001 - 002 | 0.75 kmThis hike is a large series of loops that bring you back to the start and the hike can be varied in length to suit. There is a large trail map where the access trail begins at the parking lot. The trail climbs a hill and circles an open meadow before entering the forest. A trail marker indicates the South Outlier Connector Trail (002).
002 - 003 | 2.7 kmTurn left on this connector trail. The trail climbs a slight slope along a stone wall before entering a dense white cedar forest and an imposing cliff face with a steep zig-zag path up to the top. Exert caution in climbing this cliff as some parts can be scary. Still one sees many families climbing the trail without incident. At the top, the South Outlier Loop trail goes both ways but take the path to your left. The trail passes through a young maple forest and reaches a rocky area that provides a good lookout for the surroundings and continues through a mix of pine, beech and maple trees. The trail passes between two very large old maple trees along the remains of a log fence before continuing on into the woods. The trail arrives at the main Bruce Trail (003) with its white blazes and a large hydro tower staring at you straight ahead. Go right and follow this main trail.
003 - 004 | 3.1 kmThe trail passes through an open area along a wire fence to the left of the trail and some large specimen Spruce trees to the right. At the trail intersection continue along the main Bruce Trail to your left. The trail descends a slope down to an open area and to the right you find the beginning of the Walter Tovell Side Trail (004).
004 - 005 | 4.1 kmFollow this trail along the edge of a large stagnant pond on your left before passing by two large attractive pond areas on both sides of the trail with benches and lookout areas. The trail then climbs up a rocky area and then swings right and climbs up a long gradual incline. The trail passes through a meadow-like open area of mixed shrubbery and grasses with much chicory and milkweed. The trail now climbs a hill and at the top there is great 360 degree panorama view of the surroundings (005).
005 - 006 | 5.5 kmThe trail passes through a jungle of raspberry bushes and then continues along the path thru a grassy, shrubbery area. The trail enters into a more wooded area and meets a gravel road. The main Bruce Trail continues along this gravel road to the right downhill on a wide busy trail. Soon the McCarston’s Lake Trail sign can be seen on the left (006).
006 - 007 | 6.3 kmPass by the beginning of the McCarston’s Lake Trail to your left as we will first continue on along the main Bruce Trail before retracing our steps to the McCarston’s Lake Trail. The trail comes to a few lookout platforms on the right affording great views of the pond below and the rolling lands that stretch out many kilometres eastward. Soon the trail reaches a set of metal steps down to the impressive rock phenomenon and deep fissure known as Jacob’s Ladder (007). A wooden boardwalk takes you trough this area of overhanging rock. This rock was the base of a large inland sea some 400 million years ago. The fossilized remains of some sea creatures can be seen in parts of the rock face. This rugged rock features crevice caves, slopes and chimneys formed by the falling rock. Stunted white cedars cling to the rock face with rare ferns and mosses among the fallen rock at the base. Hiking is not allowed past the gate to preserve the delicate and rare plant life.
007 - 008 | 8.9 kmAt this point you have two options:
1) Retrace your steps back to the branch of the McCarston’s Trail (006) that we passed earlier and follow this trail into the woods. The trail comes out into an open brush area with many milkweed plants. Soon this trail rejoins the main Bruce Trail. Turn right onto the main trial which climbs a slight hill and a trail sign directs you right through a wooden fence gate. The trail descends through the forest and curves around along a wide path through a thinly populated forest area reaching the Lookout Side Trail (008). Turn left onto this trail.
2) Leaving Jacob’s Ladder, continue along the main Bruce Trail on this shorter more direct route that takes you past the beautiful McCarston’s Lake where you can descend a small hill path to the lake shore. Continuing along the main trail you will soon reach the Lookout Side Trail (008). Turn right onto this trail.
008 - 009 | 9.6 kmNow follow the blue markers for the Lookout Trail. The blue markers end abruptly leaving this side trail poorly marked for some reason. Below through the vegetation you will see the pretty kettle lake that names the trail. Be sure to stay on the path here which traverses a rocky area. Climbing to the top of this rock brings you to a magnificent lookout area providing great views of the area to the south, east and west. This is Lookout Point (009).
009 - 010 | 10.0 kmLeaving Lookout Point continue along the trail which descends steeply through a pine tunnel before arriving at an open meadow and the Walter Tovell Side Trail (010) which runs from 25th Sideroad south to waypoint (004.)
010 - 004 | 13.6 kmTurn right onto the gravel trail of the Walter Tovell ST and continue along this path down a long rocky slope. At the bottom keep right on the Walter Tovell ST avoiding the Spillway Trail (not shown on the map -the Spillway Trail reconnects with the Walter Tovell ST further south.) At the next signpost turn right along the main trail which brings you to a small pond with the spillover flowing out the far end and down into the area below. Note that you can return to the starting point (001) using the Carriage connecting trail to shorten the hike.
The trail soon arrives at a swampy area featuring old wooden tree trunks reaching for the sky and curves around this area. Looking up to the west (right) the observation platform just before Jacob’s Ladder can be seen. The trail then turns right crossing a small flat wooden bridge over a small creek and then continues along a dirt path through the wooded area with overhanging branches on both sides of the trail forming a leafy tunnel. This trail continues for some distance on a wide dirt path through the woods. There are areas of high stone cliffs along the way some of which feature caves you might wish to explore. The Walter Tovell ST meets the Bruce Trail (004).
011 - 002 | 15.6 kmTurn left and climb the ridge onto the west (left) part of the South Outlier Loop continuing straight ahead along the cliff edge. This branch of the South Outlier Loop Trail follows the top edge of the Escarpment face through a maple forest of very high trees. This is a very interesting branch of the trail not to be missed. Soon the trail meets the other branch of the trail at the top of the cliff face that you climbed at the beginning of the hike. Now you must descend the cliff. Use great caution in doing so. With care you will have no difficulty. At the bottom of the cliff follow the South Outlier Connector path back to the Carriage access trail (002).
002 - 001 | 16.3 kmTurn right to retrace your steps to the hike trailhead (001) and the parking lot.
Enjoy the hike and the day!
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