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Hazel Bird Nature Reserve (Baltimore, Ontario) Trail Review
My old walking buddy Ranger, and I, first walked this reserve years before the creation of 2oldguyswalking. It had no trail system, and was a difficult place to find access to. All this has changed over the last few decades, and I’ve been adding updates to reflect those changes. However, the updates were piling up, and the review was becoming confusing. So I’ve re-written it to incorporate those updates. This NCC (Nature Conservancy of Canada) land now has ample free parking on Beavermeadow Rd E. You can find it by heading North on Baltimore Rd (formerly highway # 45) from the 401 at Cobourg. Drive 5 kms to Cty Rd #15 (Harwood Rd) just past Baltimore. Drive another 9 kms to Beavermeadow Rd, turn right, and 2 kms along you’ll see the parking lot on the North (left) side. This link will open Google Maps at the parking lot : https://goo.gl/maps/joqopbNmnGhiWYUB7
There’s a kiosk with a trail map and some other info quite a ways off to the side of the trail. The trailhead isn’t marked well at this point so just follow the ATV tracks (ATVs are used to maintain the trail system, otherwise no motorized vehicles are allowed) heading North. You’ll walk alongside Beavermeadow Rd for about 300 meters following markers of blue rectangles on a white background. Then the trail makes a sharp right turn and continues another 200 meters to the beginning of the 4 km loop trail.
I would advise you to start the loop by taking it to the left. There’s a lovely lookout on this loop which involves a serious cardio workout if you don’t. You’re gonna have to climb a hill anyway, but it’s a lot less steep if you start from the left. The gradual climb you’ll take is through a canopied forest too, so you’ll be shaded. You’ll thank me as you walk down the hill from the lookout, particularly if you walk this one in the warmer months.
Speaking of shady forested sections … there’s only one, and it’s not much in length. You’ll need water and sun protection in warmer weather. This reserve is part of the Rice Lake Plains ecosystem and it’s mostly a prairie-like environment. So it’s very open to the sky, and it can get hot.
Taking the loop to the left will walk you through a section of low growing, shrubby landscape past the original access near the road. Then it’ll turn right, into a stretch of sandy dunes to the lookout. There’s a bench providing a pleasant rest stop to take in the view from. From here, you’ll take the steep walk down the sandy trail to the valley floor and not far beyond, into the forested section. I’ll warn you now, this reserve was closed a week ago for “Habitat Restoration” (we walked it for this re-visit on May 8 2021). That means the NCC did some cutting of trees, and some controlled burning. Not to worry, this is something that must be done, to maintain this kind of ecosystem. It’s just not gonna be a real pretty sight for awhile.
Through the forested section, you’ll gradually climb up a hill to the open sky plains again, and back to the beginning of the loop.
The Final Take
This trail is always a treat for me as we usually walk more forested trails, than plains. But I like the feeling of open air freedom this kind of trail provides. This Reserve is also one the heights of land in the Rice Lake area, so the views of the rolling hills to the North can be quite appealing. Being an unusual ecosystem (for this area) this trail also provides an opportunity to observe unusual plant life. You’ll experience, forest, plains, and sand dune ecosystems. The only thing it doesn’t have is water, but it doesn’t need it.
Other than parking, there are no facilities here, and no charges of any kind. There are two benches, one at the lookout, and another looking across the plains. I would describe the terrain as hilly, and potentially hot as there isn’t alot of shade.
Best of all, despite it’s proximity to roadways I’ve never noticed a sound out there, beyond the wind.
Have a nice walk,