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The Morel Trail (4th Line Port Hope) Review
UPDATE – March 31, 2021 – There’s been a sudden interest in this trail lately and I suspect it’s because of the title containing the word MOREL. Be advised that we haven’t seen a single morel on this trail in 8 years. So please don’t walk it for the express purpose of seeing any. I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking they’re going to find morels here. Bushwhacker
It’s another partial GHT (Ganaraska Hiking Trail) that goes through a particularly lovely piece of private property (with permission) on an old 1850’s railroad berm. It’s a return trail for sure. This GHT trail continues North across a “mid-woodland” stream to the North, and (oppositely) along the 4th Concession Line to the South. However, the best part of the trail is from the 4th Line to the stream and back.
Your easiest way to find it, is to take Hwy 28 North from Port Hope to the 4th line, turn left (’cause ya can’t turn right) and watch the wooded spots to the North (your right) as you cruise along. At about 900 meters, there’s a fairly steep, short hill and a closed fence gate with a honkin’ big STOP sign on it at the top of the hill. This link will open Google Maps at the location : https://goo.gl/maps/iUyTjQQmwZhN59mC7
You can park facing up the hill, or on the roadside. Doesn’t matter to anybody which you choose. Keep in mind, you’re on private property with the owners permission. Behave accordingly.
Once you walk up the short hill ( maybe seven steps) you’re on the berm, and the walking is flat, comfortable, and very picturesque for the remainder of the distance. Walk around the fencegate and continue North. You’ll come across the owner’s wood storage area before too long, and the trail can be seen continuing to the North. The (often) fresh hewn wood provides that wonderful scent as you walk past the stacks of planks the owner has cut with his own farm sawmill.
Both the wife and I, and Ranger and I have seen the owner as he tends to his land. He maintains the forest, and keeps the trail wide and clear. And, if you happen to catch him while he’s burning off some brush, you can chat while warming your hands over the open flame on a brisk Autumn morning.
In the early Spring, you’ll hear the unmistakable “quacking” of thousands of wood frogs in the vernal pools alongside the trail. As you approach, they’ll quiet down. But, just take a seat on a fallen tree with your feet inches from the water, remain motionless for 15 seconds, and they’ll start quacking again. Within 30 seconds, the noise will be near deafening. You’ll find yourself marveling at how an amphibian half the size of your pinky can make that much racket. But then, just try counting them for an easy explanation.
On this trail we made our first sighting of yellow ghost pipes You don’t see these too often anywhere.
In the stream at the end of the trail, Ranger and I stood and watched trout turn onto their sides and with powerful pulsing of their tails, dig a depression in the streambed to lay eggs in. I’d only seen that on TV documentaries until that day. You can cross the stream on the make-shift bridge, and follow the trail up to the 5th Line, but it’s not a very pleasant nor interesting walk. We generally turn back and return to the 4th Line.
The Final Take
This trail, though short, is loaded with possibilities, and opportunities. If nothing else, it’s a calming and easy walk. With the exception of the first hill up to the berm, it’s a flat and gently curving trail wide enough for as many as four to walk side-by-side. Typically of old 19th century railway berms, the views from the heights are impressive in any season.
And Finally … why do we call it “The Morel Trail” ? Well, we found a mess of them the first year the wife and I were retired together and began walking this trail regularly.
We haven’t found more than 2 or 3 over the last three years, so I figured, What the Hell ? I have a bad reaction to them anyway, and besides … we found 2 more spots to collect them for our friends (and NO, I’m not saying where those trails are unless they run out of morels too).
I’ve kept the location of this trail a secret for quite some time now (for obvious reasons) and I feel just awful for having kept this from you. In fact, I feel downright sick. Aww, who am I kidding ? I’ve lost sleep over this !
Have a nice walk,