BY COLIN HUGHES – A beautiful Sunday, one of the first in a long time, had me looking at my Cottage Country Backroad Mapbook for a trail for my daughter and I to explore. We settled on Scout Valley near Orillia. Once through Orillia, we parked at the north trailhead off Old Barrie Road. Dropping into the forest, the canopy above and the sounds of robins, blue jays and woodpeckers quickly drowned out the nearby traffic.
There is traffic around Scout Valley, with the triangular 92 ha (228 ac) forest surrounded on all sides by roads, including the busy multi-lane Highway 11. But the forest and streams which run through the property offer respite from the outside world.
The Ganaraska Trail makes its way through the forest in a north/south direction, offering a spine for the park’s three main loops; the Algonquin, Sugarbush and Homestead Loop Trails, each approximately 2 km in length. In addition to these main trails, which all leave and return to the Ganaraska, there are numerous unmarked routes that we quickly left the beaten path to explore.
Our first side trip was down and along Mill Creek, where the trail constantly crossed the creek as we balanced our way along the fallen logs offering passage. From here we detoured again and came upon a wetland full of noisy frogs. The Sugarbush and Homestead Trails run along a ridge offering some exceptional views into the valley below.
The best trail in our opinion was the Algonquin Loop, which offered a great ridge climb to a viewing platform overlooking the forest and to the lake beyond. From here, it was a short run back to the trailhead having completed a great sunny day hike.
The Scout Valley sits to the west of Highway 11 and offers three trailheads, off Old Barrie Road in the north, Line 15 N in the west and Memorial Avenue to the south. There are over 7 km (4.3 mi) of trails plus many side routes to check out as well.
You can find all this and more in the latest edition of our Cottage Country Backroad Mapbook. More than just a map, this all-in-one outdoor adventure guide is your ultimate key to what this region has to offer!