4) Bonarlaw to Harold Road
Running Total: 35.4
Bonarlaw, the westward-bound trail cuts sharply southward,
the Hastings Heritage Trail to drop down before it continues westward
to Campbellford. The trail, as usual, is too straight for comfort, but
rides high through farmland, bush and a lot of marsh.
When I walked it
on April 5, 2009, the Hastings Heritage Trail northward from
Bonarlaw was a
wide south-flowing stream. A heavy rain a couple of days before made
walking this section along the built-up sides of the trail difficult,
although we (I walked to Spring Brook Road with Carol, my wife) saw a
couple doing just that, as well as a couple of ATVs
ploughing northward through the water. We headed southward.
crossing St Mark's Road (or St. Marks, depending upon
literature or sign you're reading) it's a pretty straight run to Spring
Brook (or Springbrook, depending again on the sign you're reading).
There are a few houses lining St. Mark's Road.
Partway along this section, we saw Holstein cattle off to our
right. In the spring, the cattle wade
through marshland, munching on the surrounding grass, and drinking and
defecating in the water. Not a pretty sight.
The trail curves
very slightly, particularly at its southernmost part. On the sunny spring Sunday afternoon we did this bit,
there were numerous ATVs,
usually in groups of two or three, heading in both directions. All were
travelling at reasonable speeds. A motorcycle also passed us on this
Despite this, there are some great marsh sections and
in the spring, the peepers were out in force along with ducks and other
feathered creatures. We watched a couple of garter snakes sunning
themselves beside the trail and wondered about the fate of several
furry caterpillars running along the trail's tracks.
bed is generally comfortable to walk, although, it can be a bit hard
on the feet, with one stuck in a tire track and the other on the centre
knoll ; switch sides periodically.
you come up to Spring Brook Road, you'll see houses to your left and a
farm on the left just before you reach the road. There's a dilapidated
outhouse in a little parking lot beside the trail. Don't use it; it's
after Spring Brook Road, the trail cuts into the hillside and for a
brief while, you don't get to see much of the countryside. However, in
a short while the banks open up a bit. There are all sorts of
tantalizing trails heading off on each side. The red circle
indicating private land is also prevalent.
When I walked this section northward (as part of a day's loop), about
kilometre south of Spring Brook Road a murder of ATVs came
toward me on
the trail, so I decide to head to the west and follow what
like an old horse trail through the woods and around some wet spots. It
eventually petered out and I did a short bit of bushwhacking
until I met a fence that led me back to the trail. All along this
little side trail where choices I could have made and I happily buried
myself in the woods for a while — a welcome relief from the
straightness and flatness of the trail. A great example of the joys of
As I rejoined the trail, more ATVs descended and
I spent some time along the edges of the trail wishing I could spend
more time investigating paths that disappeared into the bush.
About 1.5 kilometres south of Spring Brook Road, McConnell Road comes
in from the east. On my map it shows the road as coming as far as the
trail, but it actually ends 60 metres before that and a rough gravel
trail runs to the trail. On the west side, a dirt track continues
down to the edge of Hoards Creek. Across the creek, I could see the
path continuing. Definitely a route to explore when the water is lower,
but the spring run-off water looked a little daunting.
out for the underpass just south of the McConnell Road extension. It
was totally dry and seemed made more for human passage than for
water. I passed under the tunnel to the riverbank and watched
beaver for a
while. He thrashed his tail a couple of times, but eventually climbed
out of the water on the opposite bank and began loudly chomping at a
bit of wood. I walked back under the tunnel and followed a
that ran up the hill and off to the right.
This is a great area,
with trails running here and there in the bush. Some sections were a
bit wet, while others rose up to mini-meadows. I came upon a hunt camp
at one point, made partly from an old trailer. It was in serious
disrepair. At another point a pheasant strutted across a
This side trip was definitely a highlight of the day's
walk. I'm guessing that there are many more fine trails on the west
Hoards Creek appears a couple of times as the
trail takes a welcome curve before the straightaway into Harold Road.
Hoards Creek is host to a large community of wildlife and a quiet sit
by the riverbank is certainly rewarding. The creek flows eventually
past King's Mills Conservation Area, through the hamlet of Hoards
Station (where one of the province's few cattle sales barns still
operates) and empties into the Trent River. Like nearby Rawdon Creek,
it is one of a complex of streams and marshland that feed the Trent
Side trails south of
Spring Brook Road:
April 5, 10, 2009
5) Harold Road to Anson
Total: 9 kilometres
Running total: 44.4
of Harold Road, Hoard's Creek crosses from the west, then bubbles along
east of the trail. In the spring it has little rapids and
"mini-gorges" (very small cuts into the land) that are well worth
checking out. Take a tour across the flat rocks to your left
to check them out.
