The name “Hemlock Ridge” refers to the rich geological history of this Side Trail. 20,000 yeas ago, this area was covered by the Laurentide Ice Sheet – 1 km thick! This
trail sits on a steep-sided ridge made of sediment that was deposited by glacial meltwater. Blame the melting glacier for your workout! As the climate warmed, starting
12,000 years ago, the ice sheet melted and spruce trees moved in. Rapid post-glacial warming meant that the boreal forest began to be replaced by a mixed forest of pine, hemlock and beech – the descendants of which you see today along this trail.
The hemlock, an evergreen coniferous tree, commonly reaches a height of 31 meters (102 feet). You can recognize the hemlock by its flat single needles with two white stripes on the underside of the needles. (The hemlock tree – Tsuga canadensis is not poisonous, in contrast to the herb, Conlium maculatum, that Socrates drank.) The hemlock tree is currently threatened by the Woolly Adelgid, a sap sucking bug that arrived in North America in 1924, and that can kill the tree. Bruce Trail volunteer Land Stewards monitor the health of the hemlocks. This Side Trail is located on Bruce Trail Conservancy owned land and will be here for future generations to enjoy.