A Trail in Mount Forest

By Nikki May

Located just south of the border between Grey County and Wellington County in Mount Forest are a series of woodland trails that run along the South Saugeen river, collectively called the Saugeen Valley Trail. A group of 8 Saugeen Nature members met at the entrance by the Mount Forest & District Sports Complex on a warm morning in mid-June. The full series of trails runs for several kilometres, but there is so much diversity of plant community and wildlife packed into the first 2.5 kilometres that we were only able to take in the first two loops on this outing – the Saugeen Trail and the Angus Smith Trail.

The group was amazed at the variety and richness of the habitats located so near to the sizable town of Mount Forest. The forested part of the Saugeen Trail includes many mature trees, but one or two are of exceptional size. There is an immense maple tree standing near a branch in the trail that could easily be 300 years old; it is full of character and host to many wildlife species and it inspired wonder and admiration in all of us.

The riverside forest is home to many birds not commonly seen and heard in towns. The plaintive song of the Eastern Wood Pee-Wee was frequently heard along the trail. This is a bird of open forests and forest edges that is becoming rare in Ontario. Further along, near first branch in the trial, a Warbling Vireo sang its lovely song. Where the trail turns left near the bridge across the river, several American Redstarts, a colourful black bird with bright orange markings, flitted through the trees singing their cheerful song. All these birds will become silent sometime in July as their breeding season comes to an end.

On the forest floor were many plants typical of the Great Lakes forests. Large Jacks-in the Pulpit appeared here and there in the undergrowth. The tall Meadow Rue was frequently seen with its delicate white flowers trembling in every

breeze. There were also several plants that have invaded from neighbouring gardens. Common valerian with its fragrant white flower clusters greeted us at the entrance to the trail. A patch of Sweet Woodruff covered the forest floor at one point. Down by the river on the Angus Smith Trail, Comfrey grows in thick clumps and on this day was heavy with bloom and surrounded by the hum of bees and other insect pollinators.

As well as bees, there were butterflies such as Northern Crescents and Monarchs everywhere among the flowers in the openings and where the trail winds across a field near the water treatment plant. The field held abundant clusters of Common Milkweed, so we expect that the Monarch will breed successfully here. 

We will return to this trail again. It is well-worth a visit at any time of year and a wonderful amenity for the Mount Forest residents who can readily access the natural world almost right in their neighbourhoods. Saugeen Nature has several outings a year to study and enjoy the natural features in and around Grey and Bruce Counties. If you are interested in joining any of our outings, check the schedule at www.saugeenfieldnaturalists.com.

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I the undersigned, wish to have my child
participate in the following activity
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