New Lowell Conservation Area/Campground is Closed

Due to COVID-19, the Mad River Ganaraska Hiking Trail section through the New Lowell Conservation Area/campground is closed until further notice, at the request of the campground manager. Hikers will have to make their way south on Hogback Road and reconnect with the trail at the county forest.

Hi all, this is a temporary situation, and we will be allowed back on the campground as soon as social distancing and Covid 19 regulations are eased.
Frieda Baldwin

Covid-19 Protocol and Tips

Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc.

Given that we are seeing more hikers on our trail, and members are getting anxious to get out and hike, or do trail maintenance, here are some guidelines that our clubs and members may want to consider under Covid-19:

– large group outings and carpooling are still not allowed

– max. group size of 5

– maintain a physical distance of 2 m at all times

– stay home if you feel unwell or are sick

– stay local

– leash your dog

Know where and when to go.It’s best if we don’t all go to the most popular trailheads or parks at the most popular times of day. Early morning or evening tends to be less crowded. If you arrive at a parking lot and it is full, find another trail.

In planning your hike or trail maintenance, consider that since carpooling is not allowed, that individuals will be arriving in their personal car, thus requiring more parking space. In some spots, this may be problematic as there just is not enough room. Also, do not park in front of any gates, on private lawns, and make sure you leave enough space for farm equipment to pass. 

Keeping a social distance on single use trails can also be problematic, especially on bridges, boardwalks, or a trail on a cliff side, where there is just no way to step off the trail to let others pass. It is therefore recommended to wear a mask (have it handy!) or pass each other back to back. 

When stopping for a snack or picnic, please move far enough off the trail, so that social distance can be maintained when other hikers (or cyclists if you happen to be on a mountain bike or shared use trail) need to pass. 

Slow down, step back, and let people know when you’re approaching. Yield to oncoming trail users. A friendly “Hello!” will alert anyone walking in front of you. If you find yourself coming up behind a slower walker and you don’t have 2 m to pass safely, slow down instead. If somebody is getting too close to you, step back to allow enough space.

Keep single file (even on wide trails). Do not spread out all over the trail. When you let someone pass, step off to the side and stay put — don’t walk alongside the path.

Consider pre-registration with a pre-set maximum, to make sure you are not exceeding the allowable max group size and there is sufficient parking.

When signing waivers, consider having a bottle of hand sanitizer available so participants can clean their hands after holding the clipboard and using the pen. 

Be considerate of other hikers: put your cell phones on vibrate, or silence the ringer, and unless it is an emergency, refrain from talking on the phone while hiking, so that others can enjoy the sounds of the forest. 

Frieda Baldwin (705) 245-1005 – email:

The GHTA Announces The Appointment of Karen Bernardo as Public Relations Officer

Karen is very enthousiastic about the position, and brings the following experience. 

* Has owned a fitness Business since 2005 

* Hosts Fitness Retreats 

* Cottaged in Penetanguishene for over 20 yrs and now spends time in Wasaga Beach

* Avid hiker, road cyclist and skier

* Company has raised over 1.2 m for Sick Kids Hospital leukemia research

* Runs all the PR/ media relations, platforms & charitable events for her company for 15 years.

The sustainability of our 500 km long trail is one of my main priorities, and attracting more and younger members is – in my opinion – key to ensuring the continuity of the trail and our organization. Karen’s focus will therefore be on attracting members, and especially the younger hikers.

Karen can be reached at
Thank you, Karen, for stepping up to this important role. 

Frieda Baldwin President Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. 

Ph 705-245-1005

Karen Bernardo

Mad River Ganaraska Section Re-Opens

The Mad River section of the Ganaraska Trail, between Utopia and the westerly cairn of  the trail in Glen Huron was in dire need of some TLC.  This year, starting in March and working until end of May, and thanks to a very small group of dedicated and hardworking volunteers, we managed to bring the trail back into shape.  As it stands right now, the entire 50 km Mad River section of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail is open for hiking. 

The entire trail has been re-blazed and had much of the dead-fall of trees and brush removed along with cutting back of overgrown branches, vines and small shrubs/trees, etc.  The section that requires the most ongoing maintenance is the abandoned rail line between Utopia and New Lowell.  As the summer season progresses, plant growth will continue and, therefore, another rail line clean up will be organized later in the year. 

Thanks to everyone who worked on this project to finally have this trail reopened!  Happy Hiking!

2020.05.15 Update – Barrie Trail Temporarily Closed Between Baldwick Land and County Road 90

May 15, 2020

There is still a section of the trail that remains closed even with the opening of some parks in Ontario. The section of trail immediately south of Baldwick Lane is still closed. It is now possible to hike north from County Road 90 until you get through the forest to the open meadow. The situation is being closely monitored – please watch for future updates,

Announcement on May 8, 2020

The west end of the Ganarasaka Barrie Hiking Club trail, from Baldwick Lane to County Road 90, goes through property owned by Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, Nature Conservancy of Canada, and private landowners. Regardless of ownership, all of this section of the trail is in the area designated as Minesing Wetlands. These organizations have all recently designated their properties as closed to the public due the pandemic restrictions.

