Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: May 2021
Peter’s Woods Provincial Nature Reserve is an older growth forest and is considered one of the original forests of Southern Ontario. It supports one of the most mature deciduous woodlands in the area. It is situated on the Oak Ridges Moraine, one of Ontario’s most significant landforms that stretches 160km from the Trent River to the east to the Niagara Escarpment in the west. It was formed 12,000 years ago by advancing and retreating glaciers. Peter’s Woods is a non-operating park and contains a small parking area and a single hiking trail.
We planned to spend the weekend up at the cabin. The bug situation in mid-May is always a bit of a gamble, but we decided to risk it and go anyway. We ditched work early on Friday to squeeze in a hike at Peter’s Woods on the drive up. It turns out everyone else had the same idea as there was heavy traffic on the roads. So much for staying at home (granted, we’re part of the problem)! We pulled into Peter’s Woods just after 5p.m. There’s a small parking area located just off of McDonald Road.
At one end of the parking lot there’s a sign that indicates that part of this area consists of the Rice Lake Plains which contain some of Ontario’s last tallgrass prairie and oak savanna habitats. Prairie and savanna once covered 90 million hectares across central Canada and the United States. Today less than 1% of this tallgrass habitat remains. Prairie and savanna habitats are among the world’s rarest and most endangered ecosystem. Thanks to landowners in this area and conservation partners, the Rice Lake Plains are being conserved.
The trailhead is located near the parking area. Near the start of the trail there’s a large boulder with a plaque that provides more information about how the park was named and created. The nature reserve was established in 1976 with the assistance of the Willow Beach Field Naturalists and was named in memory of A.B “Peter” Schultz, a publisher, naturalist and conservationist.
The trail is 1.5km in length and loops through the mature and deciduous forest of sugar maple, red oak, white pine, white cedar and other types of trees. The trail is well-signed with numbered posts from #1 to #9 and features arrows along the way to assist with direction and navigation.
It was a lovely day to go for a walk. The sun was shining and signs of spring could be found along the trail with budding trees, trilliums and other wildflowers.
There are even a few benches along the trail, including one near the end that sloped back so you can easily look up at the sky and get a sense of just how tall some of the trees are. The bench even came complete with a foot rest. Naturally we took a break here to test the bench out.
Overall it took us about 30 minutes to complete the loop, this included taking a break on the bench to admire the mature trees. We hopped back in the car and continued our drive to the cabin.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here