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The No Exit Road and Road Allowance Trails of Northumberland County – Central
This particular set of reviews wasn’t scheduled to be published for quite awhile yet. However, with all the “Stay at Home” orders, people are looking for places to get outside for some exercise without having to travel too far. I’ve noticed a considerable rise on hits of local trail reviews. So, this is the 1st of a three part series (the only part completed yet) of short, close-by, trails for local residents of Northumberland County (the other two parts will have to wait until I’ve completed them). For locals, these eleven “No Exits” are between Hwy #28 from Port Hope to #18 Burnham St from Cobourg, and between Rice Lake and Dale (#74) Rd.
This is the first in a series of three postings reviewing short, local trails/unmaintained roads in the South Central Ontario County of Northumberland.
Back in 2013, I had an idea of starting a weblog to list all the trails at the ends of No Exit roads, and road allowances in our immediate area of Northumberland County. Before I could do that, I found a wide audience, and demand for reviews of publicly funded and handled trails. So now, eight years later, I’m finally getting to my initial objective. There are a mess of “go nowhere” trails and unmaintained roads all over Northumberland County and this posting will show every one that I’m aware of (or, are at least worth walking). Any that can be combined to make loops out of, I’ve already issued reviews on. These are simply “out and back” trails at the ends of No Exit roads or simply road allowances that connect paved, driveable roads.
These walks vary from gravel roads, to totally unkept road allowances overgrown with trees and plants. They’re generally only good for a short walk with or without a dog. We often use them to forage berries, nuts, and mushrooms. I’ve seen some horse riding on them, but rarely, if ever, ATVs or dirt bikes. They just aren’t long enough or challenging enough for that kind of activity. That’s what makes their locations worthwhile knowing, to walkers.
Art Lang Rd (2.0 kms one-way)
My old hiking buddy, Ranger and I used to walk this No Exit to forage puffball mushrooms. This link will open Google Maps at the North end where the parking options are considerably better : https://goo.gl/maps/cHPeyE8ZHuYRWRvQ8
It has a very steep downhill grade on the South end to Vimy Ridge Rd. That’s another reason I suggest you start from the North end. You can turn back before having to walk down and back up that hill just to walk out to Vimy Ridge Rd. That’ll make the walk about 1.25 kms (one-way). There’s a wetland about halfway along the road which might be a bit wet in the Spring, though we had to re-position a coupla stones when we walked it in early October. The rest of the road has some minor hills, but nothing compared to the South hill down to Vimy Ridge Rd.
Beaver Meadow Rd (1.7 kms one-way) and West Rd (2.0 kms one-way)
Though Beaver Meadow Rd. is quite driveable, there are no residences on it. So, there’s no commitment to maintain it. That’s why we had to step over and around, a fallen tree when we walked it in early October. I’m sure someone will clear it eventually, but I don’t really care if, and when. It’s an easy, level walking mix of cultivated fields with a treed border. There are some wooded stretches (you’ll walk alongside the KOL Christmas tree farm for half of it) as well.
West Rd. has two residences and so, is kept clear. However, West Rd. hits Beaver Meadow exactly at it’s center so you could combine the two for a total 5.8 km walk for both roads. There’s a bridge about halfway from Cavan Rd. that’s made of dozens of 2X6 planks placed on their edges. The first time I saw it (years ago), I was amazed at the complexity involved in it’s creation. Unfortunately, the sand and gravel from the road has flowed over it and you can only see the planks from the edges now. I’ve never seen a bridge constucted like this before or since. This road is actually a functional road, but it still makes a pleasant walk with a view of surrounding farmland.
The link below will open Google Maps at the junction of West Rd. and Beaver Meadow Rd. so you can see all three accesses. Both ends of Beaver Meadow, (at Morton and Canning Rds) and West Rd. at Cavan Rd. : https://goo.gl/maps/X9rW5frgddkMVJHw8
Benson Rd (2.0 kms one – way)
This one is most easily accessed from Vimy Ridge Rd (South end) as there’s a business at the North end making parking bothersome. This unmaintained road is quite straight, and is one long up and down hill. The crest is about 2/3rds the way from Vimy Ridge (South) so the steepest climb is coming back from the North (Donaldson rd). It’s certainly not a cardio workout or anything drastic. When we walk it in Autumn, there are always lots of hickory nuts on the ground, at about the halfway point.
There are a coupla offshoot trails that are just field accesses for farming, or lead to hunting blinds at the edges of those fields. We checked out a few (the ones that didn’t have “private property” signage), and they’re not very long nor very interesting. You might as well just walk the road.
