My first step was to put together a map showing all of the trails that would join up and become the loop. Having the maps all in one place there was a small jog that did not have an identified trail, so I headed out to see if it was walkable. It is very easy to draw a line on a map, but much more difficult to walk along that line if there are fences, rivers or other obstacles in your way.
I got off to a rough start. I drove out to the beginning of my drawn line to find that the maps I had were not accurate. First step, figure out where the map went wrong and start from the end of the last actual trail. The map had shown the trail going along a train track and the owners of the property the tracks went through had clearly marked, “Private Property”, no trespassing. There was a trail that went off to the east near the same spot, so I decided to walk down it and discover where it went.
Less than ten feet onto the trail I was accosted by mosquitos. I hadn’t seen many so far this spring and I had not even thought about mosquito repellent. So, I decided to just try to ignore them and continue my walk. Once my scent had spread across the wooded area, there was no way I could continue. Like a neon sign saying, “eat here” I was attracting hundreds of starving insects. I tried to walk but they were so thick I couldn’t see for the swarm. I stood there batting them away and killing the ones that had begun to sting me. Unable to walk through the cloud of bugs, I returned to get bug spray.
I had left early in the morning, knowing that the day was supposed to get really hot later, so there were no stores open near my location. I travelled all of the way home to get bug spray. I had no choice. When I re-arrived at the start of the trail, I knew where I was going and I applied a heavy layer of deet and entered to see where the trail would lead.
The path was well maintained, clay surface about three feet wide. There was the odd tree that had fallen over the path,but little else in the way of obstacles. I found myself winding through old growth trees and untouched wild flowers. Trilliums, Ontario’s flower, grew in patches along the trail. What Canada may be lacking in historic buildings it makes up for in ancient forests that have been left largely untouched.
The trail came an end at a farm gate that was wide enough to let a tractor pull a piece of equipment through. To the right of the gate there was a space large enough to walk through and a small foot path was visible. This less groomed path meandered up to the left and turned to the right ending at what could generously be called a road. My guess is that it was once a gravel top road and it was now just managed enough to let maintenance trucks through to service the large hydro lines that run up the east side.
This road extended just over two kilometres past the wooded area, some farmer’s crops and dumped onto a major road that runs east-west across the north end of the city of Guelph. This busy street is not idea for hiking, but it does connect to the next identified part of the Trans Canada Trail, so I’ll walk it in the future. On this particular walk, I had a choice between two restaurants and a coffee shop that were both at the intersection where the path ended.
Unlike the Camino in Spain, which is clearly one-directional, with everyone travelling to the west, this 100 km loop can easily be done in either direction. For this particular segment, the one entrance point is on Silvercreek Parkway (Road 39) and is marked with a sign. If you are entering from the other end, there is a path that veers off on the north side of Woodlawn Road at the intersection with Edinburgh. It is unmarked.
Clearly, the sign is meant to be read by someone travelling in the other direction, but it is the only sign, so this is what you would see. At the sign, you would turn left and follow the foot path until you enter the forest on the other side of the gate, described above.
All and all a nice scenic walk far enough from roads to be quiet and during my walk there was only a little evidence that anyone used this space. A nice blend of being deep in the forest with good footing and being within walking distance of coffee shops, washrooms and restaurants.