If you are interested in short hikes of an hour or two, shorten the Avon Trail into hikes between the country roads. Your guidebook has excellent coloured maps with the trail clearly marked. Leave your car at one road, and hike into the bush, along the trail. Once you reach the next road, turn around to head back to your car. Or if you have time, travel to the next road before returning to your car. The entire Avon trail is about 112 km long, so if you wanted to do the whole trail, break your hikes up into 10 km sections spread over 10 visits, and enjoy our country side.
Or consider some of the hikes listed below. These hikes are about 45 minutes around Stratford.
Check websites like www.ontariotrails.on.ca for more hiking suggestions.
01) T. J. Dolan Natural Area & Trail, Stratford – Located at the west end of the Stratford Side Trail. It is part of the park system along the Avon River and near the Stratford Festival Theatre. It is a north and south river side trail loop with several side trails ranging from 0.3 km to 4.4 km. Parking: John Street North or Lorne Avenue West. If you purchase the latest edition of the Avon Trail Guide, it contains a coloured map of the Stratford Side Trail.
02) Stratford Side Trail – This linear trail spans the length of the Avon River from the East end to the West end of Stratford. Start anywhere along the Avon River and walk one way and turn around to head back to your car. If you purchase the latest edition of the Avon Trail Guide, it contains a coloured map of the Stratford Side Trail.
03) Victoria Lake Trail, Stratford – A loop walk located along the Avon River by the Stratford Festival Theatre. Start anywhere around the Lake. Be sure to cross both the Huron Street Bridge [coordinates 43.372266,-80.984887 (west end of Lake) and walk around the river crossing over the Lakeside Drive North bridge [coordinates 43.37678,-80.96575] (east end of the Lake near Romeo Street). It is a 2 hour leisurely walk.
04) Ironwood Section of the Avon Trail – From Perth Road 113 at km 31.0 on our new Avon Trail Guide maps (coordinates 43.296425,-80.973462) follow the main trail for 0.6 km, cross the ditch on the stone walk way and follow the side trail (blue blazes) to the left (km 30.4). It rejoins the main trail further south (km 30.1). At this point turn right (NE) and return to Road 113 for a walk of 2.3 km. [Or turn left (SW) and continue to St. Marys but not from November 1 to March 31, Hunting Season.] This section of the main trail is located behind Camp Bimini and has continued to draw interest from hikers. It is so named due to the number of ironwood trees (Carpinus caroliniana). This species is also known as blue-beech, musclewood or hornbeam. At km 30.1 on the main trail a side trail (blue blazes) veers to the right into a mature bush (no ironwoods here). The side trail returns to the main trail at km 30.4. Thus the Bimini Loop is 1.1 km (0.3 km main trail + 0.8 km side trail).
05) Sebben Bridge Loop, Stratford – From Allman Arena, Stratford, follow the Stratford Side Trail east to km 3.0. Total = 4.4 km one way. (Sebben Bridge is on Rd 111). Refer to Stratford Side Trail Map & text on its back. Landowner Mr. B. Sebben indicates that the Avon River was straightened 50+ years ago and now resembles a canal along his property; but flood waters sometimes make it over to where the river used to be.
06) North Perth Trails – The 22 km multipurpose trail is mainly a former railway line: Rotary Walkway (2 km), Kinsmen Trail (2 km); Listowel to Atwood (8 km); Listowel to Gowanstown (4 km; one way); Atwood to Henfryn (8 km). Check Tourism > Natural Areas, Trails & Check the Municipality of North Perth website. Also see this trail in Google Maps and see this PDF.
07) Grand Trunk Trail, St. Marys – This is a linear hike (3.5 km) along the old rail trail including the Grand Trunk bridge that spans the Thames River. The eastern end of this trail is at the old Junction Railway Station on Glass Street [coordinates 43.272261,-81.132033]. The town of St. Marys website has an Always in Season Guide (PDF) that you can download. Check page 7 for a map.
08) Wildwood Lake Trail, Wildwood C.A. – A 22 km trail around Wildwood Lake. Do a linear walk on one side starting at the dam (12 km) or starting at the Entry Kiosk (10 km). Daily fee applies. Check maps at www.wildwoodconservationarea.ca/trails/ or download the Trail Map: 2012 Trail Map. If you are an Avon Trail member show your membership card or if not pay the fee.
