Trail Talk 167 April 28th 2021

L.I.F.E. hikers at Naftel’s April 10 2019
From what trail can you get this view?

How well do you know your trail? From what trail would you see this view?

Last week’s photo was of a seat on the blue trail at Naftel’s Creek Conservation area.   The photograph taken  at Naftel’s in April 2019 is of the LIFE hikers, who have not met since March 2020 and are looking forward to the time when we can meet again , hopefully  in the fall.  One advantage of the popular Naftel’s  is that there is a plowed parking lot and the trails are open year round as no hunting is permitted.  Maitland Valley Conservation Authority has made several improvements in the past few years. Many dead ash trees have been felled, and several places that were regularly wet have been filled with fine gravel.  Maps are now both at the entrance and at most of the trail junctions. I remember when first hiking there I tended to be a little bit lost. Usually there are a few fish in the creek, but I have not seen any this year.  I believe the reason is that there was no large spring flood so that the fish were unable to get past the many windfalls that are across the creek.

On of hundreds of spider’s webs on the ground

On Saturday my plan to hike at Lobb’s was changed as the trail was closed until further notice, so I hiked at Hullett Sugar bush and saw two groundhogs on the way there , one on Hydro Line road and the other on Wildlife Line.  I don’t very often see groundhogs.  On my Monday Sugar Bush hike I saw two large dragonflies, the first seen this year. I believe they were common whitetails- the name is a little misleading as only the males have white bodies, females having dark brown bodies. I also hiked the Sugar bush trail on Wednesday April 21st when the light snow highlighted hundreds of small spider webs at ground level, which are unusually invisible. I also noticed some wintergreen berries,(see main photo)  and I saw fly honeysuckle in bloom, this is a small native shrub, unlike the much more common invasive European honeysuckle.   I must have passed these plants many times without noticing them.  I also often see plants when hiking one way , but not when hiking in the reverse direction, it also helps that I am now hiking slower than I used to, as Chewy has slowed down in his old age.

On Sunday I hiked in the Morris Tract.  The Conservation Authority has been busy felling dead trees along the blue side trail and doing some wood chipping.  I saw large-flowered bellwort and Mayapples there, though the Mayapples were not yet in bloom.  The trilliums were in bloom, one was unusual in that there were two stalks coming from the bottom bulb.   There were Twin Leaf flowers near the trail, which are also on the Lobb trail. I did not realize that they are uncommon and are a threatened species in Minnesota. They grow in deciduous forests on calcareous soils (i.e. soil composed mostly or partly of calcium carbonate). They have one thing in common with wild ginger in that although used by indigenous people as medicine they are both considered poisonous.  I guess a little poison is sometimes good for you!

On Tuesday hiking the Maitland trail from Benmiller I saw a kidneyleaf buttercup which has a small yellow flower, and was new to me.  By posting that photo and the one of the wintergreen on iNaturalist I was able to identify both plants that I was not familiar with.

There was an Eastern Comma butterfly in our green house, this has the advantage of being easy to photograph before I trap and release it.

The Maitland Trail plant sale scheduled for May 2nd has been cancelled, but I believe there will still be a compost sale at $5 per bag. ( 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Columbus Parking lot) .If you have potted your surplus plants for the sale, two later gardening events may still be taking place. For information, a) Phone Betty Hendricks at 519-524-6516 to donate them to the Goderich Horticultural Society’s annual plant sale on May 15th  or b) Phone Rhea Hamiliton-Seeger at (519) 612-1201 to  donate them to the Auburn horticultural society’s plant sale on  May 29th.

For updates check the Maitland Trail Association Facebook page.

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

April 25th- May 31st Spring Turkey Hunt –Bayfield Woodland trail will be closed.

Lobb trail is closed

All scheduled hikes in April are cancelled due to the Ontario lockdown.

There is a “ Scavenger Hunt- Sort of” on the Maitland Woods, Millennium trail, Sifto Loop and part of the GART. See the Maitland trail website for the details.

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