The Lang – Hastings Trail from David Fife Line to Hastings Review

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The Lang – Hastings Trail from David Fife Line to Hastings Review

This trail is part of the Trans Canada and is 33 kms long between the village of Hastings and the city of Peterborough. It basically runs across the top of Rice Lake which, for us, is a real treat. I say that as, with over 70 trails reviewed on this site thus far, we thought we’d hit every trail near our Home. Until I noticed this trail, we’ve been spending up to three hours at the wheel, to bring you new reviews.

So, as I often state about trails this long, there are some really nice sections … and some not so nice. By “not so nice” I mean, I don’t care for walking a trail with views of backyards and the trashy rear storage areas of industries and shopping malls, nor so close to a road that I might as well be on its boulevard. Therefore, we usually study a satellite view for an idea of the topography the trail cuts through, to get an idea of what to expect (and which sections to try first).

This trail is an old railway berm. So it’s wide, clear, and flat as a pancake. However, this one is unique in that, unlike most berms, it squirms like a toad all over the countryside. Usually, you can tell what’s coming up on a berm about an hour before you get to it because they’re so straight. This one actually satisfies the need to know “What’s around that next bend ?” which most trail walkers crave. Also, unlike most berms, this one has a number of stretches through canopied/forested patches providing some welcome shade.

Also common to trails this long, are numerous access sites. This one has about 20 of them. With only a few exceptions, there are less than two linear kms (distance measured one – way) between road accesses on the entire trail. I’ll review them from between these access points individually. That way, you can decide whether to do certain ones, or combine the stretches that sound/look good to you. Another advantage of numerous accesses on a linear trail is that you can do the “two car” thing to eliminate the return walk.

Due to the length of this trail, combined with its proximity to Peterborough and it’s suburbs, we chose David Fife Line as the centerpoint and walked toward Hastings to Asphodel 5th Line until it started to become a bit too urban. We’ll address the stretch between David Fife Line and Peterborough in another review.

OK, so … starting from the David Fife Line centerpoint, and heading East :

David Fife Line (1.2 kms North of Regional Rd #2) to Settlers Line (1.5 kms one – way)

This stretch passes through a wetland with all the accompanying wildlife that goes with it. Further on, you’ll plunge into an intermittent cool, canopied mixed forest, providing a lot of shaded trail. The only sounds were the birds, and the wind in the Aspens. Except near the roadway accesses, this stretch of trail has no visual evidence of civilization (other than the railway berm you’re standing on of course).

Settlers Line (1.3 kms North of Regional Rd #2) to Villiers Line (1.7 kms one – way)

This stretch has a high ridge to the North side, and level mixed forest to the South (providing comforting shade). You’ll view a bit of cultivated land, but not much. The sight of an old, abandoned barn prompted the Wife to ponder if it was as full of owls and swallows. Though I usually prefer a trail with little or no evidence of civilization, the few old barns and cultivated fields we occasionally saw were pleasing to the eye (“rustic” as my old buddy Ranger would say).

Villiers Line (1.6 kms North of Regional Rd #2) to Blezard Line  (1.5 kms one – way)

This stretch goes right through a wetland for most of its length which is generally open to the sky. However, there are enough canopied forest lengths to provide welcome shade on a hot day. We chased up many frogs passing from one side to the other, and saw some muskrat tracks crossing the trail. Many deer crossing paths and tracks were obvious as well.

Blezard Line (1.5 kms North of Regional Rd #2) to Cameron Line  (1.5 kms one – way)

The wetland faded out by this stretch. It was more forested with scattered lengths of tree lined trail and a fairly even mix of open sky and canopied cover. There were a few spots on the trail where a surprisingly strong flowing little stream bordered the berm.

Cameron Line (1.7 kms North of Regional Rd #2) to Regional Rd # 38 (1.9 kms one – way)

Walks through mostly mixed forest with a small stream running down it’s side and occasional views of wetlands. This stretch has one of the few “typically straight railway berm” lengths on this entire trail (right down to Cty Rd # 38).  #38 is a fairly busy roadway and the sound became audible at the point where the trail becomes straight and you can see the gates at #38 about a kilometer away.

Regional Rd # 38 (425 meters North of Regional Rd #2) to Asphodel 3rd Line (2.4 kms)

This length was kinda fun. About 0.5 kms from #38 you’ll walk under Cty Rd 2 through a huge 60 meter long tunnel. Then, you’ll cross a railroad bridge on your way to River Rd. From there, it’s a short jaunt to Asphodel 3rd Line. This stretch was remarkably quiet despite its proximity to #38 and Cty 2. That’s because it’s quite a ways below the level of these roads, and the sound goes over your head. This trail also has a long straight stretch, but you won’t notice for all the cool stuff you’ll see on this section.

Asphodel 3rd Line (1.5 kms South of Regional Rd #2) to Humphries Line (1.2 kms one – way)

This has mostly mixed forest to the South and wetlands with open water to the North. At the open water pond to the North just before Humphries Line we walked past dozens of turtle nests on the trailside. We spotted a huge red sided garter snake at about the same spot. The huge marsh you can see from the satellite image isn’t visible from the trail.

Humphries Line (825 meters South of River Rd) to Asphodel 5th Line (1.8 kms one – way)

You’ll either have to park at the gate on Humphries Line and walk a little ways down to the trail, or just turn left at Shady point Lane to park right beside the trail crossing. This was the last length of trail we covered heading East toward Hastings as it was becoming a bit “rural”. We don’t mind rural, but the satellite view showed the rest of the trail heading into suburbia, and that, we do mind. We really liked this stretch despite it being kinda rural. The spectacular views of the Trent River, and the gently undulating pasturelands more than compensated for the few cottages we walked past. It was on this stretch that we met the owners of Fowld’s Mill in Hastings. I quickly and smoothly got myself and Ranger, an invitation to tour the mill and property (Ranger has been itching to see the inside of that mill).

The Final Take

There are twelve road accesses on this 13.5 km stretch of trail, providing ample free parking. You’ll be parking on the roadside of course, but most of them are gravelled back roads with limited traffic. If you use the sites that I recommended above, you’ll be fine. There are, of course, no facilities of any kind. The village of Hastings is minutes away from any access point, so you needn’t bother to pack a lunch if you don’t want to.

This old railway trail has all the advantages of a berm trail, with none of the drawbacks. It’s twisty and windy, and well canopied. It’s flat, wide, and clear. It traverses wetland terrain you’d never be able to put a trail across these days, with all the wildlife spotting potential that comes with it. It has bridges, and water features. It’s even got a 60 meter tunnel under a roadway. A roadway you can’t even hear because the trail is too low for the sound to reach your ears.  It’s remote and quiet, yet easily accessible from numerous locations.

Everyone we met in the three days we took to enjoy this trail were friendly, congenial, and obliging. On two of those three days we encountered trail maintenance people, so it’s obviously well cared for. There are rest benches between every access point I listed above. Of course, dog walking is permitted.

Seriously, what’s not to like about this trail ?

Have a nice walk,

Bushwhacker

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