. I have to say that Canada looks ridiculously good in winter 🙂 Aiva

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The views along the suspension bridge into the gorge were fabulous. Even though we visited this park earlier in the fall, I’m glad we returned in the winter for a totally different experience. That’s cute that you used to eat icicles as a child. They usually also make for some great photo ops. Thanks for reading. And agreed, the snow makes everything look so beautiful. Take care.

  5. Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

    I agree with Allan. Watching governments close parks is frustrating and irritating beyond belief. I’m glad that it was saved and the Ferris family’s wishes are still being met. It’s a beautiful area – your photos are lovely.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. They closed all the provincial parks and conservation during the first wave of the pandemic, which just resulted in city parks being overcrowded (which kind of defeats the whole purpose of social distancing). I’m glad the government has kept provincial parks open during the second wave. Fingers crossed it stays that way. I get that we’re under a stay-at-home order and should be spending as much time indoors, but this is not a realistic solution and people can’t live their lives cooped up indoors in isolation. There are so many concerns with mental health these days. We have to find a better way to cope with the pandemic while ensuring people’s safety. Why those tougher travel restrictions weren’t in place since the beginning of this is beyond me. As you can tell, I’m very frustrated beyond belief too! Ha.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s neat how the snow can totally transform a place into a beautiful winter wonderland. Even though we visited Ferris in the fall to enjoy the fall colours, it was fun returning in the winter for totally different views. And yes, the steps down to the viewpoint of Ranney Falls were definitely a bit treacherous with all the snow and ice.

  6. Olympus Mountaineering says:

    Excellent post again!
    The Drumlin Trail System looks nice to hike and you can’t imagine how much I like to see all these photos full of Snow! Here in Greece, this winter -so far- is very mild.

    Thanks for the nice post again. Looking forward to your next one

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks. We hiked along the Drumlin Trail earlier in the fall, but it looked completely different this time covered in snow. It was beautiful. The first month of winter was quite mild, but things have cooled down considerably. We’re also supposed to get more snow later in the week. I can’t wait. I guess this means we’ll have to do some more winter hiking. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It really was a nice day to go for a hike. Everything looked so beautiful covered in a blanket of snow. The temperature was just below freezing so it wasn’t too cold. Oh how I miss those mild days of winter now that we’ve been under a cold snap for the past couple of weeks.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I love the ice and snow that forms around waterfalls and bodies of water during the winter. It creates such a lovely display. We visited Ferris last fall to enjoy the fall colours, but it was nice returning to see the views in the winter.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks, the suspension bridge easily provides the best views of the park. It was especially beautiful in the winter with all the icicles and other ice formations along the walls of the gorge. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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