Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ancient Signposts

The Old Indian Trail - Marker Tree, Townline Rd. ( at Thorold - Stamford )
Niagara Fall Public Library digital collection [source file]
I want to share this fascinating article about First Nations' trail marker trees, trees deliberately bent to point out trail directions, in the hopes that you can help the article's author locate likely candidates locally. Hundreds of years ago these were the guideposts relied upon to locate important places along trails. Very few are likely left, making each finding all the more significant. Thanks to Paul O'Hara for allowing me to re-publish this article. (Paul's contact info is at end of article) - Randy

A Call Down the Path: Trail Marker Trees in Ontario

Figure 1 The ‘Mother of All Markers’ in Kingsville near Point Pelee.
Gerry Waldron  and a White Oak marker pointing west along a tray
l that is documented on a map drawn by crown surveyor Patrick Mcllliff
 in the 1780's. There is little doubt this magical tree was marked
 by Aboriginals sometime in the 18" century - Paul O'Hara (P0)

FBO Newsletter - Fall 201 1 - Vol 23(3)

It was a couple of years ago. I forget what I was searching for now. Something tree-related - dreams of discovering more grainy black and white shots of loggers enveloped in Southern Ontario old growth. I was scanning the Niagara Falls online digital library when I saw a photograph that has been burned into my brain to this day. It was labeled, “The Old Indian Trail - Marker Tree. Townline Rd. (at Thorold - Stamford)
G0 check it out. [or see above] It shows a mature, roadside White Elm (Ulmus americana) on the Haldimand Clay Plain near Thorold with its side branches pulled down, the trunk and main branches drawing the shape of an ‘M’, the lateral branches forming the crown. Aboriginals had purposefully modified the tree at one time — early to mid 1800s, I would guess - to point along an ancient footpath. The tree was well known in the community, ravaged by Dutch Elm Disease in the early 70s, but saved as a snag until a Windstorm brought it down December 28, 1982.

Figure 2 Gerry and a Shagbark Hickory marker at Maidstone Conservation
Area. It points north up the nearby Puce River towards the shore of
Lake St. Clair. - P0
Wow, I thought, dumbfounded and flooded with questions. Where do I find out more about Indian trail marker trees? Are there more photos of tree markers I could find? Are there marker trees standing on the landscape of Southern Ontario today?
My first couple of questions would be answered with a little more surfing. I came across two links about trail marker trees, both from the United States. The first one is run by the Mountain Stewards ( of the Southern Appalachians, the second, a link to the Great Lakes Trail Marker Tree Society ( run by artist and trail marker tree researcher, Dennis Downes* from Illinois. Both sites show numerous photos of trail marker trees standing in the US today, but most of them didn’t look like the Old Indian Trail Marker Tree in Thorold. Most were modified to point in one direction and, not surprisingly in the US, most of them were oak.

Downes’ site dug deeper into the background on how marker trees were formed and provided tips on what constitutes a true trail marker tree (apparently, there is some debate over what constitutes a true marker as there are a lot of bad examples out there - folks calling any old misshapen tree a trail marker). True markers were modified near the ground. A sapling was bent over and its leader was tied down with rawhide, grapevine or secured with heavy rocks. The lateral branch pointing directly upwards was retained while the rest were removed. Over time the tree settled into the bend, the rawhide was removed or withered away, and a ‘nose’ was often left to point the way. As the tree grew, the diameter of the main trunk remained larger than the lateral branch forming the crown. Other trees, like the branches on the Thorold marker, were just pulled down and secured. Either way, marker trees were meant to look very purposeful, distinguishing them from naturally bent trees.

I learned that marker trees were used by Aboriginals to point to all kinds of things: villages and camps, water sources and river fords, or to mark boundaries between Aboriginal tribes. It is thought that the practice of marking trees was taught to the first Europeans, and it is plausible that they and not the Aboriginals formed some of the markers remaining on today’s landscape. Apparently, trail marker trees were common in pre-settlement times, most now lost to habitat destruction and the practice of removing ill-formed trees in woodlots.

