The Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association is a registered charity dedicated to the conservation of our natural resources. (charity registration # 847447414 RR0001).
The objectives of the Association are:
To establish and maintain a hiking trail for public use from Port Hope to the Bruce Trail near Collingwood.
To develop and maintain side trails and loop trails with the objective of accessing places of scenic interest or to connect with other trails.
Ganaraska – What does it mean?
The name Ganaraska is thought to originate from ‘Ganaraské’, the name of a Cayuga village which was located at the current site of Port Hope at the mouth of the river on Lake Ontario. (A second native village called Ganaraske was located on the Bay of Quinte). The Cayugas were part of the Iroquois Confederacy (Haudenosaunee) or League of Peace and Power of the five nations (Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca, and later Tuscarora). The name in Iroquois may mean ‘spawning ground.’ The village of Ganaraské was shown on a French map of Lake Ontario in 1673 and rendered as Ganarasché on a map of 1688. Subsequently the area was taken over by the Mississauga, an Obijwa people, who called the river Pematascutiang and their village beside it Cochingomink meaning “the beginning of the portage.”
Originally used for the name of the river, Ganaraska is now used for the area along the river, the forest, the conservation authority, the hiking trail, the hiking club, trail bike clubs, several businesses, art studios, music groups, and resorts in the Port Hope area.
The Ganaraska Hiking Trail originated with the idea of the Willow Beach Field Naturalists of Northumberland County in the early 1960s for a trail to allow naturalists access to unspoiled countryside. The naturalists started work on the trail as a centennial project in 1967 using the disused Port Hope to Lindsay and Beaverton railway line that ended at Midland. To further the work, the Ganaraska Trail Association was formed in May/June 1967. The membership fee was $2.00 and the Association held its first meeting on the 5th December 1967. The Ganaraska Trail from Port Hope to Lindsay was officially opened on the 21st April 1968.
The following year, in 1969, the Association concluded that it seemed feasible to extend the Trail to meet up with the Bruce Trail near Collingwood. Sections were established from the Bruce Trail at Glen Huron to Midhurst and from the Wye Marsh to the Copeland Forest. It was not possible to join these western sections with the original eastern sections, however, because much of the land between was privately owned. After some years without progress, in the early 1980s it was decided to extend the east and west sections of the trail further north and to connect them by a trail across the wilderness of what is now Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park. Blazing and marking this section of the trail was a major challenge and it was finally completed in the winter by snowmobile. This wilderness section of the trail remains a challenge to hikers today.
In 1998 the Oro Medonte Hiking Club joined the Association, and in 1999 the Tiny Trails Club was formed to connect the Wasaga section of the Trail to the Midland Section. In 2000 the name was changed to the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association to distinguish it, and the Trail, from vehicular, equestrian and multi-use trails.