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Depot Creek Nature Reserve (Bellrock) Trail Review
At over five kms from Hwy 38 and over twenty kms from the 401, this place is beautifully silent and secluded. We stopped in for a quick lookover while returning from a trip to Perth. What we saw left us eagerly awaiting an opportunity to return and walk it, and it delivered everything we hoped for.
The parking lot address is 6329 First Lake Rd. Bellrock if you wanna punch that into Google maps. Or click this link :
Otherwise, the parking lot is about 1.75 kms North from the intersection of Bellrock’s Mill St. and First Lake Rd. It’ll be on your left and has an interesting “gate”. It’s a long spring strung between two posts. Just unhook the Spring, drive through, and re-spring the “gate” behind you. This will be the first of many gates you’ll be asked to close behind you.
The reason for all the gates are these guys :
The trail markers vary in shape, material, and size. The common denominator is the color, red. You’ll need to watch your step on “The Access Trail” for obvious reasons. Never having been a farmboy, I was stunned at the size of the cow’s droppings ! You’ll note a landmark on the trail map called “elephant rock”. After seeing the size of those droppings, I think I know why …
The Creek View Trail
The only disappointing trail in this reserve is The Creek View Trail. We walked it first, and in all honesty, I wouldn’t bother with it again. It’s obviously not maintained, as evidenced by the two blow-downs and one beaver “chew-down” we had to climb over or crawl under to complete it. The view of the creek couldn’t compete with the Kim Ondaatje trail’s view anyway, so why bother ?
The Kim Ondaatje Trail (about 3 kms)
Composed of three connected loops, this trail is best walked by just taking the path to the right from the East gate, at any intersection you come across. That way you’ll cover the entirety of all three loops. I like this part of the World as it’s igneous rock based, and so reminds me of the wilds of Northern Ontario. Even on the Access Trail you’ll pass massive granite outcroppings, and on the Ondaatje you’ll walk past, and between, huge glacial erratics.
You’ll come upon a clearing with a bench just before the bridge over Depot Creek. If you keep an eye to your left just as you enter that clearing, you’ll spot a half dozen pet memorials with names etched in natural stone. With the view of the creek to your right, it makes a beautiful (and heart warming) location for an old friend’s final resting place. The bench, though a tad green and fuzzy, would make a nice spot for a break and trail snack. The view of the creek from the trail and bridge will have you reaching for your camera (again).
On that note … you’ll wanna take lotsa pictures on this trail (I took 147). However, the trail base is often glacially deposited granite chunks, which offer up some nasty trip hazards, not to mention the potentially nasty landings. I kept getting all excited and had to do the “regain-balance” dance a number of times on this trail, scaring the crap out a the Wife. So, please stop to look around and snap shots.
The beaver pond and dam were most impressive. We estimated the dam to be a good five feet tall. There’s a number of boardwalks over the outflow from the beaver pond, and one allows a view of the pond at eye level as you stand on it.
From there, you’ll walk ‘til you find yourself alongside the creek. Depot Creek’s banks are lousy with cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) for its entire length in late August.
I found the forested areas interesting. Though there were a few huge old trees, most weren’t much bigger around than my leg. However, all the granite rocks lying around, indicated this land had never been cultivated. So why were so many of the trees so small ? That’s not to say the forested stretches weren’t lovely though. Just an observation on my part.
You’ll also notice numerous glacial erratics (gigantic granitic boulders) scattered throughout this trail as well as granite outcroppings. The trail often walks along these outcroppings and they would be quite slippery after a rain. There are a few very short, but quite steep hills as well. Nothing serious though, just watch your footing and balance.
We noticed a sign saying “Experts Only Mount K9” pointing up a very steep granite outcropping. We tried to climb it but the markers stopped about halfway up. As, we didn’t wanna damage the lichens, ferns, and mosses growing from the rock we returned to the Ondaatje Trail.
The Final Take
Before I go any further, I’ll have to disappoint our dog-walking readers. Dogs are not allowed under any circumstances. Sorry folks.
I don’t recall how many times the Wife and I stopped, looked around, and simultaneously said “I’m really liking this place!”, but it was often. I wouldn’t bother with the Creek View Trail, but the Kim Ondaatje Trail was gorgeous. The trail markers could be red wooden arrows, red tin can lids, or red tin can lids with a black arrow on it. There were a coupla spots where finding one took a moment, but nothing serious. I just didn’t wanna be wandering off-trail, and stomping on things I shouldn’t oughta be. For the most part, the trail was easily visible on the ground anyway.
This trail has it all. Ponds, flowing water, canopied forests, open meadows, beaver dams, rarely seen wildflowers, benches, boardwalks, bridges … and an adorable little privy. It was a well constructed outhouse with all the necessities kept in sealed tin cans. It also contained a binder with pictures and descriptions of all the wildlife on the trail.
It was kinda fun for a city-raised boy like me to wander through a field of cattle. Now that I think of it, I’ve never done that before. On that note, please remember to close all gates behind you so the cattle stay where they’re supposed to.
Though short, this trail packs a lot of pleasure in it’s mere three kms. The Wife and I agreed that, we don’t care about the three hour round trip to drive to it. We’ll be going back, often.
Have a nice walk.