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The Cooper's Loop Trail (CL)
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Key Map - Cooper's Loop

Highlights / Points of Interest:

  • The Northern Forest, and related eco-system.
  • Beavers (&/or their dams)- Nature's Engineer
  • Moore Lake - swimming & camping
  • Mislaid Lake - swimming & camping
  • Connection to J.C. Moore Trail
  • Igneous rocks like granite, and metamorphic rocks like gneiss (pronounced like "neice"), and were usually made deep underground, many millions of years ago!
  • "Succession" process -changing a beaver pond from a marsh to a meadow, and back to forest.
  • North Lake - swimming and camping
  • Beaver Lake
  • Hurst Lake Pavilion -- swimming and camping, and connections to Gibson Trail and Hurst Lake Road.

Average Hiking Time (Distance):
From Hurst Lake Road (opposite Holland Lake near The Narrows):
• to Moore Lake - 40 minutes (1.0km or 0.62 mi);
• to Moore Lake campsite - 45 minutes (1.2 km or 0.75 mi);
• to beaver dam at Pee Pond - 1 hour (1.6 km or 1.0 mi);
• to the old beaver dam at Mislaid Lake - 1 hour/15 minutes (2.0 km or 1.24 mi);
• to the diving rock - 7 minutes (100 metres or 110 yards straight up!);
• to Mislaid Lake campsite - 1 hour/20 minutes (2.2 km or 1.37 mi);
• to JC Trail - 1 hour/25 minutes (2.6 km or 1.62 mi);
• to North Lake - 2 hours/25 minutes (4.2 km or 2.61 mi);
• to beaver dam at Beaver Lake - 3 hours/30 minutes (6.2 km or 3.85 mi);
• to Hurst Lake - 4 hours/10 minutes (7 km or 4.34 mi).

[Please note that the hiking times and distances from Mislaid Lake to Hurst Lake are very rough estimates which we hope to update in the future!]

Descriptions & Directions:

From the Hurst Lake Road to Moore Lake the trail will be marked with new yellow markers and uses an old logging road which is not difficult to follow.

This part of the trail travels through a shifting mosaic of hardwoods on the deeper soils, spruce and hemlock stands on the cooler, shaded sites, and tall graceful pines on the drier slopes. Along this part of the trail, watch for cliffs and other forms of rocky outcrops, which are examples of exposed bedrock. These are mostly igneous and metamorphic rocks, and are examples of the types of rocks that make up the bulk of the Canadian Shield. Igneous rocks like granite, and metamorphic rocks like gneiss (pronounced like "neice") are the products of various combinations of intense heat and pressure, and were usually made deep underground, many millions of years ago!

The rocks that form the Haliburton Highlands, a small part of the Canadian Shield, are very different from the bedrock underlying much of southern Ontario. There, the cities, towns and farms are underlain by a type of rock called sedimentary rock. Sedimentary rocks such as limestone were usually formed millions of years ago in water, such as at the bottom of old lakes and seas.

The Northern Forest - As you approach Moore Lake, you may get the feeling that there are more and more conifers and less maples. This illustrates a slight transition to a forest that you might expect to see further sorth. Balsam fir, spruces and pines tend to dominate. Even the smell is a bit different, a bit more "piney".

The birds are different as well. Look for Red-breasted Nuthatches in the evergreens, and for Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in white birches and hemlocks. These birds, which are a type of woodpecker, drill lines of holes in the trunks of trees, and drink the sticky sap that leaks out and eat the insects that get trapped in it.

Finally, when you get to Moore lake, scan the water for Loons, one of Ontario's best known and most cherished water birds. If you are lucky, and a loon is on the lake when you get there, you may get to hear its famous haunting call.

From Moore to Mislaid - The trail from this point becomes narrower and much more rugged but you should have no trouble following it. On your way from Moore Lake to Mislaid Lake, you will leave the open hardwood forests behind for the cooler, coniferous forests that dominate the landscape of northern Ontario. Although you will encounter a few of the more southerly hardwoods, the forest on this part of the trail is mostly made up of balsam fir, hemlocks, pines and cedars, with a few white birches and red maples mixed in. Besides having flat needles, balsam fir can be identified by the small bumps on the trunk that look like blisters. Each blister is filled with sticky, strong smelling resin. Try to identify a balsam fir - one of the common trees sold as Christmas trees during the holidays.

In the northern woods, the ground plants are different from those under the hardwoods. Here there are plant such as wintergreen, blue-bead lilies (named because of their blue, bead-like berries), bunchberry (the smallest member of the dogwood family), and a number of types of clubmosses. The wintergreen is a small plant with shiny, leathery leaves that smell and taste like wintergreen (hence the name). Ask your leader to help you find a wintergreen plant, and try a leaf! Remember to only pick one leaf from a plant, so that the other leaves on the plant help it survive.

Beavers - Nature's Engineers
- About half way to Mislaid Lake, you will come across Pee Pond, a small lake created by a beaver dam. Beavers are one of the most important elements of change in the forests of Ontario. The others are fire, which sweeps through Ontario's forests on a regular basis, and always has, and man, who cuts the trees for lumber and pulp.

