A peaceful quiet has fallen over Haliburton Forest as winter slowly rolls to an end. This past March Break saw the last of the vacationing families visit, the last valuable memories made in winter before the spring returns to reclaim her throne. The last rush of dogsledders, snowmobilers and ATVers arrived at the Forest over March Break to experience what we had to offer before the weather turned.
On Tuesday, March 12, I spent the day outside in the warm sun and cool snow. I passed by groups of children laughing and playing together on the many snow-banks here in Base Camp. I briefly ran into Minna from The Wildlife with her miniature ponies, Coco and Kisses, leading pony rides for children. I said hello to Hershe the Moose, with plenty of others gathered around to watch him munch hay in his lean-to, then I hit the trails on a snowmobile. Before leaving, I could hear the ecstatic barking of the dogs as they reared to go on a run, taking eager visitors with them on an only dreamed of adventure.
Once on the trails, I made it my goal to reach all of the shelter cabins in a day. My first stop was the Black Lake Shelter Cabin, which I went to by skirting along the MacDonald Lake chain. There, I met a young family trying their luck with feeding the chickadees. It was a nice day for it, the sun was shining and in the shadows of the hemlocks and firs that grow around the cabin, it was quite cool. There weren’t many birds hanging around, but the mother of the family said that they had just come from L’Azure Lake, where there were plenty of birds and other families as well.
After chatting with the family a little more, I headed towards the Lookout. Having never been there before, I was blown away both by the steep hill to get to the top, and by the stunning view once there. Snowy expenses of deciduous trees dot a valley that looked as if a giant hand had scooped away the surrounding land, leaving the Lookout an isolated island hill amidst a sea of trees. On the other side, Black Lake stretched out below, snowmobilers small dots as they flew across the flat stretch of snow-covered ice. It is a place of private introspection. To just sit and be one with your surroundings. With the trees bare, you can see down to the forest floor--and perhaps catch sight of wildlife roaming the acres beneath you.
I was brought from my reverie by the sounds of another snowmobiler approaching. A father and his young son, out for the day on a rental snowmobile, coming to check out the view. We sat apart and each watched the view quietly. Noticing the father trying to take a selfie of the two of them, I offer to take a photo that encompasses the view of Black Lake behind them before heading on my way to see what else the trails had to offer.
From the Lookout, I headed along the Greif Road, a trail along the eastern most flank of the property that not many people had travelled on. It is a beautiful, long and winding trail with open deciduous forest that slowly transitions before the eye to darker, closer growing conifers the further north you go. It is a secluded area of the forest, the wilderness so complete it is easy to think you may have strayed off property. But don’t worry. Keep following the Greif north and you will eventually hit Lost Lake and the secluded trapper’s cabin-turned-shelter cabin that sits on its shore.
While I may not have seen anyone else out on the trail, it offered me some insights. Those that I had seen were families, travelling together in the relative quiet that the forest had to offer. While base camp and the Wolf Centre may have been full of life and activity, a large portion of the trails through the Forest are secluded. You could travel on them all day and see only a handful of others, like what happened to me. If you are looking for a quiet place to spend time with your family, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life with very few run ins with other people, you only need to hop on a snowmobile or ATV and go a short way down the trail.
While some were out in the woods, others decided to head to the Wolf Centre with their children to observe our family of Western timber wolves with their own family. Activities carefully prepared by Marena, Ines and Paul at the Wolf Centre were set out for children of all ages to do. The activity books themselves designed to engage children in all sorts of exhibits around the Wolf Centre, not just the observatory. Families from all over came--even one group came as far as Florida just to see our wolves and the 2 feet of snow we have around the Forest.
March Break proved to be a spectacular time at Haliburton Forest. With all sorts of things for the family to do, why not come out next year?
We hope to see you!