Trails open at Mary West Nature Reserve near Campbellford, Ont.

Click to play video: 'You can now explore the trails at Mary West Nature Reserve near Campbellford'
You can now explore the trails at Mary West Nature Reserve near Campbellford
On this edition of Out & About, Caley Bedore checks out the public walking trails at Mary West Nature Reserve near Campbellford, Ont. There are now 2.8 kms of trails open to the public at the location. – Jan 11, 2024

Mary West Nature Reserve is a 38-hectare property near Campbellford, Ont., that is owned and maintained by the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

And while the property isn’t completely open to the public, you can now explore a section of trail at the location.

“We are on the Creekside loop of the Mary West Trail system,” said Ewa Bednarczyk, conservation co-ordinator for the Nature Conservancy of Canada Ontario region.

“It is a shorter loop that takes you around the creek and back up to the highlands. It is probably one of the most scenic sections of the trails here.”

She said in total there are about 2.8 kilometres of hiking and walking trails, with different routes offering diverse landscapes.

Click to play video: 'Explore and discover Peterborough area hiking trails with beautiful fall colours'
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“We have a gravel trail that goes by old farm fields that we have converted into a seed orchard,” she said.

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“When that seed is mature, we can collect the seed and use it in restoration projects at other Nature Conservancy properties, mainly tall grass prairies and savannahs, which are rare and super special in this part of Ontario.”

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The Nature Conservancy of Canada obtained the property in the early ’90s from then-owner Mary West. Now, it is one of area’s properties that is maintained by the national organization.

“The NCC is a leading non-profit land conservation organization,” Bednarczuk said. “We acquire properties across the country, and our aim is to steward them and protect nature.”

Just up the road from the property you’ll find Westben Performing Arts Theatre. Westben cofounder Donna Bennett said the addition of public trails to the region is a benefit for local tourism.

“Having the Mary West property open across the road gives audiences the opportunity to enjoy a nature walk before a concert at Westben,” she said.

“Research has shown that if tourists travel two hours, they are looking for six hours of activity. So, Westben, plus Mary West property, and enjoying Trent Hills makes for a fun, creative and welcoming experience.”

Bennett added they have also created a small group experience, in partnership with the NCC, called Sounds of Nature, an event where people can enjoy intimate performances throughout the Mary West property.

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“The participants learn about nature and music and the health benefits of both,” she said.

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Bednarczyk said the Nature Conservancy of Canada also manages another property with trails in Rice Lakes Plains Region along with Mary West: the Hazel Bird Nature Reserve just south of Rice Lake.

“Because of the snow you can see footprints on all the trails, which is amazing,” she said. “We are so happy people have found Mary West.”

To access the Mary West trails, there is a parking lot located at 1186 County Rd. 35.

The trails are open year-round, and dogs are permitted but must be leashed. For more information on this property or other NCC sites, you can visit the Nature Conservancy of Canada website.


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