Figure 3 One of three Sugar Mapie markers near the shoreline of Big Cedar Lake in the 
Kawarthas.  This one has two ascending trunks and a prominent pointer. 
- Kristine Tortora

My quest to find marker trees in Southern Ontario led me to spend a winter revisiting my old haunts in Hamilton, Halton and Niagara Regions to no avail. It was only when I started asking friends and fellow botanists that I started to get somewhere. None of them really knew about marker trees before. I just shared what little I had discovered and for some, a little light bulb went on above their heads as they recounted seeing a similar looking tree at such and such place. Some of the leads were dead ends, but some led me to the most magical trees I have ever seen.

A friend told me about seeing markers at her partner's cottage in the Kawarthas (see photo). Another told me about a tree in a Caledonia hedgerow. I learned of a grafted, double-trunked Sugar Maple that stood in Binbrook along the Welland River, believed to be a boundary marker between Iroquoian tribes (that is, until some kids started a fire under it 10 years ago and burnt it to the ground). This past summer, my friend and tree colleague, Gerry Waldron, showed me a couple of amazing marker trees in Windsor-Essex (see photos). One of them is the most impressive tree I have seen (online or in person) to this day. And last fall I stumbled across a couples of Sugar Maple less than 100 m apart (see photo) in north Burlington pointing in the same direction along a path from the Niagara Escarpment to Lake Ontario - the only marker trees I have discovered on my own thus far.

Figure 4 One of two Sugar Maple markers in north Burlington 
pointing southeast along a trail between the Niagara Escarpment
 and Lake Ontario. - P0
Perhaps early colonists to Southern Ontario modified the smaller trees, but it is thought that, because of the bends, the growth on marker trees is slow and the trees are older than they look. What is clear is that marker trees exist in Southern Ontario, and marking trees was an ingenious practice employed by the Anishinabe (Ojibway) and Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Peoples of Southern Ontario. There is something so beautiful, sophisticated, and poetic about trail marker trees. It is incredible to think in this age of frenzied, electronic communication, that living‘, natural messages so simple and practical are still standing on the landscape today — a centuries old tap on the shoulder pointing us the way home. Reaching back to a time before the car, before roads and lights, when sticking to the forest trail was crucial to survival, and a wrong turn could spell danger or death. For these reasons, I would argue that our oldest trail marker trees are the most historically important trees in Ontario today.

I am continuing my search to find and document more trees, seeing it as a project with a 10 or 20-year horizon. Yes, researching and Walking old Aboriginal trails is helpful, but again, I have found the best way to find out more about these special trees is just to ask around. Therefore, I am appealing to the FBO membership: Do you know of a trail marker tree where you live? In your wanderings, do you remember seeing trees like these? Do you know of a marker tree that once stood where you live, a document describing it, or someone who may know of a marker tree in your area? If so, I would be very pleased to talk to you by phone or email, please and thank you.

I just learned of a trail marker tree that was chopped down this year, unknowingly, by a property owner along the shoreline of Lake Erie at Port Dover. Once dead, or removed, we lose their untold stories, stories that tell us about who we are and where we come from, stories we can share with future generations about this very special land, and the incredible people that walked and marked its forest paths.

Paul O'Hara

* Dennis Downes’ new book Native American Trail Marker Trees: Marking Paths Through the Wilderness is available from the Great Lakes Trail Marker Tree Society at It is the first comprehensive book on trail marker trees ever published.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

mists and mystery

Contrasting temperatures collide along the Spencer Creek in Dundas, the resulting mists lending an air of mystery to a walk along the lower Spencer Creek Trail (photos from Dec. 14/11). Winter weather has not yet settled in, with temperatures rising and falling throughout the week and no real snow forecast. 

crooks hollow trails closed during construction

Walking trails in the Crooks’ Hollow Conservation Area will be closed to the public starting Dec. 19 until the fall of 2012, which the Hamilton Conservation Authority says is a conservative estimate.
The closure will permit the HCA to remove the 95-year-old Crooks’ Hollow dam and then restore Spencer Creek into a more natural channel while rehabilitating plant life and fish habitat.
A new pedestrian bridge crossing the creek will replace the path over the old dam when the project is completed.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

We love our trails in natural open space!

