Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: March 2021
Ontario boasts of having 340 provincial parks. Not all parks are created equally though. Some of these parks are non-operating, meaning they have limited or no visitor facilities or services and offer few (if any) activities. Boyne Valley Provincial Park is one of these non-operating parks, however, it does provide a few hiking trails.
We put an offer on a house earlier this morning and decided what better way to take our mind off things than by going for a hike. Searching for a house during the pandemic (and watching prices steeply climb) has been stressful. Needless to say, we could use the distraction.
Boyne Valley Provincial Park is located near Shelburne, which is just over an hour northeast of Toronto. There are a few access points and parking areas to enter the park. We parked at a small parking lot at the northern boundary of the park near Centre Road and 5th Sideroad.
While all the snow in Toronto has long since melted, there was a thick layer of it here in Boyne Valley. Except it was a mix between crusty snow and ice. And we were not prepared for this. We planned to hike a 6.3km loop through the park. From the access point, we veered right along the Bruce Trail. This part of the path weaves through an open meadow and orchard and the conditions on the trail weren’t too bad (yet), we could cling to the sides which were free of snow and ice.
Shortly after there’s a small detour along the Murphy’s Pinnacle Side Trail (70m) that leads to the top of a kame, an irregularly shaped hill composed of sand, gravel and till that was deposited here by meltwater during the last ice age. The side trail leads to the top of the hill, which provides a panoramic view of the Boyne Valley in all directions.
We continued to follow the white blazes through the open meadow and into the forest. This is where things got tricky. Or should I say slippery. Progress was slow, but we managed to stay on our feet the whole time.
We were grateful for the small sections of boardwalk that provided temporary relief from the ice trail. Some of these crossed over the Boyne River, which was at its peak from all the melting snow.
The trail then leads up a steep ridge, which surprisingly wasn’t too bad to climb up despite the ice. The trail continues to weave through the forest and leads to a junction. The Bruce Trail continues onward, but we turned off at the Boyne Valley Side Trail (2.7km), which leads back to the access point from which we entered.
We followed the blue blazes through the forest. This stretch was relatively flat, which made it easier to hike along through the snow. The path leads out to the road, which we followed for a few hundred metres before dipping back into the forest. The next part was the most challenging yet. From here the trail leads up a steep ridge along the side of a ravine. Not only did we have to worry about falling, but if we fell, there was the fear of sliding down into the ravine.
There were a couple of hikers who caught up to us while we were slowly making our way up the ice hill. They of course were wearing microspikes and were having no issues with the ice. They probably thought we were a bunch of idiots. Fear of creating a bottleneck along the trail gave us the final push we needed to get to the top of the death hill.
From here the conditions on the trail improved significantly. The side trail connects back with the larger Bruce Trail and leads out into an open meadow where most of the snow had melted. We were back on solid ground.
We passed a few other hikers on our way back to the access point, some of which were less prepared than us and were wearing running shoes. Good luck. By the time we returned to the parking lot, it was completely full and there were a few cars parked along the side of the road. A good sign to head home.
By the way, we ended up getting that house we put an offer on.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here