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Hiking Trails in Port Hope

This is where you get your best nature fix! Breath deep and explore the wonders of plants and animals in their natural habitat. Walk through the trees, by the water, around the bend. You'll learn something new and maybe get your feet wet, too. Our handy guide will take you there and back - pick up a FREE copy at the Visitors Centre. Go a little wild for a while. 

Trail Ratings
Trails are rated based on their surface and inspection schedules, categorized into the following: 
Rating 1: Hard surface finish. Inspected spring and fall.
Rating 2: Crushed stone and/or hard packed trail. Inspected spring and fall.
Rating 3: Uneven, variable surfaces. Inspected annually.
Rating 4: Unmaintained trails. Inspected bianually to every three years. 

The Ganaraska Hiking Trail

Trail Information
Length: 9.3km
Patricia Lawson/ Jack Goering Section: 1.5km 
Rating: 4
Access Points: Barrett Street & Jocelyn Street
Surface: Natural, grass, top soil, gravel
Elevations: Low to medium to high
Width: 2-3 feet
Impediments: Roots, trees, branches
Features: River access
Accessible: No

The work of dedicated naturalists, the trail began as an inspired centennial project in 1967 to give nature enthusiasts access to the countryside. It transformed the former railway line from Port Hope to Lindsay and Beaverton into a hiker's adventure. The hardworking Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association opened the trail to the public on April 21, 1968. Today it connects all the way to the Bruce Trail near Glen Huron. The Ganaraska Hiking Trail is proudly maintained by the Pine Ridge Hiking Club and the Municipality of Port Hope.

Fish jumping at Corbett's Dam

Fish: The Ganraska River is one of the most ecologically healthy rivers in Ontario populated by wild salmon and trout.

Fish jumping at Corbett's Dam

Bird: In spring and summer, listen for the flute-like song of the Hermit Thrush. You’ll find them along the trail scavenging for insects.

Flying Hermit Thrush

Plant: The Canada Anemone blooms in late spring through summer and is found along rivers where there is a lot of sun.

File factory

Landmark: The 1853 file factory was a leading manufacturer of files and rasps using the power of steam and water.
[Photo by the Port Hope Archives. Accession #994.4.1.14] 

Molson's Mill Trail

Trail Information
Length: 0.4km
Rating: 2
Access Points: Fish ladder park parking lot
Surface: Natural, wood chips
Elevations: Low
Width: 4 feet
Impediments: Roots
Features: River access, view of historical mill
Accessible: No

The spring-fed waters of the Ganaraska River that this trail follows were said to produce a superior quality beer! The trail's focal point, Molson's Mill, was named for the Molson family who founded Molson Breweries in 1780 in Montreal. Thomas Molson wanted to expand the business in Upper Canada and purchased one of the original community mills on the Ganaraska to establish a brewery. Port Hope became famous for both beer and whiskey, part of the growing industry boosted by the developed harbour and railway for shipping. 

Aerial view of fish in the Ganaraska River

Fish: Anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 chinook and silvery coho salmon migrate north along the Ganaraska River to their spawning grounds. 

Black and white warbler

Bird: Black-and-White Warblers are very local birds with a distinct squeaky song, similar to that of a dog toy, which can be heard from afar.

Jack-in-the-pilpit flower

Plant: Jack-in-the-pulpits are herbaceous perennials with purple and green hooded cups from May to June that prefer shaded wet woodlands.

Molson's Mill exterior

Landmark: The 1851 grist mill, known for its architectural significance, also housed the Ontario College of Art in 1913. Today it's a school for the arts.

Riverside Railway Trail

Trail Information
Length: 0.8km
Rating: 1/2
Access Points: Cavan Street, Barrett Street
Surface: Limestone screening/ paved
Elevations: Low
Width: 4-5 feet
Impediments: Minimal
Features: River access, Bird Island Park, Optimist Park Playground
Accessible: Yes

Railways cemented Port Hope's reputation as a growing economic hub in the mid-19th century. Now you can follow the former track routes along Cavan Street by the Ganraska River on this popular trail. First the east-west line of the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada was built here. Then the Midland Railway that connected Port Hope to Peterborough and beyond. Later the Canada Pacific Railway crossed the Ganaraska River on a series of poured concrete piers and steel bridge spans, opening for traffic in 1914. A station once stood on the south side of the track west of Hope Street South. 

Salmon in the river

Fish:Watch for the magnificent salmon here. They can weigh as much as 43lbs.

Baltimore Oriole on a branch

Bird: Baltimore Orioles are often seen perched high up in the tree tops or scrummaging through foliage looking for insects. If oyu see a male, a female is likely nearby weaving her hanging nest.

Wild Geranium flower

Plant: The light blue, purple or pink flowers of Wild Geraniums are a common woodland plant and an important nectar & pollen source for bees & butterflies.

Cavan Candy building exterior

Landmark: The Canadian Canning Company on Cavan Street was so efficient that peas within an 8km-radius of town could be canned within the hour of harvesting. The building became a candy factory in 1970.

