As the weather is finally starting to warm up a bit, if you can call -4C “warming up”, we took full advantage of our first day off on March Break to go for a hike. Now we did have to go to Costco as well for some much needed bulk groceries (where else can you buy a box of cheese strings?) so the plan was to stop on a trail on the way up to London.  We turned off the highway at the Ridgetown exit to go explore the Ridgetown T.R.E.E.S. Memorial trail.
Excuse the smudge on my lens…
     This trail has been high on my list of trails to visit since summer last year. I knew it was still getting worked on so I wanted to wait until it was a bit more developed to check it out. The hubby had to trust my directions to find it as the only address I could find was that it was the end of Marsh Street. We drove down Marsh Street and to the end of it but didn’t see it so we turned back around and noticed the little sign for the trail tucked in between residential houses and industrial buildings.  There didn’t seem to be any parking so we parked in a parking lot of one of the buildings as it was closed for the day. We got the boys in their coats and snow pants, hopefully for the last time this season, and we were ready to explore.
     Now to be honest, when we drove by it I wasn’t expecting much of a trail, but as soon as we entered it I knew it would be a great walk. There were trees of many different varieties all over and the best part was that they were mature trees, for some reason I was picturing young trees for a memorial trail, but walking among big trees always makes a trail seem more special. The boys who are now getting big enough to actually walk trails and not needing the wagon were running around finding animal tracks and climbing on big rocks and logs near the entrance.  I have no idea what the actual trail is like as the snow was so deep, so we just followed in the footsteps of the (wo)man-made tracks that made its own trail.
     There was a little stream that ran to the left side of the trail that the boys inspected. With parts of it frozen with thick ice as a little bit of water quietly trickled over it, it was a good example of how ice melts. The boys also had a lot of fun learning about burrs and how they will stick to everything. By the time I caught up with them and the husband their hats were decorated with burrs as they laughed at each other’s new look.
     This trail reminded me a bit of Mud Creek Loop in Chatham in the sense it was behind a row of houses, but it felt more closed in and private as the trees were close together. There wasn`t too much today nature wise, but that is expected in this type of weather. We saw the odd squirrel and bird, but with the tracks left behind and the snow that was dug up into little burrows we could tell it was a busy little habitat for a lot of animals.


     We got yet another winter trail surprise by the end of the tree line of a tiny little snowman. To whoever made this little snowman we would like to thank you for bringing a big smile to all of our faces! That is one of the best things about going on trails; you never know what you might find!

      We crossed the stream once more and headed out the same way we came from. We got to the car, took off the coats and snow pants, and once again, we were ready to head back to the 401 the adults feeling refreshed by the fresh air and sunlight, and the boys ready for a nap after a very fun and active time at the Ridgetown T.R.E.E.S. Memorial Trail. 

     As the boys were starting to get tired having to walk through the very deep snow in their snowsuits, we decided to turn around before we entered another area that seemed like it might hold more of a wetland area. The hubby and our 4 year old went to the other side of the stream and started walking while the 2 year old started walking on his own back the way we came with me following him. He climbed up and sat down on one of the many memorial benches and took a small break. Then he noticed where his brother and dad were and was not happy, and unsure of how to get to them. After some tears, explaining how we can get there, and carrying we were reunited.

     By then our little guy was exhausted and luckily his Dad was happy (and energetic enough) to carry him. The oldest and I looked at more tracks and took our time coming back. He found another of the trees with berries on them and looked at that for a bit, and squished a couple of the berries for good measure. Meanwhile, the youngest who was put down for a break just laid there in the snow contemplating a nap right there.

     Taking a bit of time to explore a trail is a fun (and cheap!) way to take a break from a long drive with kids. We will have to do more of this on future trips. Everything always seems rushed, especially with two little kids, but stopping on a trail, even for a little while, is a great reminder to slow things down, to enjoy the time we have together, and just explore the world around us.  

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