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Durham East Cross Forest

Kawartha Conservation


The Durham East Cross Forest is a fine place to walk. It wasn't always so.

The forest has been officially open to the public since 2009. All motorized vehicles are banned. In the early 2000s both the Township of Scugog and the Nature Conservancy of Canada worked to clean up a forest that was infested with motorized vehicles and used as a dump for cars, tires, hazardous waste and the like. Community volunteers helped. According to Kawartha Conservation there is still illegal use of the trails by users of motorized vehicles and the organization asks legal users to help them police it.

It is made up of 540 hectares (1,334 acres) of forest. Conservation Authorities want to see the area expanded as the forest lies within a Natural Core Area of the Oak Ridges Moraine. There are four designated types of area that allow different activities. Natural Core Areas have the most "key natural heritage features" in the region and the most rigorous regulations to maintain them. The province has a conservation plan with regulations that attempt to protect the area and that outline the four special zones.

This area is part of the headwaters for Pigeon River. It flows north into Pigeon Lake northwest of Peterborough. This is a fascinating feature of the moraine: there are over 30 rivers and creeks with headwaters here, some flowing south into Lake Ontario and some north into various lakes. We develop it at our peril. While the moraine itself does not have many grand water features (for example, there's no open water at this park), it is the source, the spring, for marshes, lakes, rivers and lakes all across southern Ontario.

There are onerous signs here warning of bears. While it might be wise counsel to beware of bears, this is true of most forested areas outside urban areas in central Ontario. My walking companion and I had a woman ask if she and her little dog could walk with us as a precaution against bears. I walk regularly in bear country. It's a part of life. In years of walking, I have had no negative experiences.Take the usual precautions, but don't let the signs freak you out.

Main Access Trail 3.5 kilometres
To get from the north to the south access points, use this trail. Its a old logging road, so it's wide, double-tracked, mostly sandy and pretty flat. You need to walk it to access the two trails running off it. There's lots of poison ivy lining the trail, but it's easily avoidable. Also there are informative signs about invasive plants (see below).

Blair Martyn Memorial Trail (600 metres west side; 800 metres east side. 1.4 km total)
I have only walked the west side of this trail, which snakes about in fine fashion. It's in this area that I and my walking companion learned aboud dog strangling vine. Volunteers in past years gather to remove it, but in 2021 year Covid-19 hampered these efforts. The vine lives up to its name: it lines the trail, strangling not only dogs but everything else except the human-planted pines. Despite this (and the occasional atrocities of ATVs) I liked this trail winding through the pines.

There are two points where old tracks lead westward or southward, but they are easily avoided if you pay attention.

South Forest Loop 2.6 kilometres (or almost three if you count the trail in from the Main access Trail.)
Nice easy loop (with a trail in and out from the Main Access Trail). Again, be aware of the paths that lead off the trail. I'm guessing that if you played your cards right, the trail that leads off to the south would connect (in a roundabout way) to the Oak Ridge Trail and on into Long Sault Conservation area. It's an adventure I must check out. I'll report back when I get a chance to walk this area again.

How to get there and ddresses:
South Entrance:
453 Boundary Road,
Nestleton Station, Ontario L0B 1C0

North Entrance:
4560 Devitts Road,
Nestleton Station, Ontario, L0B 1C0

The park is about 28 kilometres and half an hour north of Bowmanville from Highway #401. Take #57 (Bowmanville Avenue) north and head right (east) on Devitts Road for just under 6 kilometres. This is the north entrance

 If you want to go to the south entrance, cut off #57 earlier and head down #20 to Murphy Road. You'll pass the entrance Road to Long Sauilt Conservation Area. Turn left and head 3 kilometres north to the park. I've heard that the road starts to disintegrate a tad near the north end, but it is quite driveable. I haven't actually driven it.
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Page created: September 9, 2021