City of Hamilton survey about recreation spending preferences of citizens: Natural Open Space and Trails in parks top the list!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Shorter days, longer shadows

South Shore ravine in midday sun, near Princess Point, Cootes Paradise

Monday, December 12, 2011

ice and fly-by

I was on the Desjardin/Bayfront waterfront trail today in the glorious sun, and saw Tundra Swans, Hooded Mergansers, Buffleheads, a Northern Shoveller, American Coots, and some others I will have to add (once I consult my bird books at home.)

I didn't have my camera, but wanted to take a picture of the ice formed on Cootes Paradise, so I used my laptop camera to take a (not very good) photo. Just after I put the computer away, a bald eagle drifted across my field of vision, low enough for me to get a very very good look. The eagle continued southward and then changed direction, eventually flying out of sight over Princess Point to the west.

This was only my second, but best, sighting of one of the two bald eagles in Cootes, and was certainly a thrill to witness! No photo to share though...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Of moments and miracles

Princess Point, November 21, 2011
“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chedoke Rail Trail, Hamilton ON, Nov. 2011, by Randy Kay
"A trail is an invitation for a conversation with the landscape"

The Royal Botanical Gardens' Head of Science, David Galbraith, posted the above quote on the Cootes to Escarpment Facebook page. A lovely invocation of the relationship we have with nature trails; (tagging trees and rocks does not qualify as part of the conversation...)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thank You Dundas Valley!

Merrick Orchard, Dundas Valley, by M. Kay
Plenty of pedestrian activity in Dundas Valley today as the gorgeous weather carries through the long weekend. Fall colours and warm temps as Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving Day with a hike in the woods (not to mention cyclists and horseback riders, also in abundance).

Get out before you settle down for tofurkey, and soak up some of the beauty while building your appetite.  This weather will not last forever! If you have any autumn photos you would like to share, let me know, I'd be happy to post them on the site!

Thank you to the people who fought to preserve Dundas Valley from highways, roads and houses, so that we may enjoy the natural setting today.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lower Spencer Creek Trail

Afternoon sun, Lower Spencer Creek Trail, Saturday, October 1, 2011
The weather took a turn toward cool, but once the clouds cleared, the sun did an admirable job of keeping things tolerable, nay, pleasurable on the Lower Spencer Creek Trail in Dundas.

And for those who have abandoned all hope for more glorious fall weather, oh ye of little faith: Environment Canada is forecasting sunny skies and temps around 18C for mid week and beyond.

Be prepared! Bring some rain gear and a sweater, but also sunglasses and sunscreen. It's autumn in Ontario, after all!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ends and Means

A beautiful fall weekend to enjoy the Dundas Valley as the trees begin their annual transformation and the crickets create a background track, the sun bright and warm as light clouds drift by.
Solidago canadensis forms a sea of gold in open meadows (below), seen from above the Sawmill Trail, east of the main entrance driveway. "Solidago," Latin for "to make whole" (for the commonly named Goldenrod's healing properties); Solidago describes the sense I get when in nature, a chance to breathe and take time to observe the way things interconnect, to remember that we depend on the health of the earth's ecology for our well-being.
Then I sifted through the sounds of car doors slamming, and car wheels on gravel driveways, and thought about the long driveway from Governor's Road slicing through the rolling land and across little streams to get to the parking lot, and wondered if some of the people who drove knew that the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail brings you to the same spot? I've known people who live nearby but don't realize they can get to the conservation area without driving, so perhaps there are others missing out on the ride.
So if you are reading this, and live in West Hamilton or Dundas, the rail trail is an easy ride, off road of course, and takes you past all the trails in Dundas Valley. You can cruise right in to the Rail Centre and grab a muffin and a fair trade organic coffee, and forget about cars and roads for a while.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What: Pedestrian Mobility Master Plan PIC #2
Date: Thursday, September 8, 2011
Time: 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. (open house format) & presentation at 6 pm
Location: Central Library, Hamilton and Wentworth Rooms, 555 York Blvd, Hamilton

The purpose of this study is to undertake a comprehensive Pedestrian Mobility Master Plan for the City of Hamilton. This plan will establish a 20 year (2031) framework to improve the pedestrian environment and increase the opportunity for walking as a mode of transportation (active travel) and recreation that is efficient, comfortable, safe inclusive, accessible and improve health of communities and economic development.

