If there is one thing in the world I find incredibly peaceful, it is hiking with my family’s four dogs. You’re probably looking at that sentence like I am a crazy person. I realize the idea of four dogs at one time hardly seems peaceful, but I didn’t do it alone! I took my boyfriend along for the fun! It was a gorgeous day in Jordan Station so Nathan and I decided to take Jack out there and pick up his parents three dogs, Nikki, Shiloh, and Allie on the way.
For anyone unfamiliar with the Bruce trail it is an 895 kilometer main trail, with 400 kilometers in side trails. It runs along the Niagara escarpment from Niagara to Tobermory and has 300 known access points. The particular access point that we took is to a side trail in the small town of Jordan Ontario located near the Balls Falls Conservation area. You can find a few entrances up 19th street. Be aware the higher entrance point does have one waterfall. Comparatively if you enter through Glen Road, parallel to 19th street, where more people tend to go then there will be quite a number of waterfalls and steep terrain, and off leash walking may be less recommended. We chose today the more relaxing route along 19th street.
Each taking two dogs, we headed for the Bruce Trail. Getting to the trail can be the most cumbersome part of our walk as everyone must remain on leash. We try to divide and conquer, each taking one expert walker and one less than expert walker. On this particular day I had opted to take Nikki and Jack.
We headed out across the field until we were far away enough from the main road and un-leashed the beasts! As per usual Shiloh, our resident snow lover, ran about 50 feet ahead and dove into the snow in a spectacular leap ending in what looked like the most satisfying roll of her life! Nikki the more playful girl, once un-leashed, waited excitedly for Jack to be freed and the two youngsters booked it for the tree line running full speed! Last but certainly not least little Allie, who is always a trooper, happily trailed behind us rubbing her nose in the snow from time to time.
We finally made it to the tree line and this is where the real fun starts! Now that they are all off leash and in more of a secluded area it’s easier to enjoy the scenery. The hilly area of Jordan station is littered with long meandering lines of turtle back hills. These are easy to navigate, if narrow at times, and run alongside a number of vineyards. When in the valleys expect roughage, bumpy terrain, and a very openforest with gentle hills surrounding you.Small streams are numerous, and one main, usually shallow, river feeds the area. The paths are easily marked and color coded, and long farmers’ fields always come before a road. It doesn’t take perfect recall to feel very comfortable here! Most paths are 5-10km in length, and loop back to your starting point. The white path is easiest to follow, and features 2 hills, one long winding path, and a beautiful bridge 10 feet off the ground overlooking the river. That being said expect some hurdles on a few of the other paths. Though nothing major, you may have to cross a stream, or walk a narrow path (3-5ft across). Wildlife is thick the entire way, and it’s always absolutely beautiful. I loved this area!
Unfortunately, like at any playground, there is always one kid who doesn’t want to leave. Like clockwork, on the last quarter of the walk, that kid was mine. I yelled my customary “this way” to let them all know which direction I was headed and turned my head to see Jack book it down the hill presumably realizing we were on the last leg of our journey. I was cursing myself because I know in watching Jack that he has a particular set of motions before taking off. I can almost always notice them and call him back before, but this time I missed it.
I stood where I was and called once, waited 45 seconds, called again, waited another 45 seconds, “Screw it”. I knew he had decided to get in his last bout of freedom so I followed his direction to find him on the side of the steepest hill in site head and front paws stuffed in to a hole digging furiously. I stood at the top to try and get his attention to no avail so I began the precarious climb down the hill hanging on to whatever I could find all the while yelling for Nathan to come give me a hand.
In the end Nathan had to sit on the hill, while I walked Jack back up the hill, and the little bugger had to be confined to a leash for the remainder of the walk.
At least it wore him out, I guess every great hike ends with a sleepy puppy! This is truly a hidden gem of the Niagara Peninsula, I’ll be back again!
ACCESIBILITY: 3 TAIL WAGS It is easy to find if you know the area, but I’m not sure it would be very easy for any new-comers fresh off the highway.
OFF LEASH: 4 TAIL WAGS for non sniffers with good recall, and 2 TAIL WAGS for sniffers. It is a great trail with relatively little topographical danger to off leashers but there is a lot a wildlife that may be attractive to sniffers. It should be noted that there has been some documented cases recently of rabies in the Niagara area so it’s important for owners to be extra vigilant. There’re also many locals who walk their dogs both off leash and on in this area so be prepared to come in contact with them. Lastly it should be noted that the Bruce Trail is not technically an off leash trail.
ON LEASH: 3 TAIL WAGS unfortunately the path is not entirely formed and can be narrow. However I think this also adds to its natural beauty. The path also has some narrow parts if you walk along the tops of the hills. If you stay in the valleys you’ll be on a wider path for on leash walks. Other than that there are some trees and small bushes very close to the paths, so leashes can get snagged in them if you use a retractable, or have a wanderer.
HUMAN USERS: 4 TAIL WAGS The terrain is relatively manageable for hikers of all levels. There is a few steep trails but they are easily avoidable. The trail itself is easily maneuvered as long as you stick to the main marked trails.
WATER DOGS: 5 TAIL WAGS for water dogs! There is a lot of shallow, slow streams that our water dog Shiloh loves to play in, even Jack who hates to swim can’t resist jumping in once in a while!
OVERALL: 4 TAIL WAGS It is a really easy trail for pet owners, relatively low danger for off-leashers, and all of the locals in the area are really friendly!
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