Trail Talk 163 March 24th 2021

Where can you see this sign?

How well do you know the Huron County Trails? Which trail is this on?

Last week’s photo was of the bridge in the Sheppardton Tract.  This trail is a Huron County Forest and not in the Huron County Hiking Guide.  It has entrances near the  West end of Nile road and at 82782 Hwy 21 which is 0.4 km north of the large yellow sign advertising and Flea and Farmers market- the entrance is easy to miss. There are good sized parking lots and a sign with a map at these entrances.

A white rabbit seen by Judy Kerr

Shappardton tract was purchased in 1946 for the purpose of restoring forest cover to marginal farmland. The 280 acre tract is the largest of the 14 Huron County forests. The wetland here are within two km of the lake Huron and are classed as rare coastal wetlands.  It also has the most red pines of any tract and some European larches which normally prefer drier soil.   Judy Kerr saw a white rabbit up a tree in the tract, but I could not find it, perhaps I was in the wrong place or it had climbed down.

Of the 14 Huron County Forest tracts  I am familiar with seven of them,  the Redmond and Stevenson tract (both in the Huron County Hiking  Guide),  the Robertson tract, that the Maitland trail passes through, the Sheppardton tract , the Moreland tract-next to the Saratoga  swamp,  the Bannockburn tract, and the Rea tract (a little East of Walton). These all, except the Robertson tract have parking areas and all have hiking trails maintained by Huron County.   Both the Taylor tract at 45485 Harriston road and Stingel tract at 36775 Glen’s Hill road also have parking lots and trails.  The trails in these nine tracts will be included in the new Huron County Hiking guide due out in April.  Work is planned on the other tracts that I am not familiar with i.e. the O’Connor,  Rodgers, Adams , Collins and Hays tracts, most of which are quite small.  We are very grateful to all the work on these done by   Huron County staff and the Huron County Forestry team.

Some of the tundra swans are already in Huron County. On Sunday morning March 14th I saw over 100 in a flooded corn field by Forsters bridge on Sharpes Creek Line.  On Tuesday March 16th the field was no longer flooded and there were no signs of any swans except for five I saw flying overhead near there.   The field on Scott line also had no water and there were no signs of any swans there on Monday. On March 18th only 100 swans were reported at Lampton.

When we hiked the Bayfield Woodland trail on Wednesday March 17th most of the short loop was in good shape, mostly bare trail, except  for  a portion of snow and ice pack from near the Sarnia street entrance to just after where the Zavitz loop starts.  The Lobb trail on Thursday 18th still had some very icy sections and icers are recommended on that trail.

Skunk Cabbage flower emerging

It is very difficult to determine the condition of any trail, as although the start of a trail may be bare, there can be long stretches still with snow and/or ice. I hiked East from Sharpes Creek Line on the Maitland trail on Sunday and the trail by the first field was bare, then at the edge of the next field there was solid packed snow, then snow at least four feet deep near the top of the hill, and after that there was hardly any snow near the Maitland river. There were many Canada geese on the river and four ducks flew up from a backwater where the water was much clearer than the river.  The rivers I think peaked on March 12th and have since dropped a bit, so with no forecast for heavy rain, I think that neither the Maitland trail nor the Lobb trail will be flooded this spring.   On Wednesday March 17th the Bayfield river overflowed the culverts at the Clinton Conservation area, so I went down and cleared the culverts, what was interesting is that having done so most of the vortices were clockwise as mentioned in Trail talk 153, but this time a couple had an anticlockwise vortex, but they were not maintained or as strong as the ones with a clockwise vortex.

Notes:  Hikers are expected to be socially distant from others.

The Tuesday Trompers and Uneven hikers are back to a normal schedule.  Please be sure to sign on the online waiver which is good for the whole year. Go the Maitland Trail website and click on Scheduled Hikes and Waivers and fill out the on line waiver form.

The Bayfield River Valley Trail Association are leading a hike at Naftels  Creek at 11 a.m. on April 7th – National Walking Day (Also World Health Day).

Trails are all open but there still places where icers are advisable. It is always good to get out and enjoy nature

The Woodlands Nature trail is still probably closed past the bridge due to uncleared storm damage.

If you have questions or something of interest for Trail Talk email me Patrick Capper at pcapper99@gmail.com.