A few years ago I was driving through the rolling hills of Pelham/Fonthill area and stumbled upon St. Johns Conservation Area. From what I remember, it is a small conservation area, very scenic, with a trail that goes around a pond. When I did research on the park in preparation of my visit, I found out it’s much more than that.
The park actually has quite a few trails, in addition to the one that goes around the pond. So, one friday, on my way home from work, I decided to stop there and do some fall hiking!
The drive to and from the park is pretty fabulous all in itself. Winding roads lead you into the past, while modern homes remind you, you’re in the present. The roads are narrow and there are beautiful fall colours everywhere. En route to the park I had to pull over and take these pictures. I wish I could’ve truly captured the sky as I saw it, but this will have to do. It just looked so awesome!
I arrived at St John’s Conservation Area around 5pm and was anxious to check out these trails I’d never seen before and revisit the one that I had.
I checked out the map, planning to do as much of the trails as possible, without retracing my steps. I decided on beginning at the Sassafras Stroll, taking it to the Tulip Tree Trail, then connecting with the St. Johns Ridge Trail. From there I would meet up with another section of the Tuilp Tree Trail, back to Sassafras Stroll and maybe do the small loop called Horseshoe at some point as well. I took my trailhead selfie, sent it to my friend so someone knew were I was, and headed off into the forest!
The trails are well marked and not to hard to find considering the huge amount of leaves that had already fallen. The colours were so pretty and the trees are so big. I was amazed at how close to the city I was, even though it felt so far away.
The Sassafras Stroll was just that, a wide road, even and level and not too difficult at all. When the trail branched off to the right to St. John’s Ridge, it changed quite a bit. The trail here was narrow, full of roots and rocks and displayed a steep trek upwards in many places. There were so many cool roots, I had to take some photos of them.
(I apologize for the massive size of the videos. I am waiting to hear back from wordpress on how these can be sized properly and will revise accordingly when I am aware of how to proceed. Thanks for your patience!)
Up we go.
I turned a slight corner and then noticed I was at the top of a ridge. To my left was a valley that was full of beautiful colors, trees, plants, vines and birds. It was absolutely breathtaking!
The trail wound left in a large circle along the top of the ridge and then slowly went down into the valley It was mezmerizing, like a kaleidoscope of colours delighting my eyes. In addition, the chirping of a large amount of birds contributed to the scene, making it even more spectacular!
After my time in the pretty valley I continued on the trail, finding this fun face along the way and lots more fall beauty! Can you see the face?
After a bit of walking I came to a sign that said to parking lot one way or long trail entrance, another way. I wasn’t anywhere near ready to leave this lovely place, so I took the long trail entrance, which was a right turn onto what I believe was the Tulip Tree Trail to do a loop there. It was just a pretty as the other trail was, including lots more roots!
So far this place was turning out to be consistently gorgeous and I was enjoying every minute of being here.
Great place for a bear to live, if there were bears here! 🙂
This bridge takes me into what is supposed to be a marshy area, but due to low water levels, (no water really), it’s not marshy at all…. still really nice to look at though!
There were quite a few bridges here that didn’t really go over anything, they were just there. I assume at some point in the year, water runs under them, but there was none at the moment.
I noticed in this area and a few others that the roots were actually covered with landscaping fabric. it made them a bit slippery to walk on and that’s how I actually first discovered it. I’m assuming this is to protect the roots from damage? I’m curious anyone has ever seen this or knows if that’s why they’ve done this here? Let me know if you know anything about it? THANKS!
This is the start of the Horseshoe trail. Just a small loop that is 0.6 km.
From here I was only a short distance to the car. I walked through the parking lot and went towards the Pond trail to hike the loop around the pond. The trail starts further down the parking lot from the one I’d just come from, it’s a separate trail.
I was so happy I saved this trail for last. Not only was I the only one here, probably because it was cold and rainy all afternoon, and possibly because it was a friday night, but it was also almost sunset and the perfect time of day to take photos!!! Every picture seemed to be perfect, to me, anyways!
I honestly could’ve stayed here all night. The colors were the best I’d seen so far and their reflection in the pond made it all the more magical. Sadly, the sun was setting and I had somewhere to be, but I’d captured as many decent images as I could get and now it was time to say goodbye. I slowly walked to my car in the parking lot and headed back to the city, so happy I had decided to revisit this wonderful place. I would definitely be back again soon!
Hope you enjoyed your virtual hike with me to St. Johns Conservation Area. I hope it has inspired you to go there for a visit or check out one of the other amazing parks somewhere near you! And if you’re not able to do that, please join me for another virtual hike, coming here soon! I’d love to take you along with me! 🙂
If you have any comments, critisizms or suggestions, please send me a message. I would love to hear from you!