HI-HO, INTO THE WOODS WE GO
The Carstairs Tract Universal Hiking Trails, Northumberland County Forest
Northumberland County is blessed with a variety of hiking trails, but not all of these trails are alike. The Carstairs Tract trails were specifically designed and built to be universally accessible - not only to traditional hikers, but also to those who use wheelchairs, canes, walkers, and other mobility devices. The trails are nice and wide, and level, with a solid crushed gravel base. This makes them ideal not only for those who have a little more difficulty getting around, but also for small children.
This plot of land was willed to Northumberland County by the Carstairs Estate in 1948. Since then, it has had an interesting history. At one point in time, the land was farmed. When the County took control of it in 1948, they planted an arboretum. But the arboretum didn’t work out so well, so the land was then replanted with red and white pine, white spruce and european larch in 1950. The property is now home to a variety of trees, including Hobblebush, Chinquapin Oak and Horse Chestnut, as well as many native species.
As a result, gorgeous tall trees now majestically tower overhead as you enjoy the trails, and embrace the beauty created by others hard work.
There are four different trail loops at Carstairs, each of them branching off a common trail, and ranging from a relatively short 0.8km on the White Spruce Loop, to the White Pine Loop, which is the longest at 2.2km.
While these trails are much shorter than other hiking trails in Northumberland County, this makes them ideal not only for older hikers, but also for families with young children. These trails are level (no steep hills to climb), and short enough that little children with little legs can walk them without getting tired.
There are lots of benches liberally situated throughout, should you wish to take a load off. And all of the trails are very well marked. You could not get lost on these trails even if you tried …we tried.
One of the best parts about the Carstairs trails are the interpretive plaques that have been placed throughout, that provide interesting educational opportunities for all ages and helping to identify different tree species that are found on the walks.
Also this bendy tree… sad tree…or bad back back tree…or bending down to pick something up tree, on the White Spruce Loop. Any way you look at it, this overly dramatic conifer just kinda does it’s own thing, which is why we love it.
We were able to venture into the woods and onto the Carstairs trails a few times this winter, both on foot and also on snowshoe.
Every time, we found ourselves pausing at the plaques and learning about the various identifying markers for the trees standing before us. Along the way, we also did a bit of tree hugging, and practiced our bench sitting (we are expert bench sitters).
What a joy to not only be able to spend time out in the peaceful woods, listening to birds under a full canopy of branches, but to also learn about the various species in those woods at the same time. Because of these interpretive plaques, Sarah is now able
to confidently identify a hemlock tree, should she ever need to pick one out of a line up. And in addition to her finely honed bench sitting skills, Sara has also mastered the art of rock perching. See? You can learn lots of new things in the woods!
The Carstairs trails are the ones we recommend for families with young kids, and for those who love being out in nature, but might be a little wary at being alone in the woods. They are also great for people who want to get out in nature but are short on time. Check out Carstairs and let us know what you think.