Here are a few of the trails that I have been enjoying in Bracebridge. I will add comments about them from time to time and also more maps. If you know of trails that folks might enjoy, let me know about them and I will give them a try if I can and maybe add them to this list. A lot of the most interesting and beautiful walks aren't listed on the usual trail guides which is a shame. I'll get as many together here as I can.
WHAT TO TAKE ALONG:
When you are out walking for some distance, you might want to consider taking a back pack with some or all of the following:
- a narrow length of flannelette or cotton - this is handy in a number of emergencies!
- polysporin or something like that
- pain medication
- cortisone cream
- bug spray
- water or juice
- fruit, nuts or granola, packed in a lightweight container
- fresh change of socks
- face cloth and small hand towel
- lightweight pair of shoes/sandals can refresh your feet and give you a break if you are walking for several hours.
- A cellphone is a good idea. Turn it off and enjoy your walk but have it handy for emergencies.
All of the above packs into a small lightweight bundle for your back pack with room left for a small digital camera! You can leave your bag packed and ready to go in between walks so it will be easy to pick up and go on a whim.
You might want to pack a bathing suit too as you never know when you will find a great new swimming hole!
#1: Wharf Road and Annie Williams Park
This is a very beautiful and relaxing walk.
Begin at Wharf Road at Ontario St. near Manitoba.
After descending a slight hill you will see an opportunity after just a couple of minutes to leave Wharf Rd in favour of a trail right beside the Muskoka River edge. Enjoy the water and fishers and swimmers there and follow the trail to the end before clambering up the grassy (slight) hill to get back onto Wharf Road. This turns eventually into Dill Street. Just follow the map above eventually crossing Wellington and getting onto Santas Village Rd. This is a very pretty part of the walk. Lots of beautiful trees and greenery. The incredibly well groomed and spacious Annie Williams Park seems to be quite popular with dog owners. And swimmers too! There is a beautiful beach there as well as a summer dock for diving into the river. I glimpsed a bbq pit and there are lots of places to sit and eat a snack if you carried one with you. Don't forget a water bottle. If you like visiting old cemeteries then plan to spend a little time walking through the one in Annie William's Park fronted on Santa's Village Road. Including a walk around the park, this trail is about 1.5 miles in each direction.
#2: Trans Canada Trail - Wilson Falls Road
This section of the TransCanada trail begins at Taylor and River Roads just down from Manitoba. River Rd. turns into Wilson Falls Road at Anne Street. Just follow Wilson Falls Rd right to the end where you will eventually see a metal link bridge. You can continue there and follow the trail right onto Cedar Lane, but for this walk we will end at the Falls. You might want to spend a few minutes at Bass Rock. This is a quiet spot maintained by the Town and neighbourhood residents for swimming. There is a place for a couple of cars to park. Do take note of the hours the area is open. The view along Wilson Falls Road is beautiful and peaceful for the entire length. Much of it hugs the river's edge. Don't be surprised to see a deer or racoon or ducks. The walk is just under 2 miles in each direction.
#3: Muskoka River Foot Trails
The beginning of the trail is pretty straight forward. Just follow the foot path over the damn at the Falls, descend the stairs and bypass the water wheel walking over the wooden bridge. The path continues around the Bay right up to the Bill Minett Boat Launch area which is the end of this section of trail walk up the short paved area (only a minute or two of walking (Yonge St) until you reach Anglo Street. Follow as shown on the map. At the end of that block you will see a path way turning off. It is between a rather large older house with a high fence and cut-out cedar arches on the one side and a group of terraced homes on the other. Follow this short walk back to the river. You will find a most surprising board walk. Do mind the signs and stay on the public walks. There are frequent signs to remind visitors that the docks are private. The paved walkway is spotted with lovely benches where you can rest and watch the river's activity. You might see a canoe go by or some mallards. Mostly though it is pretty quiet and very beautiful. Continuing walking to the very end of the board walk where you will find wooden steps that will take you up to the Millenium Garden on Ecclestone Dr. which is maintained handsomely by the Bracebridge Horticultural Society. You can enjoy a brief break on one of their benches or if you have lots of energy left, cross Ecclestone and rent a canoe or Kayak! If you time your walk right, you might be able to find a space on the Lady Muskoka and tour the Muskoka River. You should arrange boat tour tickets in advance though. The walk in one direction is approximately 1.25 miles. There are some steps involved at the damn.
