[The first edition of Looping Through Sydenham is sold out. Since it was first published the main trail has changed. The trail is longer and more of it is along the optimum route. As a result the SBTC is considering publishing an updated edition of Looping Through Sydenham in 2012.]
The Owen Sound area has recently become one of the key hiking destinations in southern Ontario. It features spectacular vistas, dramatic cliff faces, hidden waterfalls, and some of the most beautiful rural scenery in the province.
Volunteers from the Sydenham Bruce Trail Club have produced a book, Looping Through Sydenham, which describes 21 short hikes and walks in Niagara Escarpment country between Meaford and Wiarton. Most are loop trails that are part of the Bruce Trail network, but others such as The Trout Hollow Trail out of Meaford are independent. Many are sections of the Bayview Extension, a reroute of the main Bruce Trail which is scheduled for completion in 2007. Part of this 60 km reroute will include the trails of the Bognor Marsh, the Woodford area, the Bayview Escarpment Nature Reserve and the Sydenham Forest loop. Each of these completed sections is described in the book.
Some of the trails cross public land, some are located on property recently purchased by the Bruce Trail Conservancy in its efforts to secure a conservation corridor along the escarpment, and some belong to generous landowners who kindly share the beauty of their land with hikers. All hikers are requested to value this gift by treading lightly on the land, as documented in the Trail Users’ Code.
The book attempts to be more than just a conventional guidebook whose sole purpose is to keep the hiker from getting lost. As well, Looping Through Sydenham explores the human and natural history of the area, and the Owen Sound region is rich in both. For example, the Inglis Falls chapter describes the nineteenth century origins of the mill as well as the bird life, ferns and potholes all found within the Conservation Area. The West Rocks chapter quotes from an early study of rare plants which were found in the escarpment crevices. The Slough of Despond chapter describes the origins of this lagoon, a product of higher lake levels immediately after the melting of the last glacier.
The introduction to each chapter outlines the trail length, the estimated time of completion, the degree of difficulty (for a beginning hiker), access routes, and parking. I especially liked the maps, clearly drawn with no extraneous detail. Hikers should have no difficulty in finding their way!
Looping Through Sydenham should be a valuable resource for the outdoors person and the tourism community in the area. Available through club members and at selected retail outlets, it is well worth having in your daypack. In addition, all proceeds from the sale will be donated to The Legacy Campaign of the Bruce Trail Conservancy in order to secure in perpetuity a conservation corridor and public footpath along the Niagara Escarpment.
One of the landowners describes the trail on his property: “Hike it ---you’ll like it!” And with this book it will be said, “Buy it; hike the trails; you’ll like it!”
... Robert Caines