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Snowshoeing in the C.M. Wilson Conservation Area

Entrance to the C.M. Wilson Conservation Area. Photo Kim Broadbent

Entrance to the C.M. Wilson Conservation Area. Photo Kim Broadbent

By Kim Broadbent

I wanted to try something new. With all of this snow coming down upon us, it obviously had to be something that was compatible with snow. So, I decided to give snowshoeing a shot. Now the whole concept of snowshoeing is not one I am completely new to. I did try it once about 16 years ago with my dad at the Pinery Provincial Park. I fell a lot, and that is basically why I never looked back, but now, I am much older, better balanced, and more determined. I knew with snowshoes it would not be a great idea to bring my little 3 and 2-year-olds who are always running around with me. Since I would be tied to giant shoes, it would just not work. I figured I would leave them at home with the husband and called for backup.

I knew I had to get someone who knew how to snowshoe, and get someone who likes to be in the snow as much as I do. I couldn’t think of anyone better than my dad. It didn’t take much convincing at all and we were on our way, him in his bright red winter coat, and me in my 13 layers of clothes (not exaggerating at all because I may love the snow but I do not like the cold). The plan was to go and explore the Lighthouse Conservation Area at Lighthouse Cove. We got the snowshoes adjusted and ready for us and packed them up in the car and away we went. These snowshoes are the real deal as well. They are over 30-years-old and made out of rawhide, leather, and wood and they are pretty huge.

One Of The Great Lakes Oldest Lighthouses

The history of the Lighthouse Conservation area is what grabbed my attention. The lighthouse here is 200-years-old which makes it one of three of the oldest lighthouses on the Great Lakes. It was about a 30-40 minute drive from Chatham which was a nice drive of chatting, and seeing all the people ice fishing along the river. As we got closer, there were signs to assure us that we were on the right path to the conservation area. When we got in the parking lot we both had a “This is it?!” moment. We were right across from the lighthouse and could see a little green, but no trails or anything. It was just a picnic spot really. However, I can see how this place is a lot more exciting for those who come not looking to hike. The waterways all around are great for any water sport, and we saw a lot of snowmobiles taking advantage of the frozen water. It was pretty to look around and I know the restaurant there in the summer is delicious but, it was definitely disappointing for us since we wanted to walk and explore. We decided to take advantage of the sun shining and try our luck somewhere else.

Our luck ended up taking us to the C.M. Wilson Conservation Area. I have been here before for a few events held at the Children’s Safety Village that is in this conservation area, but I have never travelled out of the parking lot. As we got our snowshoe gear on we saw kids running around with their toboggans to the nearby hill so I made sure to make a mental note to take our boys there soon. It looks like a great hill to go down. There are a couple of trails to choose from, but we chose the McKinlay Woodlands Memorial Forest trail that just goes along the outside of part of the grounds and around a big recreational pond and back to the green space where the hill and picnic spaces are.

Archway Welcomes Guests

We strapped on the snowshoes, grabbed a pole to help stay steady (I’m definitely not a pro on snowshoes) and went on our way. There was a neat little archway to welcome us on to the trail and thanks to the snow it was easy to see that we are not the only ones to take advantage of this, as we stepped along other footprints and ski-lines. Now this trail isn’t like you are in the middle of the forest like some of the other places I have visited in Chatham-Kent. The constant hum of the 401 that is nearby is a good reminder of this. However, it was a well-kept trail with trees on both sides and a view all around the big pond.

The shining sun and a little cardinal flying with us set the mood for a great father-daughter hike. Even if said father kept laughing at the daughter who somehow kept getting her foot stuck through the one snowshoe.

The hike took us almost exactly an hour to complete, but keep in mind that includes time trudging through deep snow and stopping to appreciate the views and the company and removing feet from snowshoe holes, or trying to stop standing on one of your own snowshoes with the other one.

We had a lot of fun at the C.M. Wilson Conservation Area and look forward to coming back to explore some more and to take the boys tobogganing before the snow disappears. I think it is safe to say we were both very thankful for having a nice conservation area so close to us, and the time that we spent together.

Thanks Dad.

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