Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve

Hiking Muskoka

In October, we spent two weeks hiking trails in the Muskoka region. This entry is part of that series.

Dog on trail in Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve

Torrance Barrens is a great trail that was recommended to us by local hikers. On a Sunday morning in October, the parking lot was completely filled, so this is a well-known trail. Even with a full parking lot, we rarely encountered other people on the trail. The area is extensive and people walk the trails at different speeds.

Parking

The official parking lot is on Southwood Road, Gravenhurst

Map of parking lot for trails in Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve

Portable toilets can be found at this location. We noticed cars parked on other sections of the road, so there are many access points. 

Parking area in Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve

One of the first things I noticed about this trail is the secondary name "Dark Sky Reserve." A sign at the trailhead gives more information.

Dark Sky Reserve in Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve

For the past year, I've been working with the Space Place Canada team to bring a planetarium to Toronto. One of the things that Toronto is short of is a dark sky. The Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Reserve is a roughly two-hour drive for most Torontonians, allowing them to find a pristine night sky to view and photograph. I didn't visit at night but will one day. 

From the muskoka.ca brochure:

In 1999, Torrance Barrens Conservation Area was designated as the world’s first permanent Dark Sky Reserve. The 4,700-acres of Crown land is bedrock and wetlands, with trees and bushes that are stunted in height. For star-gazers this means a spectacular 360 degree view of the night sky, unhampered by light pollution. Even an amateur’s telescope can see the rings of Saturn. Late in the summer and in the early fall it’s posssible the northern lights (aurora borealis) could put in an appearance.

The next thing you'll notice is the barren bedrock. The Canadian Shield is a striking landscape feature of the Muskoka area, and this park is a perfect example. 

Learn about the Canadian Shield in Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve

Muskoka's landscape was inspirational to the Group of Seven artists, so at times, walking this trail is like walking in a painting.

Group of Seven inspiration from Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve

Trails 

There are three trails in Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve: 3 km, 5 km, and 6 km loops. 

Map of trails in Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve

We hiked the 5 km loop which took us around Highland Pond.

Endomondo map of the 5 km trail in Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve

We encountered a Hindu statue near a giant boulder. We'd love to learn the story about the placement of the statue!

Hindu statue in Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve

We met other furry friends who also loved the trails.

Dogs playing in Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve

We normally visit the water to see if there is wildlife, but on this hike, we just enjoyed the pond's view from a distance.

Highland Pond in Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve

Moss and lichen covered much of the barren bedrock and reminded me of the book "The Signature of All Things" by Elizabeth Gilbert. The protagonist Alma Whittaker studied moss, and the book makes you see moss in a whole new way.

Lichen and moss in Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve

Near the end of the hike, you'll cross Southwood Road and come to a small waterfall. 

Waterfalls in Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve

If you do the trail in reverse by crossing the road to start your hike, you'll come to the falls immediately. This may be a way to do a very short hike that is appealing to young children.

Waterfalls in Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve

The trails are well marked with blazes on trees or rocks as well as blue signs. 

Blazes mark the trails in Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve

Birdwatching

We didn't get photos of many of the birds in the area except for a woodpecker. The granite bedrock and wetlands make this area home to 94 identified species of birds. 

Woodpecker in Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve

Further information

For more information on this trail, see

https://www.discovermuskoka.ca/things-to-do/hiking-trails/torrance-barrens/

Instagram

Enjoy your hike! When you post photos to Instagram, tag us at @hikingtoronto or #hikingtorontowithlucy.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Bestview Park Nature Trails

Bluffer Park and Marina

Sunnybrook Off-Leash Park

New Trails in Charles Sauriol Conservation Area

Huntington Park, Markham

Earl Bales Park to Don Valley Golf Course

Humber River Trail - Etienne Brulé Park

Sherwood Park Off-Leash Paradise

Colonel Danforth Park to Old Kingston Road

Warden Woods Trail