The first round of PICs held earlier this year identified the opportunities and constraints to walking and mobility in the City. PIC #2 will present the alternative solutions based on public and agency input gathered from PIC #1.

More information about the Master Plan, including the Boards from PIC #1 can be viewed at

A second meeting, which will present the same information, is scheduled for September 10, at Turner Park Library, Main Foyer & Program Room, 352 Rymal Rd. E., 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Open house/drop-in format, presentation at 2:00 p.m.

Sound Escape

Escaping the city is easy if you want to get away from the sights of human-built form (though with monster homes encroaching on Conservation Areas it's getting trickier) but leaving behind the sounds of civilization requires some evasive action.
Noise from lawnmowers and leaf-blowers certainly interrupt tranquil moments on trails near neighourhoods, but there is almost always the sound of traffic in our natural areas.
To escape the incessant dull roar means getting deep into the valley where the hills block sound, and where a small creek bubbles along in its own noisy, but soothing way.
Living with a constant background noise of cars, trucks and buses wears on our psyche in ways that induce stress, stress we have grown accustomed to as a price of our way of life.
But head out onto the trails, and find a place where you can only hear the natural world and you've got a great stress reliever, both from the exercise it takes to get there, and the peaceful noise of life in the woods.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rail Trail Detour Improved

A new bridge to replace the now structurally unsound "Powers Crossing" on the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail is not imminent, as far as we know, but at least the detour has been upgraded to better serve cyclists on this busy trail. A fine stone has been applied to the formerly uneven and bumpy path to the north of the defunct bridge (seen to the left in photo) making it smoother and safer for riding on. This should also aid people in wheelchairs, but the path is of course steeper without the bridge.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

vandalism unleashed

 Park entrance signed "dogs must be kept on a leash."
 The battle for leashed-or leash-free status at Warren Park in Dundas has officially ended with, we think, a reasonable restriction on free-roaming dogs, given the lack of fencing, proximity to walking trails and environmentally sensitive areas.
The Law
 It seems someone who disagrees with the restriction has taken to vandalism to promote their view, with spray paint on a camp building in the park, advocating for unleashed dogs.
 They've even gone to great heights to obscure the trail signage placed the the Conservation Authority repeating the message.

 Apparently nothing is sacred to the spray can, this dying tree now carrying the message previously reserved for man-made infrastructure.
I'm all for political protest, but defacing nature and going against the wishes of the majority of park users who prefer their kids, their pets, and themselves be protected against unleashed dogs comes off as selfish.

I think Hamilton needs more leash-free parks, but fenced in to protect against unwanted encounters of the threatening, biting kind. Hill Street park off Dundurn Street South seems to be working fine, and will hopefully serve as a model for more parks in neighbourhoods in Hamilton.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Binkley Hollow Bridge

The state of the pedestrian/cycling bridge on the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail, east of University Plaza. The gravel/sand path to the right of the bridge is being used while the bridge is closed. No word on when/if it will be repaired anytime soon.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Binkley Hollow Bridge Beam Broken

A major pedestrian and cycling span connecting the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail over Binkley Hollow, just east of University Plaza, is closed due to structural decay. The deck of the bridge has been in bad shape for a few years, pieces of plywood and particle board patch the surface, making for a bumpy ride, but it appears that below the deck things were getting bad too. A major beam break has closed the bridge, requiring users to follow the footpath that parallels the bridge just beside the structure.
Cyclists in the west end of Hamilton are finding bridges to be a problem this year, with the McKittrick Bridge contra flow bike lane over highway 403 closed during reconstruction.
While the alternative trail allows for a continuous journey along the rail trail, the loss of the bridge means a steeper grade up and down each side of the ravine for human powered travellers, and may mean greater difficulty for users of scooters or mobility aids. 
This is one of the busiest off road pedestrian links between west Hamilton and Dundas.

