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John Earle Chase Memorial Park Trails Review
Nestled nicely between Buckhorn and Pigeon Lakes, this set of three loop trails offers a blend of wooded, and meadow trails, totaling 7.4 kms. This link will open Google Maps at the parking lot :
Otherwise, take Hwy (Cty Rd) 28 North from Port Hope at the 401 and drive Northward. Hwy 28 will change names a bunch of times as you go, but just keep going North until you can go North no more. Turn right on Yankee Line (Cty Rd 14), then turn left at the 1st rd, which will be Tara Rd (Cty Rd 16). You’ll pass over a lovely bridge which might distract you, but don’t let it, as Anchor Bay Rd is on your left from the North side of that bridge immediately after you cross it.
None of the trails offer up much challenge to walkers, but finding the trailhead might. The main “parking lot” has no signage of any kind save a tiny little Parks Canada declaration. Once we did find it (about 750 meters from where you pull off Lakehurst Rd onto Anchor Bay Rd, on your right) and pulled in, we could see the large bordering stones commonly used to define a parking lot. It’s just that the lot hadn’t been cleared in a few years, and so, was heavily grown over.
We proceeded to the East, beginning the Red trail on a very recently maintained path. It was wide enough for two to walk side by side (as were most of these trails) and we also came across recent fallen tree cleanups as we walked some of the other trails. Someone has been keeping these trails up, rather well too.
The Red Trail (2.7 kms) marked with orange (faded from red) diamond shaped markers
Composed of two loops between Anchor Bay and Lakehurst Rds, the North loop is mostly through level, canopied forest with a LOT of trip hazard stones on the path. If you wanna look around, I’d advise stopping first, to do so. I was happy to see those stones though, as they prove this land was never cultivated. The North section walks alongside a wetland, which can be viewed through the trees. This loop will be subject to some noise from Lakehurst Rd.
The South loop is mostly through open meadow which obviously, was farmland not long ago. You can feel the ruts from plowing under your feet as you walk up the hill toward Anchor Bay Rd. This previous farmland has become a meadow, filled with milkweed so desperately needed by our beleaguered monarchs.
Once you cross the meadow and can see Anchor Bay Rd to your right, you can either go left to complete the Red trail (or access the Blue Trail), or cross Anchor Bay Rd to take the Yellow trail. If you choose to complete the Red trail, you’ll continue walking through open meadow (despite the map showing it being forested), with a little strip of forest until you hit the part of the trail you started on just before the wooded section.
The Yellow Trail (1.6 kms, not counting the walk from the parking lot to get to it)
We chose to take the Yellow trail from the Red trail by crossing Anchor Bay Rd, and finishing the Red trail on our return. At this point, the views of Pigeon Lake are simply spectacular. After all the sunshine, I was quite happy to enter the cooling forest of the Yellow trail. I find it mildly amusing to have to mention the noise of boat traffic, as I’m usually whining about road or aircraft sound. But heay ! This is cottage country, and we chose to hit this set of trails on a lovely Saturday in July. The far West loop of the Yellow Trail … isn’t. It looks like the lake washed out the shore trail part of It, leaving the two return trails for lakeview access. It doesn’t really matter though, the views from the lakeshore of both trails were lovely (not to mention cooling), and neither were very lengthy.
The Blue Trail (3.1 kms, not including the walk from the parking lot to get to it) I doubt it’s even that long but since I don’t recommend you walk it, I don’t care
The Blue Trail can be accessed from two points on the Southern loop’s Eastern end. There just isn’t sufficient roadside room to park on Lakehurst rd. If you could access from Lakehurst, you’d miss the really cool tunnel under the road. Unfortunately, that tunnel is the best part of this trail. I’ll admit to a nice view from the top of the meadow hill, but it’s no better than the view from the Yellow trail. The 2nd outer loop has been blocked off (it looked kinda damp and mushy to us anyway), and the last half of the trail (wooded) was not terribly attractive, and far closer to Lakehurst rd. than the map implies.
The Final Take
Of the three trails here, I’d say the stars were the Red and the Yellow. The Blue just couldn’t compete with the clear, bright forests and open meadows of the Red, and the lovely panoramic views of the Yellow. Finding the parking lot could be a tad challenging, but you should be OK with the directions above. The trails are a fairly even mix of single file and two side by side. There are no facilities of any kind anywhere on these trails.
The trails were surprisingly well tended. The meadow sections were freshly mown, and the forest sections were recently cleared. There wasn’t a speck of trash anywhere (with the exception of a mysterious mound of some kind of nylon cord or something on the Yellow trail loop. There had to be some 40 kms worth of cord piled up there! Very strange). As you might guess, the parking is free, and leashed dog walking is permitted.
I made mention of some noise on these trails, both road and water. Just keep in mind, we walked these on a weekend in July, and this is cottage country. It might be different on a weekday. Though I can’t say either sound bothered me much anyway (and sound does bother me a lot, so I must’ve been enjoying the trails).
We did notice another access from the North end of Anchor Bay Rd just before it hits Lakehurst. However, it couldn’t go very far as there’s a wetland cutting it off from the rest of the trails. I can’t tell you any more about it as we couldn’t find a safe place to leave the car to explore it.
Have a nice walk.