This link will open Google Maps at the Vimy Ridge access : https://goo.gl/maps/kp8XGF3U8gmEAZbJ7
Vimy Ridge Rd from Frank Ritchie rd to McBride rd (1.0 kms one-way)
This stretch starts with a stroll alongside cultivated fields on the North side, and forest on the South. It’s wide enough for two to walk side by side for it’s entire distance. It’s driveable, but unmaintained so no one uses it much. There’s a rather steep hill up to McBride, otherwise, it’s a fairly level, pleasant stroll. There’s ample parking at both ends. This link will open Google Maps at the center of the trail so you can decide which end to park at : https://goo.gl/maps/eMbXdweVZ9v7aVwX9
Whitney Howard rd from Vimy Ridge to the Phantom Farm (0.88 kms one-way)
This one is wide enough for two to walk side by side for it’s length. Ranger and I used to walk it to forage wild gooseberries. It’s bordered by cultivated fields, and lined with trees on both sides. The South end culminates at the “Phantom Farm”, a local Hallowe’en “haunted” barn and spooky cart rides and such, in the season. This link will open Google Maps at the Vimy Ridge end (so you’re not in the way of the Phantom Farm’s driveway) : https://goo.gl/maps/4qc8abAWaeAr38es5
Bickle Hill Rd Trail (1.7 kms one – way)
I’d never walked this one but every time we’d cruise by, Ranger would point it out to me. So, the Wife and I went to look it over in late October. We approached it from the Bickle Hill Rd. end, as there was better parking available than off Burnham St. This link will open Google Maps at the Bickle Hill Rd access : https://goo.gl/maps/LkKa4Vz9LrYRidiy6
I’d been hesitant to walk this one as it looked kinda trashy (literally) from this end, but we headed off anyway. There was some idiot waste dumping for the first bit of distance, but that soon cleared up. It was also, obviously used by ATV riders as evidenced by some unpleasant rutting. However, that wasn’t too difficult to get around. Then we came upon a very steep decline which took us down to the only reason this trail got listed here.
At the bottom of the hill, I could see the trail had been flooded out, and I expected to have to abandon any further exploration … until we saw the beaver dam and the lovely, picturesque pond their efforts had created. “Now this is worth the price of admission right here!” the Wife spoke out. I agreed competely. We found a narrow “step over” spot across the stream from the base of the dam and continued on. Then we came across a lovely, sturdy bridge someone had built over a wider span of the same stream, a little further down the trail. It always fascinates me when I stumble across something someone has worked very hard and spent good money on, to make an otherwise insignificant trail more enjoyable. For the most part, this trail is wide enough for two to walk side by side.
After the beaver pond, the trail starts to get a bit rougher and overgrown as it approaches Burnham St. It’s still walkable, but you’ll have to look ahead for the best route through some patches. There’s a bit of traffic sound near the ends of this very straight trail, but generally, it’s a fairly quiet walk. The beaver dam and pond are definitely the rewards for your efforts on this trail.
The Old Indian Trail (1.3 kms one – way)
This is actually a wooded stretch of the Oak Ridges Trail Assoc. that Ranger has called the old indian trail since before it was part of the ORTA. Hence, you’ll see white painted blazes on some trees along it’s path. I hadn’t seen this trail since Ranger and I walked it back in the 20th century. In late October, the Wife and I parked on Morton Rd. since the other end (on Little Rd. S.) is so close to a residence that we didn’t want to chance getting in their way. This link will open Google Maps at the Morton Rd : https://goo.gl/maps/2VefjeyxwGS4YiAB6
This one is quite level and easy walking for it’s entire length. It follows a loose zig-zag route across the landscape, along some cultivated fields, and under some hydro towers. It’s rather well wooded for almost all of it’s length and is easy to follow. There is just one spot where you’ll wonder where the trail goes as you step out onto a cultivated field. Just look to the left and you’ll see the trail continue through an opening in the trees.
As you approach Little St. S. you’ll pass a very well constructed children’s treehouse, complete with a zip line to a platform on a tree across the trail. It made me wish I’d spent my childhood here instead of the streets of Toronto.
