The sun is finally out! I mean, it wasn’t when I started, but the forecast said it was coming. The plan was to hit up both Brown Hill Tract and Zephyr Tract of the York Regional Forest area. However, Brown Hill was closed as they try to tame the ash borer issue. So Zephyr Tract it is!
The red tape was clearly not keeping some people out, but I decided to behave today. Mostly because I had nowhere to park Sully.
On to Zephyr Tract, which is just around the corner from Brown Hill (country corner). The parking area for Zephyr is found at the corner of Holborn Road and York Durham Line.
Sully was the lone vehicle in the lot on my arrival at 9am. There are several gates along Holborn Road that you can also park at along the side of the road. Just don’t block the gates.
Off we go, down the entrance trail. This trail also doubles with another trail that heads north out of the York Regional Forest area. Make a hard left at the junction to stay with Zephyr Tract.
Fresh cut trees line the trail as I head south back towards Holborn Road.
Zephyr Tract covers an area spanning both sides of the road. It’s a quiet country road but nonetheless, beware of crazy country drivers. (the speed limit is 60 here, but it’s the country so who’s really counting?) This crossing is one of the roadside parking areas. An SUV was pulling away, with a dog that I didn’t get to meet, as I approached.
If you follow this trail straight down to the southern edge of Zephyr Tract, you’ll find these posts to mark “the end”. The trail does continue, however. I didn’t follow it much farther, but mental note for a future trip!
In the middle of the southern portion of Zephyr Tract is this open pit that is clearly well-used by some local ATV enthusiasts. Ironically, the southern portion is the one with the “No motorized vehicles” signage – the northern portion does not forbid it.
There are many un-mapped trails throughout the York Regional Forest area, and the “official” ones from the map are not marked. I took a guess at which way to go from the pit. Turns out it wasn’t the right way but as it is a small enough area, it wasn’t the wrong way either!
Back down at the southern edge on the other north-south trail, it hooks to the right – and continues in to even more un-mapped trails. This section of the York Regional Forest area had more climb to it that the rest.
It seems they are just clearing this out for new trails? To my untrained eye, it looks like whomever was cutting down trees didn’t really know what they were doing. But this one was left looking like a whale, so I guess unintentional art makes up for ineptitude.
The un-mapped trails loop back to the mapped trails and I was on my way back to the northern portion of Zephyr Tract. I took the trail along the road and followed it to the western edge.
Up until this point, the trails were very maintained. The county had come by and cleared the fallen tree from the road, but no one had been in to clear the tree from the trail yet. Oh well – down low we go!
And lower still! At the western edge, the trail goes right and straight down a hill with a good decline. I imagine this would not be fun after any substantial rain.
Working my way towards the northern edge of Zephyr tract now, it’s easy to spot many of the areas that would become mud slides given the opportunity. I prefer the ice slides, personally.
The ice was still fairly thick in places where the sun had a hard time getting to. Like this junction at the middle of the northern edge of the York Regional Forest area.
And it did not give up through the center trail of Zephyr Tract, as it wound it’s way uphill back to Holborn Road.
I ended up zigzagging through the area, and found myself back at the northern edge. By the map, this is the end of the line. But by the traffic-trampled route around the fence, this is an open sunny field. I hadn’t noticed how much the overcast skies had broken up while under the protection of the trees!
But the sun made itself known from there on out. Quickly the temperatures were rising, and the ground was getting softer.
Back up the original trail I headed in on. This time I planned to keep straight and take the trail north out of the York Regional Forest area.
This was an old rail bed. It’s a straight run north, following the slight curve from the parking lot at Zephyr Tract. It used to run up to Sutton from here, but the bridge is out about 1.5km from the York Regional Forest area.
It’s still a nice walk, and seem pretty popular for dogs and their people.
And it was a lovely way to end my hike, as it was more open than the forest and I was able to soak up the sunshine and blue skies!
This golf course next to the trail has “surveillance video” signs everywhere. So I waved. I hope I made some security guard’s day.
And here is where the bridge is out. The water is fairly fast flowing but the ice was still forming in thin sheets at the banks, layering over itself.
212m elevation gain