Thursday, May 2, 2013

Day Hike: Millbrook Valley Trails - Millbrook, Ontario

Chris and I usually do a short loop here once in a while, but never make it there in time to do the longer, Baxter River Trail, which is 3km out and 3 back (not a loop) but we got there pretty early today, and decided to give it a try, especially when I pointed out there was a railway bridge a little past the end of that section.

For a PDF map of the trail system, go here

A perfect spot for a snooze along the Baxter Creek
Millbrook is a very pretty little town not far from Peterborough.  It's easy to get to from Highway 115.  I probably should have taken note of street names, but I think the map shows the road as Cty. Rd. 10 coming off the 115.  Anyway, you want to find the parking lot by the mill.  There's a big sign with a map, and map brochures, as well as dog-poop bags in a little dispenser (they have these at a few places along the trail.)  Interestingly, last year when we were here, the sign on the gate said "stoop and poop" which we thought was pretty funny.  I'm pretty sure it's illegal for a person to stoop and poop in public like that.  The sign has been changed now.

Follow along the river until the trail heads into the trees.  It's a pretty flat trail, a little root heavy in spots, and a bit muddy in others (to be expected this time of year) but it's easy to follow and has lots of boardwalks, little bridges and babbling brooks.  Once you get to a T intersection, you can go left and loop back to the parking area, or go right and take the Baxter Creek trail.  Once you get past the long bridge and to where the creek flows along the side of the trail, it's a lovely walk.  I'm not sure what the water levels are like mid-summer, but right now, they were only a foot or two deep, and with all the cedar trees and bends, it's quite pretty.

Trout Pond on Baxter Creek Trail
Eventually, the trail will cross a dirt can turn back, or keep going and check out the two trout ponds (we saw about 30 rainbow trout in the shallows of the second pond, all about 10 inches long) keep going past that, and you'll come to the old railway bridge.  I was expecting a bridge over an expanse of water but wow, was I wrong.  The bridge is made of blocks and is moss covered and oh so pretty.  Chris loves this kind of thing.  I could tell he was itching to climb to the top.

 There's a bench there, and if we'd brought a lunch it would have been the perfect spot to stop and eat.

I ended up taking off my shoes and socks, rolling up my pants and wading into the creek so I could shoot through the bridge.  It was cold! I mean, of course it was cold (duh) but in the 2 minutes I was in there, my feet turned bright red, they stung painfully and my pants were soaked.  Needless to say I didn't spend much time playing around trying to get an awesome shot.  I snapped off half a dozen or so, and ran for the bank.

Once my socks were back on, Chris convinced me to climb up and over the top of the hill to check it out from the other side.  Let me say, if you do this, be careful!  It's very steep.  The cedars growing along the banks of the other side are pretty, and the creek winds around a little island, but unless you are sure footed, it's not anything too spectacular.  If the water hadn't been so cold I would have gone through the tunnel, but I'm always leery of glass in places like this, and in the dark, I wouldn't have been able to see anything very well.

The trail apparently loops here, but we just went back the way we came, stopped at the Becker's and got drinks, and headed back home. Total hiking time - about 2 hours.

Wildlife spotted:
Canadian Geese
Red Wing Blackbirds
Mallard Ducks
Blue Jay
fuzzy brown caterpillar


  1. Thanks & great pictures!

    I grew up in this beautiful little village and seeing the picture of the old railway pass brings back so many memories. Your discription of walking thru the creek reminds me of the exact feeling that beyond cold water felt like after attempting a who could stick your head under water longest dare. It was never shortness of breath that brought us back above the surface.

    My family moved away the summer of 2000, the year I graduated high school. My friends and siblings always seemed to make it back thru our college and university years to explore the beauty captured in your photographs. We would fish in that trout pond pictured the same we did when we were 7 years old talking over all the great memories that area inspired.

    My career is taking my wife and children further away from this beautiful countryside. It will be worth every minute of a 15 hour drive from South Carolina to hike along that creekside again.

    Thanks again,

  2. This hike is definitely one of our favourites. I love that there's always something new to look at. You're so lucky to have grown up in Millbrook, such a lovely spot.

    I grew up in the Haliburton area. Growing up we didn't think it was anything special, but now that we're older, going back always makes me wish I'd appreciated what I had when I lived there.

  3. Fyi... the nice manicured area below the old railway bridge with the little walking bridge and bench you mentioned is private property. Also.... please think about limiting the posting of info on this area. It's an amazing area, pristine, and never many people around. Being so close to 4 million people.... too much advertising and pristine no more will this area be. Enjoy it...protect it.

  4. It's private property? Then why is it on the map of the trails? I wouldn't think they'd show the bench on their map if it wasn't a place the public was allowed to go. Strange. I don't remember seeing a walking bridge there either.