Out in rural Ontario north of Brighton, the Goodrich-Loomis Conservation Area offers over 12 km of quiet, rustic winter wandering in a large forest. In this little-known destination, you’re free to explore on snowshoes or cross-country skis for a little bit of fresh air and solitude.
I would recommend snowshoeing, as locals go for dog walks on the six trail loops and that will add a lot of footprints (and some frozen poop) to any ski tracks. There is also a major 40m hill climb to the top of the esker that skiers may not savour. (On the back end, the climb is not so abrupt. Or take the 2 km Loop D’Loop way for a more gradual slope to the top.)
What is an esker, you ask? Eskers were formed from glacial deposits left behind during the ice age. There are hundreds of large mounds of sand and stone deposits in this area.
While we were visiting some friends nearby, they suggested snowshoeing at Goodrich-Loomis so they could try their new Christmas gifts. (I recall being there years ago with my wife when her front pedal fell off her bike! How I rode it back to the parking lot—well, that’s another story.)
Off we went on a sunny day, across the bridge and through a small field into the cedar groves that grow along Cold Creek. A lovely, undulating trail it is, with a steep hill to the north that we eventually climbed. We would return on top of the Esker trail to catch a few views between the trees of the valley; our walk clocked in at 5 km when all was said and done.
You may think that’s not much, but for newbies tramping on snowshoes, plus that hill climb, it was plenty for a first time.
On the way back, I took off my snowshoes, thinking I could move quicker on the trodden path in my hiking boots. Yes, but maybe not so well. Without the wide, flat footing of the snowshoes, my ankles twisted with every step.
If you stay in the valley, trekking is level and easy on the Junior, Pine and Beaver trail loops. There is no grooming, but after a snowfall, XC skiers may find these to their liking. The trail signage is adequate. Note the bridge at the far end was out and it may take awhile to get fixed.
When I looked at maps of the area south of here, the forest appears to have many small loops (20 km?) to discover. I have not ventured that far during the winter. It could be a peaceful adventure for those prepared and willing to do some climbing. I have no idea what the conditions are and I doubt there are signs.
If you’re in the area, drop by and enjoy a winter outing here with the family. Only 14 km north from Lake Ontario, the area does suffer from shorter, warmer winters, so pick your moments. An après hot chocolate can be found at the Hwy 401 interchange or in Brighton or in the village of Colborne a little further away.