My first weekend in Muskoka was spent moving with a short visit to Algonquin Park. My second weekend was spent following the Muskoka Maple Trail. The event this year runs from March 14 – April 23 and the Discover Muskoka website can help you to design your own unique maple trail experience.
There are a couple of different areas to explore. The Huntsville and Lake of Bays area, or the Bracebridge, Bala and Gravenhurst area that we explored.
It was a beautiful morning for us on Saturday with sun and cloud, and a light dusting of snow on the ground. Our first stop was Brooklands Farm for their Annual Heritage Tradition Maple Weekend.
They had a horse drawn wagon ride, taffy samples, Lake of Bays maple ale on tap, an outdoor warming fire and live music in the barn with craft and goody vendors. We particularly enjoyed a walk along their Maple Trail that took us through their sugar bush and shack to where they were boiling down.
We really needed to wander through their sugar bush. It was the kind of sugar bush that my husband grew up in with maples surrounded by white pine, birch and hemlock. It was the shield country sugar bush that we love so much. Living in Guelph previously gave us many opportunities to find sugar bushes, but they were so different. I believe that each sugar bush has its own terrior, just like wine and other artisanal crops. So it’s the granite, accompanying trees and landscape that make this maple syrup much different than southwestern Ontario’s.
After our visit at Brooklands Farm, we drove through Port Carling and around to Bala. Port Carling has this really neat mural on the side of a historic building. If you look closely you will see that the mural is made up of individual photographs. So neat!
Between Bala and Gravenhurst is Hardy Lake Provincial Park. We stopped to take Banjo for a 3km hike. When the ancient Lake Algonquin receded, it left a remnant community of Atlantic Ocean shoreline plants behind. The park also contains an inland section of displaced Georgian Bay shoreline. It is absolutely beautiful and one of the main reasons why we moved up north. We needed to be closer to shield country.
After our hike we stopped in Gravenhurst at Sawdust City Brewing Co. to quench our thirst.
Another great day in Muskoka shield country.