Hiking the Palgrave Trail provides a varied route crossing the a cross country ski area, wildlife and forest preserves, quiet country roads, and some quiet climbs with sweeping views of the countryside and Albion Hills.
While this used to be a Bruce Trail side trail this section is now part of the Oak Ridges main trail and features white blazes.
The Palgrave Trail is located just to the north of the town by the same name. The trail starts at Hwy 50 and continues for about 11 km until joining the main Bruce Trail at Glen Haffy Conservation Area. The Bruce Trail is a long distance trail starting at Queenston Heights on the Niagara River and ending on the Bruce Peninsula at Georgian Bay.
There is a small parking lot at the entrance to the Palgrave Forest and Wildlife Preserve which gets a lot of joggers and dog walkers in the summer and has an extensive network of cross country ski trails for the winter. No matter, after a short distance you will leave the park and people behind as this is a very quiet route with few hikers, at least in my experience.
From the parking lot follow the white blazes of Oak Ridges Trail along the center trail as it crosses the park on gently rolling and forested terrain. Cross Duffy Lane and follow the blazes through the hardwood forest. In the past we have seen wild turkeys walking along the path as well.
A short section along a very quiet country road takes you north before plunging back into a mix of hardwood and pine forests. There is a bench at the top of the first rise with some nice views. You are still in a forest preserve and continue until reaching the Gore Road.
Again head north a short distance along this road before the trail heads back into the woods. Expect to see birds of prey in this section, perhaps some riders on horseback and even a few mountain bikers. There are several ponds and if conditions are right the frogs from one of these ponds (on your left side) create a huge amount of noise in the spring. There is now a wooden boardwalk over the extensively marshy section and an small stream which you cross twice.
Up the road to the north again but when you enter the woods this time expect a steady climb for about 2 km. The views from the top make it all worthwhile and there is a bench to relax on to take in the views.
The side trail continues until reaching a T-Junction with the main Bruce Trail. Take a right turn and continue for about 1 km until Coolihans Road where hopefully you have left a car. Or continue to Hwy 9 a further 3.5 km in a hilly section of Glen Haffy Conservation Area.
Click on the link to see a video and details on hiking the Bruce Trail for other hikes located within one hour from Toronto. An excellent resource is Caledon Hikes: Loops & Lattes by Nicola Ross which includes detailed instructions about 37 different loop routes all in Caledon, available at MEC.
Varied scenery, wildlife, rolling countryside make hiking the Palgrave Trail a great day hike, yet it is located within a one hour drive of Toronto.