For our family, Thanksgiving is typically brimming with traditions; a bustling kitchen filled with the smells of fresh baking, congregating around a harvest table covered in classic dishes, and piling into cars for a ‘windows down, music up’ road trip to take in the Fall colours.
If you’re anything like me, accepting that this Thanksgiving weekend is going to be a bit different than those of the past, is a bitter pill to swallow. I’m going to miss my Grandma’s deviled eggs, and filling our living room with friends who haven’t been home in months.
However, if we are to look at it through another lens, we’ve also been presented with a wonderful opportunity to forge new traditions with friends and family. Luckily, we are surrounded by nature here in Hastings County, and the great outdoors offer the perfect chance to gather together and be thankful for our health and happiness. Ultimately, that is exactly what Thanksgiving is all about.
Not to mention, it’s the perfect time to do so. Mother Nature has not held back this year. She has granted us full access to her artistic talents; painting the forests with staggering vibrancy.
Embracing change and doing something different is what 2020 has been all about, and these trails will not disappoint. This year’s list of Fall Favourites includes; McGeachie Conservation Area, The Gut Conservation Area and Eagles Nest Park.
You may say, “those sound familiar, I think I’ve been there before.” Chances are, you have! But thanks to Hastings Trails, you’ve never seen them like this before. Between the three locations, there are collectively 18kms of new & refurbished trails to explore; leading you to new perspectives, over boardwalks and deeper into the woods.
McGeachie Conservation Area
Location: 363 Steenburg Lake Rd N, Gilmour, ON
With updates to existing trails, and newly forged paths to take, McGeachie is the perfect place to ‘walk off’ a delicious turkey feast. The trails are easy to navigate, well-marked at each intersection, and offer multiple options ranging in length. With scenic observations points at both the old and new Beaver Dam, and tall towering trees bordering the path to both, no matter which route you take, it’s sure to boast lovely views.
Trail Tip: Take a photo of the Trail Head map on your phone to easily steer your way through the Y’s in the trails. Pick a route and stick to it, or hop around from trail to trail, creating your very own unique adventure according to your time-frame and abilities.
The Gut Conservation Area
Location: 2399 The South Rd, Coe Hill, ON
The Gut is a one-of-a-kind, natural wonder that visitors have been escaping to for years. Just a few weeks ago however, the team at Hastings Trails finished carving out a new 5.8km Class 4 Wilderness Trail that meanders along the river, over roots and rocks, and through the dense, quiet forest. Once you reach the old logging road, it loops back to the parking lot. Although, a much more demanding experience than simply marveling the rushing water and scenic view, the immersive design of the trail is breathtaking in a whole new way.
Trail Tip: Official trail markers to be installed shortly, for the time being, follow the easily identifiable pink flags.
Eagles Nest Park
Location: 79 Eagles Nest Park Rd, Bancroft, ON
For a true bird’s eye view of the Fall colours covering the town and valley below, make your way up to Eagles Nest Park located on the Northern outskirts of the Town of Bancroft. The Hawkwatch Trail that leads from the parking lot to the iconic lookout platform has been upgraded to an accessible trail (one of the first in Ontario) granting ease, use and experience for all. If this is your first visit, well, enjoy! If it’s not, you know that with each passing day, the landscape evolves. Almost miraculously, it’s never the same twice.
Trail Tip: With the lookout being such a highlight, few know that this property is home to a variety of landscapes. Once you’ve marveled at the sea of colour below, why not take the Gerry Whyte Trail and check out the new boardwalk for a strikingly different spectacle.
And just when you think you’ve missed out on the Fall Colours, think again. The Tamarack trees at O’Hara Mill Homestead & Conservation Area are the last to go up in (hypothetical) fiery flames. Enjoy one last burst of colour and the magical reflections they make along the Mill Pond.
As always, we encourage hikers to be responsible and respectful.
“Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints.” – Chief Si’ahl
MORE REASONS TO EXPLORE HASTINGS:
- Hastings County Holiday Shopping Guide 2021
- B&B Autumn Staycations
- Thanksgiving Weekend in Hastings County
- Three Gravel Cycling Routes that Showcase Hastings County’s Prettiest Season
- Countdown to Thanksgiving: A Guide to Planning the Meal and Keeping it Local
Carly Wright is a ‘returnee’ to the Village of Madoc. After a decade of city living, her heart led her home in hopes of reinvigorating rural through strategic economic and community development. She is a mother of two, who loves adventuring with her family and supporting local. Owner of Creatively yours, Carly assists clients with tackling the barriers to business growth. She does her best writing on her back deck, surrounded in nature.