It was the first day of spring, March 20th, 2016. My family and I decided to go on a spring hike to one of our favourite areas in Gananoque: The Loop Trails. These trails are just off 4th Street and Crosby Road, in the north of Gananoque. To get ready for the hike we wore rubber boots, light coats and a backpack with nuts in case we got hungry.
Soon we were off. Our first part of our hike took us through the Riverside Loop that starts off with an amusing ramp that looks like a water slide because of the wooden planks framing it. The reason why I love this trail is because of its different terrain. In parts, it can be sunny and bright while in others it can have tall soft feathery grasses surrounding you or dappled light shining through the tops of trees giving it a calming underwater effect. On the Riverside Loop, there are swamp-like areas with cattails and boardwalks that my sister loves to run across, delighted by the satisfying "clump, clump, clump" her shoes make on the boardwalk. Like the other loop trails, the Riverside Loop has many different plants including a variety of mosses, trees, and edible plants. The sounds on this trail are lively and beautiful, birds singing, chipmunks chattering and the sound of a gentle breeze whistling through the grass.
There are two lookouts on the Riverside Loop, one equipped with a bench and the other with a picnic table. Both spots have a magnificent view of the sparkling Gananoque River. On this trail, you can often find an array of animals such as different coloured squirrels, rabbits and beautiful painted turtles. For the different seasons, there is an assortment of different smells, the winter: wood smoke, the spring: fresh earth and dew on the leaves, summer: the fragrance of flowers, fall: fallen leaves. These trails have been taken very good care of. They have wooden stairs and are groomed. The length of the Riverside Loop is about 10 minutes at a brisk walk - a great place to have a vibrant morning jog or a calming evening walk.
Once out of the Riverside Loop, we went across Snappers Bridge - an old railroad bridge that has been turned into a walking bridge. Sometimes you can get a glimpse of water snakes and different turtles, swimming below. Snappers Bridge overlooks another part of the Gananoque River’s shimmering waters, where in the summer, sometimes you can even spot a kayaker or two.
Next, we ventured onto Snappers Loop. This loop has an amazing scent of pine. It is a bit narrow, with just enough room for about two people to walk, side by side. It is quite an interesting trail, as it goes up, up, up, down, down, down. It is a shorter trail than the Riverside Loop and is good for a quick walk, but is just as fun! There are great lookouts on the trail too. They have rocky platforms that are great for having picnics or just relaxing.
Again in the summer, on both of these trails, there are a wide range of flowers in season. Some of my favourites include Buttercups, Daisies and Violets. Snappers Loop has rocky slopes, laden with moss, that we love to climb. The length of the trail is about five minutes, depending on how fast you walk and if you stop to climb. These trails are not usually very busy,so they are a perfect place to relax.
In the network of Loop Trails, you can take a detour and go look at houses on the way to Riverside Loop. It is a good place for a bike ride, since the houses are in a circle with smooth pavement underneath. The two trails are not so good for biking though, because of the rocks and stairs.
Lastly, on this March walk, we traveled to the Narrows Loop, a trail that is around the same length as Riverside Loop. It is flatter than the other trails and is great for biking. There are two picnic benches on the trail and one lookout. There are marsh areas in the ditches, and I love looking for frogs there. There is a gravel path and in the fall there are large, soft, burgundy Sumac plants lining the trail.
One request I have - if you travel on the Gananoque Trails: Please don’t litter! These trails are so wonderful and deserve the right to be clean! Sometimes I find litter on the trails, and we usually pick it up and put it in our backpack. The length of Narrows Loop is about 10 minutes. It smells clean and fresh, like wet earth. I think it’s a great place to look for little critters such as snails, worms and caterpillars. But another request: if you do manage to catch a little critter, please remember to let it go safely. They deserve to live too!
On all of the Loop Trails, Riverside, Snapper and Narrows, we found a variety of scat and tracks (it might sound gross, but scat is animal poop, and it tells a lot about what is hiding around you in nature, just like tracks do.) On the hike we found deer tracks and scat, we found rabbit scat and we found squirrel tracks. If you go on the Loop Trails early in the morning, you might not only see animal scat and tracks, but also the actual animals too!
In addition to animals, there is also a lot to learn about the plants on the trails. For example, in the summer you should beware of deadly Nightshade! It’s a poisonous plant that can sometimes be sighted on these trails. It is a vine-like plant with red berries and green leaves, and its flowers are small, purple and have a dark pointed centre. If you eat the berries, you could die, but even the oil of the plant can make you really, really sick, if it gets in your mouth. But there are some great edible plants on the Loop Trail too, including delicious small clumps of black raspberries that are native to Ontario. Remember; never to eat wild plants, unless you are completely sure it is safe.
These trails are good in rain or shine, and in any season. They keep me calm and clear my head. I love all these amazing Gananoque Trails, and I hope you will too!
By Janevra Pier – Age 10
Janevra Pier is a Grade 5 student at Thousand Islands Elementary School, in Lansdowne, who lives in Gananoque. Janevra loves to both read and write and helped to found the Young Writer’s Club that runs each spring, at Gananoque Public Library. The Library Program and Outreach Coordinator, Pam Hudson, introduced TI Life to Janevra, saying, “Our talented young author Janevra Pier has just finished writing her very first article for Thousand Islands Life, I hope you like it.”
Note: We have done very little editing of this article aside from adding commas and minor suggestions. We encourage this young writer as well as others, to keep sharing material about our Thousand Islands.