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Callaghan’s Rapids Conservation Area Review
To find this place, just get to Marmora on Hwy #7 from wherever you are, and go West on Hwy #7 to Tiffen Rd. Go South on Tiffen Rd. Turn left on Callaghan Rapids Rd. and follow that to the parking area. This link will open Google Maps at the parking lot: https://goo.gl/maps/F37R7sqZH3odQW1K6. There are 3 trails from the parking area, and they all lead to the Crowe Riverbanks.
You’ll note I didn’t title this one a “trail” review. That’s because the trails that are there, aren’t for the purpose of trail walking. They are there to guide you to the Crowe River, the “banks” of which are a type of trail themselves. In the dead of Summer into the Autumn (when we walked it), the river will be low enough to make the riverbed itself a walkable path. The two iron bridges are part of the Trans Canada Trail.
I gotta admit, I really liked this place, if for no other reason than the river. I have a serious weakness for wide, shallow rivers that I can walk across, without getting my shins wet. It’s the sensation that you’re standing in the middle of a water path that, four months earlier, shipped enough water/second, to move massive timbers and leave natural flotsam one meter up the side of plants and trees, twenty meters back from the banks.
AND … despite being a serious claustrophobe, I just LOVE caves !! I’d read of some at this site, and so, had to go in search of them. I still can’t believe we found them. OK, I must admit, they’re as much “caves” as the Warsaw Caves are caves. They’re just collapsed slabs of limestone that the river has eroded it’s way under and through. I had to move some timbers and dead tree trunks from the last Spring flood, to see some of the better examples. Though small, some are fairly long and deep.
Had we found these back in 1985, I’d have happily climbed in, and snapped a whole buncha pictures and videos for you. There’s no mention made of these caves on any official sites. Most likely because they could be very dangerous. Be VERY careful of where you place your feet if you choose to explore them. As stated, there’s alot of organic washdown on top of most of them, and the wife damn-near fell through one. Had she not had the good sense to prod the “ground” with a stick before stepping on it, we’d have had an injured walker a long way from help. As well, many of the slabs that make up the “roofs” of these caves are unstable. Don’t trust or assume anything is safe here. The trail leading to them is off to the South East of the Easternmost iron bridge over the Crowe right where you see this service box. Exercise EXTREME CAUTION if you intend to visit them!
On the subject of rocks and such, there are alot of these pock-marked surfaces all over the riverbed. Also, there are alot of these black stones piled up here and there. I’m guessing the black stones are iron because there was a huge iron mining operation near here years ago, but the pock-marked surface, I’m not sure what might’ve caused that.
One of the recommended sights are a pair of one meter waterfalls in the riverbed. We couldn’t find them them due to a lack of preparedness on my part. I didn’t see them until I was labelling the satellite view at the beginning of this article. Another great thing about this place is the total silence, despite its proximity to Hwy 7. The only sound was the few places where the river splashed over the rocks. While I’m thinking of it, I should suggest you print out the satellite view at the start of this review as I haven’t found any maps of this area, much less maps with trails, caves and waterfall locations listed.
The view from the two bridges was spectacular, and the fish! The deeper spots under the bridges were lousy with them! Unfortunately, I was too far away to ID the species (I suspect Ciscos).
The Final Take
Despite the lack of a developed trail system, I really liked this place and I will return. Considering it’s a “passive” Conservation Area, it was remarkably clean and quiet (on a weekday in September, just so’s ya know). I have seen You Tube videos of A-holes running their 4X4s and ATVs through the river in the Summer though. But it was clean and quiet when we saw it.
I loved the feeling of seclusion and openness. The bright sunshine and gentle refreshing breezes blowing downstream. The wife and I just chose a rock on the shoreline for our picnic lunch, and watched the wildlife pass by (oblivious to our presence, or just didn’t care. I don’t know which).
Have a nice walk,