“Heay ! There’s a star on the GPS map coming up” I told Ranger. “And a star means … ?” Ranger asked. “Oh yeah, I place a star on the map when the wife and I find something worth coming back to” I explained. So what is it ?” he asked. “I dunno, all I can do is place a star on the map to remind me to check it out should I be in the area again”. I explained further. “Well then, let’s check it out.” He concluded.
As we rounded the bend on Mount Horeb Rd. off Hwy 7 West of Omemee, I saw an entrance I instantly recognized. It was Windy Ridge Conservation Area. The wife and I had dropped by not long ago, but it was too late in the day to explore it, so, it just got “starred” on the GPS map. It looked pretty tiny, just a picnic shelter, an outhouse, and a parking area twice the size of both. Ranger and I climbed out and figured we’d at least do a preliminary look-about. The web site mentioned a spectacular view of the surrounding area so we went in search of it. Unfortunately, we found a trail heading directly South from the parking lot. ERRRRRRRRRRRRRR !! Wrong choice as we realized later! It was a lovely, easy stroll down to the Pigeon River bank where I took advantage of the gorgeous view.
However, we then continued to search for the spectacular view of the river I’d read about. The trail got a tad steep and long. I won’t go into particulars, but I’ve never seen Ranger actually have to lay down to rest his legs before. Suffice it to say, it was a Helluva climb to see this :
See that river way off in the distance ? That’s the same river in the pictures one paragraph above. Oh sure, the pictures from the bank were taken a lot closer than that … and what does that tell you ? That’s right ! It was so steep a climb, you can’t see the spot in the pictures above, because it’s almost directly beneath you.
So, what’s the best thing to do at Windy Ridge ? From the parking lot walk toward the picnic shelter. Walk through the shelter and you’ll see a path winding up a steep, but short hill. This hill is ab-so-lute-ly NOTHING in comparison to approaching from the other direction. Once you’re up the hill, there’s a level, open plain with a clear path through it, leading South to the lookout in the picture above. From there you can walk down the hill (be very careful not to stumble. You won’t stop rolling ‘til you hit the river). Better yet, just turn around and take the 15 minute walk back to the parking lot, and then walk the trail you see heading directly South, past the outhouse to the riverbank as seen in the first picture above (the trail we took in error the first time).
Also while you’re up on the level trail, you’ll see an obviously man-made post to the East. It’s a satellite geolink of some sort that monitors water conditions. Not fascinating, but kinda interesting anyway. Your tax dollars at work, on something worthwhile this time.
The Final Take
Please don’t misinterpret my intentions here. Windy Ridge is a gorgeous place, and I want you to drink in the majesty of it, just as we did. I’d just prefer you knew the less painful way to experience it than we did. Yes, the apples on the way up the hill were tasty, the gradual impression of the view was enjoyable, but it was a Helluva climb for 2 Old Guys Walking so please take the trail from the picnic facility direction to best enjoy this trail. There are picnic tables at the river’s edge, in the parking area, and on the lookout ridge. Washroom facilities are available in season.
Windy Ridge Conservation Area : a lovely little 1.3 km long jewel in the middle of nowhere … perfect.
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