Friday, November 13, 2009

Proposing a Hiking Trail

In the last few months I have spent a bit of time in the Wilmot Creek area, from the Nature Area at the south end, to the Orono Crown Lands in the north, and this has me thinking. In this post I am proposing a hiking trail along the creek, from the Lake Ontario shore, north to link up with the Oak Ridges Trail in the Leskard area.

First I am going to give you a little ancient history. When I was a small child my father, Gus Yaki, was involved in the creation of the Bruce Trail. He was the first president of the Niagara section of the trail. What this meant to me was that as a kid I spent many an hour building trail, (or at least accompanying the adults who built the trail) along the Niagara escarpment from Queenston Heights to Grimsby. This involved painting blazes on the trees, building bridges where needed, cutting back limbs,etc. The real work, however went on in the kitchens of landowners, and involved the negotiation of the permissions to route the trail through private properties. The work done by the early Bruce Trail association has given us, 40 years later not only the 885 kilometre Bruce Trail, but paved the way for the Ganaraska Trail and the Oak Ridges Trail. Untold numbers of children and adults have been awakened to the beauty of the outdoors and nature through a walk along the Bruce Trail.

In the Clarington area the Waterfront Trail follows Lake Ontario's shoreline, and the Oak Ridges Trail follows, well, the Oak Ridges Moraine. At Port Hope, the Ganaraska Trail runs from the lake north, crossing the Oak Ridges Trail and carrying on for another 400 kilometres ending at Georgian Bay. I am proposing a much more modest venture, a trail running along Wilmot Creek, from the mouth at Lake Ontario to at least as far north as to meet with the Oak Ridges Trail. We would have an advantage in that a fair percentage of the land along the Wilmot Creek is already in the public domain.

Existing trail in the Orono Crown lands.

Also, at the municipal government levels there is much more acceptance of the idea of trails as a plus for communities than there was 40 years ago.
What I am suggesting is a simple walking trail, not a multi-use trail as much of it will be on private land. Also the environmental impact of a hiking trail will be much less than a trail with mountain bikes, horses, etc. It will follow as close as is possible to the main branch of the Wilmot Creek with potential branch trails into Newcastle and Orono. For example in Orono one branch could follow the fork of the creek that goes into town and the other could follow into the Orono Crown lands with both branches joining up again north of Orono.
Since the area is rich in history a number of plaques could be erected at notable spots along the trail. The local historical society would be ideal participants in that aspect.
Similarily the local natural history clubs should be recruited to help with display boards explaining signifigant natural features such as are already present in the Samuel Wilmot Nature Area.
As the trail will pass through agricultural lands, and many of the trail users may be urbanites with little farm knowledge an opportunity for education exists there as well.

Below is a first draft, proposed route of


View Wilmot Creek Trail in a larger map

The red line is existing trails on public lands while the purple is on private land and does not yet exist. Obviously the exact route is subject to change and anyone who has done a map on Google will know that drawing lines that don't follow roads is inexact at best. However, that is the gist of my proposal. If you have any input on this idea or would like to help out in any way email me putting Wilmot Trail in the subject line, or comment using the option below this post. Future posts will update progress on this project. Stay tuned!!

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