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Ancient Woods & Thompson Tract Trail System

For those looking for a shorter “inland” adventure, the Maple Lane Trail provides a scenic stroll through wetland, meadow, plantations and mature deciduous forest. This trail connects the Grand Allée Trail, a historic carriageway that passes beside the old-growth two-kilometre loop of Ancient Woods.

You can park opposite the gate and rare sign on Langdon Drive to access this trail system.

Note that, while out on the Maple Lane and the Deer Run trails, you can participate in the Craig Campbell Fern Walk. Download our Guide to learn more about the ferns you’ll find around particular stations enroute.

Grand Allée Trail

The Grand Allée is an historic carriageway lined with Carolina Poplar trees. The original brick gateway structures remain intact today and can be seen at the trailhead at Whistle Bare Road. From this trailhead, the Grand Allée travels along a hedgerow and enters into the Old Growth Forest remnant with a cathedral-like canopy. Some trees in this forest are more than 200 years old!

Deeper into the Old Growth Forest, the trail crosses Bauman Creek, a coldwater tributary to the Grand River. Brook Trout, an indicator species of good ecosystem health, can be spotted within Bauman Creek because of its cold temperature and high oxygen content.

Maple Lane Trail

The Grand Allée veers westward into Maple Lane, another historic carriageway lined with large Sugar Maples. Maple Lane continues into rare’s Butterfly Meadow within the Thompson Tract. The meadow is planted with several butterfly host plants and is a haven for numerous species of butterflies. Maple Lane exits onto Langdon Drive, where a small road shoulder is available for visitor parking.

Deer Run Trail

The Deer Run Trail connects Maple Lane back to the Grand Allée Trail, looping through rare’s Black Walnut plantation. The plantation provides a stark contrast between the structure of a diverse forest ecosystem and that of a planted monoculture (an area planted with only one species). As the name suggests, it is not uncommon to see White Tailed Deer running through this area!