December came up quicker than expected. I wasn’t very good with my hiking goals this autumn, but we fit one last hike in before official Winter. I say “official” because we still technically have a week to go, but this is Canada – we’ve already been buried in snow! Oh well. Off to Bruce’s Mill we go!
Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area is just east of Gormley, off Stouffville Road at Warden. An easy trip off the 404. It is a seasonal park, and has been closed since November. We saw someone exiting the park gates when we got there, but I had no idea how to get in so we parked just outside.
We ended up following the main road in for a ways, until we saw the sign for the Butterfly Meadow.
I’m not sure if we ever hit the Butterfly Meadow, given that it was buried in a few inches of snow and there were definitely no butterflies to be seen, but it did provide access to the rest of the trails.
And with that, we entered the Bruce’s Mill trail system. For being a closed park, it seems to be well-used.
Off the boardwalk on the northeast edge of the park, we noticed some movement in this little house.
Following the trail back along Stouffville Road, the top most edge of Bruce’s Mill.
This was the first time either of our new-this-year boots had encountered snow. My Keen’s held up well – I was not cold, or uncomfortable, and my socks were dry once taken off (inside the boot, anyway). My friend’s Salomon’s, not so much.
I love snow on branches. Any branches. Especially a mess of branches like this vine/shrub contraption.
As indicated on the trail map above, certain pieces of trails had been closed. That didn’t stop some people – quite a few people, it seems. But for once, we didn’t disobey. But only because we weren’t headed that way.
Back up towards the north edge of Bruce’s Mill and across what might be a lovely little creek – no idea, it’s frozen and buried in snow. But the bridge is decent.
On the west side, nearest Warden, the forest gives way to a wide open field. This would probably make for decent cross-country skiing – if the park were open year-round.
At this point, we were baking in the sun. It definitely increased the temperature a few degrees.
Back down to the bottom edge of Bruce’s Mill and we’re once again on the main road leading from the gate to the parking. And this is where you find the Mill proper.
I can’t say I was impressed with the state of it, but it is what it is.
From here, a trail winds it way up through the center of the park, past another parking area.
These little shacks occupy a couple intersections, but we aren’t entirely certain what their purpose is. Oh well, to the right and back through what might have been the Butterfly Meadow.
91m elevation gain