#4: Kerr Park / Trans Canada Trail / Lagoons
This trip if started at Manitoba and Ontario is about 2 miles in one direction including a walk around Kerr Park and over to the Lagoon areas. When I was there about 4 weeks ago, a lot of construction was going on necessitating a change in the route of the TransCanada Trail there. So, it wasn't crystal clear as to how to access the trail. If you are interested in the TransCanadea Trail route, there is a map of the USUAL trail posted in Kerr Park, but I would urge you to ask for clear directions from someone before there. Also, keep to the paths! I got a lively case of poison ivy on that walk! The Lagoon area was also closed off at that time. Apparently there is usually a lot of bird life there. That wasn't the case the day I visited when I saw one seagull. However, this may again be the result of the current construction. You can board the Santa's Village trolley at the Ontario Street / Ecclestone Stop and get off and the River Side Inn and walk over to Kerry Park from there. This leaves you more time and energy to explore the park itself, and if you're lucky, to find the Trans Canada Trail! Ask the trolley driver for a printed schedule in case you want to hop a ride back into town later on.
#5: Santas Village Road
This walk is just about 3 miles in one direction and passes through wooded areas, river residential, and of course passes by the lovely Annie Williams Park. Given the distance, you may wish to organize your walk for a Sunday when the Santa's Village Trolley makes one of 3 Sunday runs to the Village. Perhaps, take the trolley out to the village, visit there and then walk back. If you leave the Village well before the last trolley run you can always walk just part of the way back and pick up the trolley to take you the remaining distance back to Wellington Street or another destination. However, it is a lovely trail to cover and if you can manage it all, I would encourage you to give it a try. Take a water bottle and maybe a snack so that you can sit by the river to enjoy the beautiful view.
#6: Bracebridge Bay / Old Mill Path / Woodchester Villa / Birds Lane
This walk knits together 3 short trails. Begin at Ontario Street by taking the Wharf Road to the damn going over the Falls. If you've never walked there before, you may want to plan to bring a camera or just to standand enjoy the refreshing spray from the water thundering over the falls. Once you get to the end of the damn walkway, do NOT go down the flights of stairs to your right that follows the Bay. Turn instead to your left where you will see a grassy wooded trail that begins underneath the railway overpass. Watch our for trail signs along here explaing out the history of the corduroy roads, the linen mills, old lumber chutes, original hydro generation etc. Follow the short trail along. There is a brief lookout point where you can watch the falls at the Entrance Drive Bridge. As you walk up a slight incline to Entrance Drive, not the chimney stack-like structure to your right. This has been built by the Muskoka Field Naturalists with the co-operation of the town to encourage the return of chimney swallows to this area. This swallow population has declined by 95% due to the loss of their natural habitat. Walk directly across Entrance Drive where you will see the Muskoka Family Focus and Children's Place bldg. Directly to the left of the that is a trail with a slight incline. Follow to the top and you will soon see the delightful octagonal Woodchester Villa. (Unfortunately closed during the summer of 2010 for repairs but expected to be open again in the autumn). Continue along the trail for a short but very pretty walk with a sudden drop which provides a lovely view of the river below. The trail takes a sharp turn right and ends at Bird Lane. The entire trail is just under 1 mile in each direction.
COMING WALKS AND MAPS:
- Hiram / Anne / Aubrey / South Muskoka Drive
- Covered Bridge Trail
- Rotary Centennial Park / MacNaughton Court.
- SSJE Cemetery