The Carolinian Life Zone represents less than 1% of Canada’s landmass, but is home to the largest diversity of fauna and flora species in the country, as well as the highest number of species-at-risk.
Three municipalities share the shores of Lake Huron in this area and offer hiking trails through bare and forested dune lands, fresh-water coastal wetlands, rare Oak Savanna, steep and forested ravines in river and creek valleys, remnant prairies of tall grass and wildflowers, spherical concretions or Kettles in black shale beds, and brachiopod and trilobite fossils from the Devonian Period.
Stay on trails and follow “blazes” (marks show turns and endpoints)
Keep dogs on leash
Follow trail uses and activities
Take only photographs and leave only footprints
Lambton Shore Trails
Asphalted 9 km walking and cycling trail alongside Highway 21 from Grand Bend to the Pinery Provincial Park entrance. Click to view Grand Bend Rotary Trail map .
Esli Dodge Conservation Area (Forest)
20 acre conservation area (part of the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority) with man-made lake (no swimming). Access at 88 Main Street. Portable washrooms May to October. Playground, picnic area, tennis courts, paved walking/cycling paths, gazebo. The island in the lake acts as a stage for theatrical and musical performances during the summer and the hillside opposite seats 6,000 people. Home to Forest’s Canada Day Celebrations. scrca.on.ca Click to view map of Esli Dodge Conservation Area.
Forest Trail System (Forest)
Access from Rotary Civic Square. Asphalted 2.8 km walkway leads south to Esli Dodge Conservation Area. The trail along the Old Railway Track and around lagoons west of Forest offer 4.5 km return trip over flat lands. Click to see map of Forest Trail System.
Joany’s Woods Trail (Sylvan)
367 acres in the Ausable River Valley offers a challenging 4.8 km trail and an easy 3.2 km trail through mixed Carolinian and Great Lakes Hardwood swamp forest, and a 2.2 km trail along the river. Two access points: (1) Drive east on Elginfield Road from Sylvan, turn right onto Vernon Road; (2) Drive north from Sylvan on Sylvan Road, turn left onto Elliot Road and right onto Boot Hill Road, watch for signage. Trailhead and On-trail signs; trail guide available.
Lambton County Heritage Forest (Port Franks)
Hiking and mountain-biking trails in 570 acre Oak-Savannah and Carolinian forest. Access from Port Franks Community Centre, 9997 Port Franks Road. Offers three trails: 3.1 km, 5.2 km and 6.6 km. Trailhead and On-Trail signs.
L-Lake Management Area (Port Franks)
69-acre area offers 1.5-kilometre trail through cedar wetlands and mixed Carolinian forest. Access at 7101 Outer Drive. Trailhead sign.
Pinery Provincial Park (Grand Bend)
6,300 acres of Oak Savanna, Carolinian woodlands and Freshwater Coastal Dune ecosystem. Home to endangered plants, animals and insects. Extensive nature trails and 13 km asphalted, close-loop bike path. Bike and helmet rentals (mountain, coaster, tandem, kids, child trailers & helmets). Wheelchair accessible trails and two beach-friendly wheelchairs available for use. pinerypark.on.ca/trails
Rock Glen Conservation Area (Arkona)
Home of Lambton County’s ONLY WATERFALL. Plunge your hand in the water and grab some pebbles – it’s likely you’ll find a brachiopod, crinoid or gastropod fossil! Stairs, boardwalks and bridge allow visitors to explore the glen’s steep sides and 10.7-metre high waterfall. Scenic lookouts, picnic area, BBQs, pavillions, museum, washrooms and two playgrounds. Drive north of Arkona on Arkona Road (County Rd. 79), turn right on Rock Glen Road, watch for signage. abca.on.ca
Bannockburn Conservation Area (Brucefield)
Year-round, 62 acre conservation area with wet meadows, eastern white cedar forest, deciduous forest, old field and mixed scrub and marsh. Main trail leads from the parking. The first 500 m consists of accessible boardwalks over river and creek; balance of trails feature hilly terrain with few stairs or boardwalks. Access at 76249 Bannockburn Line, between Brucefield and Bayfield.
Bayfield River Valley Trails (Bayfield):
Follow Pioneer footsteps through Bayfield on an easy 2 km stroll along tree-lined streets, passing heritage buildings. (bayfieldtrails.com/heritage-trail)
Four season 2.5 km challenging looped trail to Bayfield River and back. Access from Stanley Recreation Complex, 38572 Mill Rd., Varna.(bayfieldtrails.com/mavis-taylor-trail)
Access the 1.67 km woodland and riverside trail from highway 21, turn east onto Old River Road, then right onto Sawmill Road, watch for signage. Varied terrain changes from flood plain to coniferous forest and hillsides. (bayfieldtrails.com/sawmill-trail)
1-km looped easy walk through flat terrain, suitable for wheelchairs. Access from Stanley Recreation Complex, 38572 Mill Rd., Varna.
Medium difficulty, 5 km trail meanders along village roads, dips into woods and follows old gravel pit and lumbering roads and deer paths. Access at Keith Crescent and Hill Terrace. (bayfieldtrails.com/woodland-trail)
Hullett Provincial Wildlife Area (Clinton)
5,420 acres along the South Maitland River and located on the paths of two major waterfowl flyways (Atlantic & Mississippi). Seven trails from 0.4 km to 4.6 km, featuring grassland, wetland and wooded terrain. Activities include hiking, horseback riding, seasonal hunting, canoeing, snowmobiling, and geocaching. Multiple parking lots and access points. Refer to hullettmarsh.com for hiking map and information.
10 km round-trip hiking trail from the Morrison Dam westwards along the Ausable River to Exeter’s MacNaughton Park. Hiking, cross-country skiing, birding and wildlife watching and fishing. Picnic areas and washrooms. Access from Exeter’s Main Street by the river or drive east of Exeter on County Road 83, turn south on Morrison Line, and watch for signage. abca.on.ca
Geocaching & GIS Trail Mapping
Geocaching is like a high tech scavenger hunt in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) unit or mobile device to search for “geocaches”. Download cache locations from geocaching.com. GPS units available at Northville Municipal Office, 9575 Port Franks Rd., Thedford, 519-243-1400. Huron County’s hiking guide is available at the Welcome Centre in Grand Bend or hikehuron.ca.
- Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority: abca.on.ca
- Bayfield Trails: bayfieldtrails.com
- Hullett Provincial Wildlife Area: hullettmarsh.com
- Lambton Shores Nature Trails: lsntblazers.com
- Lambton County Trails: lambtoncountytrails.com
- Maitland Valley Conservation Authority: mvca.on.ca
- Clair Region Conservation Authority: scrca.on.ca
- Bayfield Pole Walkers, facebook.com/bayfield.pole.walking
- Savanna Strollers, Pinery Provincial park -Wednesdays, 9:15am year-round (meet at Lambton Heritage Museum)
- Pinery Fall Classic – October 20, 2019
See Festivals & Events for more dates, times and details.