about 9 km
Beginner/intermediate (based on length of hike). Very rocky in places.
The Silver Creek Conservation Area contains no steep climbs but some hilly sections. Some very nice lookout points and great scenery. The walking fern section is very rocky with slippery footing. Many other sections are rockstrewn.
Roadside. On weekends when the Centre is not in use, it's safer to park in the Education Centre lot. Cars have been vandalized when parked on the road.
Continue along 10th Line by the lakes still on the main trail to where the trail goes down some steep steps on the left side of the road. Cross the bridge and keep right. There is a nice grassy spot with a lake view.
04 Sep 2005; 05 May 2012
Not wheelchair accessible
A new boardwalk viewing area has been constructed at the pond on the Roberts Side Trail
Any of the side trails can be removed to shorten the hike.
Walking ferns and the rock crevice
The Silver Creek Triple Loop Hike
The Silver Creek Conservation Area protects many significant natural features including the headwaters of Silver Creek, a Credit River tributary. The area includes a large Escarpment valley, lush forests, flowing creeks, and the ever present escarpment rocks. A 120 m boardwalk was recently built to protect the pond's sensitive shoreline form heavy foot traffic. A 25 m U-shaped dock was also built to allow better access to the pond for the various studies undertaken. This helps to protect the threatened amphibians and wildlife in the area.
This hike can be considered a continuation of the Bennett Heritage Trail - Silver Creek hike (L01). In that hike, you left the Bruce Trail at waypoint (015) in order to begin the Bennett Heritage Trail. Had you continued on the Bruce Trail, it would have taken you downhill to Silver Creek and then back up to Fallbrook Trail where Hike L02, the Silver Creek Triple Loop hike begins.
From the Fallbrook Trail, the Silver Creek triple loop hike trail begins to climb the escarpment along the Roberts Side Trail which was named after the George Roberts who lived in the area and maintained the trail for some many years. As it climbs the escarpment, an old lime kiln can be seen to the left of the trail. The trail heads north through the woods before joining the Main Bruce Trail and following it to a long descent to 10th Line where it meets the Walking Fern Side Trail. This is a 0.8 km dead-end rocky and root strewn trail but also one of the few places in Ontario where the rare Walking Fern can be seen. Following the main trail back from 10th Line, you can shimmy down into a rock crevice (optional), do some rock exploration and climb out futher on by a wooden ladder. Finally you can explore the Irwin Quarry Side Trail which descends to an old quarry below the escarpment and then climbs back up along the escarpment edge to form a 1.3 km loop with the main Trail.
The hike continues from from a spot near to where hike L01 covered the southern portion of the Silver Creek Conservation Area. This hike covers the northern portion of the CA and can be continued further in hike L03, the Terra Cotta Double Loop hike.
The leaves of the walking fern are very long and narrow to a long slender point. The fern grows on top of moss-coverd limestone boulders. This is a very unique fern, unlike any other. New ferns grow from the tips of the leaves where they can touch the ground. The leathery fronds can be very dense as they anchor themselves into the moss bed which preserves mositure but allows for good drainage. In this way the ferns can "walk" over the surface of the moss-covered rocks. The range of the Walking fern extends from southern Ontario and Quebec in Canada south to Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, occurring west to Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
The highlight of the Silver Creek Triple Loop hike for me is the Walking Fern Side Trail because this is where I first came in contact with this unique fern that sprouts from the moss on large boulders. It is unique in that once you see it, you won't forget it and you'll find yourself looking for it on other hikes. And you will see it in a few other locations on the Bruce Trail if you look for it.