Cochingomink Trail

Trail Information
Length: 1.1km
Rating: 1
Access Points: Barrett Street, Walton Street, Rotary Park
Surface: Paved
Elevations: Low
Width: 4-5 feet
Impediments: Minimal
Features: Public washrooms, memorial park playground
Accessible: Yes

The name Cochingomink was the name of the Mississauga village established near the mouth of the Ganaraska River in the 17th century, meaning "where the lake meets the land" as an inlet or "the start of the carrying place." The start was the beginning of the portage route across the land between the Ganaraska River to Rice Lake - a trail first used by travelers, hunters, and traders. Walk prat of the trail first blazed by First Nations poeple who lived here for more than 1,000 years, confirmed by many archeological findings in the area. 

Rainbow trout swimming

Fish: Rainbow trout introduced to Lake Ontario in the 1800s and were stocked specifically in the Ganaraska River in the 1970s for anglers. Look for them duyring their early spring and fall migration

Great Blue Heron

Bird: You'll find majestic Great Blue Herons along the riverbanks, edges of marshes and ponds, typically wading in the water to strike their prey day or night.

Jewelweed

Plant:Orange and yellow jewelweed along the trail provides cover for the cicadas that sing their buzzing trill.

Rotary Park Bridge

Landmark: The Rotary Park Bridge marks the historic spot of the Canadian Northern Railway viaduct over the Ganaraska River at Cavan Street.
[Photo provided by the Port Hope Archives. Accession # 2008.18.2.3075]

The Ganaraska Millennium Trail

Trail Information
Length: 2.1km
Rating: 1
Access Points: GRCA parking lot off of County Rd 28
Surface: Dirt and gravel
Elevations: Low
Width: 2-5 feet
Impediments: Roots, and branches
Features: View of a wetland, and alongside Ganaraska River
Acessible: No
For more information visit the Ganaraska Millennium Trail website

Head to the Ganaraska Millennium Conservation Area where you can hike the trails around the old Molson Pond area and along the Ganaraska River north of County Rd 28 and Hwy 401, not far from downtown Port Hope. See the environmental protection demonstration sites, native grasses, and flowers. Each season offers new species, sounds and colours, like the marsh marigolds that cast a golden glow on the forest floor each spring and fall's various warblers and the glint of red from the spawning coho and chinook salmon in the river. Nature's wonderland!

Brown Trout

Fish: Brown trout are plentiful, especially in the cooler water periods. They can rapidly change colour, getting darker when being aggressive, lighter when being submissive.

Barred owl in tree

Bird: You might just see a Barred Owl nesting in a tree cavity of an old-growth forest. They have a large grey-brown rounded head with no ear-tufts and are highly vocal.

Mayapple leaf

Plant:Mayapples stand out because of their massive leaves. They don't flower every year, but oyu can tell if it will flower based on the number of leaves. If the plant has two leaves it will bloom that year.

Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority gazebo

Landmark: Picnic and get some shade at the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority gazebo on the grounds. What better place to relax and rest your feet!

The Waterfront Trail

Trail Information
Length: 19.8km
Peter Huffman Section: 2.5km
Rating: 2
Acess Points: Caldwell Street, Lake Street, Gages Creek
Surface: Natural, limestone screening
Elevations: Low to medium to high
Width: 2-4 feet
Impediments: Roots, trees, stones/rocks
Features: Lake vistas, sand beaches
Acessible: Some portions
For more information visit The Waterfront Trail Website

The trail has amazing views, beaches, and protected habitats. It features the dedicated work of volunteers that made this trail possible, including benches, bird feeders, a gazebo, and tributes to the community leaders who played key roles in the trail's development: Keith Richan Walkway, and the A.K. Sculthorpe Memorial Woodland Marsh. There's so much to see and experience on foot, and it's all so close to the charming heritage downtown. Come visit!

Fish from Lake Ontario

Fish: Walleye, Northern Pike, Smallmouth Bass, and Lake Trout are commonly found (and fished!) in Lake Ontario.

Bank swallow

Bird: The Bank Swallow digs its nest in banks and sandy cliffs, creating a burrow. You may not be able to see the burrows, but if you look to the sky, you may find a small brown swallow fluttering above you.

Checkerspot butterfly

Plant:Turtleheads are wildflowers along the banks of waterways and damp grounds. They are also the host plant for the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly.

Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority gazebo

Landmark: Picnic and get some shade at the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority gazebo on the grounds. What better place to relax and rest your feet!

Even More Trails

Ganaraska Forest Centre
Hike, bike, snowshoe and cross-country ski the well-marked trails (from 4km to 16km) in the Ganaraska Forest Centre off 10th Line in Port Hope, a wonderful landscape of rolling hills and mixed forest. For more information including day use fees, visit the Ganaraska Forest Centre website.

Port Hope Conservation Area
Tucked beside the Ganaraska River just north of the fish ladder at Corbett’s Dam, this 90-acre conservation area is a nature lover's happy hangout. The woodland trails are rich in plant life and you might see hawks and wild turkeys. For more information, visit the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority webpage

Sylvan Glen Conservation Area 
Take a leisurely stroll along the path by the Ganaraska River here and stop for a picnic. This hidden gem is just off Sylvan Glen Road north of downtown. For more information, visit the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority webpage. For more information, visit the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority webpage

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