An excerpt from the forthcoming Day Hikes of Ontario Vol. II
It’s funny, but until just recently, Stouffville was a town that I often passed through, but never stopped to enjoy. On this particular weekend, Audrey had a workshop to attend in Stouffville so this seemed like a good opportunity for me to explore the town a bit.
The Stouffville Conservation Area centres around the reservoir and a large forested area. One of the nice things about the park is that it’s within the municipal boundaries of Stouffville, so when you’re finished your hike, you walk a couple of blocks down to Main Street and you have your run of coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants, pubs and even art galleries. Another great thing about the area is that the trailhead is only about 500m from the GO Train station. Check the schedule for train and bus service. I last visited the area in July of 2017.
After breakfast at the Fickle Pickle in town, I dropped Audrey off at her workshop on Church Street, then parked the car at the Go train station ( A ) at Main and Edward. I then walked east along Main St. for about 300m to Mill St. and turned north. At the top of Mill, there is a gate ( B ) that takes you into the Stouffville Channel and north to Millard Street. I considered this gate the trailhead. At Millard, ( C ) cross the street near the railway crossing (use extra caution, for oddly, there is no pedestrian crossing here and the traffic can move quickly and you have to keep an eye out for trains.) I entered the park right across the street and turned left on the gravel path after about 50m and crossed the dam at ( D ) and then walked all the way west then north to where the crushed gravel path ended at ( H .) I expected then to get onto the natural trail and continue my walk around the park in a clockwise direction. However, the crushed gravel path ended with a sign informing me that the trail ahead was closed to pedestrian traffic since the area was environmentally sensitive. Fair enough.
I retraced my steps, back across the dam and turned left at the fork and continued northwards on the gravel path, along the edge of the reservoir to ( E ).
I had intended to enter into the forest on the natural trail at ( F ), but since there was so much rain in the past week, I was only able to get about 500m north as the trail was so muddy and waterlogged that the slog just didn’t seem worth the effort. I had hoped to get up to the cross-park shortcut and make my way west and then circle around north to complete my trek, but it just wasn’t going to happen on this trip.
I made my way back down to ( E ) and carried on southward on the eastern half of the gravel trail. I spend a bit of time birdwatching, (spotted a grey heron in the reeds) got chased by a red-winged blackbird (I suppose there was a nest nearby), watched a garter snake hurry across the trail and just generally enjoyed the day for about 30 minutes before making my way back to town.
Granted it was a short trip on this particular day, but the potential of the longer trail was worth investigating. Sometimes turning back is the best course of action.
As the day was still young, I dropped my backpack in the car and walked over to the Latcham Art Gallery at 6240 Main. After spending about an hour there, I grabbed my laptop out of the trunk and passed a couple of hours at Main Street Bakehouse just a little further along the street at 6236 Main. As I sat in the bakehouse, looking out the window, I wondered what it would be like to live in Stouffville, maybe in that condo being built right across the road ...
Other Attractions in the Area
Main Street Bakehouse
6236 Main Street
The Latcham Gallery, 6240 Main Street
Bruce's Mill Conservation Area
Driving Range, 10km of hiking trails and lots more. 3291 Stouffville RoadStouffville,
Ed Horner is the author of Day Hikes of Ontario, Vol I and