Your search results
23 June 2023

Barnum Creek: A Path To Wonder

Barnum Creek Nature Reserve. Photo by Darren Lum

As an avid hiker and cyclist, I’m always searching the country for serene trails and spectacular natural beauty. But having lived in Haliburton County for many years now, I’ve come to appreciate that one of the most beautiful areas is in my own backyard. I find myself returning again and again to the Barnum Creek Nature Reserve because it contains a power and grace that is unlike anywhere else.

It is felt in the rushing waters from the creek, which bisects the 600-acre Haliburton property. It is there in the whispering wind and the waving mature maple treetops. It is there in the majesty of the moose and deer, and the birds who serenade you as you walk down the trails lined by wild leeks, blue cohosts, leatherwoods and maidenhair ferns.

What is the Barnum Creek Nature Reserve?

Photo by Darren Lum

Only a short drive from the Village of Haliburton, which is approximately 220 km north of Toronto, the Barnum Creek Nature Reserve is an unheralded trail system that is representative of the diversity of ecosystems in the Haliburton Highlands. On the trails, you will find everything from tolerant hardwood forest, mixed wood forest, marsh and swamp to open upland successional forest habitat reclaiming former agricultural land.

Similar habitats are found immediately south of the property on a large tract of crown land that is known to provide habitat for species-at-risk such as the Blanding turtle, the whip-poor-will and the five-lined skink.

Under the management of the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust, Barnum Creek not only offers outdoor explorers the opportunity for adventure all year round — whether by foot, bike or snowshoe (and even backcountry ski) — but it also serves ecological functions such as flood attenuation, groundwater, recharge/discharge, water filtration and carbon sequestration.

How to get there:

Finding Barnum Creek can be challenging. The trail head is located on 1118 Gould Crossing Road. When using Google maps enter Cowan Road but look for signage for Gould Crossing.

Leading to the ascent to the trailhead from County Road 1, Gould Crossing can be easily negotiated by a passenger car. But the final ascent, which is close to 100 metres is not regularly maintained so take it slowly. Walking this portion is an option and there is parking at the bottom before the hill, which is prior to crossing the Haliburton County Rail Trail. In winter, this is the only option.

There is parking for about 10 vehicles and no charge to enter the trail (donations welcome). There are no facilities at the trailhead.

Things to do at the Barnum Creek Nature Reserve:

Barnum Creek is a designated nature reserve which means that hunting, motorized vehicles, campfires, overnight camping and harvesting are not permitted on the land. Do your best to not disturb the flora or fauna.

If you are visiting the Haliburton area, come to Barnum Creek for quiet contemplation of nature. There are three signed trails at Barnum Creek: the 6-km Heritage Trail, the short and demanding Ridge Trail (956 metres) and the Waterfall Trail (714 metres) where you walk along the creek.

With a leisurely pace, you can easily complete all three trails over a few hours. Take your water (or water filter and stock up at the creek) and snacks to refuel. The Ridge Trail is the most difficult of the three, with steep ascents and descents. Regardless of which trails you take, you’ll find yourself in soul-satisfying wild splendour.

Category: Ontario