Yesterday, Chris and I made a second attempt at finding this conservation area. As per usual, whenever I am using my backwoods map book, where I wanted to go fell on the border of two pages, which makes it hard to use. Thankfully, Chris's love of narrow dirt roads (almost an ATV trail) led to us finding the entrance otherwise I would have given up.
To get to the parking area, go south on highway 35 from Lindsay. You want to turn right onto Gray Road, which is after 7A by a few minutes. It will look like the road turns into a private driveway, but it's actually just a really narrow, bumpy road....so stick with it. You can also turn right onto 7A, the left at Century farm road, then left at Gray Rd. You'll see the big sign for the conservation area after a few minutes.
There is a nice picnic shelter and an outhouse at the parking area, and a large board with a map. Currently, you can't complete the main trail loop (2.9km) because the boardwalk section has been removed. There is another option. Head down the trail head just to the right of the picnic shelter, and when it branches, turn right. I'll warn you now, it was really mushy in spots. I'm talking spring run off muddy where you have to hop from log to log over black ooze and small streams. There are lots of boards and logs thrown into the worst spots, but be aware of where you are putting your feet. I can't imagine what this place would be like in spring, if it's this bad in late November.
Eventually the trail will come to a point where it juts back, or you can go a bit further towards a red gate and take one of the side trails, the Oak Ridges Loop. This will take you to a 4 way intersection in a field where you can go to a really rustic outhouse (the doors had been ripped off), or you can get back on the main loop. If you go to the right, you can go to where the boardwalk would have started (there's a rustic shelter overlooking the river) or you can turn left and head back to where the Oak Ridges trail and Pigeon river trail met and head back to your car. We explored all these options, and the total hike was 4.3km
The trail itself was nice other than the mushy areas. I liked walking in the open field part, except for the odd piles of animal scat. It looked like a dog or coyote had done it's business smack dab in the middle of the trail, three times along this section, so watch your step. There were also no garbage cans at any of the shelters along the trail. This might be due to the late season, and wasn't that big of an issue, but carrying our Tim Horton's cups all along the trail was kind of annoying. Normally we would have taken a bag with snacks and bottles of water, or a thermos of tea, but we didn't really think ahead this time.
For more information and for a map of the trail, click here.