It's pretty straight going to Wellman's
Road (County Road #19). Just before you reach Wellman's Road, you'll
parallel Hoover Road for a short stretch. Again, about 700 metres
before the road, cut left to enjoy Hoard's Creek again. In the spring,
all sorts of little rivulets empty into the creek. There's a
particularly nice min-waterfall (by which I mean two feet high
less) hiding under a bush here in the spring.
of Wellman's Road, the trail passes over a little creek that is dry
most of the year, followed by a larger bridge crossing Hoard's Creek
once again. Then, as you approach King's Mills Road (or "Kings," the
problem with possessives never leaves us), the trees thin. After you
cross the road there is little protection from the sun as the terrain
opens into rolling fields.
After King's Mills Road, the trail
angles a bit to the west and crosses Coutts Road (a north-south road).
It then parallels Coutts south to Barrett. When I walked this section
(on the northward part of my round trip),
two ATVs had switched off the trail and onto Coutts, where they could
spread out into both lanes and do a bit of racing. As usual, the
machines were loud and obnoxious. Thankfully they were not on the trail
when they roared past me.
Just before you reach Mount Pleasant
Road, you'll see an apiary, with a collection of hives set out in a
clearing. On the warm day in late April that I walked this
section, the bees were already busily going about their business.
of Mount Pleasant Road, fields dominate. Human-made ditches
down both sides of much of the trail, with more ditches running across
fields, draining water from the land. Notice too the old water troughs
(at least I think that is what the rectangular open boxes are.)
smooth out excessive bumps or wet spots, parts of the trail to Anson
have been covered with gravel made up of largish stones. It's just a
nuisance for a walker, but it would be no fun for many
As I finished my walk on an early May evening, three
vehicles, a car and two trucks, set off at a pretty good pace, heading
north up the trail from Hoard's Road. The car led, bouncing up and down
in the ruts. Earlier I had seen a muddy, dented unlicenced car with
bashed-out back lights sitting behind a shed at 476 Hoard's Road. A
quick check revealed that the car was gone, with new tracks in the
trail showing where it had gone.
This busted car made plenty of
noise, a bonus I suppose for any walker on the trail. A car with a
muffler could take a walker by surprise. Nevertheless, I was glad I was
off the trail as this kind of activity is a recipe for disaster; in any
collision with a walker, the latter will always lose. It's wise to
remember that these sections of the trail are no different than country
backroads for a few local drivers.
Hoard's Road, Weaver's Cemetery sits high on a hill just to the
north-west of the trail. Unfortunately, the gate is locked.
Someone has cut a hole in the wire of the gate.
There are some interesting stones in this graveyard dating back to the
leave the Hastings Heritage Trail at Anson. After crossing Hoard's
Road, a bit of
road/trail curves off to the left (east). This is simply the "on ramp"
to the trail you'll shortly meet to the south. If you head east on this
east-west trail, you'll run into Madoc Junction, where the Trail of Two
Lakes Runs north to Madoc, and another trail runs south into
Belleville. However, the Trans Canada turns right
here and heads for Hoards and then Campbellford. I've noted
crossroad as Anson.
April 17, 29, May 2, 2009
6) Anson to Hoard's Church Road (Hoard's Station)
Running total: 50.8
just over half a kilometre, the trail crosses Anson Road. Hoards Road
curves away to the north and the trail par
allels Merrick Road for a
short while. At the juncture of Hoards and Merrick
see the old Central cheese factory off to your right, one of the
smaller independent cheese-making companies that didn't make it into
the 21st century. Hastings County once had 63 independent cheese
factories. It now has two.
next 2.2 kilometres to Spencer Road takes you on a pleasant stroll
through farmland, with bushes lining the trail most of the way. Wafts
of lilac came at us (I walked this section with my wife Carol) at
points and a couple of apple trees in blossom also deserved a closer
smell. A farmer was tilling his field at one section, and nearing
Spencer Road, we had a good talk about walking with another farmer who
had walked sections to the west.
Spencer Road, the farm theme continues, with barns and farmhouses and well-kept fields on both
sides. About halfway between
Spencer Road and Hoards, the trail cuts through forest and some marsh,
with fields lurking in the background. A power line passes overhead at
one point, with towers stretching across the fields.
Round bales in a very trim field east of Hoard's Station.
trail angles to the north side of Hoards Road (County Road 8), then
crosses Hoards Creek on a separate wooden bridge with a surface that
needs a little work. At Hoards Road, we move into Northumberland
County, into the municipality of Trent Hills, a conglomerate of urban
and rural communities that includes Hoards Station.
bridge are fields on the right (north) residences on the left, followed
by small grain silos that are part of Hoards Station. At Hoards Church
Road, there is a garage on the left and a United Church with a little
cemetery just off the trail. (Take care: on some maps this road is misnamed "Hoards Road.")