Bridge was examined hours before collapse
Hamilton Spectator, June 11, 2011 
Two hours before the Hamilton Conservation Authority became aware of a major beam break on a Dundas bridge last weekend, a staffer inspected it and did not report any problems.
The agency said it has been monitoring the Rail Trail trestle bridge for the past year, but does not keep records of inspections, repairs or complaints about any of its bridges.
A major beam on the Dundas bridge collapsed on Sunday. It was reported to the HCA by a passerby at 10 a.m. A superintendent had inspected it at 8 a.m.
“He called me and told me it had looked fine,” said Tony Horvat, director of land management for the authority.
He said staff inspect the bridges and call him if they find issues. Staff are not engineers, but Horvat said they have 20 to 30 years of trail maintenance experience.
“It’s common sense stuff,” Horvat said of the staff’s regular inspections.
He did not know exactly how many bridges the HCA is responsible for, but guessed about 20, including roughly a dozen structures in Dundas, and two steel bridges at Confederation Park.
Horvat said he occasionally takes notes or photographs during his inspections, but has no formal system for storing reports.
The trestle bridge is made up of nine, approximately 7-metre-long wood sections. In its entirety, it’s roughly 60 metres long, between 2.5 and 3.5 metres high, and accessible only to pedestrians and cyclists.
It lies adjacent to a path, so Horvat said there will be very little inconvenience while the bridge is closed.
Horvat, a civil engineer, performs annual inspections on the bridge himself. If he finds something wrong, he will make a note or make a call to get it fixed.
If something more serious occurs, he keeps a project file.
There has been no project file for this bridge since a 1995 environmental assessment.
HCA park superintendent Paul Piett inspected the bridge on the Sunday morning, and reported no problems. Two hours later, a passerby stopped at the HCA trail office to inform staff of the fallen beam.
The City of Hamilton’s asset management staff said they have a strict provincial mandate for inspections on their own bridges.
Hamilton has 393 bridges with a span greater than three metres — which means they fall under the Ontario Structure Inspection Manual (OSIM).
OSIM inspections are done by structural engineers who check the bridge’s structure, substructure and deck for any signs of deterioration or failure.
“It’s a pretty wholesome and comprehensive inspection on all components,” said the city’s John Murray.
General inspections are done biannually, and detailed inspections are done whenever a critical problem is identified. All information goes into the Ontario Bridge Management System (OBMS).
The province said these standards fall under the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act (PTHIA) and only apply to public bridges, versus private ones. They said factual considerations such as whether a bridge is located inside a controlled admission area may be relevant to determining whether it’s considered public.
It is unclear if any of the HCA bridges fall under these regulations.
Horvat said he was not familiar with OSIM.
A third party engineer is assessing the Dundas beam break, but Horvat said he doesn’t yet know what the repairs will entail.

Friday, May 27, 2011

human-powered Hamilton

Hamilton Spectator reporter Jon Wells is doing a human-powered trek around Hamilton, starting in a canoe in Hamilton harbour, moving through Cootes Paradise and into Spencer Creek in Dundas, hiking through Dundas Valley, Ancaster, West Hamilton along the Bruce Trail, and today he is in the Red Hill Valley. You can follow his adventure at the Spectator.

Jon had contacted Dundas Walks prior to his journey, researching if it was possible to hike around and through the city without going on roads. While much of the trip can be on trails, or on the water, there will have to be times where the trail gives way to roads and sidewalks due to the built up city-scape of some areas. But surprisingly for those who have never considered the concept, Hamilton trails provide an easy escape, and you can spend hours walking in the woods away from traffic, forgetting you are minutes away from a city.

While Jon is using a car to get to his destinations each day, groups like Transportation for Liveable Communities have been promoting the idea that you don't need a car to get to some amazing trail heads, with many conservation areas and waterfall destinations located along HSR bus routes, or an easy bicycle ride away from home, work or school.

For anyone planning a hiking or canoeing adventure in some far-away locale, you can train for the task here at home; you may find that you fulfill a need you thought could only be filled by driving several hours away. And with the right interventions, we could choose to have more nature and less roads: in short we could restore the natural beauty of our well-situated city!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rail Trail Green and Dry

The Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail through Dundas is a dry spine passing through otherwise water logged lands. This photo was taken after a morning rain, which seems to only have added to the rich green of spring growth.

