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The McGeachie Conservation Area (Bancroft) Trails Review
You’ll find this CA on Steenburg Lake Road North, 1.6 kms West of Cty Rd 62 about 45 kms North of Madoc or 32 kms South of Bancroft. Or you could just click this link :
The six trails here range from 150 meters to 3 kms in length. They wander through a deep layered humus forest floor, interspersed with granitic outcroppings, glacially deposited chunks of metamorphic rocks, and surface protruding tree roots. With the exception of the termini of the Blue and the Purple trails, these trails are virtually identical in appearance and topography. As well, with the exception of the Northern end of the Blue trail, they all run into each other to make loops. Hence, I won’t bother to review them individually.
This review covers the series of trails on the left side of the trail map above (the blue, orange, black, green, red, and purple). The Red Trail (the Jihae Kim Lee Family Conservation Trail) was drawn in manually from my GPS’s tracking imagery. It appeared to be the newest trail as, though it had colored arrow signage, we could still see the red tape hanging from the trees from the original trail blazing (and of course, it wasn’t on the map). The short blue loop and green trails from the separate trailhead on the right of the map above, are not covered in this review due to time constraints, and the unmaintained appearance of the trailhead.
We walked the blue trail to it’s end, to see the big beaver dam. After passing the orange trail for the 2nd time, the blue trail has a very long, steep uphill climb. Then the trail becomes rougher and narrower as you pass the 3rd intersection with the orange trail. I’m sorry to report that the “big beaver dam” isn’t visible for what it is, and the view of the pond is quite limited. There’s a nice view of the accompanying wetland though. A good spot to take a seat, and have a trail snack.
We returned via the orange trail, but crossed at the black trail, to access the green and purple trails. Now, the view of the beaver pond at the end of the purple trail was quite nice (old beaver dam on the map).
The Red Trail doesn’t show on the official map yet, but we walked it anyway. It basically wanders down a steep hill, then climbs back up to a point within ten meters of where you began. There’s a slight view of a wetland pond at the bottom. There was a bit of noise from Cty rd 62 as we approached the bottom as well. Otherwise, this trail was quite similar to the others. I should mention here that (aircraft noise excepted), all the other trails were wonderfully silent.
The Final Take
Judging by the compactness and width of the trails, it appears that most walkers here make varying loops out of the blue, orange, green and purple trails. ie – the blue trail to the North West past the northernmost terminus of the orange, is not often taken. It was a pleasant enough walk, just a bit rougher and single file, so not as pleasant a “partner walk” as the rest.
This trail system is supported by a few corporate contributors and has a “Friends of …” organization. It’s well maintained, has ample free parking (with a port-a-potty), and is very generous with the trail markers too. There’s no power vehicle damage, and it was remarkably clean. The Wife spotted a bottle cap which we felt indebted to pick up and carry back out, ‘cause that was all we saw.
There’s a note at the trailhead warning against walking these trails in high winds. I’m not exaggerating when I say every second step we took, we were stepping on downed branches. I lost count of the trees and branches laying across the trail in the first few minutes of walking. Mind you, we’d just endured a helluva wind storm a week before, but it would still be a warning well heeded.
Have a nice walk,