Map 5 Caledonia Middleport (17.6 km hiking and biking)
Carolinian Crest Section Completed
The trail started just outside Caledonia, off Mines Rd. There were few blazes visible, but the landowner had helpfully mowed a wide trail through a meadow and around a pond, leading to a massive hydro corridor running straight from Niagara Falls. From here to Onondaga Townline Road the trail followed a rough maintenance road under the hydro lines. The next section took the road to a short section Highway 54, which runs beside the river. The road is narrow and busy, so we ignored the river views and pedalled hard to County Road 22, past Grand River Dinner Cruises and on to Big Creek Rd.
After a short ride on Big Creek Rd, the trail goes off road through a woodlot beside the eponymous creek, which is very muddy and sluggish. We then hiked past a small private pond and some delightfully decorated beehives.
As we made our way past a tiny impromptu pond formed in some tractor tracks, a group of green frogs leapt from the trail into the pond.
At Mulligan Rd, the trail follows the railway line and then veers off into a woodlot. Unfortunately, we lost the blazes, but followed the railway line to Middleport Rd, where we were able to find the next section of the trail. The meadows were full of late blooming flowers, including some purple-stemmed asters, contrasting nicely with fields of goldenrod. Toadstools peeped up from the leaf litter in the woods.
The meadows were full of goldenrod which was attracting numerous monarch butterflies. Although monarch caterpillars can only eat milkweed, the adults thrive on the nectar from goldenrod (which unfortunately blooms at the same time as ragweed and is often inaccurately blamed for causing hayfever)
From Mulligan Rd, the trail follows the edge of the Six Nations Reserve through dense meadows, woods and swamps. We lost and found the trail blazes and then lost them completely on the edge of a woodlot. Using the Grand Valley Trail map and our cell phone GPS we navigated our way around a swamp and a creek, and somewhat to our surprise emerged at Painter Rd right beside the GVT blazes.
This marks the completion of the third of four sections of the Grand Valley Trail. We are 218 km towards our goal of completing the trail this year. We celebrated by stopping at Stillwaters restaurant in Paris on our way home. We had fresh great lakes pickerel on the patio, watching a great blue heron fish for his supper in the Grand River as the sun went down.