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Northumberland County Forest Carstairs Trails Review
UPDATE – June 19/2016 – Just returned from Carstairs. They’ve added info signs for the different types of trees along the walkway. Nicely designed and quite informative.
The Northumberland County Forest has recently been hit by a wave of excellent ideas and efforts. After enjoying a walk on the recently improved Woodlands trails just off Hwy 45 we went in search of a new NCF trail the wife read about in the local paper. As luck would have it, we happened upon an employee of the Forest who courteously provided accurate directions to the Carstairs Trails (sometimes referred to as “The Universal Trail” by The NCF). Take Hwy 45 North from Cobourg, turn left onto Beagle Club Rd, turn right on Bowmanton Rd and it’s very clearly signed on the left between Beagle Club and Oak Ridges County Rd 9. This link will open Google Maps at th parking lot : https://goo.gl/maps/EGzxsgkriXT1h4rA7
The trails were reported to be wheelchair accessible and we wanted to see what that involved. It involves about 6 inches of what I used to call “chips and dust” along the entire trail. The trails are, of course, easily followed and quite level. There are about a dozen benches conveniently placed at reasonably spaced distances along the trails (less than 400 meters between them, often even less). The picnic tables even have elongated tabletops, (I assume) to facilitate wheelchairs beside regular seating.
The whole trail system is designed for the elderly and the infirm, which is exactly what Ranger, the wife, and I, will be someday. In the interim, I must compliment the NCF personnel for the idea and the effort. A specifically elderly/wheelchair accessible trail out in the middle of nowhere, is something you don’t see very often. By “middle of nowhere” I mean not in the middle of town.
The Final Take
The unusually wide, four trail system has a rather small footprint. But the trails utilize the real estate effectively by winding through it in such a manner, as to give the impression of a much bigger area. The longest trail is just over two kilometers, and the shortest less than one km. All totalled, there are 6 km of trails here with lots of interconnecting trails to give variety of view. Of course, it’s difficult to assess the view in December, but we saw leaf evidence for a great deal of Spring colors and numerous ferns. The trees provide an open and clear perspective with their cleared lower branches displaying what Ranger and I call a “Cathedral” canopy effect. When my Mom comes to visit, I can take her for that walk in the woods that she misses so much. There are no such innovative trail building initiatives in the Gravenhurst area.
My sincerest thanks to the Northumberland County Forest stewards for initiating such an all servicing innovation !