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NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY FOREST – ELDERBERRY, DRAGONFLY, STONEWALL, AND LUNA TRAILS REVIEW
These four trails are on a block of NCF land bordered by Bowmanton rd to the North, Hwy (County Road) 45 to the East, Beagle Club rd to the West, and Dunbar rd to the South.
To get to them, you have to get to the spot where Dunbar rd intersects Beagle Club rd (where the #24 is on the map above). You can do this by parking at the Beagle Club rd trail parking lot (link to Google Maps location: https://goo.gl/maps/wPZbZp5KwJzw34am8), then walking back down the parking lot driveway to Beagle Club rd then go North about ½ a kilometer. Or, you could take the Heritage trail (marked with a stag’s head) backward, ie) walk under the exit sign. After you pass the rest bench and the trail goes left, look to your right and you’ll see Bowmanton rd just a few meters away (there are 2 parallel “roads” that both go to Beagle Club rd from here). OR, much more simply, you can park on Beagle Club rd itself at the #24 access location, but only on the East side as there are “no parking” signs on the West.
However you choose to access, you’ll notice there are two wide openings into the forest to the East off Beagle Club rd. Take the Northern one and you’ll see a trail to the left (Dragonfly trail but not signed as such). Take this trail and shortly, you’ll see the Stonewall trail sign on the right.
Just in case you’re wondering where the Southern wide opening goes, it’ll take you to the Luna Trail. This is the only trail I have ever said “Screw this”, and bushwhacked my way out to the road, and my ride. The hills were unbelievable ! You can walk it if you wish, but you’ll see the same thing as you would on all the other nearby trails without the hills to contend with.
Lower Dragonfly and Stonewall Trails (about 3 kms)
If you wanna make this loop, I’d advise you start by the Stonewall Trail and return by the Dragonfly. While the NCF is fairly generous with the trail marker signs, they only face you, if you take the Stonewall trail to the Dragonfly Trail. If you go the other way … you will miss where the Stonewall trail intersects the Dragonfly, and you’ll find yourself wandering off to the North and the Carstairs Tract. A few kms further from your ride than you expected to find yourself.
Combining these two trails to form a loop, will take you through a lovely blend of walking experiences. Upland birch woods, deep valley lowlands, the most impressive old pioneer stone wall I’ve ever seen out in the bush, and clear vistas through the woods from a trail just below the crest of a long ridge. The silence was something I want to mention. Save that one “incessna” (incessant cessna airplane), the only sound was the wind in the pines, and the birds.
This is what they look like in the Summer :
Dragonfly & Elderberry Loop Trails (3 kms each)
These two loops are actually one loop bisected by an old logging road (the Split Rail rd). The Northern section of the Elderberry can be a bit noisy due to it’s proximity to the Ganaraska Cty Rd # 9, but it becomes very quiet the further South you go on it. These two trails have only a few small hills on them which is a bonus for this area.
This is what they look like in the Summer :
I should also mention the Split Rail Trail which is really just a bush road but still a pleasant walk. It was too icy for us in the Winter, but here it is in Summer :
Though it’s at the far North end, I should mention another way into the Elderberry Trail. Almost directly across from the Eastern entrance of the Carstairs Tract parking lot, we found an unmarked trail heading South into the bush. About 15 meters in, you’ll hit a crosstrail clearly marked as the Elderberry Trail.
The Final Take
Of the four loops offered here, the best by far is the Stonewall to the Lower Dragonfly and back. The Northern section of the Elderberry trail can be a bit road noisy. The trails are pretty much single file walking and are all just compacted soil. There are no resting benches on these trails, and there are no picnic facilities at any parking locations. The main Beagle Club rd. parking lot has washrooms, but that’s the only place you’ll find any. There’s no charge for parking anywhere, nor for access to any trails. I wouldn’t bother with the Luna Trail, but it’s there if you wish to. On leash dog walking is permitted.
The NCF is a dry forest. There’s no water anywhere so there aren’t any pretty bridges or boardwalks, nor any ponds or streams. The topography is very undulating as this forest is at the furthest Eastern end of the Oak Ridges Moraine.
Have a nice walk,