Until these restrictions are lifted, the Ganaraska trail between Baldwick Land and County Road 90 is to be considered ‘off limits’ to comply with the wishes of the land owners that support our trail system. Thanks for your understanding, and stay safe. 

Orillia Club 11th line to 10th Line Oro-Medonte reopens

In the fall of 2019, we were notified by the private landowner of property closure for foresting between Lines 11 and 10. We temporarily re-routed south on Line 11 to Old Barrie Road, and west along Old Barrie Road. We have been notified of completion of the forest maintenance work, and Bob Wilson has taken the re-route signs down and re-blazed along the trail from Line 11 to Line 10. So this part of the trail is again open. Bob has also blazed the reroute from Line 10, south to Old Barrie Road, west along Old Barrie Road, and north along Line 9, making that the official trail following the unfortunate loss of private land between Lines 10 and 9. Thanks, Bob.

Peter Verbeek and His Wilderness Crossings

Peter was instrumental in laying down the initial route of the Wilderness section through the QEII Wildlands, and coached many hikers across it. He completed the entire Ganaraska Hiking Trail 5 or 6 times. He also served as Trail Director, Membership Director and Secretary for the Ganraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. Peter passed away in 2019. There is a memorial plaque for Peter in the Wilderness section of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail.

Frieda Baldwin

The Ganaraska Trail – Peter’s End-to-End

Some want to see rivers, some want to see fish.

Lakes, hillsides or forests are what others wish.

Whatever the wonderful pleasures you seek,

Follow the trail of Peter Verbeek.

In theory we start the Trail at Port Hope.

In practice we walked to the town down the slope.

Whatever direction it’s twentyfive k.

By anyone’s measure that’s quite a long way.

We stop along the way to rest.

Peter always has a jest.

Of bears that like pepper, bears that like bells.

This is the favourite whopper he tells.

In Lindsay we saw a fish get hooked.

Dad held it up while all his kids looked.

In Fenelon Falls the firemen play.

The hikers have to dodge the spray!

Beyond Burnt River the bugs do swarm

And wearing a bugnet can get rather warm.

But even though the bugs are biting,

Following a bear can be quite exciting.

The Wilderness part is the hardest by far.

For this is somewhere that you can’t go by car.

It’s tough but it’s lovely and well worth the pain.

You’d miss most of it if you went by float plane.

Of course, there is always much more I could say,

Of railtrails and forests and towns on the way.

But “Zoom, Zoom” I’m going, no more time I will take.

Unless we stop for a trivia break.

There’s a last stream to cross without getting wet.

Some think tree trunks, or bare feet, may be the best bet,

But Peter, our leader, has “water wings” brought

And we’re walking on water, with never a thought.

Our trail is completed at Wasaga Beach.

We all are delighted this target to reach.

A very fine welcome the Wasaga Club make,

With speeches and photos and even a cake.

Some want to see rivers, some want to see fish.

Lakes, hillsides or forests are what others wish.

Whatever the wonderful pleasures you seek,

Follow the trail of Peter Verbeek.

Poem by Wilf and Mary Bradnock from Ottawa

The GHTA Early History Story by Stan Muldoon

This history will focus particularly on the vision of the founders of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc., Patricia Lawson and Jack Goering, as well as those who followed in their hiking steps to develop and maintain the Ganaraska Trail.

Credit for the idea of a hiking trail to head north from Lake Ontario at Port Hope is given to Harry Gadd, President of the Willow Beach Field Naturalists (WBFN) in the early 1960’s. The group was looking for access to unspoiled countryside in Northumberland County for naturalists to bird watch and explore the natural environment. Group member Jack Goering took up this project after Harry became ill. Jack began to study maps of possible routes for the trail. Harry had proposed one which ended at Rice Lake, about 50 kilometres north of Port Hope, but Jack had bigger ideas. Another trail in southwestern Ontario provided inspiration.

Beginning in 1959 Ray Lowes and Robert Bateman of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists (now Ontario Nature) had the vision of a public footpath to span the entire Niagara Escarpment. Eventually this resulted in the establishment of the Bruce Trail in 1967. In March of that year, with the Bruce Trail in its infancy, Secretary Ray Lowes was invited to address the monthly meeting of Willow Beach Field Naturalists. Pat Lawson was President with Jack Goering as a member of the Executive. Following Mr. Lowes presentation there was hesitancy from some members when asked to consider the development of a trail in this part of Ontario. After all, the group was small with less than 20 active members and the task was large. Pat’s powers of persuasion led to a decision to start a 15 to 20 km trail from Port Hope to Campbellcroft where, she enthused, “others will take it from there”. Jack suggested a plan to follow the abandoned Midland Railway line which had operated from 1858 to 1893. It cut through a very scenic and historic section of the Ganaraska River watershed. It iss worth noting that Pat also asked at that meeting that members help to save the wolf population in Southern Ontario. Her interests in the natural environment went beyond hiking.

