The Snowdon Park Wetland and Forest Preserve Trails (Minden) Review

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The Snowdon Park Wetland and Forest Preserve Trails (Minden) Review

Snowdon Park Location Map-min

We were returning from a walk on a trail near Haliburton when we noticed a trail off to the West of Cty Rd #1. Once Home, I realized I had Snowdon Park already marked on my “to be investigated” map. We really love the trails in the Haliburton Highlands, so we returned in mid September for a better look. At over 130 kms from the nearest point on Hwy 401, I think it’s best to describe the drive from Minden. Take Cty Rd #16 (South Lake Rd) East to Gelert Rd (8.5 kms), turn right (South) on Gelert Rd (#1) and about 300 meters along you’ll see Snowdon Park Rd on the West side. The road into the park is about 750 meters long and was an unexpectedly pleasant and easy drive. This link will open Google Maps at the amply sized parking lot : https://goo.gl/maps/Wbp8Rtw1dc8E7fy87

Most of our experiences with trails in the Haliburton Highlands have been with the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust (HHLT), and rail trails. Snowdon is handled by the Township of Minden Hills and the Haliburton Highlands Field Naturalists who obviously take the same impressive pride and resposibility as the HHLT, in the maintenance of their trail systems. Another example of this was found in the Dahl Forest less than 8 kms South of Snowdon, on Gelert Rd (#1).

From the parking lot you’ll take a short walk up a wide dirt road, to an information kiosk with a visitor sign-in binder. After the kiosk, continue along the roadway past a coupla privies to an interesting little cabin.

Snowdon Cabin

There’s a short walk to a lovely lookout over an open water wetland.

Snowdon Wetland Lookout

There are 5 color coded and named trails in the park which, combined, are a total of 6.5 kms in length. Basically, there are 2 loops with a connecting trail between them. Rather than review each trail separately, we like to just start walking, taking the trail to the right at each intersection. Then, we just explore any bits and pieces we missed, at the end.

Snowdon Trail Map-min

Before we start, I’d like to address some of the comments left in the visitor’s log. Firstly, ANYWHERE is gonna be wet in the Spring of the year. Especially places where at most, a few inches under the “soil” at your feet, is granite bedrock. It don’t drain well. Secondly, if you look closely at the name of the place, you’ll notice the adjective “WETLAND”. There are two prominent things in wetlands : water and mosquitoes. If you come unprepared for either, then more the fool … you. My apologies for ranting, but it irks and embarrasses me when people leave whiney comments about (free of charge) preserves handled by hard working, dedicated, volunteers.

So, as stated above, we visited here in mid September. Partially because we figured it would be drier, cooler, less buggy, and … wetland environments always have spectacular fungal displays in the later part of the season.

Snowdon Mushrooms

As you begin walking the trails, there’s a short side trail where you’ll get a view of the same open water wetland you saw from the lookout. You can even see the lookout platform from it. The trail base is compacted soil to the first boardwalk, and beyond to a view of open water again (with a picturesque beaver lodge in the foreground). Then the ground starts to get “rooty”. As mentioned in my rant above, there’s not much soil before hitting granite and the tree roots don’t get very deep. This is where you’ll need to start watching your step on the way to another short side trail with a view of a rare fen environment. Finally, you’ll pass a cross country skier shelter before hitting the Old Homestead Trail (there’s another shelter just before the trailhead, on your return).

Snowdon Lookout to Old Homestead

The Old Homestead Trail connects the two loops. On it, we found an oddity. It looked like someone had dug a hole and lined it with rocks. The Wife had seen some flakes of mica on the trail so we thought it might be a prospecting hole. Then again, since we were on the “Homestead” trail, we considered it might be some kind of old food storage cache.

Snowdon Old Homestead Trail

There’s a very sturdy (despite it’s heaving appearance) boardwalk right before the Homestead trail deposits you onto the Ross Rigney Loop. If you look to the right while walking over the boardwalk, you’ll notice a grassy ridge holding the water back. That’s actually an overgrown beaver dam. I should mention here that the trails are color coded to match the map above, but the few name signs on the trails, don’t always match the names on the map (but the plentiful colored trail markers do). As well, there are “you are here” maps at every intersection of trails. You’ll always know exactly where you are at all times on these trails. That’s another thing I like about the Haliburton region’s trail stewards mentality.

The furthest loop (Ross Rigney or Orange) trail is rather wet and rooty on the North side, and might require some careful stepping. The southern return stretch is quite pleasant and dry so you could just take it to the left after the boardwalk, and return by the same route if it becomes too wet for you. We encountered a number of rare Cucumber Root plants on this loop. We were surprised to see a large scat on the trail, and though I checked the list of mammals known to frequent the property, I didn’t see anything about bears. We didn’t see any tracks nor scratch marks on rotting trees, but it was either a bear, or someone had taken a 400 lb dog who likes to eat berries, for a walk recently.

Snowdon Orange Loop

There’s alot of mention made about an old car parked just off to the side of this trail. How it got there is a mystery for sure. Otherwise, this entire trail system was wonderfully clean and tidy.

The Final Take

The Haliburton Highlands Field Naturalists are to be commended for establishing and maintaining this lovely set of trails through an ecosystem that one rarely has the opportunity to see. The trails are a blend of wide enough for two to walk at the shoulder, and single file. There are dry upland forests, low wetlands (with alot of roots and rocks to trip on, so watch it), and lots of water photo ops. Some stretches are a tad overgrown but you’ll never have to look very far for a trail marker. All trail intersections display full trail maps with “you are here” marked on them. Look down at the trail base occassionally, and you’ll notice there are patches where you’re walking on bare granite bedrock.

There are two shelters on the first loop for cross country skiers (or walkers) to have a break if needed, and two privies at the trailhead. The raised lookout platform at the start affords a lovely view of open water wetland to whet your appetite for more (and you’ll see plenty more). In the later part of the season, the fungal displays are spectacular.

If you visit in the Spring, dress accordingly, being prepared for wet walking. If you visit in the Summer, expect mosquitoes. At one point we thought we might’ve heard some distant traffic sounds, but it could’ve been wind in the trees. Otherwise, the silence was wonderful, and I was pleased to hear alot of bird activity.

The road into the park is well maintained, smooth, and wide. The more than ample parking is also smooth, level and clear. There are no fees for usage, and we couldn’t see any way to contribute money at the trailhead.

Have a nice walk,

Bushwhacker

4 comments

  1. We have gone to this trail several times in various seasons (winter is nice but you may need 4 wheel drive to get to the parking lot), but I would like to add a note about dogs. Every time, someone has had a dog off leash. It is unfair to other hikers as a minimum–and potentially alarming to those with children. So please, fellow hikers, keep your dogs on the leash.

    Like

    1. A consistent complaint I hear alot on these reviews. I’ve even written a coupla specific postings on people and their dogs. To no avail of course.
      Bushwhacker

      Like

  2. Rita Bauer · · Reply

    Thanks to you we discovered Snowden Park and Dahl’s Forest and continue to have wonderful hikes in all seasons, always discovering something new! Love your posts!

    Like

    1. Words of appreciation and encouragement are always gratefully accepted. Thanks for taking the time Rita.
      Bushwhacker

      Like

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