Friday, May 6, 2011

blossoms with water

Light rain makes an afternoon commute on the highway into a mess, but on the trail a mess of blossoms entice your attention away from your cares (and cars...)

While the Conservation Areas are muddy, the lower Spencer Creek Trail in Dundas is, as a former rail line, solid and dry, and worth detouring to.

slippery slopes

trout lilies beginning to flower
The Hamilton Conservation Area has posted some trail closures effecting cyclists and equestrians, and slippery and muddy conditions exist for hikers: 

Dundas Valley: Trails remain closed to cyclists and equestrians, until further notice.
The Spring Valley Trail leading from Jerseyville Rd. is closed where it enters onto Conservation Authority land, approximately 500 m. north of Jerseyville Rd. The Hilltop Trail and the Murray Ferguson Way are also closed until further notice. Recent emergency utility repair work has left the trails in unsuitable condition. Once the ground dries out in the spring, repairs will be made and the trails will be reopened. Notices will be posted. The Headwaters Trail is still open. Access to the Headwaters Trail is available from Jerseyville Rd via Marten’s Rd.
Due to current weather conditions trails are extremely slippery and very muddy in areas, caution is advised.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

how 'bout them mayapples!

One of the early signs of spring on the forest floor, Mayapples are opening their leaves and working on producing the single fruit they will bear in a season. Just don't eat it. Learn more about this common native plant here.

Interesting that Podophyllum peltatum takes its name from the Latin for "shield shaped." Which made me think about a poem (first two stanzas below):

The Shield of Achilles
W. H. Auden

She looked over his shoulder
       For vines and olive trees,
     Marble well-governed cities
       And ships upon untamed seas,
     But there on the shining metal
       His hands had put instead
     An artificial wilderness
       And a sky like lead.

A plain without a feature, bare and brown,
   No blade of grass, no sign of neighborhood,
Nothing to eat and nowhere to sit down, 
   Yet, congregated on its blankness, stood
   An unintelligible multitude,
A million eyes, a million boots in line, 
Without expression, waiting for a sign.
[read the entire poem here]
Today would be a perfect day, with the sun shining and the air warm, to grab a book of poems, or a pen and paper to write your own, and head out onto the trails. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

board walking freshened up for spring

The Royal Botanical Gardens, with the assistance of volunteers from the Cootes Paradise club at McMaster, replaced the boardwalk at the Chegwin Trail in time for early spring hikes along this looping trail.

The trail begins and ends at McMaster University, and is a perfect lunchtime hike for office-dwellers and students in need of some R&R. Leaving campus behind, the sloping trails lead down to the treasured marsh, where the boardwalk allows you to stand among the reeds and watch the red-winged blackbirds set up for the season.

Looking south, east and west, from the boardwalk, the only visible sign of human engineering are some distant hydro towers.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

spring along Spencer

Lower Spencer Creek Trail: Dundas ON

So warm in the sun, but still the look of winter persists. The trail was very pleasant, a bit slippery in places, but generally compact and, with proper boots, not a problem to traverse.

Plenty of red-wing blackbirds calling out of the marsh and high in the trees, the beauty disturbed by the cars and truck noise from nearby Cootes Drive. Still, a lovely walk with a remnant wild space still supporting life despite the encroaching human infrastructure.

Friday, March 18, 2011

temporary trail closure: Dundas

From the Hamilton Conservation Authority, this:

Visitor Alert! A major portion of the Hilltop, and Spring Valley Trail will be closed from March 18 to March 25, 2011. Ontario Hydro will be carrying out maintenance work on a hydro lines. Other trails that will be affected will be the Lions Pool trail off of Jerseyville Road in Ancaster.Still plenty of trails to explore and visit in the valley!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Eco Motion Meeting Moved

From the organizer at Environment Hamilton:

There has been a last minute change in plans, and the meeting has changed locations from the Town Hall to the Amica Retirement Residence. The meeting will take place at the same time at 7 PM on March 16th, and is just west of the Town Hall along Hatt Street. The Amica building is on the corner of Hatt and Ogilvie (50 Hatt St). I look forward to seeing you there!

