Be a Healthy Hiker

Photos of a Butterfly, Turtle and Bridge at Pinery Provincial Park
The area is blessed with many gems of nature, being located on the northern fringes of the Carolinian Life Zone.  This zone represents less than 1% of Canada’s landmass, but is home to the largest diversity of fauna and flora species in the country, as well as the highest number of species-at-risk.

The landscape features miles of sandy beaches along the shores of Lake Huron, bare and forested dune lands, fresh-water coastal wetlands, rare Oak Savanna, steep and forested ravines in river and creek valleys, remnant prairies of tall grass and wildflowers, spherical concretions or Kettles in black shale beds, and brachiopod and trilobite fossils from the Devonian Period.

Trail Etiquette

Please stay on the trails by following the “blazes” on trees (used to mark turns and endpoints), don’t litter, keep dogs on leash, adhere to the permitted uses and activities of your chosen trail, take only photographs and leave only footprints.

Learn more about how to read blazes at discoverthetrails.ca – click on Hiking then Trails.

Ausable River Cut Conservation Area (Northville): Nature trail through forested 32-acre area in the Carolinian Zone. Access at 9984 Northville Crescent, off of Highway 21 by the Ausable Cut Bridge. Offers a challenging 1.5km loop trail over a high sand dune.

Bannockburn Conservation Area (Brucefield): Year-round, 62-acre conservation area boasts six different natural communities: wet meadow, eastern white cedar forest, Bannockburn River and Walden Creek, deciduous forest, old field and mixed scrub and marsh. Main trail leads from the parking. The first 500-metres consists of accessible boardwalks over river and creek, balance of trails feature hilly terrain with few stairs or boardwalks. Access at 76249 Bannockburn Line, between Brucefield and Bayfield.

Bayfield River Valley Trails (Bayfield): Woodland Trail: medium difficulty, 5-kilometre trail meanders along village roads, then dips into the woods where it follows old gravel pit and lumbering roads and deer paths. Access at Keith Crescent & Hill Terrace. Sawmill Trail: Access this 2-km woodland and riverside trail from highway 21, turn east onto Old River Road, then right onto Sawmill Road, watch for signage. Varied terrain changes from flood plain to coniferous forest and hillsides. Heritage Trail: Follow Pioneer footsteps through Bayfield on an easy 2-kilometre stroll along tree-lined streets, passing heritage buildings. Routes and brochure online at bayfieldtrails.com.

Grand Bend Rotary Nature Trail (Grand Bend): Asphalted 10-kilometre walking and cycling trail alongside Highway 21 from Grand Bend to the Pinery Provincial Park entrance.

Esli Dodge Conservation Area (Forest): 20-acre conservation area with man-made lake (no swimming). Access at 88 Main Street. Portable washrooms May to October. Playground, picnic area, tennis courts, paved walking/cycling paths, gazebo.

Forest Trail System (Forest): Access from Rotary Civic Square behind the Library. Asphalted 2.8km walkway leads south to Esli Dodge Conservation Area. The trail along the Old Railway Track and around lagoons west of Forest offer 4.5-kilometres return trip over flat lands.

Hullett Provincial Wildlife Area (Clinton): 5,420-acre site along the South Maitland River, located on the paths of two major waterfowl flyways (Atlantic & Mississippi). Seven trails ranging in length from 0.4-kilometres to 4.6-kilometres, featuring grassland, wetland and wooded terrain. Activities include hiking, horseback riding, seasonal hunting, canoeing, snowmobiling, and geocaching. Multiple parking lots and access points. Refer to hullettmarsh.com for hiking map and information.

Joany’s Woods Trail (Sylvan): 367-acre area in the Ausable River Valley offers a challenging 4.8-kilometre trail and an easy 3.2-kilometre trail through mixed Carolinian and Great Lakes Hardwood swamp forest. Two access points: (1) Drive east on Elginfield Road from Sylvan, turn right onto Vernon Road; (2) Drive north from Sylvan on Sylvan Road, turn left onto Elliot Road and right onto Boot Hill Road, watch for signage.

Lambton County Heritage Forest (Port Franks): Hiking and mountain-biking trails in 570-acre Oak-Savannah and Carolinian forest. Access from Port Franks Community Centre, 9997 Port Franks Road,. Offers three trails – 3.1-kilometre, 5.2-kilometre and 6.6-kilometre.

L-Lake Management Area (Port Franks): 69-acre area offers 1.5-kilometre trail through cedar wetlands and mixed Carolinian forest. Access at 7101 Outer Drive.

Morrison Dam, MacNaughton Park & South Huron Trail (Exeter): 10- kilometre round-trip hiking trail from the Morrison Dam westwards along the Ausable River to Exeter’s MacNaughton Park. Hiking, cross-country skiing, birding and wildlife watching and fishing. Picnic areas and washrooms.  Access from Exeter’s Main Street by the river or drive east of Exeter on County Road 83, turn south on Morrison Line, and watch for signage.

Pinery Provincial Park (Grand Bend): Extensive nature trails and asphalted, close-loop bike path. Discover Oak Savanna and Carolinian woodlands, the Freshwater Coastal Dune ecosystem, endangered plants, animals and insects at the Natural Heritage Education Centre. Bike and helmet rentals (mountain, coaster, tandem, kids, child trailers & helmets). Wheelchair accessible trails and two beach-friendly wheelchairs available for use.

Rock Glen Conservation Area (Arkona): Unique for two reasons – Rock Glen offers the opportunity to fossil hunt and boasts Lambton County’s boasts ONLY WATERFALL. Plunge your hand in the water and grab some pebbles – it’s likely you’ll find a fossil! Stairs, boardwalks and bridge allow visitors to explore the glen’s steep sides and 10.7-metre high waterfall. Picnic area and washrooms. Drive north of Arkona on Arkona Road (County Rd. 79), turn right on Rock Glen Road, watch for signage.

Geocaching & GIS Trail Mapping

Geocaching is like a high tech scavenger hunt in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) unit or mobile device to search for “geocaches”. Download cache locations from geocaching.com. GPS units available at Northville Municipal Office, 9575 Port Franks Rd., Thedford, 519-243-1400. Huron County’s hiking guide is available at the Welcome Centre in Grand Bend.

Handy Websites

Event Highlights

  • Savanna Strollers, Pinery Provincial park -Wednesdays, 9:20am year-round
  • Pinery Fall Classic – October 15, 2017

See Festivals & Events for more dates, times and details.