The Port Hope Lakeshore Trail Review

Update August 8 2017 – Well, the A.K. Marsh Trail trail is finally passable. The last flooded spot was just a few muddy steps this morning. The West end of the trail has been pushed back a few meters, and the boardwalk’s East end is buried in sand and stone. But the trail is whole again. Mind you parking 4 on the map below, is still blocked with concrete highway dividers because 1/2 of it has been replaced by lake, but everything else is OK. I dont know when, or even if, anyone’s gonna do anything about the rest of it. But most importantly (as evidenced by our walk this morning), remember to bring shelled peanuts or hulled sunflower seeds as the chickadees were ravenous.

Update June 30 2017. We just returned from walking the AK Marsh section of this trail. Our Wellys were essential to complete the walk. Though the lake has pushed sand and stone inland to create a new trail (about 2 meters back), there are still sections under 6 inches of water. You can walk in from the road to get to Gage’s Creek. The Peter Huffman trail is still OK.

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Update Dec 12 2015 – Well, we can add yet another critter that can be seen on the Marsh trail:

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This is an ermine, and she was bold as brass.  Almost ran over our feet as she checked us out.

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Have you ever wandered about a small town after exhausting the shopping ops ? Have you ever stumbled across an unexpected trail winding its way along a river or lakeshore?  A trail unmentioned by the locals, almost as though they’re trying to keep it to themselves (but they’re too nice to do that) ? Well, it’s not a conspiracy.  The locals just assume everyone knows about it because “It’s right here, in town”. Such is the Port Hope section of the ‘Lakeshore Trail” in Port Hope Ontario.

The trail series is (in my opinion) amongst the most beautiful, versatile nature walks a small town can offer.  It’s well maintained by the town of Port Hope (roughly halfway between Toronto and Kingston, on the North shore of Lake Ontario). Just take Hwy #28 South from the 401 and follow it down ’til you find yourself on the map below.

I divide the trail into three parts :  the AK Sculthorpe Marsh/Lakeshore, the Bluffs (Peter Huffman) Trail, and Gage’s Creek Trail. Though interconnected, they all have their separate merits. There are four separate parking areas as well, should you wish to break the trail up into more manageable pieces for time or distance considerations.

The red trail is the Bluffs, the Yellow is the AK Sculthorpe/Lakeshore, and the green is Gage's Creek

The red trail is the Peter Huffman Bluffs, the yellow is the AK Sculthorpe/Lakeshore, and the green is Gage’s Creek

The wife and I have traversed these trail on countless occasions and are guilty of the same crime as other users … we just figured “It’s right here, in town” so who wouldn’t know about it ?  And it’s been the setting for a few postings and numerous pictures on this weblog, year-round, see   Ice Dragon.

The Bluffs (marked in red on the map and properly called the Peter Huffman trail)

There are a few major hills on this section of trail, but there’s ample benches to rest on along the way.

anigif

The view from the height of land is inspiring, not to mention the welcome cool breeze on a hot Summer day. Interesting/unexpected plants will be seen, and the gazebo at the crest is a choice spot for a picnic. Ranger and I have often sat down to a bag of chip truck fries or a “the wife prepped” sandwich at that gazebo.

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The trail is a gradual uphill climb from  Parking 3, then it drops steeply into a valley and back up again before dropping down to the harbour/lake level placing you just South of the main street.  You can either return by the same trail, or take town streets back to the trail near the gazebo.  It’s all downhill from there back to parking 3. You could also just park in Parking 1 or 2 and take the bluffs trail for just halfway either direction.  There is a point where you’ll see a split in the trail if approaching from Parking 3 or 4.

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The trail on the left leads closer to the water but care must be exercised as it leads dangerously close to the bluff edge, and near the end is almost impassable. Worth the walk, but definitely a return trail.

Though it provides a unique perspective of the lake and the bluffs from their base, I would not recommend you take this trail for it’s entire length.  It’s sometimes precariously close to the edge of the bluffs. Though only a 15 – 20 foot fall, the result would be rather painful.

return trail below bluffs

This is the view from the “split” trail that runs closer to the lakeshore. There’s a point where you have to climb down a steep pile of rock to continue. This is where you turn back as it just gets worse before you get to the beach and I have the scars to prove it.

The AK Sculthorpe Marsh/Lakeshore Trail (marked in yellow on the map)

I knew A.K. personally, and I couldn’t be happier that this lovely section of the trail was named in her honour. The charms of this section (park at 3 or 4) are manifold.  This is where we first started hand-feeding chickadees 3 years ago, and they’ll now approach anyone with a handful of sunflower seeds. see Peggy the one legged chickadee.

This is where you’ll see the varied wildlife on a perfectly flat and easily walked trail winding between the marsh and the beach.  The lake is visible through the trees as you walk along the entire route.  The boardwalk is a nice touch, though a tad slippery in wet weather.  The lookout over-looking the marsh is a favourite stopping spot to observe the birds and turtles.

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Common, yet rarely seen Black Capped Night Heron

 

Snapping turtle looking to lay eggs.

Snapping turtle looking to lay eggs.

After particularly heavy rainfalls, the trail might be flooded in places.  You can easily walk over to the beach and take a slight detour, or just continue your walk along the shoreline. The map shows a loop trail where you can walk back by road.  We rarely do, as traversing the trail twice, is more desirable.

anigif

 

Gage’s Creek (marked in green on the map)

From parking 4 you can follow this short trail right up to the train bridge over the creek. This was the point where I wrote of my buddy Ranger’s brush with death, see Danger Ranger. You’ll see fish year-round, turtles, numerous songbird species, muskrat, beaver, 2 kinds of herons, and wild native orchids just as examples.

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The wife and I saw 4 herons flying in a “V” formation, just like Canada Geese from this trail last Spring.  There are many side-trails to follow as well, but if I tried to mark them all on a map …

The Final Take

This series of trails all have their own distinct charms. They are very well maintained by the Town of Port Hope, and the residents of that town have every right to be proud of their trails.  With only a few meters exception, the entire series of trails are walkable by two people side-by-side. Between the wildlife sighting opportunities, and the vistas, I challenge anyone to show me a more impressive “in town” walk. The numbering system of the parking facilities is just my way of showing them.  They aren’t numbered with signs or anything like that.

Bushwhacker

***Please click on this link Map Locations of ALL Trails on this Site to view a map with the location of every trail “2oldguyswalking” has written a review on.***

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3 comments

  1. Nancy west · · Reply

    Great job. I’m enjoying each post

    Like

  2. Thanks kindly Nancy, it’s always good to hear from a reader. I hope we continue to entertain you.
    Bushwhacker

    Like

  3. bushwhacker's Lil Sis · · Reply

    Nice post! Loved the turtle. The slide show was just right too. Not too fast nor too slow. Enjoyed the read and pictures.

    Like

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