Winnifred Goheen / Percy Rose Rds (2.0 kms one – way)
This unmaintained road is named Winfred Goheen at it’s North end (at Vimy Ridge Rd) and Percy Rose at it’s South end (at Bethel Grove Rd). The road is navigable by car for 400 meters at it’s South end and 600 meters at it’s North end. In between is a kilometer of pleasant walking trail (though the driveable sections are nice walking too). For this review, we walked it in early November and it’s obviously used for farmfield access too. We noticed some heavy equipment tracks but didn’t see any activity. I mention that as warning to park your vehicle on either Bethel Grove or Vimy Ridge (in Spring and Fall), in case the farmers need to get equipment down the road.
There are some residences (?) on the North (driveable) end before the trail starts that looked rustic/vintage (some might describe as spooky/creepy), but no chainsaw wielding killers came at us, so I’m sure you’ll be fine. From there, the trail remains wide and level right down to the farm at the South end, with pretty views of the cultivated fields through the treed borders of the trail.
At the farm near the South end we encountered a resident with four huge dogs which she assured us were all quite harmless, which they were. The big black one sidled up for a bout of affection and petting, then she joined us for the walk out to Bethel Grove Rd. We saw a couple of lovely ponds with a big bench just before hitting Bethel Grove Rd. On our return, the big black pooch was called back by the lady we spoke to earlier, and we returned to Vimy Ridge, and our ride.
You might notice the road sign says “Winfred” Goheen Rd but maps name it “Winnifred” Goheen. I think that’s because the extra letters in Winnifred wouldn’t fit on the standard font sized road sign, and so, had to be abbreviated. This link will open Google Maps at the center of the trail so you can decide which end you’d prefer to park : https://goo.gl/maps/oaxLx31hndNtjqts6
Canning Rd North (0.95 kms one – way)
This trail stretches between Oak Ridges Rd (Cty rd #9) at the North end, and Cavan Rd at it’s South end. There’s ample parking at both ends, but the Southern end (Cavan Rd) is alot less active and quiet. Besides, there’s a pretty little cemetery at the Cavan Rd end which has a number of gravestones from the late 1800s which are interesting to see.
There aren’t any residences off the trail which heads down to a low spot, then up again to a lovely view of the topography from Oak Ridges Rd. There aren’t any (that we could discern) farmfield accesses either, so you’ll have the views all to yourself. The trail is quite open to the sky except for a small wooded/shrubby section at the bottom of the hill. In early November, we enjoyed watching the crop harvesting going on all around us.
From Oak Ridges Rd. the hill looks alot nastier than it really is, so don’t let that dissuade you from taking this walk. Since I suggest you start and finish from Cavan Rd. this link will open Google Maps at the Southern end : https://goo.gl/maps/P6fCpUMvdQUxTq5e6
Roy Smith Rd (0.95 kms one – way)
This one is rather similar to the Canning rd trail as in, it’s a downhill walk (from Cavan rd) to a small stream, then back up a hill (to Oak Ridges rd). In early November, the highbush cranberries and wild grapes were abundant. We spotted some tracks which we suspect were made by a fox. On your return from Oak Ridges Rd. there’s a pleasant vista of the rolling farmlands to the South.
You can access from either Cavan rd. or Oak Ridges rd, though we chose Cavan since it’s a less busy roadway to park on. This link will open Google Maps at the Cavan Rd. acccess : https://goo.gl/maps/RBZ1R9Ued5dZHvLG6
Gibbs Rd. from Donaldson rd. to McAllister rd. off Oak Ridges rd. (1.3 kms one – way)
This one is actually a wooded section of the Oak Ridges Trail Assoc. (ORTA), and is the unmaintained Northern section of Gibbs rd. It’s unique in that there are limited views of surrounding farmlands, and often has an almost “middle of nowhere” woodsy feel. It was surprisingly quiet and winding as well. There were recent ATV and mountain bike tracks which had caused some minor rutting in places, but not bad for the most part.
There are a few hills but nothing too challenging, except the final hill up to the paved start of Gibbs Rd. which was quite steep. However, if you choose to start from McAllister rd., you could turn back before having to climb that last hill. You’ll be missing the lovely view from the termination of Gibbs Rd though.
There’s ample parking at either end but more choices from McAllister, so this link will open Google Maps at McAllister rd. : https://goo.gl/maps/4m5b1JztokxPkZXz7
The Final Take
These are eleven trails we know of, and use, between Hwy 28 and Burnham St (Cty Rd # 18) below Rice Lake. There are a few others, but these are our favourites. They’re not all spectacular, but when we don’t feel like driving for hours to take a walk, or if we’ve only got an hour or two to spare, they fit the bill quite nicely thank you.
Have a nice walk,