Mark S. Burnham Provincial Park

Length of stay1 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.

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My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here

49 thoughts on “Mark S. Burnham Provincial Park

  1. Ab says:

    Another park that I have not heard of! You are making good progress in your parks challenge! And I love the hints of glacial activity. Really gives you a sense of the scale of time and history.

    Like

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s a teeny tiny park that has very limited facilities and activities. There’s no camping here, just a small trail and picnic area. I’ve come to appreciate parks that have various signs and storyboards that provide more detail about the park, including how the landscape was shaped and formed. I’m glad we’ve been making pretty decent progress on our challenge as now that the weather is getting warmer, our parks are going to get a heck of a lot busier!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ab says:

        Yes, it’s amazing what a difference two weeks has made. I notice lots more people and families out in the playgrounds. I did a hike today at a city trail and it was pretty busy too. I can imagine Provincial parks will be getting quite busier soon too!

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        For sure. People are tired of being cooped up indoors from the winter. I know I certainly am. This weekend is supposed to be beautiful. Nothing but blue skies and sun. We’re planning on doing some hiking, assuming we can find parking!

        Liked by 1 person

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Today we’re heading to Boyne Valley PP. We’re aiming to get there early to avoid the crowds and traffic. It seemed like everyone was out and about yesterday enjoying the lovely weather. Hope you’re having a nice weekend and are able to get outside.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ab says:

        Enjoy your hike and look forward to the recap! Just staying home today but already spent a nice chunk of the morning in the nourishing sun!

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Thanks! We were very unprepared for how much snow and ice was still in the area. The trail was challenging, but we managed to stay on our feet the entire time. It felt nice to get out and get some fresh air, especially since the weather was beautiful.

        Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Same. It’s incredible how many people have donated their land to become a park for all to enjoy. That doesn’t happen too often these days as the price of land has just skyrocketed. It was a relatively small park, but a nice spot to stretch our legs and take a stroll in a forest of mature trees.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ourcrossings says:

    Beautiful post and wonderful photos, guys! One of the things I love most about sunny winters day is those long shadows due to the angle of the sun which drops lower in the winter season. And you captured them just perfectly! Thanks for sharing and Happy St. Patricks Day. Aiva 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. The sun can make such a huge difference when going for a walk. Much of the winter is dark and dreary and the days filled with overcast, so it’s nice to take advantage of a sunny day and spend some time outside. Hope you had a great St. Paddy’s day! Enjoy your weekend. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. BACK ROADS AND OTHER STORIES says:

    I love drumlins and erratics. Sounds like a nice little park! I’m not surprised that the parking lot was full. We live across from one of the York Regional forest tracts, and there is now have a security guard every weekend at the entrance to the forest. They close off the entrance every now and then to control the traffic flow. Before Covid, we would get a couple of cars in there every now and then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Same, it’s always fun coming across an erratic that just seems so incredibly out of place. It’s been neat visiting some of our parks and learning more about how the ice age shaped Ontario’s landscape. That’s crazy to hear about how the forest across from where you live has become so busy that it now has a regular security guard to control the flow of traffic! That’s insane. The parks are only going to get busier this year …

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s great hiking in the winter. The snow can make the trails a bit more challenging and harder to navigate, but it’s generally quieter and there are no bugs. Plus the snow can transform the forest into a winter wonderland. Agreed, I find so interesting to learn more about the history of the area and how the last ice age helped shape and change the landscape.

      Like

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s incredible how many parks in Ontario have been created by people donating their land for everyone to enjoy. That doesn’t happen so often these days when the price of land and real estate has just skyrocketed beyond belief.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Meg says:

    It looked like a pleasant day for a visit. It’s great that you continue your walks in the winter – what a refreshing way to exercise and see how pretty the park is with snow on the ground!

    Like

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. I’ve come to enjoy hiking in the winter. The trails are usually less crowded and there are no pesky mosquitoes. Now that the weather has started to warm-up, our parks have become crazy busy and the trails are muddy. I much prefer the snow and quiet to the mud and crowds.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You bet. It’s a teeny tiny park, but I’m glad this small area has been protected and turned into a park. Judging by the number of cars in the parking lot, it looks like it’s getting quite the use. It goes to show just how important it is to create these types of green spaces, for us, the wildlife and nature.

      Like

      • alisendopf says:

        SO true! Unprotected land is subject to such abuse, and so much is lost forever. The UCP in Alberta are hellbent on selling off provincial parks, and then doing damaging strip mining that will forever poison our limited water supply. Kenney is making Ford look really good.

        Like

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Oh gosh, that sounds terrible. I had no idea that the government was allowed to sell provincial parks. These actions are so short-sighted and all to make a quick buck or get re-elected. Ford is no tree hugging nature lover either, he’s been allowing development to go in through the green belt, which is supposed to be a protected area of green space. Pave paradise and put up a parking lot. Or rather a new subdivision.

        Liked by 1 person

      • alisendopf says:

        Oh no, I didn’t hear about that. Green belts are so rare! Can you imagine if they paved Central Park? These are areas that define a city or an area. Sounds like we are both dealing with short-sighted conservative governments. Once public land is gone, good luck getting it back.

        Like

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Agreed. People move out to certain areas because of their close proximity to parks or other green spaces. We’ve seen during the pandemic just how popular and in-demand these areas are. It would be a shame to get rid of them just to put up a new subdivision.

        Liked by 1 person

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        For sure. While it’s great to see more people using the trails and parks, it comes at a cost. There’s much more trash everywhere and a higher risk of damaging sensitive areas. Our parks have also reduced the price of an annual pass (it’s cheaper and valid for two years instead of one) and have waived entrance fees from Monday to Thursday during the summer. While I’m all about taking advantage of free stuff, this also seems short sighted. I’d rather pay my regular fee and have the money go back into the park system so they can deal with extra maintenance given how crowded these places have become.

        Liked by 1 person

      • alisendopf says:

        We are dealing with the opposite. The government is now looking at fees for day use areas. We are not used to that in Alberta.

        However, I DO agree with park fees IF the money goes directly back to the park where it was generated, and not into some ‘general revenue’ account. Banff National Park generates so much money, but you’d never know it. So few staff members – trash everywhere, bathrooms not cleaned, no interpretive trails or wardens on sight, etc. In the US, there are wardens EVERYWHERE giving interpretive talks, or being stationed at key spots. We could really use some wardens at Sentinel Pass all year long. So yes, I agree with you. Pay your money, and put the resources back into the park in terms of education and management.

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        That’s terrible. Now that you mention it, the visitor services and facilities at the national parks that I’ve visited in the US have all been top-notch. They really do a great job in terms of trying to educate people about the landscape and wildlife in the park through their visitor centres, junior ranger program, hosting guided hikes and regularly scheduled ranger talks/programs. The parks being busy this summer should come as no surprise. It’s just incredibly disappointing to see that zero planning has been done to deal with the issue of overcrowding.

        Like

      • alisendopf says:

        I agree with your thoughts on the US. I’m not sure why our warden program is so lame. All the effort is on conservation, but you can’t have conservation without education.

        Plus, people are looking for “something to do” in the parks. Just giving them a hiking trail is not enough. Tourists (which are the vast majority of visitors) need programs and talks, etc.

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Yes! I have such fond memories of camping at the national parks in the US and every evening we would try to attend the ranger program in the campground. They would have often have a different topic each night. It’s embarrassing how much better the US is in terms of park maintenance and just the whole park experience in general.

        Liked by 1 person

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