Got wheels? If so, Scanlon Creek Park, part of the Simcoe Region Conservation program near Newmarket, is a great place to walk or hike. The park is pretty big: there are various trails to follow, so a half-day can be planned.
From the parking lot, the trails leading to the lake—the main attraction—are neat and wide, well-kept, easy to follow. The scenery is beautiful, particularly the many picturesque bridges that cross the creek.
The trail we followed eventually emerged onto a boardwalk bordering the lake. To our left, reeds grew high above our heads, blocking the lake from view. To our right, a swamp smelled slightly putrid.
The water was nearly level with the boardwalk and we could see splashes on the wood indicating that some small animal had climbed out of the marsh. Moments later, understanding dawned.
Baby raccoons, only a few months old, were travelling across the swamp seemingly weightless, walking on water… Some were shy and scuttled into reeds to avoid us, but two of them were defiant, inviting us to share the space with them, daring us to observe them, wary of their mother’s location.
We continued on and reached a disused, run-down, overgrown resting station. Locked. No matter, there were outhouses in the rear.
Pushing forward, we came to the end of the lake. Sure, it was very small, but the sight that was now before us was stunning!
On our left, the water was still, only a few inches lower than the shoreline. Directly in front of us, an 18-inch wide slab of concrete divided water and air. To our right, the dam slanted into a pile of large rocks, which in turn receded into the most beautiful swamp imaginable. A quaint bridge crossed over barely discernible water, it being covered with lily pads.
After venturing across the dam to take in the full scope of the view, we made our way down to the bridge, where we discovered what could easily have been hundreds of frogs croaking happily in the afternoon sun.
On we went, over the bridge, through a field, into the woods to circle the lake. The trail we were following became rougher, the ground uneven, the path overgrown with tree branches and foliage. Every once in awhile, we stepped off the trail and emerged onto the edge of the lake, spying on a white swan floating blissfully on tranquil waters.
Up a hill, through dense woods, we suddenly found ourselves standing in front of a wooden bench overlooking the lake from a secluded vantage point. Beyond the bench stood a tree carved from top to bottom with Love’s graffiti — clumsy etchings of initials, crudely cut hearts, past dates scratched awkwardly into the bark, immortalizing countless stolen moments, failing to freeze time for furtive kisses.
Not long afterwards, our path began to thin out.
We reached a large clearing at the centre of which stood yet another intriguing tree, one that stood on its tippy toes (or rather, on its roots, its trunk elevated a few feet from the forest floor). I let my imagination run wild: ghost, spaceship slash alien, Ent with stumpy little legs…
Passed the clearing, the trees thinned considerably and we were able to see all around us. The sun was starting to set; the glow of its rays slanting in through the greenery stilled our thoughts.
One last big burst of energy brought us to the top of a steep incline from where, huffing and puffing, we quickly reached the parking lot, guzzled some water, and, our walk in Scanlan Creek Park now over, we headed home.