09) Dr. R. S. Murray Forest Trail, Wildwood C.A. – Entry fee, 1, 3, 5 & 7 km trails for hiking and cross country skiing within the Wildwood Conservation Area off Hwy 7. Check www.ontariotrails.on.ca/trails.
11) West Perth Thames Nature Trail and Wetlands – A linear trail west of Stratford along the Thames River starting near 1 Huron Road, Mitchell. Check www.naturetrail.westperth.com.
12) Ellice Swamp Rail Trail – Hiking is available only on Sundays and Wednesdays. Check www.swampfriends.ca. From Stratford follow Line 119 (#19) north through Gads Hill, turn left (West) onto the 52nd Line, continue on the 52nd Line past 122nd Road and watch for the Ellice Swamp Rail Trail signs.
13) Embro Conservation Area [coordinates 43.173401,-80.91736] – Head south from Stratford on Road 113 which turns into Oxford Road 6. Turn right onto Oxford Road 84. The Conservation area is about 600 m on the left. Excellent for snowshoeing.
14) Ausable River Trail – A 13 km linear hike. Travel west on Hwy 7 out of Stratford for 50 minutes watching for the town of Sylvan and turn south on Scouts Rd [coordinates 43.135794,-81.79455]. Mystery Falls can be accessed from the trail or by following the blue trail leading north from the west end of Elm Tree Drive. See the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority website for more information.
15) Joany’s Woods (Talbot Trust Tracts) – A 2-hour loop hike, 45 minutes west of Stratford along Hwy 7. Three trails: Ivey Trail 4.8 km; Inch Trail 3.2 km; River Trail 2.2 km. Located north of County Road 7 (Thompson Line) just west of the village of Sylvan. It is classified as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA). Check the Thames Talbot Land Trust website for more information and printable guides with maps. Also check the Lambton Wildlife Inc. website.
16) Morrison Dam Conservation Area Trail, Exeter – 71108 Morrison Line, Exeter [coordinates 43.359744,-81.457726]. From Stratford travel west on Perth Line 20 (becomes 83) for 30 minutes watch for signs. A 2-hour, year round trail perfect for hiking and snowshoeing. See the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority website for more information and specifically the Morrison Dam Conservatrion Area web page for a PDF brochure/map.
17) Health Valley Trail, Woolwich Township – A 5 km trail that is the old Conestogo River Trail between St. Jacobs and Conestogo. Maintained by the Township of Woolwich and members of the Woolwich Trails Group. Park in the parking lot at the end of Albert Street East [coordinates 43.539294,-80.551233], St. Jacobs. It is part of the Trans Canada trail system and Avon Trail.
18) Waterloo Hydro Cut – The Glasgow St. (Kitchener) parking lot is located at coordinates 43.429138,-80.563134. The trails in this area are on Region of Waterloo lands and are developed and maintained by the Waterloo Cycling Club. The trails are well marked and open to hiking. Loops are available. You can hike west via the power corridor to a point north of the Petersburg Regional Forest that also has trails. Check waterloocyclingclub.ca/mtb/trails for maps to the trail parking lots and trail maps. See number 19 below.
19) Petersburg Regional Forest, Region of Waterloo– Located at 1974 Snyders Road East, Kitchener [coordinates 43.416473,-80.586472]. The Pines parking lot is at the end of a private lane. Good loop walks and snowshoeing. CAUTION: To enter the parking lot at the end of the lane requires crossing an active CN/VIA Rail tracks that have no signals. See notes for number 12 above.
20) Gibney Regional Forest, Region of Waterloo – Sandhills Road, Wilmot Township, Baden [coordinates 43.400589,-80.641497]. Off the Conestoga Parkway (Hwy 7/8); use the Baden cut off and go south 1 km.
21) Walker Woods, Region of Waterloo - It consists of a single stand type for forest with the dominant species being Sugar Maple. The forest was privately owned and managed as a sugar maple bush until 1993 when it was donated to the Region. As part of the transfer agreement between the previous owner and the Region of Waterloo, Walker Woods is to be managed to maintain, encourage and/or enhance old growth characteristics. A study completed during the summer of 2003 showed a significant population of great crested flycatchers. Vehicles must pull off onto the shoulder of Regional Road 3, (Walker's Road from Highway 7) which is sufficiently wide. There is an existing trail that loops around through the forest. See pages 39 and 40 in the Waterloo Regional Forest Management Plan: Forest Tract Summary Sheets PDF.
