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Ball’s Mill/Lime Kiln Trail Review
This posting is a trail review but be warned, a history lesson as well! I have combined the very short but beautiful Lime Kiln Trail and the trails of the Ganaraska Conservation Authority’s historic Ball’s Mill Conservation Area to provide an easy walk and a pleasant way to while away a few hours on a sunny day.
Baltimore Ontario is located on Northumberland County Road #45, a few miles north of Cobourg. From County Rd #45 turn west on Harwood Road, cross the bridge over Baltimore Creek, at McDougall Road you will see the large white clapboard Ball’s Mill. Please Note: The actual mill is privately owned and we should be careful not to intrude on the owner’s privacy.
OK, let’s get the history lesson over first. We are not sure where Baltimore got its name, but I am pretty sure it was not from the inebriated gentleman who wandered into the settlement in the early days and thought he was in Baltimore, Maryland (USA)! The mill is located on 38 acres of land and is preserved under the “Preserving Ontario’s Architecture” program and is designated as a historic site by the L.A.C.A. of the Township of Hamilton and Province of Ontario.
Lambert Stevens built the first mill in 1842 in the classical revival style as a carding mill. In 1846 a flour mill was added by William McDougall and from 1884 the mill was operated by 3 generations of the Ball family until 1971. Mr. McDougal had constructed a raceway from the headpond and dam an eighth of a mile north of the mill (and can still be seen). This raceway powered a water wheel and grinding stone for the mill until 1906. At this time a new steel turbine was built. An upper raceway was built and a steel flume and penstock were laid to carry water downhill to the mill. This system is much like the hydro station at Niagara Falls, the long drop of water inside the steel tube from the dam to the mill provided a powerful energy source for the mill. Ball’s Mill is very unique, I have never seen a mill located so far away from the pond and with such long raceways providing such an extreme drop of water to the mill.
Directions to the Conservation parking lot: Take Harwood Road north past McDougall Rd. to the Conservation sign on the east side of the road.
From this parking lot, head north down the wooden stairs and follow the trail. The trail here is very scenic, easy to walk and follows a large hill on the left side and a steep gully on the right. A short walk will bring you to a sharp trail to the right, but keep walking until you reach the massive dam at the mill pond. Here you can see (and hear!) the pond empty downstream. Notice the raceway at the west end of the pond where the water was once diverted around the Baltimore Creek to power the mill downstream. To see the waterfalls from the bottom of the dam, walk east (following a grass trail) and keep to the right down to the creek.
On the way back, cross over the dam and walk to the sharp left turn trail (mentioned earlier) and it will take you on a beautiful walk along a berm that was built to keep the raceway water contained on its way to the mill. In a few minutes, this trail turns right and will come out at the far south end of the parking lot. This loop trail is only about a half mile long but is very scenic and you can almost see the water from the mill pond rushing along to the mill.
An alternate entrance to the Conservation Area is to follow Hwy #45 a short distance north of the Harwood Road exit and park on the west side of the road opposite the Lime Kiln road sign on the right. There is a good sized gravel pull-off from the highway here. Go through the small fence gate and follow the grassy trail left to the bottom of the waterfall and right to the pond.
This parking lot off Hwy #45 provides a perfect entrance to explore the Lime Kiln Trail! Cross the highway here and follow the short hill east past a few homes and continue down the hill. Walking a cedar lined trail (with some old cedar rail fences) you will soon come to a very rustic wooden bridge. A note to the Bushwhacker: the stone culvert under the wooden bridge is the elusive Lime Kiln (circa 1800) location that the Ranger has been searching for many years!!
This trail is technically part of the Ball’s Mill trail system and is easy to walk even with a few gentle hills and is only about a kilometer long when walked there and back. The trail is through a cedar lined forest and ends at Community Centre Road which makes it hard to find a loop trail here.
While in Baltimore, be sure to check out the ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ that can be accessed from the Hwy #45 and Dale Road intersection (look for the sign on the east side of Hwy #45). This interesting ‘heartbeat-raising’ stairs leads up to the Baltimore United Church.
The trails described above although fairly short, are a pleasure to stroll and if you let your mind wander (as I am prone to do) you can imagine life as it was back in Baltimore (one of the first settlements in Northumberland County).