These early developments speak to both Pat and Jack’s strengths and why they were a good team. Jack had a background in engineering, loved to hike and was very good with technical issues such as mapping and route planning. Pat was a born organizer and passionate advocate for the environment. It has been said that it was just about impossible to say “No” to Pat.

The Willow Beach Field Naturalists decided to take up the development of the trail as a 1967 Centennial Project.

As Pat had suggested, others did step forward to help. She and Jack spearheaded talking to landowners along the proposed route and marking trail with the assistance of other naturalists. 40 kms of trail had been blazed by May 1967. A decision was made to form the Ganaraska Trail Association (GTA and later renamed the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc.) and to sell annual memberships for $2.

In December 1967, the first meeting of the GTA was held at the Lawson home in Port Hope. 17 members were present including representatives from Lindsay, Peterborough, Millbrook, Port Hope and Cobourg. A motion was passed to extend the trail to Lindsay. Various groups assumed responsibility to blaze and maintain trail sections, a practice which continues to the present.

The official opening of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail was held April 21, 1968. There was a variety of hikes that day of 8, 16 and 25 kms, all ending on a railway bridge on the 10th Line in Port Hope (Ward 2) where the opening ceremony took place. Ray Lowes cut the ribbon with President Jack Goering looking on. 300 people attended including 75 hikers from the Bruce Trail Association (now the Bruce Trail Conservancy). Following the ceremony, they hiked an additional 6 kms to the Kennedy Farm for a pancake festival. Writer Scott Young, who lived in the area, lamented in the Globe newspaper that the only thing that restrained him from joining the opening walk was that it never went anywhere near a pub.

Jack Goering left notes describing later developments. In 1969 a decision was taken to extend the trail to meet the Bruce Trail at Glen Huron, south of Collingwood. Following a 1970 meeting with people from Barrie, Orillia, Midland, Wasaga Beach and Port Hope, these 5 Clubs were established. Midland was referred to as the Mission section. It is worth noting that in 1973 Jack wrote a proposal on behalf of the Association to stop the city of Toronto from landfilling 6 million tons of municipal waste in our region. The plan was eventually defeated due to resistance by many groups. Once again, the concerns of the Ganaraska Trail Association and its founders extended beyond hiking.

Along the way there were significant challenges faced by the Association. In the late 70’s and early 80’s the Ganaraska Trail was incomplete and divided into two large unconnected areas. An immense amount of work was needed and it was unclear if the human and financial resources were available. At the Association 1983 AGM a motion was presented to dissolve the organization and donate all funds to the Bruce Trail Association. The motion was defeated and a new group of enthusiastic volunteers was elected to the Board.

There remained a large unexplored section, roughly between Bobcageon and Orillia. Newly elected President Paul McCreath proposed the use of snowmobiles to develop the trail. Canoeing, hiking and camping were also used to map the trail in the Wilderness section which is now part of the QEWII Wildlands Provincial Park. In later developments the Wilderness section was hiked end-to-end for the first time in 1990 and in 1992 the first organized series of end-to-end hikes of the entire Ganaraska Trail took place.

Over the years the Ganaraska Hiking Trail has seen continual growth and change as members strive to make improvements such as moving it off roads whenever possible. The 500 km plus trail is quite an accomplishment by hundreds of volunteers giving thousands of hours to their local Club and to the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association.

Founders Patricia Lawson and Jack Goering both passed away in June 2016. Pat was 87; Jack was 92. Their lives exemplified vision and dedication, fun and a great work ethic. It is doubtful that they knew how their 1967 dream would be accomplished. However, they were always confident that good things happen when people come together.

Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. New Appointments

 It is our great pleasure, to announce that we have been able to fill some of the key positions in the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. following the passing of our Membership Director Lois Kowal, as well as some positions left vacant in recent months.  

Please note that we have split the former Membership Director’s job into two positions:

– badges ordering and dispensing  will be done by the newly created Badge Officer

– maintenance of membership lists/choice of Newsletter format, processing new members, etc. will be done by the Membership Director. 

Our organization is completely managed by volunteers, and it is so rewarding for us at the Executive Level to see members come forward to volunteer their time and skills to help grow the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. and ensure the sustainability and maintenance of our 500 km long hiking trail. 

We are very pleased to announce the appointments of the following:

Name                             Club                        New position

Sharon Striegl                Mad River              Vice President 

Christine Cornu              Oro Medonte         Membership Director

Jacquie Van Dyke          Wilderness             Badge Officer

Heather Briant                Pine Ridge             Newsletter Editor 

Lorraine Van Vlymen      Wasaga Beach      Hike Ontario Representative 

Their contact information is now posted on the GHTA Inc. Website! 

However, we still have an opening for a Publicity Director, and we would love to find someone who can help us with our internet presence (website, social media).  Please contact me, if you can help.

Frieda Baldwin President, Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc.

Ph 705-245-1005