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Trail Guide Logo An Introduction

The Big Picture - The forests and lakes of the Haliburton Highlands are in the heart of Canadian Shield, a massive expanse of rock, trees, lakes, and rivers which stretches all the way around Hudson Bay and encompasses most of Ontario. Haliburton's forests are part of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest region, which can be found all the way around the Great Lakes in Ontario and the United States, and around the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. The trees that you are likely to find in this area include terrific examples of some of Ontario's best known native tree -- the majestic Eastern White Pine, the towering Sugar Maple, and the mighty Red Oak.

When you are in the forest, in addition to the trees, try to watch everything else that makes up the forest. While the trees are by far the biggest living things in the forest, they are not the only ones! Keep your eyes open for the other plants, birds, animals, and insects that all are part of the forest. They are all connected to each other, and they all depend on each other - - the birds eat the insects that eat the leaves off the trees, the trees provide places for the birds to build their nests, and the insects help to pollinate the trees so that they can make seeds. In nature, everything works together, and the technical term for a group of different living things all working together is called an ecosystem. On your hike, look for examples of how things work together.

If you like, try to figure out why some trees are growing where they are. In cooler, damper areas you are likely to find more evergreens like white spruce, eastern hemlock, and eastern white cedar. On slopes where it is a bit drier, but still moist, you will more likely see sugar maple, yellow birch, and basswood trees. And on the dry rocky sites look for both eastern white pine and red pine, as well as red oak. If you see these trees, and your leader helps you identify them, then it tells you something about that part of the forest. Be a forest detective -- it is what biologists, forest rangers, and other who are interested in the forest do all the time!

Use All Your Senses! Some times it helps to use more than your eyes -- listen for the calls of different birds, or for the calls of tree frogs high up in the trees. Or pick up a small handful of the leaf litter of the forest floor and smell the musty, rich smell of the leaves as they are turned into soil, especially after a rain. Use all your senses -- it will make your experience in the forest so much better!

So enjoy your hike, but be respectful of nature as you go along. Remember:

Leave nothing behind but footprints, and
take nothing home with you but pictures and memories.

Have fun!

                                                    
                                                                                                  

          

Copyright © 2011 by Friends of HSR