Diverting off the beaten path turned out to be a good decision – it often is especially on a road trip with the dog. Adventure with the dog isn’t just about pet-friendly hotels, campsites and hiking, although that’s usually the focus. Sometimes it’s about getting in the car, having a general idea of the destination, and enjoying the journey by discovering a few surprises.
The Ken Reid Conservation Area in Lindsey, Ontario was one of those surprises.
Recently, while road tripping with the dog to our soon-to-be-closed favourite pet-friendly resort in Ontario, Canada’s Kawartha region (see here), we took a 30-minute detour from Highway 115, onto Highway 35, in search of 277 Kenrei Road. I was in hot pursuit of leash-free dog park among the trees.
What I found while travelling with the dog was even more interesting.
Ken Reid Conservation Area isn’t just a recreational area with 10 km of hiking trails and a floating boardwalk over the acres of marshland – it’s a tale about returning commercial land back to nature. In 1857, the land was farmed by Isaac W. Reid and family who added a gravel pit.
Nearly twenty years later, a railway was added through the land, and used by CN Railway until 1981. That year, the Kawartha Conservation area bought the land, and turned it back into a conservation site in 1982. No more quarry or railway.
The Talking Forest
And it’s a creative conservation site too encouraging hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, birdwatching, and it’s home to a Talking Forest. Yes, Talking Forest. If you want to hear it ‘talk’ while you stroll through the trails, you’ll have to download an app (on Android platforms) and listen to the trees’ stories at 15 stations along the 2.2 km trail.
Walk your pup on leash along the Woodland Loop or Marshland Lookout if – unlike my pup – yours can walk comfortably on leash. We tried for a while, but spent the most time in the leash-free zone. (Yes, more training is needed).
The Forested Dog Park
Parking near Howlers Corners, the Ken Reid Conservation Area leash-free dog park, is $4, a bargain considering there’s no admission charge. A bit of a rustic dog park – rustic because a chicken-wire style fence (which my dog ran straight into) blends with the foliage and surrounds a partially wooded area. There’s a double gate at the entrance, but the ground is worn down enough that my pup could shimmy underneath, which she did.
But it’s a big space with a couple of benches, trails to race through, a water source for pups (if people fill the container), and a small creek flowing through, just deep enough to get good and muddy. This is truly an outdoor experience.
A second small dog run is available, but judging from the undisturbed dandelion seed heads throughout, it doesn’t get used much. All sized dogs prefer to chase each other through the trees and trails.
Just watch the fence.
TRAVEL GUIDE: Howlers Corners off-leash dog park is located in Ken Reid Conservation Area at 277 Kenrei Road, Lindsay, Ontario, Canada. Open all year but hours change: May to October from 7 am to 9 pm and November to April, 8 am to 6 pm. Admission free but parking is $4.