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Ferris Park Takes Us Way Back PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Sep 27, 2012 at 09:00 AM



Thursday, September 27, 2012

What I like most about Ferris Provincial Park has to be its stone fences. They identify fields once cleared by early pioneers, now consumed by vines, shrubs and trees. They appear from seemingly out of nowhere, crossing the campgrounds and melting into the forest of this 500-acre park at the edge of Campbellford. One even crosses a hiking trail, high on a drumlin.

Another stone wall near a playground area has been rebuilt, so even and expertly crafted as though smoothed with a trowel. It is just one of many projects undertaken by the Friends of Ferris, this one in conjunction with the Dry Stone Wall Association of Canada who ran a special hand’s on dry stone walling workshop earlier this month. A network of stone walls estimated to total at least six kilometres crisscross this area of beautiful rolling farmland, now considered the acme of anyone’s visit to this park.

My wife and I camped there for several days early this month and hiked almost all the six kilometres of hiking trails. Conveniently located at the edge of Campbellford, we found at least four side trails that led to a few of the town’s streets, providing easy access for the local residents. The most famous of these, of course, is the Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge which drapes across the Trent River at a dizzying height. The bridge is only eight years old and was built by the 8 Wing Military CFB Trenton Engineers with financial support from numerous organizations. Whenever I lead guided hikes across this bridge, I always pause in the middle of the bridge, as it shudders and rocks gently back and forth, and enjoy announcing that this was the first such project the engineers had ever attempted.

The contributions of the Friends can be found everywhere in this historic park, from the installation of trail markers and benches, purchase and installation of playground equipment and the construction of an enormous picnic shelter in partnership with the Campbellford Rotary Club. It was only a few years ago when, upon hearing that I would be there with about 30 hikers, that the Friends arrived en masse and organized a barbeque for us and led a guided hike. I have returned every year to set up our travel trailer at the park’s campground and spend several days exploring other projects the Friends have undertaken since our last visit.

For us on this trip, it was the trails we wanted to explore – all of them, if we could. We set out early one morning at sunrise, and tackled the drumlin trails that traverse this scenic portion of the park over hills and through rich woodlands, scaring up ruffed grouse and enjoying the late season whistles from wood pewees and even the robin-like songs from a red-eyed vireo. Its imperfect delivery suggested a juvenile bird. Along one of the trails, a lone thrush appeared for a moment, but not long enough to pin an identity on it. Along the way, we met numerous hikers all being led by their dogs, regulars we were told. It was encouraging to see this kind of daily activity along these well groomed and cared for trails.

A regular for us on our visits is the River Gorge Trail that runs along the fenced edge of the Trent River and loops its way around within a stone’s throw of the campground. Even the campground roads are a delight to walk with one of them passing through a rebuilt stone wall and networking through deciduous and coniferous growths. The campers on this visit were friendly and often dropped in for a visit. Some were passing through, on their way to other destinations. Others, like us, were content to stay for a week. One party was from Trenton, and there were two others from Napanee. We felt like we already knew each other.

It is not a terribly busy park, and that’s what makes it so special. It is a good place to relax for a few days in the fall and reconnect. The park staff seemed to go out of their way to ensure everyone was happy. One camper who had pre-registered arrived after the office had closed for the day, and was assured by a park warden that she would process her permits and deliver them to her site later that day.

If there was a complaint to be had at all, it was that our holiday ended much too soon. Somehow though we did manage to work in the cheese factory and the Campbellford chocolate outlet!

Last Updated ( Sep 30, 2012 at 08:47 AM )
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