Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: February 2021
Mark S. Burnham Provincial Park is located near Peterborough just off of Highway 7. It’s a relatively small park that is only open for day-use and offers limited activities and facilities. There is a small picnic shelter with picnic tables and a single hiking trail that weaves through the forest.
We decided to spend the Family Day long weekend at the cabin. On the drive up, we made a detour to hike at Emily Provincial Park. Since Mark S. Burnham Provincial Park was also along the way, we stopped here to check it out. There is a small parking lot just off of Highway 7. The road leading into the park and parking lot were both plowed. We were surprised to see that the parking lot was nearly full.
At the trailhead there’s a sign that provides a map of the trail and some information about the history of the park and landscape. The area once belonged to the Burnham family, who unlike most early settlers, did not clear their property for agriculture, cut all the large trees for timber, or allow cattle to graze through the forest. As a result, this forest has many mature trees.
There is also a large plaque that indicates that the 109 acres is part of an original Crown Grant made to the Honourable Zaccheus Burnham in 1830. It was the wish of his great grandson, the late Mark S. Burham that the property be perpetuated in its natural state for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of Ontario. In deference to his wishes, his widow, Mary Burnham, gifted the property to Ontario. It was officially dedicated as a provincial park on May 11, 1957.
The Mark S. Burham Trail consists of two loops, a shorter loop (0.9km) that does not include hiking up a steep hill and a larger loop (1.4km). The first stretch of the path weaves through the forest and is relatively flat.
There are several signs along the trail that describe the landscape and types of vegetation in the surrounding area.
The park is located in the middle of the Peterborough Drumlin Field. The trail leads up the top of a hill, which is actually a drumlin covered by a thin layer of soil, created since the Ice Age by weathering. Drumlins are small rounded hills created by flowing glacial rivers of ice and dirt. As they moved across Ontario, they carried massive amounts of dirt, gravel, rocks and boulders. Drumlins like the one in Mark S. Burnham are basically piles of debris that were dumped as the glaciers moved on. The hilltop runs in a northeast-southwest direction, which is typical for drumlins in the Peterborough County, which indicates that the glaciers were moving from the northeast to the southwest in this area.
There are other signs of glacial activity along the trail. There are lots of glacial erratics of different sizes scattered around the forest. These rocks are thought to come from the southern edge of the Canadian Shield, which is about 40km north of here. These rocks were picked up from the Shield area and carried here, and then dropped by glaciers as they retreated 10,000 years ago.
From the top of the hill, the trail gradually loops back to the trailhead, passing the picnic area along the way.
Overall it took us about 20 minutes to complete the longer loop. From here it’s about an hour and a half drive to the cabin. While this isn’t the largest park, it was nice to check it out since it was along the way.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here