22) Other Waterloo Regional (Agreement) Forests: Some of the forests have been mentioned above (e.g. Petersburg Forest) that contain trails that are short. Two more examples are: i) Doon Forest/Homer Watson Park [coordinates 43.392824,-80.423019], Homer Watson Boulevard, Kitchener and ii) Sudden Forest [coordinates 43.308801,-80.368545] Access off Spragues Road, North Dumfries Township. Parking lot. Numerous trails plus Grand Valley Trail (linear) passes through this forest from Beke Rd to Spragues Rd. For more examples check Waterloo Regional Forest Management Plan: Forest Tract Summary Sheets - This PDF contains information about Dean’s Lake, Doon Regional Forest, Doon Heritage Crossroads, Drunan Regional Forest, Cambridge Landfill, Hilborn Knoll Regional Forest, Macton Regional Forest, McLennan Park Woodland, Sandy Hills Regional Forest, Sudden Regional Forest, Townline Regional Forest. In most cases there are maps.
23) F.W.R. Dickson Conservation Area – Parking lot off Brant-Waterloo Road [coordinates 43.279778 -80.395910]. One may do a 2.2 km loop around the pond or extend the hike to and past Wrigley Lake over to Bannister Lake to an observation tower and then back for a total of about 5.6 km. Who was F.W.R. Dickson? More details and a map are here.
24) Snyder's Flats, Bloomingdale – The loop hike is 5 km or 6.7 km depending on where you park. This loop is a combination of main (white) and side (blue) trail of the Grand Valley Trail. Park at the Bloomingdale Community Centre, 1031 Snyder’s Flats Road [coordinates 43.510859,-80.464817], or on some days you may be able to park in the Bloomingdale Mennonite Church parking lot at coordinates 43.509361,-80.471324; this shortens the walk. Also a good spot for snowshoeing.
25) Huron Natural Area, Kitchener – 801 Trillium Dr. Kitchener [coordinates 43.398889,-80.481737]. Strasburg Creek, a Provincially significant wetlands, forest and meadows. Hiking trails, boardwalks, lookout areas and the Board of Education Pond. Parking lot & washrooms (April to October). Check Huron Natural Area and Huron Natural Area trail map (PDF).
26) Lions Lake Trail (Woolwich Reservoir), Floradale – A 7 km loop around the Woolwich Reservoir (Canagagigue Creek) maintained by the Elmira Lions Club. Park at the main entrance off Reid Woods Dr. [coordinates 43.61671,-80.565014], or park on Ruggles St (1st St) near Bonnie Lou’s Café, 2238 Floradale Rd/Rd 19 [coordinates 43.634169,-80.580287] - view access spot to trail from Ruggles Street | location of footbridge. The Café is good for breakfast or lunch Monday to Friday. Easy walking (flat) and good for snowshoeing.
27) The Tree Farm, West Perth - It is located along Perth Line 150 about midway between Highway 8 and Perth Line 20 (43.41164,-81.15654) - see directions below. The Tree Farm was developed from trees planted by the Johnson family and is maintained today by new owners living on the corner of the 100-acre bush. There are some wet areas, and an interesting pond in the west corner with turtles often sunning on bright warm days. The trail is kept cut and suitable for both hiking and snow shoeing with the terrain being easy to flat. Parking is on the road near the small yellow sign announcing the Tree Farm with the Loop trail taking a little over an hour. There are many side trails but the main trail is a large loop, outlining about a third of the bush. There are no trail markers but curious road signs in the west end. Have a look and enjoy the generosity of the landowners. Directions: From the Huron Street bridge in Stratford (43.372254,-80.984904) take Huron Street (Hwy 8/Line 34) north-west toward Sebringville. Travel about 14 km and turn left (south) on Line 150 for about 3.6 km and look for the Tree Farm sign (43.41164,-81.15654). >>> View directions in Google Maps.
28) Online Resources for Other Short and Long Hikes - Check these websites for more hike ideas.