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Saugeen River Trail

Posted: June 5, 2007

Saugeen RiverArticle and photographs by Allsion Kennedy

The Saugeen River is one of the most popular canoe routes in the Grey Bruce area. It runs right through the town of Walkerton and has historically been integral to the town's industrial and recreational way of life.

In recent years, a cooperative effort between the Rotary Club, the Town of Walkerton and Saugeen Conservation resulted in the development of the Saugeen River Trail. This trail runs along West River Road for 3 km.

Flood control dikes built in the early 1950s provide the basis of the trail. As a result, the majority of the trail is flat, smooth and hardpacked. The trail is well used by cyclists, hikers, dog walkers, snowshoers and cross-country skiers. Some sections of the trail are wheelchair accessible.

You can access the trail at many spots in the town of Walkerton. The easiest to locate is the entrance on Durham Street, right next to Tim Horton's. There is parking available here and several of the trail's attractions are just a short hike away.

By beginning at the Tim Horton's entrance, you can easily access Riverbend Park and the CPR lookout platform as well as the fish ladder park and the dam.

Riverbend Park has long been a popular picnic and swimming spot. Within the park there is a side trail that runs along the river's edge leading to lots of great fishing spots. The easier route along the flood dike also continues through this section.

On your way to the park, you'll come to the lookout platform. The platform sits on abutments of the CPR bridge which carried trains to the station at the end of Jackson Street. A cedar deck overlooks the river and gives visitors a great view. Just past the viewing platform there is a canoe launch and dock area for those wishing to tackle the Saugeen River itself.

If you head south from Tim Horton's, you can explore the Truax Dam. It was built in 1922 and was the last in a series of dams that have harnessed the power of the river since 1852. The original dam was part of a sawmill operation, and later contributed power for a gristmill and a woolen mill. In later years, electric power was generated on the site.

To visit Fishladder Park, cross the bridge at Tim Horton's and turn right onto William Street, up Orange Street and right on Willow Street. The park is a popular camping spot for paddlers, providing a canoe dock, a washhouse and serviced campsites.

Check out the fish ladder in the spring and fall when salmon and trout are running upstream. This is also the beginning of a 1.5 km CPR rail trail, a wide flat trail that runs to Southline Road.

While the majority of the trail runs quite close to the residential areas of town, the section of trail from South Street to West River Road is more secluded. This stretch passes through both cedar forest and open meadows. While the trail does not run along the river, there are several easy access points along the way. This section is a great spot to see grouse and rabbits. There are also plenty of wildflowers for the avid photographer to enjoy.

Like the Saugeen River, the Saugeen River Trail has become an important part of the community of Walkerton. It's a fishing spot, a cyclist's route, and a dog walking favourite. For more information on the trail, contact the Walkerton Recreation Department at 519-881-0625 or pick up a brochure at the Tim Horton's trail head.

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