Orchard Trail (Rouge Valley)

Majestic Jack Pines
I loved the Orchard Trail in the Rouge Valley much more than "Cedar Trail" The paths are more concise and you won't have any problems on the trail if you follow the white blazes marked on the trees.

The Orchard Trail was carved out of remnants of an agricultural past and coins the phrase 'hope springs eternal' as you can see even in a short span of two years nature reclaiming the land.

I used to frequent the Tommy Thompson Park quite a bit and one of the things I thought was the most interesting was the way the geography was transformed by  growing over piles of rubble.  This had created hills and valleys and the excavation of the nearby soil would produce wetlands when it was removed to cover the rubble.

You can see this very phenomenon from the north trail head.  

Another interesting bit of information was that I found out that back in the 50's there used to be a hotel on the South trail head (at Twyn Rivers Drive).  You can still see pieces of the old concrete dam that was once used to back up the Rouge River for swimming for the guests at the hotel that once stood there. It was apparently a popular vacation spot in its time equipped with a ski hill as well.  A search didn't produce any pictures of the hotel itself, though perhaps if I have a little more time I will have closer look.

One of the obvious features of the Orchard Trail
The Rouge River

Site of the remains of the dam and Hotel
is of course the orchard that belonged to residents that once lived here.  I took some pictures of some wild flowers, and snails that started from the ground (eggs that are laid) and somehow found themselves resting on the top leaf of a wild plant four feet up the stalk.  Now that is what I call perseverence!

Near the entrance of the Rouge Valley Conservation Centre, where you cross the front of the house to start the Orchard Trail you will see various sign postings that claim some safety tips in case you encounter a coyote, as well as the possibility of spotting white-tailed deer.  I saw neither, although my camera was in position and would have loved that, other people on the trail were too noisy to ever make any animal feel like peeking out of its hole.

Scrap metal from old car
Spotted some scrap metal of a car, and a box spring from a back seat.  This may have been left over from the local residents.  No one bothered to remove it and it just makes for a unique feature point.  

Now the bees were odd to me.  They moved so slowly, and as I zoomed into two of them hovering around a particular purple flower, I noticed their movements becoming slower and slower and I wondered if they were being poisoned with pesticide sprayed in the area.  I hope not, I would be disappointed if I thought the bees were being harmed by this.

The Orchards
The loveliest site of all in the Orchard Trail to me was the tall Jack Pines.  Majestic and slender, they are in the running for my favorite tree now, along with the Willows.

The entire trail from beginning to end is over 4km both ways.    Unlike the Cedar Trail this one starts at the Conservation Centre and will easily take you back again without leaving you in the middle of nowhere after your descent into the valley.  This one is very accessible with only moderate slopes so great for running and hiking.  Biking is not allowed in any parts of the Conservation Area. If you can manage a two hour trek though, this is one I recommend.