On Saturday, September 11, the Nith River Hike marked a welcome return to longer distance leader-led organized hikes. The shorter Tuesday morning Rambles resumed in August to the delight of many enthusiastic hikers.
Thirteen hikers started the hike from the Krampien Drain landmark parking site at km 73.7.
Weather conditions – light breeze, warming sunshine – were perfect as we followed the trail north. With the Drain to our right, the trail took us through a woodlot and fields to our left as far as a wooden bridge (assembled by Avon Trail maintenance volunteers under Denis Rawe’s guidance), providing hikers with a crossing. Bruce Graham, our hike leader, informed us that the Drain was first hand-dug in 1906, allowing for Springwater runoff to drain and flow to the Nith River. The hike continued west from the bridge, passing between two fields of crops still drying before harvest (soybeans), onward through another woodlot. Bruce warned that the thorns found on trees lining this trail are sharp and dangerous. To our delight, the monitors of this trail section arduously scraped away hawthorns we might encounter on the trees as part of their routine section maintenance (thank you, Sheryl, Mary Ellen and Noreen).
Leaving the woodlot, we followed the trail west to Nafziger Road, passing close to the Schwartzentruber property, where two goats scampering in their pen entertained us as we took a water break.
Taking care to cross Nafziger Road safely (speeding cars, so beware), the trail takes us slightly west before heading north along a field to the left and the woodlot to the right (this is a recent reroute). Entering the woodlot, we pass by the beautifully framed Hiker Log installed by this section’s trail monitor. Leaving the woodlot, we cross between two fields to continue north and descend to the Nith River. Another pleasant factor of fall hiking is the significant reduction of pesky mosquitos.
We encounter a carved directional signpost (east to Conestogo, west to St. Marys). The signpost, along with the Hiker Log, was crafted by Ted Derry.
It also marks the Berlett’s Side Trail (blue blazes) and the main trail (white blazes) junction point, km 77.7
As we head west, two Kingfishers, in angry conversation, fill the air with their sound. A member of our group points out that these birds often dispute river territory. The trail becomes challenging as we gain elevation westward from the river, back to fields, cross two stiles, head further west and south, and emerge at km 80.1 at Carmel-Koch Road. Now close to the hike’s halfway point, we walk west along the road and reenter the trail, trek north along a ridge rising through the woods before encountering an opening to our left leading to the New Hamburg model airplane club airfield. No airplane traffic today. The cooling breeze kept bugs away providing enjoyable lunch conditions.
We hikers came prepared with lunch food and snacks. Our return trek, it turns out, did not require us to retrace our steps. Instead, we headed northeast through woodlots along the trail until we reached Berlett’s Road. At that point, we turned left and headed west along the side of the road for 1.5 km, past the bridge over the Nith River, reaching the Berlett’s Side Trail entrance on the south side of the road. We passed through a horse pasture taking this 397-metre side trail, climbed two stiles, and arrived back at the main trail junction at the Nith River. For the remainder of the hike, we retraced our steps south from km 77. 7 back to our starting point at km 73.7. This entire loop hike involved 14.5 km
For more photos of the hike, click HERE.