Somehow my manic research in to green areas escaped me on this one. I chose to visit McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve along with Darlington Provincial Park for my #FirstDayHike of 2019. On Google, it shows two small loops. Upon arriving, there is so much more.
No complaints, of course. I love “extra” trails! I just also like meticulously planning my route so I cover as much of it as possible without overlapping myself too terribly. I think I managed pretty well here.
The day started really bleak and dreary. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad omen for a new year? This is the Darlington trail, which is an access trail to a parking area on the east side of the GM plant. On the other side of the parking area is an access trail to Darlington Provincial Park. I thoroughly enjoy when things are convenient like that.
Moody looking skies over McLaughlin Bay, the area’s namesake. At the end of Darlington Trail I take a right on Beaton Path and head up to the entrance at the east GM parking lot.
This entrance has a super cute sign to welcome you. With the ground still so soft from all the rain and lack of freezing, there were deer prints everywhere around here. Some seemed to fresh I think the deer might have actually been circling me.
I back track a bit down to Dogwood Trail for a short loop around Dogwood Pond, for which this trail is named. It’s a really nice area, or might be, if it weren’t for the biting winds and threat of rain. But I found another bench view for my collection.
Dogwood Trail is also ringed with interpretive signage nestled in with what I would assume are the plants they inform you of (I am no good at IDing things with leaves on them, let alone twigs in the ground). It’s also in Brail! Which I thought was pretty neat. I haven’t noticed that on a hiking trail before.
Onwards we go and it’s starting to lighten up a bit. I take a left at the junction just past Darlington, on Beaton, which brings me to the Oshawa trail. This section gave me my first glimpse at the wildlife of McLaughlin Bay.
There were squirrels poking around in the grass, and a whole whack of chickadees. Super friendly, and curious, too. Didn’t mind me hanging around to get some photos.
As the skies slowly begin to clear, I kept to my left and ended up on the Bayside Trail. Hard to get a clear look at the tracks in the grass, but something was definitely around, and recently. I passed a fresh kill of one of the bay birds – no rigor, not frozen. Not sure if I interrupted it, or one of the others in the area, but I hope it got back to its meal.
Bayside Trail comes back to Oshawa Trail and then loops along the bottom of McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve. Here I passed a photographer coming up from the lake. I probably should have gone to take a look. But I didn’t.
Instead I loop around past the Woodland Trail and into Cool Hollow – so named because the shade of the big trees here noticeably drops the temperatures. I assume they mean in the summer. I felt no difference. But I may have been numb at this point.
After Cool Hollow, I make a quick loop on the Beaton Path and return to head up the Marshland Trail on the west side of the area. The sun is doing a good job at clearing those skies finally.
At a pretty little water-crossing, the name of which now escapes me, we take a right to loop back to the beginning. Marshland Trail had been getting a little soggy in areas but it was nothing compared to the Flank Trail that brought me back across the top of McLaughlin Bay.
Good thing my Keen boots are waterproof. I don’t think the man I passed here was so lucky. He’s through the worst of it now anyway. But I’m not, as it turns out. On to Darlington Provincial Park for me!
Total tracking for both areas:
170m elevation gain