Fall is the best time of year to get outside. A cool, sunny day is by far my favourite and the colours are visually stunning. It’s a season that I wish lasted much longer.
With the kids back in school and work routines getting back to normal, it can be harder to get out and enjoy the weather. By necessity, our adventures stay a little closer to home. But exploring local doesn’t have to be boring. We’ve made a point of getting out and exploring some of our local trails recently and it’s been really enjoyable. We’re meeting our goals – getting outside, exploring new places and spending family time together – and even better, it’s been easy. When you aren’t going far, it’s much easier to hop in the car and go, without any major planning.
For us, close to home means trails in Oxford County. If you’re like me, Oxford County may not be the first place that comes to mind if you’re planning a hike, but with a little research we’ve found a few trails that are perfect for an afternoon out with the family.
Lawson Nature Reserve (Lawson Tract)
Access: McBeth Rd, between Culloden & Dereham Line (South West Oxford)
Surface: Packed dirt, boardwalk
Side Trails: Yes
Parking: Yes, small lot/side of road
This is probably my favourite trail in the area. It’s the perfect place for a walk in the woods. The main trail loop (Edwards Trail) is fairly wide and is a mix of packed earth and wooden boardwalks. The Phillips and Bucknell trails are a little narrower and require a little more awareness to navigate. The forest scenery is beautiful and changes constantly. It’s the perfect place for kids to explore and our boys could spend hours playing here. The fall colours on our last visit were fantastic. This trail is worth a visit at any time of the year, and it is well maintained by the Ingersoll District Nature Club. It’s located only a few minutes from Ingersoll and the 401.
Oxford Thames River Trail (Beachville Trail)
Access: 454779 45th Line, Beachville, ON
Length: 3km +
Surface: Gravel, dirt, concrete boardwalks, grass
Side Trails: Yes
The Thames River Trail is a fairly simple one, in that it’s straight, level and wide. What makes it interesting are the side trails that lead to the river, the views when you reach the picnic shelter, the chance to see wildlife and the ruins of an old factory. During a summer bike ride here with J, we saw deer, birds, turtles and trains, all pretty exciting for a 6 year old. The ruins of an old cement factory are fascinating for the kids to explore.
I’ve seen various lengths posted for this trail, but Strava tells me a there and back ride (to the picnic shelter) is 6km, so I’ve listed it as 3km. The side trail to the river is about .5km. The main trail is great for a family hike (and stroller accessible if need be) and it is a multi-use path, and good length if you are looking to take the kids out for a bike ride.
Access: Braemar Side Road, Oxford Rd. 17 in Woodstock, Hwy 8 in Hickson.
Surface: Double track, packed earth
Side Trails: No
The Hickson Trail runs from Woodstock to Hickson and it is an old railroad trail. It is a straight, level, double track trail that is about 10km long. While not the most exciting of the trails, it’s well maintained with many access points and parking spots. The fall colours are beautiful and you feel as though you are hiking through farmers fields. A highlight is the remains of an old railway bridge. This is a great trail for shorter section walks, and also for bike riding.
Roth Park Trail (Pittock South Shore)
Access: Roth Park or Oxford Rd 4 (Woodstock)
Surface: Paved, Dirt
Side Trails: Yes
This is another favourite trail, either for hiking or biking. It’s a busier trail, since it’s located in a more populated area of Woodstock, but that doesn’t take away from it’s charm. You can park at Roth Park, but we prefer to start at the other end on Oxford Rd 4. The Roth Park end is paved, but a good chunk of it is dirt as you approach the east end of the trail. If you are hiking, I’d recommend starting at Oxford Rd 4. There are plenty of side trails too, narrower single track that feels adventurous for the kids and will take you down to the shore of Pittock Lake. There are some beautiful views, and just look at those trees!
Embro Pond Conservation Area
Access: John St., Embro
Surface: Grass, dirt
Side Trails: Yes
This is the perfect trail for an afternoon fall walk. At close to 3km, but with several different loop options, this hike can be whatever length you wish. I especially enjoyed the Ray Lindsay Trail, as it left the wider, grassy trail behind and headed through the woods. At times, this trail follows a creek, a railway trail and there is also a large pond. Perfect place to explore with the kids.
Have you visited any of these trails? Or do you have a favourite local trail near you?
Thanks so much for stopping by! I often post about my 101 challenge and my outdoor adventure with the kids with the hashtags #101in1001 #101adventures or #asimplesomething. You can join me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Or, you can follow me on Bloglovin or subscribe via e-mail to be alerted to each new post!