Hawkesville to Wallenstein 5 km

Hawksville to Wallenstein100 KM Loop

Entering the heart of Mennonite Country is like stepping into another century. There are indications that the modern day is upon us and yet the pace is decidedly slower. If you are looking for handmade quilts, custom made wood furniture, fresh baked goods or maple syrup, this is your destination.

The Mennonites settled in this area in 1805 and it is easy to believe little IMG_5194has changed since then, except for a new bridge over the Conestoga River. If you look to the west, a few older bridges that have fallen into disrepair are still visible. One road now simply ends at a front yard, but it is clear that it used to meet up with a bridge and cross over to the other side of the river.

IMG_5219This part of the trail is along Temperance Road, which seems appropriately named for the people that live along it. It’s trail status is poorly marked and I was going to say that it was unmarked, but I realized that this sign actually says, Trans Canada Trail on it, it is just so faded, I didn’t realize what it said. Not much direction is needed. You simply follow the road until it dumps onto another road. So as long as you can overcome the desire to turn off of it, you should be fine with or without legible signage.

Temperance Road is a gravel top road that is IMG_5218approximately two vehicles wide with drainage ditches running up both sides. There was little traffic on it the day that I walked it, except for the trucks servicing one small factory.

IMG_5202On the road, you are surrounded by countryside. The hilly rolling nature of the area provides great views and vistas of the farmland, river and patches of trees. Most of the farms are decidedly Mennonite IMG_5203and the architecture is quite distinct. Note the chimneys that are open to the air with a over to keep out the rain. Most of these properties do not have hydro lines going up to the property – house or barn.

If you want to learn how to save the environment these people still practise many of the old methods of farming including using horses to move farm equipment and buggies for people.

IMG_5206You know you are in Mennonite country when the signs warn of cars ahead. (very old fashioned cars, but cars none-the-less). This particular sign was warning of the intersection with the next arm of the walk. Temperance Road dumps onto Herrogott Road which is a black top two lane road that has a moderate but consistent amount of traffic on it. I do not like to walk down roads but this piece connects to the next part of the trail with is completely off road, so it is worth making due.

IMG_5213The sides of the road are quite wide, enough to accommodate two draft horses pulling a piece of farm equipment. Along this stretch I was passed by a few horses. One older couple actually pulled out onto the road to give me room to walk along the side of the road, away from traffic.

Along this stretch you will pass Wallenstein General Store and it is worth a visit. This store has books, fabric, a huge assortment of black, white and beige button up sweaters, tools, bulk grains, fresh baked goods, local and imported produce, IMG_5209luncheon meats, Keurig coffee, over the counter medications, frozen food and ice-cream. With the possible exception of electronics and iPhones, it seemed to have everything you could want. I bought a tray of pecan butter tarts and a very large beefsteak tomato, yes, it had the flavour I remember.

There are chairs and a bench to sit on out front and at the side of the building. It is a busy intersection, but not in the same way that a busy intersection feels in the city. While I sat I saw an eclectic mix of modern vehicles, buggies with horses, older women on bikes and pedestrians of all shapes and sizes.

Despite the bit of the walk along the road, this is a nice walk with great vistas, a glimpse of another way of living and access to some of the best hand made items you could find.

 

 

 

Marden Tract 4 km

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 6.45.22 PM100 KM Loop

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 IMG_5169map 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.

IMG_5177The 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 IMG_5176through 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.IMG_5178

The trail came an end at a farm gateIMG_5181 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.

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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.IMG_5169 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.

Starting from Woodlawn, you would travel directly north until you reached this sign:IMG_5192

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.