I say undiscovered Humber Valley Heritage Trail (HVHT) as you can only expect to see a few other hikers along the route except on the last section. Yet the Humber trail is located within an easy drive of Toronto and our hike today will be a comfortable 17 kilometers long, perfect for a moderate level of hike.
In fact we started by driving west from Bolton and north on Humber Station Station Road until reaching the Trans Canada Trail 1.8 km north of Old Church Road. There is parking for only a few cars and you will see proudly standing the H.V.H.T. sign indicating that the trail actually starts a few metres away.
This first section passes through the well known Albion Hills Conservation Area and over a stile. I had a beginner in our group so we explained that a stile was a wooden structure used to climb over fences. After skirting around a small pond complete with some ducks making a lot of noise it was across an overgrown field with only the trail blazes on the signs to indicate the way.
After crossing Centreville Creek and a few short climbs you pass a Sugar Hut used for demonstrating the making of maple syrup in the spring. You are in a sugar bush shared with tmountain bikers who for the most past have their own trails but you do merge at times. Also in this Carolinian forest you will pass a series of wetlands on either side.
After a few kilometers you leave the park and continue along Duffy’s Lane which is a quiet road section you follow until reaching the Humber River where you enter into a forested section again. Hikers always remark how small the river is at this point not far from its headwaters. Along this trail you will see numbered posts which is an interpretive guide to the Humber Valley Heritage Trail.
Continue along the well signed trail (white blazes) over gentle rolling and forested countryside with glimpses at the river from time to time. Where necessary there are wooden structures over the streams and wet spots on the trail.
At Castederg Sideroad (7.93 km point) go left and cross the bridge over the Humber River before joining the trail on again immediately after crossing. Continue along a short flood plain and ascent the forested hill before crossing the edge of farm fields and then back into the woods. This section has a number of ravines with a number of up and downs, many with steps to prevent erosion.
You are around the half way point and when you get a glimpse of the Humber River so why not stop for a lunch break? On today’s hike other than the mountain bikers at the start we see our only hiker. In past hikes we have also seen white tail deer in this section walking along the trail.
Walk up some more stairs and into an open area. During this autumn hike I don’t know what is more colourful, the fall foliage on the trees or the field of wild flowers in yellow (golden rod), white (daisys) and purple all flanked by flaming red sumachs.
I don’t know what is more colorful, the fields of wild flowers or fall foliage
After crossing Duffy’s Lane in are in for a real treat, particularly in the autumn. You are likely to come across other walkers and families in the last 5 km as you are getting close to Bolton. This section has been rerouted into a parking lot and under the bridge and it can be difficult to locate the trail again at this point.
You walk along a ridge and view of the autumn tress is spectacular. Through some more forest and you can see the town of Bolton from the scenic lookout. Below you is a the winding Humber River.
You descend into the valley also a series of switch back turns and over a wooden bridge before climbing back up. The trail divides here with the original section straight ahead to a Bolton Recreation Centre.
However the best route is to follow the trail back down into the Humber Valley and join the river which you will follow the rest of the way. It is rairly simple with only only one hill along the way and a steel bridge to take you over the river and back into Bolton. The trail does continue for a short distance past Bolton.
This 17 km trail is within a one hour drive of Toronto, offers an undiscovered route with a very diverse terrain. With all the hardwood forests the Humber Valley Heritage Trail is best hiked in the late September or early October but is interesting anytime.
Click here to check out other great hikes near 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.