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Thurne Parks Conservation Area Review
Update – Dec 5, 2015 – just returned from Thurne Parks and just wanted to outline a few changes. The windstorm of a few weeks ago really played havoc. Alot of trees are down and the trail has been re-routed in numerous places but is still quite walkable. Another new development is at the end of the trail where I state someone has a “private property” sign on a tree over the river. There is now a pile of brush with a “no trespassing” sign, and a barbed wire fence across the trail. Somebody’s pissed for sure. Anyway, you might notice a new trail going off to the right, alongside the barbed wire fence. We followed it, and found it just leads to the backyards of a few residences so it’s not worth the bother.
Thurne Parks is a walk the wife and I, and the Ranger and I have been doing for some time now. It’s become so common to me that I’d forgotten I’d never done a review on it. It’s a “return trail” really. I say that because there’s a couple of trail review websites which describe it as a “loop” trail, which it is not. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself here.
OK, so Thurne Parks is on the South side of Conc 4, West from Hwys 35/115 North of the 401. It’s about 1.5 km West of 35/115. If you hit your brakes as you pass over a small bridge, you’ll slow down just in time to pull into the parking lot. The trail follows the West side of the stream the bridge takes you over. The stream is the northern extension of Wilmot Creek which flows down to Lake Ontario through the Wilmot Creek Nature Area on the Lake.
There are two trails from the parking lot which converge a few meters back in the bush so it doesn’t matter which one you start with. You’ll quickly realize what this CA is all about as you walk. The water is constantly with you, visually, and audibly. The walking is easy, and the trail level. There are numerous side trails wandering off toward the water, affording ample photo opportunities.
The water is teeming with fish during the Spring trout run and the Fall salmon run, and even in between with the usual denizens of the stream, though I can count on one hand the number of fishermen I’ve seen there. Keep in mind that we visit on weekdays, so I can’t vouch for week-ends.
The woods are mostly scrub cedars, with some upper woodland species further back from the water. Not a lot of unusual fungal species sighted, but there are some wild flowers to be seen. Hepatica in the Spring, and every few meters we walked this Fall, there were bright red Jack-in-the-Pulpit seed clusters visible. The trail is rather canopied for the most part, though there are some open breaks in the canopy allowing meadow-type plants to thrive.
I should warn you to keep exposed skin from touching these plants as they are mostly stinging nettles. They’re nothing serious though, just a mildly annoying intermittent itch for an hour or so. Just raise your arms over them if you’re in short sleeves and you’ll be fine. If you’re in short pants, the trail is wide enough at its base that they’ll not be a problem to you. If you’re a birder (bird watcher for those of you who aren’t), I don’t want the same websites I mentioned earlier to mislead you. I’ve rarely even heard a bird, much less seen one on this trail. Simply put, this trail is all about the water, as it should be. The creek deserves all the attention. I mentioned that it’s a return trail. You’ll eventually come to a point where a fallen tree lays across the creek and someone has placed a “private property” sign on it. This is the point at which to turn back. This trail is quite easy to walk and we have taken it in all four seasons.
The Final Take
Thurne Parks exists to preserve a section of Wilmot Creek on its journey South to Lake Ontario. It’s a lovely, calming walk with no challenges to the walker. However, though classed as a Conservation Area, it has the feel of a Wildlife Area. There are no facilities of any kind available. No picnic tables, no washrooms, not even a bench along the trail. It`s doing well to have a parking lot. Not to worry though. If you return to Hwy 35/115 and take the next exit South (3rd Line), there`s a McD`s, a Sub shop, and a Tim`s.