Cedar Trail (Rouge Valley)

If there's anything that can heal me it's a good long walk through the woods or a soul-search over the fields of wildflowers, day-old hay and the sounds of a distant locomotive.  

How could I have known that my life has been easy and blessed until this year, which I will always remember as one of the worst?  It is true that tragedy brings forth pain and challenges, and if you can rise to it, you will be stronger.

While I long for the simpler days again, never realizing that simple is good and not to complain, it is in the wake of these challenges that I appreciate the buzzing of the bees and the flight of the birds overhead and the birth of regrowth that shows me life is going on all around me.  I'd love to walk here alone, but I can't.  I have to share myself with others that need me and maybe I might need them too.

I'm not done with this as there are still many obstacles ahead, but why not walk here undaunted, if not for answers, but for peace alone.  So I did.

My camera isn't working as well as it used to. I focus into something small and close, but it doesn't want to sharpen the view.  It's time for a new camera, but I still love taking pictures.  I have plenty I haven't cataloged yet, and some posts have been put off until now.  I have decided to balance worry with wisdom, heartache with hope.  

This is another series of trails in the lovely Rouge Valley Conservation Area.  This one is called Cedar Trail.  It's all off-road; no vehicles allowed here, so no point in looking back, but I will say one thing, the trail ends at a very inconvenient place in the middle of nowhere really.  So if you are on foot, you are looking at about an 8-10 km trek back to the city of Toronto, unless you want to turn around and go back the way you came.  I personally don't like to hike that way, and quite a few others are the same.  Moving forward without backtracking is pretty common.  But these trails aren't designed for that as they are in the middle of a conservation area which is a non-profit charitable organization that offers hikes and educational tours.  It is designed to have you come back to them, so that you can donate, share, assist, learn and restore.

The Rouge River flows through it from near McCowan Road to 19th Avenue.   It begins in the Oak Ridges Moraine in Richmond Hill and goes by Markham northwest, central to south and into a few other smaller conservation areas.  It flows like chocolate milk as it picks up mud and debris traveling south.  

Cedar Trail is one of 5 trails in the conservation area.  This particular one is 2.2 km through old growth forest.  Even while it was sweltering out and the sun was hot and humid, the lush valley was cool by comparison.   There are some steep grades on the trail and several wooden staircases taking you down into the forest floor, which is yet another reason, I personally don't wish to go back up where I came from.  I had no idea that what lay ahead was 2 hours of walking to get back into the suburban core.  It's rural country out here, next to the Metropolitan Toronto Zoo, which shares land space.  Passing several hectares of unripened corn crops and long two-laned highways it was quite the hike.   The Rouge Valley Conservation area is not for biking either.  

So, come here to escape,  belong to nature again and watch out for the coyotes (warning posters have been in every trail from Hamilton to Eastern Ontario).  When you go into the valley, expect to come right back up in this place, otherwise expect a 2-3 hour journey along Beare Rd up to Steeles almost as far as Markham Road.

Was it worth it? Yes.  You can expect to see small streams that flow into the Little Rouge Creek.  You will see all kinds of wetland and meadow species near southern sections of the trail and forest species in the north.  

If you haven't had a chance to challenge yourself in a while, I suggest starting with a place where you can't look back.