Beavers build dams that flood out large areas of forest, and cut down all the young hardwood saplings round their ponds for food. They are especially fond of poplar trees, but are quite content with birch as well! When the pond begins to fill in, as most do over time, or all the food is gone, the beavers move on. Slowly, over many years, the pond fills in completely, changing the pond from a marsh to a meadow, and back to forest.

This process has a name, which is "succession". In the marsh on the right side of the dam forming Pee Pond, this process is under way. One day, many years from now, when this area has turned back into forest, a beaver may come back and start the whole process all over again!

On the other side of the dam, the trail climbs up and across a rocky outcrop which overlooks Pee Pond. This is about halfway to Mislaid and is a good place for a rest stop. In August this area is usually covered in Blueberries which make a great snack!

Mislaid Lake at Last! - The trail arrives at Mislaid Lake at its southeast corner and right beside another beaver dam at the stream which drains the lake. If you cross this dam (to your left) and climb up the steep trail on the other side, you'll find yourselves at the top of our well loved (and hated!) "jumping" rock. This location provides a great view and lunch stop even if you're not going to swim here, but there are some dangerous drop-offs that should be supervised.

The main campsite is located about halfway along the northwest shore of the lake, and also provides an excellent, if less exciting, place to swim off a large rock area sticking out into the lake. It's also a great place to lie and enjoy the sun. A number of suitable areas for pitching tents can be found behind and on the hill side above this area.

After you have had a chance to dive in the lake to cool off after the long hike, you may notice that the woods seems to be dominated by pines. This site, on the north side of the lake, faces the south and is exposed to the full strength of the sun. In combination with the thin acidic soils, this creates a unique set of conditions that is just right for certain plants and trees. Red and white pines like the conditions, as do Blueberries (if it is August, they may be ripe for picking), and a number of ground plants such as Blue-Bead Lily, Trailing Arbutus, and wild Lily-of-the-Valley. Watch for a type of fern growing in the full sun called Bracken Fern.

Birds like the Pileated Woodpecker like the forest around Mislaid Lake as well. This shy, crow-sized woodpecker prefers large trees, located far away from human activities. It is best identified by its large size and by the flaming red crest on its head. Like most of our lakes, Mislaid normally has a pair of Loons which nest on it.

Where to from here? - For many, Mislaid Lake is your destination for a day or overnight hike, but for others its just a stopover point on the way to more adventures. If you continue, northwest along the shore of Mislaid, you'll reach a small stream near the end of the lake. Just before it, the Cooper's Loop Trail turns right up a hill and heads north east to North Lake and then east to Beaver and Hurst Lakes.

Across the stream and up the rock ledges is the northeast start of the JC Trail which follows around the west end of Mislaid Lake and then heads southwest to Drag Lake.

Onward and Upward to North Lake - Follow the trail uphill where it then wanders through a variety of woodlands in a northeasterly direction to the very bottom of North Lake. This particular trail was built in the fall of 1992 and is a pleasant hike which should be easy to follow. It reaches the southern tip and follows up the east shoreline. Shortly you will see this part of the lake narrow to a point where it is joined by a beaver dam. Just before you reach the dam, the Cooper's Loop Trail takes a 90 degree turn to the right where it then heads to Beaver and Hurst Lakes. The trail to the campsite continues north and rises above the shore.

The campsite area itself, is located on a high ridge covered by pine trees, but the lake can be reached by climbing down a couple of rock ledges where you can swim or draw water. This is a pleasant spot to take a break or have lunch. Remember to take extreme care to ensure that any fire you build is completely out when you leave. An unattended fire at this far corner of the reserve, could do considerable damage before being reported!

Please note that the area north of the campsite is private property for which we do NOT have permission to use.

"Robert Service Poem"Back to the Cooper's Loop Trail, it heads in an easterly direction, toward the western most tip of Beaver Lake. The first part of this leg should be easy enough to follow, but through some of the more open hardwood forest, the trail bed is less obvious and you will need to keep your eyes open for the markers.

Watch this area for more Beech trees. Just before you reach the Lake the trail turns northeast and heads downhill to cross a small creek which feeds into the north finger of Beaver Lake. Depending on the weather, the area near this creek may be a little marshy, but a narrow footbridge helps you cross the creek. The trail continues down the northeast shore of this lake. About halfway down, find a point where you can look out over the water. Out in the middle of this pretty shallow lake, you'll see an old beaver lodge. When you reach the far end of the lake, you'll find yourself up on another fairly open area which overlooks the water. This is another place that makes a good rest spot and at the right time in August, is usually covered in Blueberries.

When you're ready to continue, cross this open area and you'll find still another old beaver dam that you can use to cross a creek (although you may wish to cross on the boulders below the dam.) This creek flows from Beaver Lake into Hurst Lake. At one time the trail followed the creek bed, but now it crosses the creek where it climbs up to the top and along the top of a ridge for a short distance, until Hurst Lake is in sight. The trail continues along another ridge that runs down the south-west side of Hurst. Although this area was once logged extensively, watch for a couple of very large white pines that can still be seen.

At the end of the lake, trail turns sharply down from the ridge (this part can be slippery if wet!) and arrives at the lake shore at the location of the Fred Hurst Memorial Cairn. This is a great place to sit and sun yourself, but is probably not the best place on the lake to swim. Just across the creek and up the hill is the Hurst Lake Pavilion and the end of the Hurst Lake Road.

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