Another winter weekend, another winter hike. More fun in Halton Region exploring the Forest Tracts of Cox and Britton. Today was a little different, in that instead of heading out in the early morning as I usually do, I was lazy and stayed in bed. Eventually I dragged myself out to try and accomplish something, and while this hike was not what I originally set out for, it gave me the sense of fulfillment I needed for my day.
Cox and Britton are located on either side of Sixth Line, which is just off of Campbelleville Road in Milton; easily accessible by the 401 (when it’s not shut down for a drive-by shooting.) Cox Tract is a short 1km there-and-back leading to a quarry road.
There is no parking at Cox Tract, but Britton Tract has two entrances with parking, so I guess it makes up for it. Neither are very large, and only accommodate about 6 cars. In the summer months you are better off to go early to get a spot, or hope someone is leaving when you get there later.
I parked in the southern lot entrance and made my way up Sixth Line to Cox Tract. Without turning on my tracker. Because it was that sort of day.
Halton Regional Forest Tracts are well-marked with green flags – very easy to find, even in the snow, even the less-travelled routes.
Though it doesn’t look like Cox Tract is less-travelled, as the entrance was well-trampled and the uneven ice made me wish I had donned my crampons. Oops.
But that doesn’t last long and suddenly I’m breaking fresh tracks in untouched snow, apart from a lone canine that ventured through maybe the day before.
There is something satisfying about being the first one through the snow on a trail. Well, the first human, anyway. There were plenty of other little tracks darting across here and there as I followed the canine up most of the trail.
I re-traced my steps back out of Cox Tract and made my way up Sixth Line towards the northern lot entrance for Britton Tract.
Luckily it wasn’t too busy along this stretch, as there is no sidewalk or barrier from the traffic. You should walk on the side of the road in the opposite direction that traffic is heading so you can watch them coming.
The first bits of Britton Tract had been wood-chipped to help with traction. It didn’t go very far, however, and soon I was wishing I had my crampons again.
This part of the Britton Tract is also part of the Bruce Trail side trail for Hilton Falls. Follow the blue blazes to make your way in to Hilton Falls Conservation Area. While that wasn’t my intention, I did make the left here and followed the blue blazes until the next junction.
All the trails in the Halton Regional Forest are wide and fairly level. I can imagine some sections in the Spring would be very, very muddy.
At the west end of Britton Tract, you can turn off and join up with Robertson Tract.
Because there is technically a small tail of Britton Tract before it meets up with Robertson Tract past this junction, I decided to venture left. Just so you know, there is no marking to indicate where Britton Tract ends and Robertson Tract begins. So I wandered for a bit before consulting my GPS. Not that I minded the extra few steps – besides I was busy playing with Boomerang.
Until I realized it was getting darker. I’m not used to racing the sun! I’m usually chasing it up in the sky, not down behind the horizon. Oops. Better get back before I can’t see my footing on the ice.
At this point I ended up doing a little interval training – speed walking, and jogging in bursts. I tell myself it’s good training for my upcoming trip to the Tour Du Mont Blanc.
It’s much harder to jog along the icy stretches. Ignoring the fact that I was in my heavy waterproof Keen boots, with my Outdoor Research gaiters on top of two layers on leggings (one of them a thicker Under Armour ColdGear). Definitely not running gear.
And the trail was not cooperating either. Instead of maintaining the relatively flat grade it had throughout, the last stretch up to the car was uphill – a hill of mud and ice.
That’s fine. I made it up the hill and back to the car with about 10 minutes to spare.
8.32km (plus ~1.2km un-tracked)
102m elevation gain