The meeting is 
"a review committee for the Dundas Eco-Motion Project ...and door prizes will be awarded. We will be focusing upon prioritizing the walkability concerns within Dundas, which will then be taken to Councillor Russ Powers. All are welcome to come, and any feedback is much appreciated. I hope to see you there."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

back on the eco-motion trail in Dundas

A hike organized by Environment Hamilton. Here are the deets:
My name is Adam Pallett and I am the project coordinator for the Dundas Eco-Motion project - 2011. We are back in Dundas working to improve the walking conditions, while encouraging people to walk within their communities. We are holding a nature walk on Sunday the 27th to get the project rolling again, and it would be great to meet any of you who were involved with the project last year or meet anyone who would like to become involved with the project.
Dundas Eco-Motion Nature Walk
Sunday, February 27th from 1-3pm
Meet in front of East Side Mario's in University Plaza - 119 Osler Drive (the walk will end at University Plaza)
The walk will be led by Richard Reble at a fairly quick and sustained pace, it will be an energetic two hours of hiking!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

frosty chalk

Someone chalked these lines from Robert Frost's poem on a building at McMaster University.  I, fortunately, had no promises to keep, and had just returned from the deep and lovely woods.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

trail report

Skied the Ravine Road trail in Westdale today - the trail surface is great for walking - packed snow, no real icy sections so a good pair of winter boots - or in my case, an old pair of x-country skis - are all you need. With more snow in the forecast, it should remain excellent for trail mobility for the near future.

I saw people in snow shoes, and lots of people walking, but many with dogs off leash which is against the law, and unnerving, as unleashed dogs sometimes get weird around humans on skis.

Hopefully I will be reporting from the ski trails in Dundas Valley Conservation Area in the next week or so. If you beat me to it, please share the trail conditions with us here!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

get lost...

with this fascinating radio program on getting lost, and finding your way...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cold? Snap out of it!

Do you complain about the cold, about winter in general? Then perhaps you don't know how to enjoy this fantastic winter weather. Dress for success, first and foremost, but once you are layered in your thermals, hitting the trails is a year round activity!

I have a supply of walking aids, including YakTrax or trekking poles, but I have lately been trading my boots for cross country skis. We've also hiked over to the new outdoor skating rink at the Hamilton harbour (by Williams Coffee Pub), slipped on the blades and joined others slicing across the ice!

So temper your complaints with a dose of self-reflection: are you making use of the special environment of cold, ice and snow?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

local locomotion

"There is in fact a sort of harmony discoverable between the capabilities of the landscape within a circle of ten miles' radius, or the limits of an afternoon walk, and the threescore years and ten of human life. It will never become quite familiar to you."

H.D. Thoreau

Thursday, January 6, 2011

walking, don't give a crooks hollow dam...

From our bloggery neighbours at Restore Cootes, an update on the fate of the dam on Spencer Creek at Crooks Hollow - 
RESTORE COOTES: back to nature: "The Hamilton Conservation Authority is moving ahead with the task of removing a dam and restoring the original watercourse on Spencer Creek ..."
Good news for fish and wildlife, and for restoring the natural landscape after so much human intervention in the past 100 years!

Of course, our concern at Dundas Walks is about the potential loss of a hiking link: the historical Crooks Hollow trail on the north side of the creek with the neighbourhood on the south is currently linked by the walkway for pedestrians across the dam.

The good news from Hazel Breton, Manager Water Resource Engineering at the HCA, is that a footbridge will be put in place at the location of the dam to keep the pedestrian connection in place. So add a hiking win to the list of wins on this case!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

return to the point

A new year's day walk along the recently re-opened Sassafras Point Trail in the Royal Botanical Gardens' Cootes Paradise.

The record setting warm weather (11C) had turned the trails muddy, though ice persisted on the sheltered inlets between Princess Point and Sassafras Point - a return to colder temps tonight and next week should get the ice back for skating.

The views from Sassafras Point are stunning. Unfortunately we were running out of light and time to follow the trail from the tip of the point back along the north side, so resolved to return and enjoy the tranquility and the ever changing landscape once the snow flies.