Huntley and Brownlee (16F) to Munster Rd. and Jock Trail (16A), 12.4 km
May 29th, 2021
Holy hiking, Batman! Two maps of the Rideau Trail done in one month! It’s a record!
Getting out again on the Rideau Trail a couple of weeks ago after so long languishing fed the spark of my adventurous spirit into a flame. Lest it burn out again, I decided that we would walk the next section this weekend. I got my maps out, I started calculating distances, google mapping out possible parking spots, etc. and made a commitment that we would reach Perth – not only the halfway marker but also my hometown – by the end of the summer.
On this day, we decided to leave early in the morning, around 8 am, to tackle Map 16. The sections we are now walking are a fair distance out of the city. Today’s double vehicle drop-off took us 45 minutes from the west end of the city. Travel time to and from the start and end points could take as long or longer than the actual hike, depending on how far you decide to walk in a day. Also, just a reminder that the maps are in a descending order because the RT is mapped from Kingston (Map 1) to Ottawa (Map 19) and we are walking from Ottawa to Kingston.
It was a lovely 12C and we were dressed in layers. We started at Brownlee and Huntley (16F) and were walking along a natural trail that is also a snowmobile/ATV trail. According to the trail alert from the beginning of May, this section was not passable due to wet trail conditions. But we’d had a month of hardly any rain so we figured it would be dry now. And at the beginning, indeed it was.
We both wore long pants, long sleeves, hiking boots and lots of insect repellant. We found Woods Icaridin Repellant on clearance at Canadian Tire and found it so effective against ticks, blackflies and mosquitoes that I ended up buying ten bottles of it. Whatever you use, you will need A LOT of it for the first part of this hike. The bugs were insane and the grass is long and ticks are out. The long sleeves and pants are also to help against the poison ivy and wild parsnip that are along this trail. Bob ended up picking up a leafy branch to use as a good-old fashioned bug swatter for this entire section.
This might have been one of the wildest, most natural trails I’ve ever been on in Ottawa. It travelled between farms and was quite overgrown. I realize that this section is probably rarely used as a walking trail due to the fact that the trail on either end of this 4 km stretch of wild green is road walking.
Every once in a while, there would be an opening in the trees and we could see the farms and their fields. After 2.2 km, you’ll cross what looks like a road on a map but it’s really another ATV trail that leads to Joys Road. It is marked with a blue arrow and goes into the village of Richmond and then circles back to the main trail at Shea and Brownlee (Map 17). We stayed the course and went straight, following the orange markers.
After this, we started to see what remained of the unpassable wet parts. It was pretty muddy but passable. Because of the lack of foot traffic it wasn’t too squishy. We went up on the edges and walked on the small fallen branches or grassy parts to avoid the muck. There is one short boardwalk along the side at one point. Again, if you have to go off the trail, please be aware of ticks, poison ivy and wild parsnip. In fact, you really should watch your step the whole way because the grass is so long in parts, that you can’t see any holes or uneven ground, or small creatures like frogs. Sadly, I smushed one without seeing it at all. I just heard a squeak, a squish and a pop. Yep. Still feeling guilty. The mud also captured evidence of the other living creatures that use this trail – raccoons, coyotes, deer and bears.
Eventually the trail comes out into a clearing at the power lines with no markings visible. Keep going straight, staying parallel to the wire fence. There is a break in the bushes and a large orange triangle at the beginning of the trail again on the other side, one that looks just as wild as the one we just walked out of. In fact, this short section is even more overgrown. The grass was up to my knees, if not higher. There are raspberry bushes along the side that reach out and grab you. Later in the season, I’m sure that it would be lovely to snack on the berries during the walk.
Just before you leave the trees and come out onto Bleeks Road, there is a small bridge to cross a fairly dried up creek bed. The bridge was built by RTA volunteers and only holds one person at a time. Right after this, we stepped out onto someone’s back property.
Almost the whole of the Rideau Trail travels along or through private property and hikers are allowed to use the trail because of these landowners’ generosity. Please do not take advantage of this. Do not camp on their property, do not throw your garbage on their property, do not go into the out buildings on their property. Hikers on the Rideau Trail are guests. This permission can be revoked at any time should hikers be disrespectful.
After crossing the property, the trail follows Bleeks Road, a graded dirt road to Conley. The rest of Map 16 is road walking and truly, not that exciting. In fact, it was our least favourite section so far. We had to do it and we saw things we didn’t know existed but like any road walking, it felt like it took twice as long to walk it as it actually did.
Conley Road is a dirt road that seems to be in the middle of nowhere but it is actually a very well-travelled road. There is a motorcross track on this road that is very popular and very loud so there is fairly regular traffic of trucks with trailers from both directions. The noise is quite loud as well when you are walking past it so make sure you are walking on the shoulder of the road. It’s hard to hear any traffic coming up behind you. Or to hear the person beside you talking.
The walk down Conley Road is only 2.7 km and took us half an hour to walk but it really did feel like at least an hour. The weather has been quite dry as well lately so the road was dusty. It is the country though, so don’t be surprised if the motorists give you a small wave. I’m not from the city so it’s completely natural thing for me to wave to everybody. Bob, however, is from away and will do it since I’ve cultured him in our country ways but he is still a little amazed that people could be so friendly to strangers. Especially because Ottawa itself, is not a very friendly city.
At the end of it, there is Conley Road Golf and Driving Range, a driving range and mini-putt course that was packed with people out enjoying the cooler but sunny weather now that golf courses are open. The folks here are happy to let Rideau Trail hikers grab a drink from their vending machine, purchase some snacks and to use their facilities and picnic tables. We did not go in since there was a lot of people and we are still quite mindful of COVID protocols, even if others have given up on them. There isn’t much else around in this part of the trail and after this section is Marlborough Forest so if you are walking through, you may want to stop for a break and to restock your provisions.
We turned west on Franktown Road and for a little less than a kilometre, it’s highway walking. Franktown Road is a fairly busy highway so walking on the shoulder is a must. Thankfully, it’s nice and wide. Again, a necessary but not very fun part of this section.
We turned south on Greens Road and continued walking along the road for another 1.3 km until we hit Jock Trail. This was the last 2.2 km for the day and would bring us to the end of Map 16. We were tired. Our feet were sore. And it felt like the longest section of our hike so far. This is definitely a part of the trail that you want to make sure you have a change of shoes in the vehicle for when you get there. Your feet will thank you!
After two hours and forty-five minutes of walking, we had finished Map 16. The orange beacon of the Jeep was a happy, happy site for sore feet.
Our next adventure will take us through Marlborough Forest (Map 15) and it will be a welcome respite from the past couple of hikes of road walking.
Total km to date: 55.7km out of 387km