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Northumberland County Forest (NCF) West Block Review
I gotta love the NCF. Its large, nearby, and its free for anyone to access from many roadside locations. ‘Course, the downside is that its large, nearby, and its free for anyone to access from many roadside locations. Walk 100 meters back from the road into the NCF and you might cross any number of trails. You might cross a Ganaraska Hiking Association trail, or maybe an Oak Ridges Association trail, or perhaps a Northumberland County Forest trail. You might even pass the trail Buford and Cooter use to evade the Revenoors, or thems Duke boys use to escape a heap O’ trouble …
Anyway, my point is that there are alot of trails running in every direction back there, so while trying to do a review on the Kinglet Trail, I first became confused, then overwhelmed. Finally, I decided I needed to figure out just where all those trails go, back in there. So I downloaded the best map I could find of the West block of the NCF.
The West Block can be accessed by heading North on Hwy 45 out of Cobourg, then left on Harwood Rd at the town of Baltimore. About 9 kms further, turn right on Beaver Meadow Rd, pass the Hazel Bird parking lot, and at about 3 kms in, you’ll see the main trail access. There’s no trailhead sign nor parking. So just pull off the road and park. This link will open Google Maps at the precise location :
Then the wife and I headed off to Beaver Meadow Rd. With the map in hand, we started at the most westerly access point, and started walking, and sketching on the map. The resultant map below is not entirely GPS perfect. The green (Kinglet) trail, and the red (ORTA) trail are from the NCF site, but the thin purple trails are our estimates of the unmarked trails we found between the Kinglet & ORTA trails. If you print this map out and take it with you, it’s surprisingly handy for navigating your way around the West block. You’ll notice that all trails leading North are an uphill climb. Some steeper than others.
The reason for the warning not to cross the blue line is that it will lead you on (and will necessitate) a return walk to a rather distant NCF parking lot. There are at least a dozen “loop” trails in the West Block (my name, not the NCF’s official name) so this Block could keep you busy all day.
The Final Take
This collection of trails is conveniently close to the NCF Woodland trails, Hazel Bird Nature Reserve, and the Carstairs wheelchair accessible trails. There are three easy access sites from Beavermeadow Rd E. with plenty of roadside parking and the trails are wide enough for two to walk side-by-side. The walk along the ridge yielded quite an impressive view in the Fall as we could see right down into the ravine and sometimes even across the valley. The wife spotted a deer running across the trail right in front of us (while I was digging around in my hiking bag and so, missed it). But at least I was there to have the Hell startled out of me by a lot of grouses. Lotsa wildlife around there. The trail is wide, dry and clear, with no trip hazards. The topography is as varied as the ecosystems. It’s obvious in some places that this is a “fake forest” from the 1940’s, but it’s coming along nicely and for most of it, you’d never know. As for distance estimates, all I can tell you is that the very well marked Kinglet trail (the green one) is approx 4.5 kms.