Kerncliff in Burlington is a quiet and calm spot for a family hike. Read on for what you can expect and why it is an excellent way to spend an afternoon with family.
Kerncliff Park is a jewel of nature in the middle of Burlington. Once the site of the Nelson Quarry, the site has been rehabilitated into a wildlife setting within suburbia. Located on the north end of Kerns Road, close to Dundas Street, Kerncliff Park boasts acres of woodland with meandering trails. Something that struck me right off, while hiking with my kids and friends, was the rolling hills and valleys in the primarily deciduous urban forest. I could easily imagine how stunning the fall colours would be along the Kerncliff Park trails, which are currently streaked with winter run-off streams, and envision that the trillium would bloom here abundantly in the spring.
We entered the park from the main parking lot off of Kerns Road. That entrance is equipped with a sun shelter, a few picnic tables and port-o-potties. From there, we started on the 1.5k Woodland Trail to the .5k Red Oak Trail loop. This trail is aptly named, as we wandered to the 200-year-old Red Oak that gave the trail its name. Read up on the signage explaining the tree’s significance to the forest.
We took this section of the Red Oak Trail loop travelling north-west along the Blue Side Trail towards where it intersects the Bruce Trail at the north end of the park, then travelled in a westerly (left) direction along the quarry ridge. From here you get an excellent view of the Burlington shoreline and Lake Ontario. The Bruce Trail continues across Kerns Road, which takes you over to the picturesque Great Falls along Grindstone Creek at Smokey Hollow in Waterdown. Extending your hike to Smokey Hollow from this point would probably be about 7-8 kilometres. I’ve added this section of trail to my ‘hiking to-do list’.
The main feature of Kerncliff Park is the old quarry, which after 30 years of disuse has become a naturalized marsh-like area with masses of bullrushes growing in shallow water. You can hear the red-winged blackbirds here in abundance as you walk the boardwalk through the area that nature has reclaimed as a marsh. While we were there we saw a pair of Canadian Geese, probably preparing for nesting season.
Make sure to snap a photo of the trail map located in the parking area to use as a reference on your journey. I didn’t see any maps posted along the trails. While the trails have coloured markers posted on trees, the markers do not indicate the trail name. Without a good sense of direction and a map to refer to, you could get turned around.
On a warm sunny day, it would be an excellent spot to bring a picnic lunch and have the kids go in search of bugs and frogs to catch and release. Kerncliff Park is definitely a wonderful spot to take the kids and get the family engaged in nature within the heart of Burlington. Click here to check out a map of all the trails you can walk at Kerncliff Park and start planning your trip today.
Tracy Skelton is our special post contributor today. Tracy is a local mom and new blogger who shares her adventures of living Life off the Couch.
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