Travelling in a north-south direction, this Side Trail connects the main Bruce Trail to the southern leg of the Hockley Heights Side Trail, (via the parking lot on the 5th Line EHS, Mono), making a 1.2 km loop in combination with the main Trail.
“Hemlock Ridge” harks to the rich geological history of this part of Ontario. 20,000 years ago, much of North America, including Southern Ontario, was covered by the
Laurentide Ice Sheet – 1 km thick! The ice was always moving, grinding away at the landscape, scraping away material in one location and depositing it somewhere else.
The steep-sided ridge on which this trail sits is made of sediment that was deposited by meltwater, in contact with the glacier, as the ice was melting. As you traverse this Side
Trail, you can thank the melting glacier for your workout!
It was about 12,000 years ago that the current Interglacial period started with its warmer climate – the ice sheet melted and spruce trees moved in. At the same time, indigenous peoples entered southern Ontario, probably following the edge of the retreating Laurentide Ice Sheet. The intellectual traditions of these people acknowledged the mutual relationship that binds humans to nature.
As a result of rapid post-glacial warming, the boreal forest began to be replaced by a mixed forest of pine, hemlock and beech – the descendants of which you see today.
The hemlock, an evergreen coniferous tree, commonly reaches a height of 31 meters (102 feet). Found primarily on rocky ridges, ravines and hillsides, some hemlocks have
lived to more than 500 years old! 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, Conium 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. Hemlock is listed as Near
Threatened on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) red list. Bruce Trail Volunteer Land Stewards monitor the health of the hemlocks.
This Side Trail is located on Bruce Trail Conservancy owned land. As such, this trail is secure and will be here for future generations to enjoy.
Scientific name: Tsuga canadensis