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The Old Swamp Road (Leskard) Trail Review
UPDATE Saturday August 19, 2017 – Just returned from here today with an idea to improve this review. Before considering walking this trail, check this URL https://canadiantiremotorsportpark.com/blogs/whats-on to see if there’s an “event” going on first. I had no idea how loud (and annoying) a pack of morons on motorcycles could be. That’ll teach me for going on a weekend without checking first.
We were walking an old favourite when the wife asked if I’d ever done a review on it. I realized I hadn’t, so here it is, fresh off the trail and only a few hours old.
Tricky to find, but well worth the search, The Old Swamp Road Trail is beautiful at any time of year. We just call it the Leskard trail ‘cause it’s near the village of Leskard and on Leskard Rd North of Concession 8. That’s Leskard road North of Concession #8 from Hwy 35/115. The road is not well signed, but is fairly well hidden. If you’re approaching on Concession 8 from Hwys 35/115 and you see a Leskard Rd to your left (South) at a STOP sign … you missed it, it’s right behind you. It’s a perfectly good paved road, it’s just easy to miss. This link will open Google Maps at the parking area: https://goo.gl/maps/tG38oiaK7eHk7ppg7
The trail is actually part of the ORTA, a hiking organization that Ranger was once a major contributor to. The wife and I just stumbled upon it one day while taking the long way Home from a shopping excursion last Fall.
There’s no road signage of any kind to lead you to it, so you’ll need to look the map over closely. Once you turn onto Leskard North of Conc. 8, the trail is 1.1 kilometers North. There’s really no parking lot, just a wide spot on the West (left) side of Leskard road that might fit 5 or 6 vehicles. There’s a rustic homemade looking sign about 8 feet above the entrance to the trail naming it “THE OLD SWAMP ROAD WALKING TRAIL”.
This is a fairly easy walking trail of about 2 kms (one-way) winding alongside a year round stream. It’s mostly canopied by mixed forest. There is a bit of a sandy hill about halfway through, but it’s worth climbing as it leads across a brightly lit meadow populated by purple ironweed and queen anne’s lace, with a fair sized pond where the wife and I have seen sizeable fish occasionally (no fishing though, its private property). Then, past a fanciful inukshuk, it plunges back into the forest canopy and continues running alongside the stream (which in the dappled light doesn’t show well in pictures, sorry). However, to the eye, it’s a pretty little stream and the trail runs directly beside it for most of the distance.
You’ll come upon a large wooden fencepost which has been decorated by numerous patrons of the trail (the turkey feathers are compliments of Ranger and I from last Fall). At that point, though the “trail” appears to continue alongside the river, you’ll see a pile of wood and a no trespassing sign. Can’t say as I blame the guy for wanting to keep the rest to himself, I just might do the same were it my land. The trail takes a sharp left at that point, and goes up another rather higher hill than the sandy one you climbed to the meadow. It’s worth it to continue on though. The trail then runs along a fairly steep hillside.
The ground drops about 45 degrees to your right and rises the same to your left. It was on this section of the trail, the wife and I spotted the largest patch of ghost pipes we’ve seen anywhere. Unfortunately, we were about 2 weeks too late and missed a great photo opportunity Ghost Pipes.
Eventually you’ll come to another steep hill. I wouldn’t bother with it, as it just emerges onto Mosport road (yeah, if you hear what sounds like stock-cars racing in the distance, Mosport is a stones throw away). There is a continuation when you cross Mosport road that Ranger and I took last Fall. It’s rather hard to find where it plunges into the bush at the roadside. It was slightly creepy actually, and was the inspiration for the only piece of fiction on this entire blog. The Northumberland Nemesis.
To sum it up, the Leskard trail is an easy walk with just two mildly steep hills. For the most part, the trails are wide enough for three or four people to walk side-by-side. Its canopied for the most part, has one small wooden bridge (a must for the wife), and follows a year round stream for most its length. Despite all the ground water present, the recent rains, and being mid-Summer, mosquitoes were not a problem.
Update – Feb 22, 2020 – I’ve decided to make this a “Winter Walkable” as the parking lot is kept clear in the Winter, and the majority of the trail is fairly level. The frequency of locals using it keeps the snow pounded down too. Here are a few pictures of the trail in Winter :
Though the trail appears to continue straight ahead, you’d be advised to turn back at the “Oak Ridges Trail” sign in the pictures above.
The Final Take
Bring your camera, as it has spectacular fungal displays near anytime of the year. It is a “return” trail, not a loop. But that’s OK as it’s just as appealing on the walk back. We’ve spotted snakes basking on rocks in the open meadow section, and a pair of hawks on the upland section. On the subject of beasties, should you see a pair of huge Irish Wolfhounds bounding toward you, be assured they’re very well behaved, and their owner is right behind them. The only thing they might do is love you to bits. I mention them because I’ve seen them more often than not on that trail. The owners are locals, and very pleasant sorts who’ll stop and take the time to chat.
Enjoy the trail,