Trail Talk – July 18, 2018

I was reminded on Monday how easy it is not to notice things when hiking along the trails. I only noticed the Michigan Lilies on the section up stream of Sharpes Creek Line when I hiked back thePhoto of an Angelica plant other way. One reason to miss seeing things is that in some parts there are a lot of roots or stones on the trail so you tend to look at the trail and miss things to the side. I remember a group of us hiking from Sharpes Creek Line to River Line and not seeing the large bright yellow Ooh Aah sign to the side of the trail which was very obvious when hiking in the other direction. Another problem is that when there is a nice wide trail one tends to talk to another hiker and then miss the turn blaze. Some trees are not easy to identify until they have blossoms or fruit. I only recently discovered the mulberry tree near the 3km mark on the Maitland trail after passing it numerous times in the last ten years, and on Wednesday noticed a mulberry tree on the Bayfield Sawmill trail after seeing a fruit on the ground. Similarly I only noticed the plum tree on the Taylor trail when it had masses of plums. Bladder nut trees are much more obvious when they have light green bladders on them.

Photo of a milkweed plantPeople are very concerned about the Giant Hogweed which is very poisonous but often mistake Cow Parsnip or Angelica for it. I believe there is no Hog weed near the Maitland trail though I think that there is, or was, some near the Bayfield River bridge near Bayfield. Angelica has a round flower head. Cow parsnip flowers are flat umbrella up to 1 ft across and the plant grows up to 8 ft tall. Giant Hogweed flowers are flat umbrella like up to 4 ft across and the plant can reach 16 ft tall. Other differences are the stems which on Hog weed are green to red purple with red purple bumps and bristles, while cow parsnip stems are deeply ridged green or slightly purple with fine hairs and fuzzy. The leaves on hog weed are much larger and deeply cut with coarse sharp teeth.

Monarch butterflies lay their eggs only on milkweed plants which is why people are encouraged to grow milkweed. Most of the milkweed in our area is common milkweed, but sullivant’s milkweed (smooth not downy plant) blunt leaved milkweed (has wavy leaves) purple milkweed (flower deep magenta red), swamp milkweed (narrow leaves) and four leaved milkweed (leaves in whorls of four) are also found in S Ontario. I discovered a swamp milkweed on the Front Road trail but otherwise I have only seen the common milkweed.

On our Wednesday walk we explored the Bayfield Woodland trail that now has a new loop courtesy of the Zavitz family. It is not yet fully marked but has red flagging tape and some yellow blazes. We found the path down to the river was really a side trail and not part of the main loop.

On Tuesday, driving along Sharpes Creek Line at 1:00 PM, I was surprised to see a deer with a fawn near the edge of the road. Brian McCullough reported seeing a thin fox on Airport Road at a similar time. The Bayfield River has so little water flowing that at the Clinton Conservation trail culverts there are sixty or more water striders running about on the surface, normally the water is flowing so fast that there are none to be seen.

Upcoming Hikes

August 5th Hike the Maitland Woods after eating a pancake breakfast at the Goderich Fire Station. Meet at 8:00 AM. Knights of Columbus parking lot.

August 5th 7:15 PM Follow the pipers from the fisheries parking lot down to the beach Contact Anne Storey 519.529.3050 for details or see Maitland Trail Newsletter

Saturday Sept 29th to Sunday Sept 30th MTA El Camino registration is now open Cost $25 adults $10 if under 18 detail

Midweek Hikes

The Tuesday Trompers walk for about an hour at a moderate to slow pace starting at 9:00 AM. Contact Al Sanders at

The Wednesday hikes start at 9:00 AM for 1.5 to 2 hours at a moderately fast pace. Contact

The Friday L.I.F.E. hikers usually meet at 8:10 AM at the Betty Cardno Centre in Clinton and hike for 1.5 hours to 2 hours, one group at a moderate the other group at a moderately fast pace. Contact

If you have questions or something of interest for Trail Talk email me Patrick Capper at