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The Kahshe Barrens Trails (Washago) Review
Found right behind the Muskoka Tourism Centre on Highway # 11 just 6 kms North of the Hwy # 169 on ramp, you’ll find ample parking here :https://goo.gl/maps/9jVM9zKeE7SGWDi8A
“Barrens” … an odd name for a place we found to be so full of life. Mostly insect life, in the form of mosquitoes of course, but some other real nice stuff too. There’s a short linear trail that leads to the two loops. It offered up a challenge in our efforts to keep our feet dry when we walked here in early June. However, there were some bridges and a few boardwalks over what would’ve been impassable. Any other spots could be, and were, danced around.
Since the Casey loop is just an extension of the Kadz loop, we elected to just walk these trails by taking the trail to the right at any intersection, rather than review the loops separately. Besides, the whole trail system is barely four kilometers long. Despite being relatively short, these trails are extremely well marked, complete with on-route maps labelled with “you are here”. The terrain was a nice change for us as we’ve been walking alot of limestone based rail trails lately. The craggy, massive granite outcroppings are so awe inspiring. There’s alot of exposed rockface here and some of it makes up sections of the trail. Watch it in wet weather though as granite can be quite slippery when wet.
Around the Beaver Pond was where the most impressive stuff started. We’ve only seen Cucumber Root in a few select places, and we mentally note where they are … until now. We were stunned at the proliferation of them on these trails. Those and Fringed Polygalas, they were like common weeds here. The Wife finally found a patch of Trailing Arbutus but without the flower.
The beaver pond itself provided us a thrill as well. Whenever we approach a pond in the wild, we always quiet down more than we normally are. ‘Cause, ya never know. You just might see …
This beaver slapped the water with it’s tail twice as it kept surfacing and swimming closer and closer to us. Finally, it tired of the game, slapped it’s tail once more, and disappeared. I turned to walk away, and the Wife says “OOH ! Orchid !” I snapped a few shots, and we contiued the trail alongside the pond where we spotted a few more orchids.
The trail back from the pond became almost a bushroad in width. It even had ATV-like tracks on it. It was also the wettest part of the trail, but had the most spectacular rock outcroppings and glacial erratics.
The Final Take
Yes … Highway #11 is less than 0.1 kms from the trailhead. And, it’s audible to varying degrees throughout the entire trail. Though, in a few places, I couldn’t tell if I was hearing leaves in the wind or Hwy #11. I really hate unnatural noises when I’m on a trail, but there was so much going on here, that I can’t say as I noticed.
There’s ample parking at the Muskoka Tourism Centre on Hwy #11 (North). The trails have the potential to be wet, so you might be advised to be prepared for it. There’s about a 50/50 blend of single file and walking two at the shoulder trail widths. The base is a combo of wet humus, trippy roots, and granite. It’s fairly hilly and uneven footing, and is about 4.4 kms long if you walk every step of it.
The diversity and proliferation of wildlife (Botanical and Biological) was definitely a surprise to me. I wasn’t expecting anything even remotely like this.
Have a nice walk,