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MARK S. BURNHAM PROVINCIAL PARK
Though rather small (about 40 hectares) and right inside Peterborough, this park features about 2.5 kms of trails on two interconnected loops. The trails meander through a maple, beech, elm and hemlock forest, some of which are amongst the oldest in Ontario. The world’s oldest (arguably) sugar maple (over 330 years) resides here.
I would suggest you start your walk by going to the right (past the covered group picnic shelter) to make the climb up the drumlin less steep. Once you walk over the crest and begin to descend the other (steeper) side, the noise from Hwy #7 will fade considerably. Regardless, the sound never goes away entirely.
However, the sound of traffic disturbed me … much less than the appealing views … pleased me. This forest (like Peter’s Woods) is the kind where you should stop, look up, and around you. This is not a 19th century failed farming attempt, re-planted with red pines row upon row, later in the 1940’s. The ages of the trees around you are not measured in decades, but in centuries. There’s a small drumlin to be climbed on the Southeast loop, but it’s nothing serious. Otherwise, the trails are relatively level and wide.
Between the “Provincial Park” designation and the massive sign belying it’s size, I erroneously thought it was a campground. Hence, we’d ignored it until a friend of the Wife’s tipped her off. As mentioned above, there are ample picnic facilities. However, they are at the entrance of the park just off Hwy 7 and so, it’s rather noisy.
The trails have been recently re-routed, so there are a coupla “side trails” which go nowhere, ie) return trails. But the forest vistas are gorgeous from any location on any trail.
The Final Take
While too small to justify a road trip to walk it, if you’re in or near Peterborough anyway, it’s well worth a visit. If for no other reason than to admire the trees. Old growth forests are a rarity in South Central Ontario, and they offer a unique glimpse into the past . The trails are quite wide enough for two to walk side by side, and are mostly compacted soil. There are ample rest benches and picnic facilities, and leashed dog walking is permitted. There are two sets of washroom facilities as well. One is quite new and near the group picnic shelter, and the other is a little further back from the parking lot.
There is a charge for parking which can be a task to figure out. So, here’s how it works. Press the “select” button first to determine how long you wanna stay (minimum of $3.00 for 2 hours), THEN insert your coinage. Two hours should be more than enough to cover your stay/walking time. The parking lot and trails are very clean and well populated with walkers.
Have a nice walk,