Maitland Trail is a 29.8 mile trail located near Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh, ON. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, camping, and snowshoeing and is accessible from April until November.
Maitland Trails Association , Susanna Reid PHONE: 519-524-6976
For the last 3 years the Maitland Trail Association has held an "El Camino" where participants are able to complete the entire 49km trail over 1 weekend. I participated in this year's event and the trail is fantastic! There are some elevation changes that will get your heart pumping but then there are flat forested sections along the river that offer gorgeous views of the valley. The trail only goes along road sections for a few kilometers, unlike a lot of other local trails where it seems you're walking along the road more than being on an actual trail. Overall, this is a must do trail!
This very long, varied trail system is impossible to cover in a brief mini-review. The trail roughly follows the Maitland River and Valley, from near the town of Goderich to the village of Auburn. The trail only 'roughly' follows the river, because most of the trail runs along privately-owned land and requires landowner consents, so some sections have necessarily left the river and valley and run along the shoulders of public roads, and also along the edges of farmer's fields and bushlots in the general vicinity of the valley and river. Here I want to cover only the high points of the trail system (I've hiked almost all of the trail except the sections that follow roads). The section that runs from Benmiller and downsteam 5 km (through the Morris tract) is in my opinion the finest. The section through the Morris tract runs through some of the finest mature hardwood forest in the region. This forest (from the Morris tract to Goderich) is a small enclave of Carolinian forest, consisting of a mix of Hickory, Oak, Sycamore, and other tree species more commonly found in Ontario's deep south. This lower portion of the trail system also contains some rare outcroppings of bedrock, because the river has removed 10s of meters of Glacial material (clay, stone, sand, etc.) covering 99.99% of the remainder of the county. The section of trail just upstream of Benmiller runs through an area of forest that was almost flattened by the August 2011 F3 tornado. Just downstream from Benmiller the trail runs past 'The Falls' which is a favourite swimming, fishing, and camping area on land managed by the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority. Near the portion of trail a short distance upstream from Saltford, (and just a few metres above the level of the river) are the remains of some historic salt wells, dating to the latter half of the Nineteenth century. If the river level is low (usually during summertime drought) some 'potholes' can be seen in the bedrock in the river bed. Close to the west trailhead (just north of Goderich) is the historic Menesetung Bridge, a heritage oak that sprouted in the 1700s, and Tiger Dunlop's (impressive) tomb, located on a high overlook near where Highway 21 and the (former) Guelph-Goderich rail line meet. I've only touched on a few things that (for me!) are high points, maybe you can add to what i've written!