Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

York Regional Forest – Robinson & Porritt Tracts

Heading out for an early morning hike is a sure way to get me out of bed on a cold morning. Today was definitely cold, but nothing like we’ve previously experienced. We headed out to York Regional Forest today, to knock off a couple more of their tracts. Namely, Robinson tract and Porritt tract. 

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

These two are quite literally around the corner, or down the street, from each other. In between them is Whitchurch Conservation Area – so obviously that had to be done, and we did. And then on the other side of Porritt is Pangman Springs Conservation Area – check, and check.

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

Linking all of these areas together, more or less along the path we chose, is the Oak Ridges Trail. I’m a big fan of long distance trails that conveniently bring me through multiple green spaces.

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

We parked at the York Regional Forest Robinson tract, which is a small parking lot just off of Warden Avenue (south of Aurora Road). Very small lot for a fairly busy tract. Go early – there was no one there at 8:30am, but when we got back closer to 11:30am, one guy was waiting to turn in then decided against it, as another guy was backing out back on to Warden because there was no space. As we neared the entrance, a third guy was making a thousand-point turn to get out of the gated area and leave. 

As you can see from the map, the tract splits a few times and ends randomly. Of course we went the way that ends randomly. It ends at private property too, so we didn’t push our luck. Back to the beginning, almost.

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

We made it to our proper loop, and only saw one other person while here. On a fat bike, and BLARING tunes, no less. We weren’t really sure if it was someone on the trail, or the nearby road, until he passed.

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

Then we came to the point where the York Regional Forest ended and Whitchurch Conservation Area began – or so we through. We actually took a turn slightly too early. 

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

But it ended in the best way possible. We rounded the bend and I realized we were going the wrong way. Way off on the other side of the fence were two horses – and then trotted over happily to greet us.

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

We’ve named them Chestnut and Carrot, because we couldn’t think of any better generic horse names. LOOK AT THESE HAMS.

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

Anyway, we backtracked once we realized we were on probably private property (there is no signage, so maybe they allow passers-through?). We passed by on Aurora Road afterwards, and it had a sign up for Trillium Stables.

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

Now we get back on track and it’s time to explore Whitchurch Conservation Area. It starts with a nice little boardwalk, and rounds a pond which I’m sure is adorable come summer.

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

There was evidence of a recent fire at a clearing by the pond. I’m not sure if that’s permitted here, or not, but it did make us want roasted marshmallows.

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

Whitchurch is a small area, and we reached the parking at Aurora Road rather quickly. And then we were road walking, which is my least favourite part of any adventure. And almost always those are our quickest kilometers on the tracker. This was no exception.

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

Next on the route was York Regional Forest Porritt tract. You can see the amount of road walking that was had from Whitchurch CA along Aurora Road to Kennedy Road.

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

We took the first access point in to Porritt, which turned out to be fenced. You can side track a bit in to private property, and the fence ends about 10m in. Or just hop the fence like we did.

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

We headed straight down for Warden Road at first. There are several unmarked side trails along here to loop your way through the tract. Luckily we were just passing the last junction before deciding to cover Pangman Springs CA before looping back along Warden Road, rather than backtrack along Kennedy and Aurora to Whitchurch.

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

So a hard right took us back up the north side of Porritt and out of York Regional Forest, in to Pangman Springs Conservation Area. There is a steep hill leading down to the area so take your time, and bring hiking poles or crampons or both.

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

Several boardwalks run along this piece of the Oak Ridges trail through Pangman Springs. I suppose if everything weren’t frozen it might be rather wet. And likely buggy.

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

The trails are not as wide of the York Regional Forest, but plenty as pretty. This trail is not a loop and simply leads to a parking lot at the Kennedy Road entrance.

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

Once we got to the end we had more decisions to make – go back along the same trail we just came through (and back up that icy hill of death) or take the road back to the entrance of Porritt?

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

We took the road. It wasn’t any less uphill, but it wasn’t icy.

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

From here it was a mostly straight shot back through Porritt tract to Warden Avenue. For all the ups and downs we had going through the area to begin with, this last piece was relatively flat.

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

There is no parking at Porritt’s access point on Warden, but there is a big gate, and no fence to navigate around (or hop).

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

2hrs 43mins

13.61km

241m elevation gain

Hiking Oak Ridges Trail through York Regional Forest's Robinson and Porritt Tracts, and Whitchurch and Pangman Springs Conservation Areas - Newmarket, Ontario - Merely McCool

About Mia

I'm a weekend warrior, escaping the bustle of Toronto by exploring a new trail in south central Ontario nearly every weekend. Hiking, camping, backpacking, crafting, baking and beer are a few things you'll find here.

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