Farms on this stretch look more prosperous
than their cousins farther east.
In May and June, with the fields a rich green,
and cattle lazing on hillsides,it made for almost cliché
A classic rural
scene. Barns, cows, an early evening in June. Very peaceful.
Somehow, Brueghel's painting of Icarus comes to
everything so still and beautiful and normal. We did not see Icarus
falling from the sky; our world is still intact.
Walked May 2, 23,
June 24, 2009
7) Hoards Church Road (Hoard's Station) to Burnbrae Road (6th Line East), just east of Campbellford
Running total: 60.2 kilometres
a fine early summer-evening, and this next section can be magic. It's
pretty well all field and farms, with a strip of bushes and trees along
the rail bed. A little bit of forest comes in briefly as you near the
4th Line and there are short sections where the bed rides low and you
can't see the fields above.
Have a look at the bell at Hoards
United Church at the beginning of this section. It was cast locally by
one "Mr. Bunce," according to the inscription under the bell.
that, it's one pastoral scene after another: round bales in the field,
cows chewing their cud (very loudly, by the way, no table manners at
all, but very friendly), sheep bleating loudly while their protective
dog shepherd barks ferociously, a llama sternly but silently watching
amidst the same flock, birds, farmers out haying, rolling hills of
grai —ah, I hear you claim, he's getting far too romantic
sentimental. I swear, this is all packed into one short walk between
Hoards station and the 4th line.
This llama was silent but very
attentive as I walked by. Long after I'd passed,
she was still staring at me. On the June day I walked this
section near Pethericks
Road, there were lots of lambs frolicking about (what else do lambs do,
only thing to watch out for is poison ivy, which lines the edges of the
rail bed along this and previous sections. If
you stick to the trail you'll have no trouble.
nice-looking barn on the left side as you come up to the 4th line; the
road that splits off the trail at the 4th line leads to it.
one point the trail rides slightly high and you get to look down
through the trees on any cows that might be in the adjacent fields.
Masson Meadow Farm
on Pethericks Road, which this section of the trail passes
over 2.5 kilometres north-west of Hoards Station.
had a good chat with the Jersey cows at the junction of the trail and
the 4th line; they gathered at the fence as I came up to the road. A
very sociable lot.
trail now parallels the 4th line westward, with several dairy farms
along the way. These truly are the rolling hills of Northumberland
county. In mid-July after a wet spell, the fields are lush and green,
spreading up and out from the trail. If you walk in early evening, you
can catch a farmer or two dealing with her/his cattle.
4th Line, the trail crosses Devil's Valley Road (where there's a house
on your immediate left), then gently winds another 1.4 kilometres to the
5th line. There are blackberry and raspberry bushes along the way and
an apple tree just on the left after Devil's Valley Road. If you happen
to walk in berry season, take care to avoid the poison ivy when you're wading
into any bushes. There's a lot of it lining the trail in places.
This beautiful seed flower (I don't know what it's called) was just at the edge of
the trail south of Loucks Road—a ghostly, ephemeral grouping of seeds waiting for
a good breeze to disperse them.
the 5th Line east, the trail curves to the left and parallels the road
for a while. As it curves northwestward away from the road, it
passes two houses on the left. The first is a strange trailer affair
with a falling-apart particle-board roof over it.
afterwards you will pass over a little stream, which was dried up when
I walked this section in August. It was also difficult to see under the
South of Loucks Road, there's an apple tree
on the right-hand side with tasty but very tart little apples on
it in mid-August.
North of Loucks Road, the rail bed cuts into
the hillside a bit and there are banks on either side. Unfortunately
unscrupulous people have taken the opportunity to dump garbage here.
Old tires, beer cases, clothes and the like have been left here. Some
of this garbage has been here for quite a while. Presumably the banks
have allowed the dumping to be done undetected.
Loucks Road, it's a short jaunt to Burnbrae Road (6th Line east).
There's a map here outlining the area's trails and a box to one side
with "Maps" written on it. However, poison ivy surrounded the sign and
the box, so I did not venture to check it out.
At Burnbrae Road,
the trail ends, although the rail bed continues.There are cement pylons
on the north side of the road across the rail bed continuation. I will
walk that soon and report on whether it is possible to walk it.The rail bed part part of the trail ends here at Burnbrae Road (6th Line East) just
west of Campbellford. Notice the cement pylons on the north side. The rail bed continues,
but it is quite overgrown. The sign contains a map of trails of the area (mostly for snowmobiles
and ATVs). The sign and the blue map box attached to it are surrounded by poison ivy, so it was
not possible to check the map box out.
The official Trans Canada Trail heads off westward along Burnbrae Road into the south-east side of Campbellford.
June 25, July 20, 21, August 9, 2009
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the previous section: Tweed to Bonarlaw
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