There’s no better time to explore nature than in autumn’s colourfully painted landscapes, and cottage-country Washago’s scenic backdrop is the perfect place to begin your hiking adventure. Featuring three vibrant and simple trailheads owned and protected by The Couchiching Conservancy to choose from, all are within a short drive to stellar, lake country-inspired cuisine. Located just 20 minutes north of Orillia in Severn, Washago is the perfect all-encompassing day trip whether you are a seasoned nature explorer or a new adventurer.
Located on Cooper’s Falls Road, within just a few minutes drive from Washago’s quaint main strip is Adam’s Nature Reserve, a 107-acre plot of land open to the public from June until March. Though featuring an upscale return and stretches of steep descent, newcomers will find the 1.4 kilometre loop trail onsite well-marked and simple to navigate, making for the perfect pick-me-up during a road trip. Take in the stunning views of the trail’s two featured ponds along the trail, or take a rest stop at the granite clearing, where various shades of blues and green moss form a comfortable blanket over the expansive rock formations.VIEW MAP
Located just off Fawcett Road, ten minutes from the heart of Washago, is the stunning, 85-acre Thomas C. Agnew Nature Reserve. Vibrantly rich in wildlife, the reserve is home to rare plants and is an excellent location for bird-watching all year long. The reserve’s featured trail, the Pipsissewa Loop, named after the beautiful pink-belled Pipsissewa wildflower that populates the region, is a 1.5km trek throughout the reserve’s well-populated landscape. Beginners and experts alike will find the trail easy to navigate and a remarkable glimpse into Washago’s bountiful natural beauty.VIEW MAP
On the outskirts of town is the Alexander Hope Smith Nature Reserve. Featuring 113 acres of land unique for its bed of exposed Precambrian granite rock, the reserve is open for a breezy 3.2 km well-marked trail through Severn’s substantial wildlife. While the trail lays relatively flat, the landscape evolves to display the richness of the region’s lush foliage and reward trekkers with a stunning view into the still beauty that is Boyd Creek. The trail is approximately an hour’s walk, leaving ample time to take in the tranquility of the trail and indulge in Washago’s nearby signature restaurants afterward.VIEW MAP
What could be better after a long day’s trek through the region’s nature trails than to rejuvenate yourself at Washago’s unique, lake country-style restaurants? For a cozy, small-town experience, indulge yourself at R’ Cottage in the downtown core, an intimate and rustic eatery with dishes designed to include locally-sourced and inspired ingredients. Looking to bring nature to the table? For a scenic dining experience, visit Lock 42 Grill. Located at Lock 42 – Lake Couchiching on the Trent-Severn Waterway, the restaurant features an inviting patio and an all-day, regionally-inspired menu.
Please note that all dogs must be kept on-leash while visiting the trails. For more information about The Couchiching Conservancy and the region’s protected sites, visit their website here.
Photography provided by Samantha Vessios.
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