Quinte Isle’s Point Petre Crown Lands Trails Review

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Quinte Isle’s Point Petre Crown Lands Trails Review

The Wife and I were returning from an assessment of a few sections of Quinte’s Millenium Trail when we stopped by North Beach Provincial Park for a look about. The Wife happened to see a scrap of paper through the kiosk window, that mentioned 3 tracts of Crown Land to the East of the park. From that, I searched and found two very small tracts and … the Point Petre Crown Lands. This huge chunk of land was used by the military before being returned to Crown Land. The main roadway through it is still called Army Reserve Road. Of great personal interest, was when I found out this was where the AVRO Arrow test models were launched from. The precise location of the launch site is still unknown to me though.

Located at the Southernmost point on Quinte Isle, I think I’ll just give you a Google Maps link to my suggested point to begin your exploration :

https://goo.gl/maps/ERzS22kHwWKPkG996

We spent four days exploring these lands. ATV activity is obvious, but these are Crown Lands, and this is Quinte Isle so …

The Trails Southeast of Army Reserve Rd (dozens of kms of trails)

It appears that all the land Northwest of Army Reserve Rd is privately owned, while everything on the other side of the road is Crown Land. There are 3 generically named “MNR Rds.”, a Lighthall rd., and a Charwell Point rd., into the Lands (as well as a lot of less easily accessed paths). Having been military property for so long, there are many reminders in the form of mysterious clearings. Of course there are modern functional sites near the point but they can’t be seen from further down Army Reserve Rd.

The terrain is very shallow soil (if any) on a bed of limestone with mostly scrub cedars for trees. Otherwise, most of the growth is shrubbery and grasses. The prevalence of inland water surprised me. There are 2 good sized wetlands in there and we spotted a salamander in the Spring on our first exploratory visit (the first one I’ve seen in 50 years). The base is almost exclusively limestone flats and/or limestone flats with limestone rubble all over it. We first walked here in late March and early April and EVERYTHING WAS EXTREMELY WET. Don’t even think of walking here in the Spring without rubber boots with good soles. I tossed on a pair of temporary, cheap old rubber boots, and my feet wouldn’t speak to me in a civil manner for days afterwards. Yes, these are Crown Lands, and in some places they have been typically abused. But there are enough beautiful locations to make it worthwhile walking.

We tried walking them again in mid June … and they were still so wet, we couldn’t cover them all. However, we saw the most wonderful display of wildflowers (Cypripedium orchids included) on our visit in June along with carpets of assorted other wildflowers.

For purposes of simplicity, I have broken up the landmass into the 4 convenient blocks shown above, separated by roads, for reviewing.

BLOCK 1

About 1/4 of this block is inaccessible military property. While it appears to be accessible from Army Reserve rd., that road becomes too rough for regular cars, so approaching from Simpson rd is recommended. That way, you can get to the MNR rd directly across from Simpson rd and the MNR rd to the West of Simpson rd (which I have labelled MNR #1). You’ll notice a rectangular spot about 2/3 the way down that shows abandoned buildings, foundations and such on Google satellite. Well, that Google image is very old and there’s no trace of those things now. The lake can be accessed from the MNR rd across from Simpson, but not from the MNR rd #1. There are a number of trails wandering across this entire block which can be seen quite clearly from Google’s satellite view. We chose to only walk the two major trails.

BLOCK 2

While block 2 has numerous side trails wandering off in every direction as well, our favourite was the (satellite) visible trail that goes right across the block, and under the wetland and pond. In the Spring, we found the trail proper to be totally submerged. So we followed the alternate trail along the top of the berm that runs alongside the more obvious trail. So, if the trail is flooded out (which is will be quite often) there are usually clearly visible alternates.

BLOCK 3

This block has a couple of winding trails across it but otherwise is a bit featureless. The bird and reptile populations are quite well established here so there’s likely going to be something to see and hear.

BLOCK 4

OK, this block has lake access and a trail right across it (almost exactly like block 2) under a wetland/pond. This one is much larger than the one in block 2 though. Also like the block 2 trail, this one was flooded on our exploratory visit. It also has an alternate trail on a slight berm to the side of the flooded trail. But this one is alot nastier. Red Dogwoods obscured the trail and the Wife had to keep her distance behind me to avoid being whipped to shreds by the backlash of shrubbery.

We tried this one again in mid June and the trail from Lighthall Rd. was still impassable. So, we went in from the other side (Charwell Point Rd) and managed to get to the dam by taking wide detours around the trail. We were thrilled to spot a large patch of wild orchids near the pond on this trail. As well, the whole point was lousy with Beardtongue flowers, wild roses, white cresses, and many others.

The Final Take

There’s not alot of shade to be found here since most of the foliage is not much taller than you are &/or is very scant. Bring lots of water, and maybe even some portable shade. Admittedly, there are obvious traces of previously heavy use, as well as current heavy use (meaning ATVs). However, on the numerous days we walked it we only heard a sound in the distance once. At about 11 sq kms, there’s alot of land to be shared here. I was pleasantly surprised by the solitude and relative cleanliness. Keep in mind these are Crown Lands so there aren’t any facilities of any kind, anywhere.

Have a nice walk,

Bushwhacker

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