Monday, September 9

Discovery Routes Sprucedale Trail

View from the boardwalk.

It was a sunny September afternoon so we decided to finally check out the Sprucedale Trail. We've been meaning to for over a year now but, perhaps because it's so close to home, it just hasn't been a high priority for us. Well, I'm glad we finally did!

Jim, Saba and I took a short drive up over to the town of Sprucedale, just 14 km north-west of the inn, to the trailhead located just behind the skating rink and soccer field by the township office.

The trailhead is well-marked and most of the trail is as well, though we did get a bit off-track at one point. It's not a single loop, so I recommend taking a photo of the trail map before you start and have it with you for reference along the way. That said, it's only a 2km trail so getting a bit lost is not a big deal knowing you can always turn around and follow your path back out the way you came.

The trail starts off with a floating boardwalk across a beaver pond. Photography enthusiasts will find it worth their time just to go for this leg alone, even if they don't bother to hike the rest of the trail.

The trail starts with a scenic boardwalk over a beaver meadow.
While most of the trail is dry, climbing through hardwoods and rocky outcrops, be prepared to get your feet wet or muddy. There was a stretch of trail that was like a wet sponge. It was springy and watery, with the occasional patch of deep black mud. This was not a big problem for Jim and I. We humans could walk around the mud for the most part or stay above it by stepping on fallen branches and stumps.

The dog, however, delighted in barreling right through it, sometimes sinking knee-deep in it. The odour of bog-dog was... have you seen the movie Labyrinth? Remember the Bog of Eternal Stench? Yes, like that. Thankfully, this section was near the beginning of the trail and by the end, Saba's legs were dry and brushed clean by the grasses and scrub along the way.

From low wetlands to high-and-dry scrub.

The trail description on the Discovery Routes website mentions "the talking rock". We saw plenty of big errant boulders and rock ridges, but we weren't sure if any of them spoke. If you know what the talking rock is, please let us know or send a picture!

What was that? Did this rock just say something?

All in all, a nice trail for an afternoon hike. We followed it up with a scenic back-road drive up to Katrine for some fish and chips (best chip truck ever!) which we enjoyed back here on the "upper deck" by the Coop.

Don't forget to look up.

The Sprucedale Recreational Trail is part of the Discovery Routes network of trails. Discovery Routes is a volunteer-run not-for-profit organization dedicated to maintaining and promoting trails in the Almaguin Highlands, North Bay and Mattawa area.

Beaver route.

Dry, open clearing.

Close up.

Hardwood hills.

Nothing like a good hike to put things in perspective.

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