One of our favorite family activities in autumn is hitting the local hiking trails. The fall months provide the perfect environment – sunny skies, cooler temperatures and a beautiful landscape awash with red, orange and yellow. And as an added bonus – no bugs!
Southwestern Ontario actually boasts hundreds of hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty. Staying close to home, we recently checked out the Dalewood Conservation Area trail system located just minutes outside the city of St. Thomas.
Managed by the Kettle Creek Conservation Authority (KCCA), the connecting set of trails makes for an excellent day hike. The Dalewood Reservoir Trail (6.6 km) is a loop trail that meanders around 25 hectares of Provincially Significant Wetlands.
After completing the first half of the loop, take the Dalewood North Trail (4 km) which connects the Dan Patterson Trail to the Dalewood Reservoir Trail. The North Trail features some elevations and moderately rugged terrain. The fairly easy Dan Patterson Trail (3.1 km) offers a bit of a reprieve and a chance to grab some lunch before heading back for the second leg of your hike.
The Dalewood Conservation area is a very peaceful and tranquil setting. We actually didn’t run into anyone until we were heading back to our car at the end of the hike. Speaking of our car, in 2000, the KCCA introduced permits to control unauthorized users who may compromise the integrity of the land, pose a liability risk and/or present public safety concerns. A day permit is $8 per vehicle and a season’s pass (valid April 1 to November 30) is $75. A small price to pay for such a wonderful day of hiking.
In addition to numerous varieties of trees, shrubs and plants, Dalewood is bustling with wildlife. On our hike we saw squirrels, chipmunks, snakes, songbirds, woodpeckers, hawks, herons and a number of beaver dams. Nothing like spending the day with nature to give yourself a big boost of positive energy. Definitely a hike worth checking out. For now, back to the cage.