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. Today Tracy has your introduction to hiking at Kerncliff Park, 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 the trails of KerncliffPark 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 trials, 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, which is equipped with a sun shelter, a few picnic tables and port-o-potties. From the parking area we started on the 1.5k Woodland Trail to the .5k Red Oak Trail loop. This trail is aptly named, as travelling along it we came to the 200 year-old Red Oak for which the trial was named, with signage explaining the trees 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 traveled 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 if you continue to follow, takes you over to the picturesque Great Falls along Grindstone Creek at Smokey Hollow in Waterdown (read my blog post about Smokey Hollow here). Extending your hike to Smokey Hollow from this point would probably be about 7-8 kilometers. I’ve added this section of trail to my ‘hiking to-do list’.
A 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 bull rushes growing in shallow water. You can hear the red winged black birds 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.
The only thing I would caution with regard to hiking this park is to take a photo of the trail map, located in the parking area, on your smartphone to use as reference on your journey, as 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. As you hike through the park there are several trails meandering in various directions, and without a good sense of bearings and a map to refer to, you could get turned around or inadvertently take a different trail than planned.
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 is a busy wife and working mom of two, writing about becoming more active, getting outside, exploring nature, carving out some ‘me time’ and having fun. You can find her writing about her active adventures over at www.lifeoffthecouch.com. Be sure to follow her on Facebook and Twitter too!