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Stony Lake Trails Review
These four loops total near 9.5 kms and the only parking showing on the map was either at 105 Reid’s Rd, Harcourt On (click the link to open Google Maps at the parking lot : https://goo.gl/maps/KDuNidbPKcJrj8wj7), or somewhere in a Resort’s parking lot. We chose the one on Reid’s Rd (P1 on the map).
These trails are managed by the Kawartha Land Trust, and “managed” they most certainly are. The grassy stretches are mown wide enough for at least two to walk side by side. The wooded stretches are well marked and clear. There are bridges and boardwalks where needed, no matter how far from a trailhead. There are a few spots where you’ll be in visual range of a backyard or two, but they’re rare, and don’t detract from the beauty of these trails in the least. There are even signs warning you of steep hills or uneven footing over a beaver dam. The KLT makes it very easy to like these trails.
Due to the way the trails are laid out, I won’t review them by name. Instead, I’ll cover them by the areas they traverse on the trail map, relative to the parking opportunities :
First, the Viamede Resort section of Blue Trail West of the “P1” parking lot on Reid’s Rd. Then, the KLT Ingleton – Wells section of Blue, Yellow, Browne, and Red trails between Reid’s Rd and Fire Route 10. Finishing off with, the Jeffery Cowan Forest Preserve area East of Fire Rd 10.
The Viamede Resort Blue Trail (approx 2 kms)
This trail starts directly across from the “P1” parking lot on Reid’s road. There’s a short walk-in trail to the loop. We took it to the right and hadn’t walked 2 minutes before I saw a makeshift sign on the ground. As I walked toward it and read “deer trail”, the Wife suddenly whispered “Oh Look ! There’s a deer ! We snuck up as best we could, and snapped a few shots before it wandered away into the forest. As we quietly continued down the trail, we spotted two more deer, and agreed “That was worth the price of admission right there” (admission is free of course, that’s just an expression we use).
We continued along the well cleared path (wide enough for two to walk side by side), and noticed numerous fairly well groomed trails off to the sides. But the Blue Trail is well marked with blue diamonds, so you won’t get lost. Then, we came across a very weird sign on an unmarked crosstrail with, what looked like, a guy flinging a frisbee. Then we saw more strange devices. Finally the Wife figured it out. It looks like some kind of frisbee/golf sport can be played here. I guess it has something to do with the Resort.
Anyway, that was about where the trail became very picturesque. It cuts through what looks like The Warsaw Caves landscape. The trail actually walks between walls of eroded rock with moss and ferns growing out of cracks in the surface. We couldn’t resist a short excursion along one of the frisbee/golf trails since the rock walls continued along it. A most unusual stretch of trail. Very appealing to the eye. As we continued, we could see big outcroppings of the same rock standing in the forest alongside the trail. This trail was fairly level, and offered no challenges to walkers.
At the end of the loop, you can walk to the Resort, or take the connector trail back out to Reid’s Rd. We chose the connector as the trail to the Resort was just alongside the road.
The KLT Ingleton- Wells Blue, Yellow, Browne, and Red Trails (approx 4.5 kms)
This was actually the section we covered on our first visit here. I would suggest you take the Northern route of, Blue to the Yellow/Browne, then Yellow to Red, to Fire Route 10. Return by the Southern route. I suggest this as there’s a great honkin’ steep downhill slope on the Yellow/Browne trail which is a lot more fun to walk down than climb up. Taking the Southern path on your return will negate having to climb back up that.
The Blue and Yellow/Browne section is mostly mown grassland with a scattering of wooded areas. An interesting sight here were the chicken wire “cages” someone had placed just off the trail. At first we thought they might be turtle nest protection but upon closer inspection, they were to protect butternut seedlings.
Once the Browne trail branches off, the Yellow trail plunges into deep, cool forest. Everywhere we looked was a huge glacial chunk of rock, or steep solid rock ridges bordering the trail. With the exception of that one hill on the Browne/Yellow trail, this whole section of trail was pretty level and easy walking.
Once you hit the Red trail, the views become even better. Bridges and boardwalks start to show up. The best is when you hit that spot on the map where that little inlet of the lake just kisses the trail. There’s a small beaver dam and a wetland that you walk right over. There are two paths you can choose from just before crossing the dam, considering which one is drier at the particular time.
From there onto Fire Route 10, the trail rises back into upland forest. You’ll notice a road you walked across earlier, which had a sign asking walkers not to walk the road, as it’s a private driveway. Well, Fire Route 10 is a public road, and you’ll notice when you cross it to get to the KLT Jeffrey Cowan Forest Preserve, there is a fair piece of parking beside that garage just off the road. This is an alternate parking option to get to the Jeffery Cowan Forest Preserve. Do not park on the roadside as these are fire routes, and your car will impede fire trucks.
The KLT Jeffrey – Cowan Forest Preserve Red Trail (approx 2.5 kms)
Since we’d already walked the Red Trail from the “P1” parking lot, we accessed the loop part of it from 81 Fire Route 10, Harcourt On (if you wanna Google Map directions) where we’d seen a cleared spot beside a garage with enough space for three or four cars. I will repeat, DO NOT park on the side of any of these roads as they are fire routes, and your parked car will make it impossible for a fire truck to get down them.
This one starts with an unusually steep climb for these trails. About halfway up, you’ll see the really steep part and ask “Are you kidding me?”. Right about there, you’ll see the trail heading off to your left, and you’ll heave a sigh of relief. The Red Loop also meanders through some interesting rock formations (but not as impressive as the Viamede tract), and was a fair bit more hilly. Nothing serous mind you, just noticeably so. Then it slopes down to the Lakeshore with a coupla benches for a pleasant break or snack. At first I thought we’d wandered into someone’s cottage yard. But it was just a boathouse of some sort with a few boats tethered to the shore. A snack might well be advised here as now you gotta climb back up to the ridge. Again, nothing serious, just noticeably so.
From here, you’ll see a bit more evidence of the cottages along the lakeshore but you won’t feel like you’re walking through their backyards at all. When you come to the top of that hill back down to your ride, watch your step as I damn – near took it on a roll, when I slipped on the loose gravel.
The Final Take
From the ample, free of charge “P1” parking lot on Reid’s Rd., you can access the entire Yellow, and Browne trails, as well as parts of the Blue and Red. These trails are a blend of open meadow and forest. The linear Red trail is particularly attractive where it skirts the lake. These trails were single width through the forested stretches, and double through the meadows.
By crossing Reid’s Rd. from the “P1” parking lot, you can access the Viamede Blue Loop Trail which will provide you a very level, easy walk through a diverse ecosystem of forest, open meadow, fascinating rock formations, and rather fearless wildlife. There are alternate trails if you wish to follow them, but I only review the marked ones. This entire trail is wide enough for two to walk side by side.
The Red Loop trail through the Jeffery Cowan Forest Preserve can be accessed from the Ingleton – Wells trails, or by parking (off the road) on Fire Route 10 at the green garage. This trail is the hilliest of them all, and even then, it’s nothing to fuss about. The lakeshore rest spot is a very nice touch.
Dog walking is permitted, on a leash (I mean the dog). Parking is plentiful and free. The trails are well maintained, clear, and remarkably clean. There are no facilities of any kind (exception of a picnic table about halfway around on the Viamede Blue Loop), anywhere on these trails. There are numerous rest benches available along the way.
Have a nice walk,