I'm a volunteer Land Steward for the Bruce Trail Conservancy, which means that I go and wander through a property the Conservancy owns 2 or 3 times a year to be sure that everything is ok, and build up our knowledge of the plants and wildlife there. I 'steward' the Harshman and Jordan Springs properties, so last week I went to do my annual fall inspection.
This is just one stretch of the Bruce Trail through the property (marked by the white blazes). This property also has some pine plantations and old fields, but the part I love (and where the trail goes) is the deciduous forest.
Stepping into the forest beyond the White Pine plantation (in the background), it was like entering a golden world, bright yellow Sugar Maple leaves on all sides. This giant old maple log fell about 3 years ago, right across the trail.
The trail here is simply one of the nicest places to go for a walk in the woods that I know of. Walking through the woods last week I thought to myself 'Why isn't everyone who lives around here out for a walk?'. It's the single nicest week of the year in the woods.
This part of the woods was used for maple syrup production many years ago, but you wouldn't even recognize this old woods road unless you knew what you were looking for.
At one point the trail goes almost under a youngish Beech tree, and I knelt down to get a picture looking upwards. A magical canopy.
Heading on through the woods you come to a very small stand of huge 'old growth' Sugar Maples. Here billions of maple seedlings border the trail, and you can see the base of some big old trees in the distance.
This is my favourite, a Sugar Maple with two giant arms reaching out to embrace whoever cares to pass by.
I've explored woodlots all over southern Ontario - I wrote a book on Woodlot Management. And I have never seen taller old Sugar Maples than these ones. Lots of big open crown maples along fencerows have much fatter trunks - but only 4-6 feet high before they branch. This one rises nearly 60 feet perfectly straight before the first branch. Truly one of the giants of the forest.