Quick Trip to the Bluff
January 22, three loops, 20km
We are hoping to fit in more long hikes this year, and the Bluff Wilderness Trail is a great option. It’s very close to home with reliable parking and its stacked loop design allows for a variety of different length hikes. We were planning to do three loops We were expecting some ice on the trail and the forecast was calling for some snow later in the day.
We brought hot soup for lunch and tea to make sure we’d keep drinking even in the cold weather. We were also carrying enough gear for the unlikely event of an unexpected night in the woods.
We set out about ten o’clock and as soon as we stepped onto the BLT Trail (it’s about 0.5km from the parking lot to the Bluff trail head) it was like a sheet of glass. We had no problems with the icers though and set out in good cheer.
We decided to go counter-clockwise where the trail splits. It was warmer than we expected in sheltered areas and we mostly didn’t need the icers once we made it to the main trail. The ice was in pretty discrete patches and for the most part, easily avoidable.
Checking out the view over Cranberry Lake.
We stopped for photos at the junction of the first and second loops, but not for too long. The wind was cold and strong on the high exposed rocks.
We have been seeing more evidence of misuse of the Bluff trails in recent years, and shortly into the second loop we came across this fire ring that has obviously been recently built right along the side of the trail.
We stuck to our plan to do three loops, and stopped for a quick lunch at the sheltered spot we found on our, “Epic Burbs” trip in November.
Heading back, we stopped for Wade to climb up on the rock overlooking Upper Marsh Lake. This area was more exposed and the balaclava was protection against the bitter cold wind.
A little farther on we came across this evidence of a fire built between two large boulders right on the trail. No idea what these people were thinking…
Even though it was a pretty bleak day, it’s still a beautiful trail, particularly around the river and stream crossings.
The stone ‘igloo’ near the beginning of the second loop is gradually growing larger with stone add-ons. This is area of the trail where you can see the Otter Lake Landfill in the background.
We stopped to sign the trail log on the way out. It’s always fun to take a peek to see who else has been there recently, especially since we hadn’t seen a single other person that day.
The light dusting of snow made the end of the hike treacherous by obscuring the ice patches. Despite numerous slips (and one fall) we escaped serious injury. Lesson learned – it’s always worth stopping to take the time to put the icers back on BEFORE you actually think you need them.