Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

Nothing is more exhilarating on a nice day than biking through the countryside. The warm wind blows through your hair, you sit high up and you feel like you are flying. You are in control of the speed and have time to take in the scenery of Simcoe County.
When you drive in your car, you miss a lot because of the speed. You do not have time to slow to a standstill and look around. When you hike, you miss a lot because you have to keep your eyes on the ground or you might stumble over a rock or twist your foot in a hole. So, for me, the bike is the answer.
I belong to a group that is an off-shoot of the Ganaraska Hiking Club (www.ganaraska-hiking-trail.ca). We are all retired and, each spring, we start biking as soon as the roads are free of snow. Most of our treks are 30 to 35 kilometres round trip. We would love new members, so bike on your own or come and join us for a day of fun.
We try to do a different trip every week. Here are some of our favourite trips:
1. Couchiching Park to Mara Provincial Park on Lake Simcoe
You will find plenty of parking on the waterfront in Orillia and you can start biking south right from your car on a smoothly paved bike trail. We love this trip because the trail snakes close to the water's edge along all of the bays.
After about half an hour, take a short detour to see Stephen Leacock's house and his beautiful flower gardens. If you bike on the weekend, you are guaranteed to see a wedding performed in the garden.
Continue the trail to the end, which is located at the Narrows. This narrow spot divides Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe. If you look down into the water, you still can see the historic fish weirs built by the First Nation people many years ago.
Now, try to block out the sound and pedal hard because you have to cross the busy, noisy bridge, but you will be rewarded.
You turn right after the Tim Hortons onto a quiet, paved country road. You will bike toward Lake Simcoe and Mara, enjoying the peaceful countryside, with farms and cattle herds. At Mara, you will find lots of picnic tables if you bike before the summer season.
 2. Couchiching Park to Fern Resort
Like Trip 1, you start at the park and cross the noisy bridge at the Narrows. The Ramara Trail will soon start to your left. It is well marked with a Ganaraska marker. Yo follow an abandoned railroad through the pastoral countryside. We like to bike to Fern Resort in the off-season and explore some of the many nature trails.
3. Orillia to Coldwater on the Uhthoff Trail
Again, start at Couchiching Park. The abandoned railroad north takes you all the way to Coldwater. By the side of the trail are many swamps and creeks. There are lots of benches to sit, take a break and observe nature. This trip might be farther than you want to bike — 50 km return — but you will be rewarded. Coldwater has a wonderful new ice cream parlour where you can sit next to the river and enjoy a rest before you have to pedal back.
4. Hawkestone to Pizza Hut in Orillia
This is one of our favourite trips. We meet at the monument in Hawkestone and start travelling east along the abandoned rail line. You cannot see Lake Simcoe, but any right turn takes you close to the water. The, we stop at all of the small beaches and pars. Sometimes, the leader of the group reserves a long table at Pizza Hut. Nothing is better than "all you can eat" pizza with good friends.
The 13th annual Bradford area Christmas Bird Count was held on Sunday, Jan. 2, with 16 in-field observers and two feeder watchers participating.
The group saw a total of 46 species, bang on the average for this count.
Highlights included the Bradford CBC's first-ever ruby-crowned kinglet (the 92nd species for this count's history), the second-ever long-eared owl, three ravens, a snowy owl, 12 bohemian waxwings, a red-bellied woodpecker, goshawk, horned lark, merlin, five rough-legged hawks, and 6 northern shrikes.
It was a good day out and a nice way to start the new year.
Bradford is at the south end of Lake Simcoe's Cook Bay, next to the Holland Marsh.
Lake Simcoe Living Magazine and lakesimcoeliving.com are launching web-based TV programming on Lake Simcoe Living Community TV (LSLTV).
LSLTV will present programs about the activities and events across the beautiful and exciting Lake Simcoe Watershed, starting with the Lake Simcoe Fishing Show with Wil Wegman.
Wegman, a champion tournament angler who calls Simcoe his home lake, will feature local fishing events, the latest gear, safety on the water and strategies for catching those elusive fish.
The Lake Simcoe Fishing Show will be available in March by clicking on the LSLTV logo on the website at lakesimcoeliving.com.
Other programming for Lake Simcoe's lake people will begin later this spring. Program suggestions can be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority says it has made two land acquisitions that will protect wetlands in the Lake Simcoe watershed.
With the help of the Regional Municipality of York, the conservation authority bought a parcel of land adjacent to its existing land holdings in the Pottageville Swamp Conservation Area.

The Regional Municipality of Durham and the Toronto Field Naturalists helped the LSRCA receive a donation of a strategic parcel of land along the Uxbridge Brook. This acquisition secures a 3.5 km corridor of significant forest, riverine and wetland area. The conservation authority’s Herrema property straddles the brook just north of Leaskdale Road. Downstream the Toronto Field Naturalists own several parcels of land stretching north to Fowlers Road.
Comprising more than 13 hectares (32 acres) of land, these additions bring the total land owned by the conservation authority to 1,440 hectares (3,558 acres).

“The Toronto Field Naturalists are delighted that our LSRCA neighbours are working with us to protect this large continuous natural heritage corridor in perpetuity,” said Bob Kortright, President of the Toronto Field Naturalists.
“The conservation authority and its partners are making a significant investment in environmental health of Lake Simcoe by protecting these wetlands in the watershed,” says Virginia Hackson, chair of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority.
Wetlands perform a critical function for the health of Lake Simcoe by filtering river water before it reaches the lake. In addition, the wetlands help to protect downstream communities from flooding as they slow and absorb spring run-off.
Largely undisturbed by human activities, the extensive areas of cattail marsh in the wetlands also provide breeding habitat. Visitors may see muskrats, common snipes, least bitterns, waterfowl and many species of frogs. Closing the gap in the chain of protected land helps ensure that the lands remain natural and gives wildlife a protected habitat.

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