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The Brookwood Wildlife Area (North of Norwood) Trail Review
This one is located 9.9 kms North of Norwood Ontario by taking Cty Rd #40 from Hwy #7 at Norwood for 5.2 kms to Webster Rd. Turn left on Webster and drive 1.7 kms to 8th Line where a right turn and a 3.0 km drive will bring you to the parking area on the right. This link will open Google Maps at the parking lot so you can determine your own route :
This “Wildlife Area” was a rather unexpected, and very pleasant find. Even the final road to it was surprisingly good. Mind you that’s because there’s a housing boom happening on the 8th Line north of Norwood. This could be good or bad for Brookwood WA. That remains to be seen. Our first visit was just exploratory in early April when we saw a Hepatica in bloom. Upon our return in mid May we saw considerably more, along with trout lillies, red & white trilliums, and evidence of many more wildflowers yet to come.
This WA is utilized by local Boy Scout troops as evidenced by the ring of blue and red numbered posts just in from the parking lot, and a fairly substantial privy. There are a coupla other small structures that serve some unknown purpose near the privy as well. I suspect before the Scouts, it was a camping ground of some sort as well. Piles of field boulders along parts of the trail also hint at early cultivation efforts. Though virtually no trace of camping or farming remains now.
You’ll notice I’ve scratched out the trail branching off to the North on the map. That’s because it’s in very bad shape, and obviously hasn’t been used, nor maintained for quite some time. It doesn’t really go anywhere interesting anyway. We walked it just to be thorough, but I wouldn’t recommend you bother with it.
The main (approx. 2 km one-way) trail starts by going left (North) from the parking lot, through the meadow alongside the 8th Line, before turning right (East) into the forest. I’ll mention here that the trail is not well marked, but is obvious on the ground, and through the trees. There are a few strange markers on the occassional tree, but I have no idea what they’re supposed to mean.
You’ll walk through canopied lowland pines and cedars, and burst into open meadows, and then plunge back into forest again, as you head toward Rotten Lake. There are a pair of spooky looking posts that are probably compliments of the Scouts in one of the open meadow areas. You’ll also see a few offshoot trails that just lead to other open meadows. I suspect these were camping sites at one time.
Then, you’ll come across the most surprising aspect of this trail. There’s a boardwalk of about 120 meters over wetland that is decked with … composite plastic boards ! I can’t even guess what that boardwalk would’ve cost. Yeah, it’s pretty bent-up and heaves to and fro like a highland fling, but she’s remarkably sturdy, and perfectly safe. Watch it if it’s wet though, those boards can be very slippery.
After the boardwalk, you’ll climb a gentle slope back up to an upland forest for a short jaunt, before being presented with Rotten Lake. Helluva name for such a lovely body of water I gotta say. The Wife and I took up seats on a coupla rocks, and had our trail lunch here while a pair of sandhill cranes bugled and squawked somewhere down the lake. If you look hard, you might spot the occasional vehicle on Cty Rd. 40 on the other side of the lake, but that won’t diminish the experience.
The trail map shows a coupla Rotten Lake accesses from Cty Rd. #40, but we checked them out and I wouldn’t bother again. The one is totally inaccessible beside a residence, while the other has a sadly dilapidated boardwalk out into the lake which was submerged in May when we found it.
The Final Take
This easy to access (for a Wildlife Area class reserve) provides a relatively level walk of approx 2 kms (one-way). It provides canopied lowland and upland mixed forests, with open air sunny meadows. There’s a boardwalk of about 120 meters length, and a lovely view of a fair sized lake. The trail is wide enough for two to walk side by side as it’s like a bushroad up to the boardwalk. It narrows to single file from the boardwalk to the lake. The trail is not marked, but is easily followed on the ground. There are privies, but I don’t know if they’re serviced (seriously doubt it). It’s relatively silent, with the possible exception of construction noise near the 8th Line parking lot (traffic sound from across Rotten Lake wasn’t noted). Between early April and mid May, our 1st and 2nd visits, about three trees had fallen over the boardwalk. None blocked the walk and were easily stepped over. We’d have moved them out of the way, but they’ll require tools to cut them out. So, if you walk this trail and find the boardwalk clear … please let us know as that would indicate, someone is maintaining this trail, and I would like to credit and thank them.
Have a nice walk,
If you’re looking for more trails in the Norwood area, you could head back to Norwood and have a nice picnic at The Norwood Mill Pond Trails.