Fleetwood Creek Natural Area Review

This one is a bit of an enigma. We first approached it from the South and it appeared to have seen considerably better days. By the way, the trails are not to the right but to the left and behind the sign (West Trail), and the East Trail is directly across the road behind you as you face this sign.

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However, we met and chatted with more people on the East & West trails than we have anywhere else. They all expressed the same fascination, “I’ve never met anyone on these trails before! ” But then, it was a gloriously bright and warm Sunday in early November.

The next day we approached from the North and met with a completely different presentation (and no other walkers – it was Monday after all). The North approach is obviously the “favourite child” of Kawartha Conservation for the Ontario Heritage Trust.

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OK, so Fleetwood NA has three trails and a lookout. The East and West “forest trails” are accessed from the South (Solanum Way). Take Hwy 115 North from the 401 and pull off on Porter Rd. Head North on Porter Rd. and take a left at Solanum Way. The North access (from Ballyduff rd.) has the “Valley trail”, and the lookout. Take Hwy 35 North from the 401 past Pontypool, and take a right at Ballyduff Rd.

capture-20161106-214402If you take a topographical look at this NA, you’ll see alot of hills … alot of hills! By the way, don’t even think about driving a car to the “parking lots” of either sets of trails.

Though Solanum Way does pass right through the NA, I wouldn’t recommend you try driving it with anything less than a 4X4 of some description. You’d be well advised to leave your vehicle at the No Exit sign on Solanum Way for the East and West forest trails, and at the top of the hill on Ballyduff at the No Exit sign for the lookout and Valley trail. I suppose you’re going for a walk anyway, so it’s not gonna make alot of difference if you gotta walk a few hundred meters to a parking lot that you can’t drive to does it?

The East and West Forest Trails
Leave your car at the No Exit sign at the end of Solanum Way and walk in. There’s a slight uphill climb, then a rather long downhill grade which you’ll need to remember as it will become a rather long uphill grade back to your car at the end of your walk. Once you arrive at the South parking lot, the West trail starts just left of the “rustic” sign. The East trail is directly across the parking lot from the West. Both trails are lovely walks through mixed forests (OK!  yes there are a coupla stretches of fake forest early on the West trail, but that’s negligible). Both are very hilly. With very few exceptions, the trails are well marked. We explored them in early November and the ground leaf cover made for difficult trail following without good trail marking.

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The Lookout and Valley Trail
You’ll need to leave your car at the top of the hill at the intersection of Ballyduff and Wild Turkey rds. Again, you’ll have a rather long downhill grade and a right turn to the parking lot. Again, if you’ve got a 4X4, you could make it to the parking lot. But then, heay, you’re there to take a walk right? So, just walk down the hill, make a right where the sign tells you to, and you’ll find the parking lot. Continue past the sign to the lookout. You’ll pass a downhill trail to the left as you approach the lookout. Keep to the right. The view from the lookout is indeed magnificent.

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Now  … let’s discuss “The Valley Trail”. The website suggests “the more adventuresome can travel down into the valley”. Well, adventuresome, that’s one way of putting it. Though the wife and I walked the Valley Loop Trail, we didn’t do it with any particular delight. It was a difficult and unpleasant walk. There were no trail markers AT ALL, and a coupla times I was hard pressed to determine where the trail went. You don’t wanna be running up and down hills like those, in search of the trail. The ground leaf cover made for particularly hazardous walking as the many trip hazards couldn’t be seen. Traversing the many, many, very, very steep hills on this trail would’ve been foolhardy if they were the slightest bit wet. The loop will bring you back up to the path you passed on your way to the lookout.

gif-of-fleetwood-valley-trailThe Final Take
The Southern Forest East and West Loop Trails are very pretty to walk, but are a bit hilly. They are well marked for the most part, and two can walk side by side on both trails. We will return in the Spring to assess the plant life as there were some leafy plants on the forest floor we weren’t familiar with. The lack of undergrowth provides long distance views through the forest in the Fall, and will do the same in the Spring and Summer. The lookout is very nice and has a picnic table on it. I wouldn’t bother with the Valley Trail from the lookout as I’ve seen similar attributes on much easier trails without the hazards and unjustifiable effort. All trails were beautifully silent (save the omnipresent Southern Ontario cessna).
These are very pretty walks if you’re in the area, or live nearby. I only say that as, for us, it’s a fair distance to drive. As for the trail lengths … they’re anyone’s guess. The signage contradicts itself by saying the Valley Trail is 1.5 km long while on the map legend, it’s 2.2 km long. Either which way, I wouldn’t bother doing it again, regardless of length. The West and East Forest Trails are anywhere between 2 – 3 kms in length, depending upon which sign or website you read. I didn’t bother to do a satellite view measurement as, what’s a km or two between friends ? We spotted a very small creek on the West trail we assumed was the Area’s namesake, but that was all the water we saw.
We visited over two days (one for the East & West Forest trails on the South end, and one for the lookout and Valley trail on the North). However, you could hit both the same day. You’ll notice that Solanum Way cuts right through the area and it can be walked from the Forest trails parking lot to Ballyduff rd then take it West to access the lookout/Valley trail parking lot. That’s alot of walking, and uphill for the most part too. So, I guess it’s up to you, however you wanna do it. There are no facilities, and no charge for usage.
Have a nice walk,
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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