Map 14 Belwood (12 km + 14 km return on the Elora Cataract Trailway)
Two friends joined us in circumnavigating Belwood Lake on a cloudy Saturday morning. Unfortunately our GPS unit failed, so we had to repeat the trek the following day to collect GPS data. The trail started on the Elora Cataract Trailway, just south of the lake. Soon it headed down a steep embankment and rounded a field of corn. We walked along the edge of neat rows of suddenly thigh-high stalks. From there, the trail heads along a cottage road and then into a woodlot. The trail is marked by white blazes, but unfortunately at critical intersections we were unable to find the blazes. On our second try, we found a little trail of flattened vegetation leading into the woods, and lo and behold, it led to a blazed tree. Using our old girl guide and boy scout tracking skills, we followed the trail through the woodlot. The trail-maker was obviously familiar with the Grand Valley Trail, as blazes appeared at intervals, confirming we were on the right track.
From the end of the woodlot, the trail has a short section on busy Wellington Rd 19, before heading into the woods again and across a beautiful little bridge over a trickling creek. Again, the first time, we were unable to find the critical blaze heading into the woods, but on our second try we found a very well-marked and well-used trail, which skirts the municipal dump and heads into the village of Belwood. Much of the historic village lies under the waters of Belwood Lake, but there are still a few magnificent examples of local stone-work and brick-work houses.
After reviving ourselves at Belwood Super Snax we walked across the bridge over Belwood Lake to the Elora Cataract Trailway. The well-maintained and signed multi-use trail sweeps around the eastern edge of Belwood Lake and crosses the Shand Dam at the Belwood Lake Conservation Area. From the massive height of the dam, the view sweeps downstream over the Grand River. On our second day we kept going to the outskirts of the town of Fergus, along a combined section of the GVT and ECT.
To reward ourselves for another good day’s hike, we stopped in Elora for beautifully prepared prime rib at the Riverside Restaurant. The patio overlooks the Grand River, making it the perfect spot for a rest on our Grand River Trails expedition.